Title:
Fabric display panels and methods of making same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Fabric display panels mountable on a frame for displaying graphical images and methods of making same. In some embodiments, fabric display panels which, when stretch mounted on a frame, exhibit curvilinear borders and/or are substantially wrinkle free.



Inventors:
Hughes, Robert P. (Chevy Chase, MD, US)
Application Number:
11/285015
Publication Date:
08/10/2006
Filing Date:
11/23/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G09F17/00; G09F15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOGE, GARY CHAPMAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pequignot + Myers (Del Mar, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A method of sizing a stretchable fabric panel prior to printing for use on a portable display frame, said method comprising: selecting a fabric for printing a desired image thereon; selecting a desired end-size of said fabric for producing a fabric panel, said size including, at least, a dimension x and a dimension y; selecting a printing method for printing graphical images on said fabric; determining a quantity of expected linear shrinkage in an x-axis of said fabric, designated LSX, which is expected to occur during a printing operation performed pursuant to said printing method; determining a quantity of expected linear shrinkage in a y-axis of said fabric, designated LSY, which is expected to occur during a printing operation performed pursuant to said printing method; sizing said fabric as a fabric panel for printing graphical images thereon having dimensions determined according to the formula:
a first linear dimension=x+LSX
a second linear dimension=y+LSY.

2. The method according to claim 1 further comprising a printing step performed subsequent to said sizing step, said printing step comprising printing a desired image onto said fabric utilizing said printing method.

3. The method according to claim 2 wherein when said fabric panel is mounted to a frame and stretched to said desired end size, said desired image appears substantially undistorted.

4. The method according to claim 3 wherein when said fabric panel is mounted to a frame and stretched to said desired end size, said display panel exhibits curvilinear borders.

5. The method according to claim 3 wherein when said fabric panel is mounted to a frame and stretched to said desired end size, said display panel appears substantially wrinkle free.

6. The method according to claim 3 wherein when said fabric panel is mounted to a frame and stretched to said desired end size, said display panel exhibits curvilinear borders and appears substantially wrinkle free.

7. The method according to claim 6 wherein said printing method comprises dye sublimation.

8. The method according to claim 7 wherein value LSX is selected from between approximately 3 and 4.5 inches.

9. The method according to claim 7 wherein value LSY is selected from between approximately 2 and 3 inches.

10. The method according to claim 7 wherein value LSX is selected from between approximately 3 and 4.5 inches and value LSY is selected from between approximately 2 and 3 inches.

11. The method according to claim 10 further comprising a method step of forming a plurality of apertures proximal corners of said fabric panel, said plurality of apertures connecting said fabric panel to said frame.

12. A display apparatus comprising: a frame having a plurality of display panel connectors; and a display panel comprising, at least in part, a layer of stretchable fabric, said display panel including a plurality of apertures for connecting to said plurality of display panel connectors, said plurality of apertures being located spaced apart from one another proximal a perimeter of said display panel, each of said plurality of apertures being so configured such that when said display panel is connected to said frame by affixing said plurality of apertures to said plurality of display panel connectors, said display panel exhibits curvilinear borders.

13. A display apparatus according to claim 12 wherein when said display panel is connected to said frame, said display panel appears substantially wrinkle free.

14. A display apparatus according to claim 12, wherein each of said plurality of apertures are generally elongated in shape and are so oriented in particular respective orientations such that when said display panel is attached to said frame, said display panel appears substantially wrinkle free.

15. A display apparatus according to claim 14 wherein said display panel is generally rectangular in configuration and includes a top edge including two corners and a bottom edge including two corners, and wherein each said corner of said top and bottom edges includes one of said plurality of apertures located proximal thereto.

16. A display apparatus according to claim 15 wherein each of said generally elongated apertures includes an axis extending longitudinally through the length thereof; and wherein said axes of said apertures located proximal said top edge are oriented at a substantially different angular orientation than said axes of said apertures located proximal said bottom edge.

17. A display apparatus according to claim 16 wherein said display panel has a perimeter comprised of two vertical sides and two horizontal sides, and wherein said axes of two of said apertures located non-diagonally adjacent one another are oriented substantially parallel to one of said vertical or said horizontal sides; and wherein said axes of two of said apertures located non-diagonally adjacent one another are oriented substantially non-parallel to both said vertical and said horizontal sides.

18. A display apparatus according to claim 17 wherein said axes of two of said apertures located non-diagonally adjacent one another are oriented at approximately a 30-60 degree angle relative to both said vertical and said horizontal sides.

19. A method for producing an apparatus according to claim 1.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION DATA

This application claims priority to and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/372,237, filed Feb. 25, 2003, entitled DISPLAY PANELS, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to fabric display panels mountable on a frame for displaying graphical images and methods of making same. In some embodiments, this invention relates to fabric display panels which, when stretch mounted on a frame, exhibit curvilinear borders and/or are substantially wrinkle free.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Display panels are commonly used to advertise products and services. Generally it is important that such panels are attractive and eye-catching. When those display panels are used for limited periods of times, e.g., at trade shows, it is often equally important that they are easy to transport, quick to set up and ready to use.

Accordingly, major efforts have gone into designing support structures for display panels that are lightweight and can be assembled and disassembled fairly quickly. Popular are, in particular, foldable, lightweight structures that can be compacted and thus are easy to transport.

Stretch fabrics have been known and used for many years. Early applications included uses in the theater industry such as for costumes and stage decorations. More recently, stretch fabrics have also been used for indoor and outdoor advertisement.

However, the advantages of stretch fabrics have not been fully realized for the sign and display industry. Indeed, it is believed that there is a long felt, unsatisfied need for display panels that are at least partially made of stretch fabric and that can be easily mounted to and dismounted from a supporting structure while simultaneously presenting a desirable and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

In view of the above enumerated drawbacks, it is apparent that there exists a need in the art for apparatus and/or methods which solve and/or ameliorate at least one of the above drawbacks. It is a purpose of this invention to fulfill those needs as well as other needs in the art which will become more apparent to the skilled artisan once given the following disclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Generally speaking, this invention addresses the above-described needs in the art by providing:

a method of sizing a stretchable fabric panel prior to printing for use on a portable display frame, the method comprising:

selecting a fabric for printing a desired image thereon;

selecting a desired end-size of the fabric for producing a fabric panel, the size including, at least, a dimension x and a dimension y;

selecting a printing method for printing graphical images on the fabric;

determining a quantity of expected linear shrinkage in an x-axis of the fabric, designated LSX, which is expected to occur during a printing operation performed pursuant to the printing method;

determining a quantity of expected linear shrinkage in a y-axis of the fabric, designated LSY, which is expected to occur during a printing operation performed pursuant to the printing method;

sizing the fabric as a fabric panel for printing graphical images thereon having dimensions determined according to the formula:
a first linear dimension=x+LSX
a second linear dimension=y+LSY.

In another embodiment, this invention provides:

a display apparatus comprising:

a frame having a plurality of display panel connectors; and a display panel comprising, at least in part, a layer of stretchable fabric, the display panel including a plurality of apertures for connecting to the plurality of display panel connectors, the plurality of apertures being located spaced apart from one another proximal a perimeter of the display panel, each of the plurality of apertures being so configured such that when the display panel is connected to the frame by affixing the plurality of apertures to the plurality of display panel connectors, the display panel exhibits curvilinear borders.

This invention will now be described with respect to certain embodiments thereof as illustrated in the following drawings wherein:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 a perspective view of a support frame with stretch panels attached to

FIG. 2a shows a display panel with a corner buttonhole that is adapted to be attached to a hub of a supporting structure. FIG. 2b shows such a hub.

FIG. 3a is a perspective view and FIG. 3b is a top view of a display panel that have buttonholes aligned in different ways.

FIGS. 4a and 4b are back and front views, respectively, of parts of a display panel having a VELCRO mounting attachment.

FIGS. 5a and 5b are back and front views, respectively, of parts of a display panel having a hook mounting attachment.

FIGS. 6a and 6b are back and front views, respectively, of parts of a display panel with a loop mounting attachment.

FIGS. 7a and 7b show parts of a display panel with a mounting attachment in form of a hook attached to a rod integrated into the hem of the panel, an additional or integral rod is also shown.

FIGS. 8a and 8b show parts of a display panel with a mounting attachment in form of a loop attached to a rod.

FIGS. 9a-9d show display panels with different elastic loop mounting attachments.

FIG. 10 shows part of a display panel which is mounted over a supporting structure. The display panel is mounted on the supporting structure via a zipper arrangement.

FIG. 11 shows a round display panel.

FIG. 12 shows a triangular display panel.

FIG. 13 illustrates a fabric display panel having curvilinear edges according to one embodiment of the subject invention.

FIGS. 14a and 14b illustrate alternative embodiments of fabric display panels having curvilinear edges.

FIG. 15 illustrates a detailed view of an aperture of the fabric display panel depicted in FIG. 13.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS

Definitions

“Polyester fiber” as used herein is a manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is any long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of an ester of a substituted aromatic carboxylic acid, including, but not restricted to substituted terephthalic units and parasubstituted hydroxy-benzoate units.

“Display panels” as used herein refers to any type of structure having at least one surface that is useful for displaying purposes. The display panels can carry indicia, information, designs etc.

“Stretch fabric” as used herein refers to any type of fabric that extends when placed under tension, at least in parts, beyond the limits it assumes when it is not placed under tension. The stretchable fabrics of the present invention have, to some extent and over some period time, elastic properties.

“Base portion” as used herein in connection with display panels refers to a portion that extends across a display panel and which may or may not carry secondary structures, such as appliqués.

“Body” as used herein in connection with display panels refers to a structure that bears stretch loads within a display panel from a first mounting structure to a second mounting structure and that may extend across part or all of the space between the first and second mounting structures.

“Hem” as used herein refers to borders and edges.

“Part of a hem” as used herein refers to being integral or connected to the hem.

“Hook and loop fastener” as used herein refers to any fastener that uses hooks and loops for fastening purposes. Accordingly, a hook of a hook and loop fastener can be, e.g., a simple metal or plastic hook, or a hook portion of a hook and loop fabric fastener, such as that sold under the trademark VELCRO.

For a more complete understanding of the present invention and advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following description of various illustrative and non-limiting embodiments thereof, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings submitted herewith.

The present invention is directed to display panels that are adapted to be mounted on supporting structures.

At least portions of the display panels of the present invention are made of stretch fabric. In a preferred embodiment, this stretch fabric is a single layer fabric and in some embodiments, the stretch fabric is a single thickness fabric. In some embodiments, only the body of the panel will be stretch fabric, other portions of the panel are made of any type of material that is suitable for the purpose of the display, such as, but not limited to, fabrics such as natural fiber fabrics; e.g. cotton; synthetic fabrics, e.g., polyester based non-stretch fabrics, acetate/rayon mix fabrics, nylon fabrics; semisynthetic fabrics; fabrics with a metallic component; fiberglass based fabrics; cellulose/fiberglass mix materials; cellulose based materials; or plastic materials such as PVC or combinations thereof. In some embodiments, the base portion of the display panel is made of stretch fabric. In some embodiments, the entire display panel is made of stretch fabric.

The stretch fabric of the present invention is in many embodiments made of polyester fiber that comprises about 90 to about 100% polyester. Some of these fabrics contain up to about 10% Lycra. In some embodiments, the fabric is single layer stretch fabric. In some embodiments, the fabric is a single thickness of fabric. Fabric such a brocade are considered to be a single thickness of fabric. In some of the embodiments, the fabric is flame resistant or, more preferably, permanently flame resistant. In some embodiments, the fabric is a two-way stretch fabric, with a stretch of, for example, 10% ×1O %, 20%×20%, 30%×30%, 40%×40% or SO %×50%. In some embodiments, the fabric is a multiple ways stretch fabric. In some embodiments, the fabric has a flat weave with only slight stretch. While many of the stretch fabrics of the present invention are classified as “middle weight” and “heavy weight” fabrics, they are very lightweight compared to other materials that display panels are often made of, such as cardboard paper and plastic sheet materials. Some of the fabrics weigh less than 10 ounces per square yard, more preferably less than 6 ounces per square yard or less than 5 ounces per square yard. Stretch fabrics that have been found to be advantageous are marketed under the trademarks ACROBAT, TRAPESE, CELTIC CLOTH and POWER NET 100. However, other polyester stretch fabrics are within the scope of the present invention. Stretch fabrics that do not contain any polyester or minor amounts of polyester are also within the scope of the present invention. In many embodiments the stretch fabric has been subjected to printing. In some embodiments, matter has been printed onto the stretch fabric via digital printing, for example via printing on VUTEX, NUR, SALSA and SCITEX digital print systems. In some embodiments, matter has been printed onto the fabric by silk screening. In certain embodiments, matter has been printed onto the fabric by ink jet printing. In a preferred embodiment, matter has been printed onto the stretch fabric via dye sublimation. However, any suitable method to apply printed material onto the stretch fabric is within the scope of the invention.

The display panels of the present invention are adapted to be mounted on supporting structures. A wide variety of supporting structures are contemplated. Essentially any supporting structure to which the display panel described herein can be mounted, either with or without prior modification of the support structure or with or without the use of mounting accessories, such as mounting bars, is within the scope of the present invention. In a preferred embodiment, such supporting structures are foldable frames. In a more preferred embodiment, such foldable frames are lightweight. In another preferred embodiment, such frames can be brought into a compact state within a very short time. In another preferred embodiment, the supporting structure has integral hubs onto which the display panels can be mounted via e.g. buttonholes or loop structures. Suitable foldable frames are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,986,016 and 5,125,205. When a display panel according of the present invention is mounted onto a fully set up supporting structure, the stretch fabric of the display panel is, in most embodiments, under stretch tension.

Some preferred ways of mounting the display panels of the present invention onto such supporting structures will now be described with reference to the figures.

FIG. 1 shows a display panel 2 according to the present invention mounted onto a supporting structure 1. Material 3 is printed on the display panel. In some embodiments, a base portion of the display panel is made of stretch fabric and material is directly printed onto this base portion. In other embodiments structures, such as appliqués or pouches, are attached to the base portion of the display panel. In such embodiments, the base portion may or may not have printed material on it. In some embodiments, the body of the display panel is made of stretch fabric, while the remainder of the display panel is made of other materials. Some suitable materials that can be used in such a display panel have been described above. In some embodiments, at least parts of the stretch fabric are of single layer construction. As indicated above, when a display panel 2 is attached to a fully set up support structure, at least the body of the display panel is, in a preferred embodiment, under stretch tension. This, in combination with a preferred mounting of the panel, which will be described in more detail below, allows, in certain preferred embodiments, for a mostly ripple free appearance of those portions of the display panel that are made of stretch fabric. A panel mounted in the way shown in FIG. 1 will generally be wrinkle free after the display panel has been mounted for only a short period of time on a supporting structure even if the display panel was folded into different directions prior to mounting.

The periphery of the display panels are, in certain, but not all, preferred embodiments, made of stretch fabric. In this and other embodiment, the edges of the display panel may have a hem that is made by turning and sewing the borders of at least parts of the panel. However, as the person skilled in the art will appreciate, any other suitable hem is within the scope of the invention.

The display panel according to a present invention can be mounted onto a supporting structure in many different ways.

In one preferred embodiment, the display panel has apertures that can be fastened to protrusions that are part of the supporting structure such as the hubs 4 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2a, b. While in some preferred embodiments, those protrusions are part of the supporting structure, in other preferred embodiments, suitable protrusions can be attached to the supporting structure. Any protrusion that allows fastening of the display panel via an aperture to the supporting structure is suitable. In one preferred embodiment, the apertures in the display panel are buttonholes. In an even more preferred embodiment these buttonholes are elongated. In yet another preferred embodiment, the buttonholes have reinforcement at their edges. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2a, b and 3a, b, the display panels have corners of roughly 90 degrees and the longitudinal axis of the buttonholes 5 locates in such corners divide these corners into roughly equal parts. However, the corners of the present invention can have many different angles, may or may not be pointed and may or may not be defined by substantially straight sides. For example, rounded corners and corners defined by undulating or rounded sides are within the scope of the claimed invention. Equally, the alignment of the buttonholes can take many different directions. In embodiments in which there are at least two pairs of diagonally opposed elongated buttonholes, one can imagine a first axis defined by an imaginary reference line passing through a first of said pairs and a central portion of a display panel and a second axis defined by a second imaginary reference line passing through the second of said pairs of buttonholes and a central portion of the display panel. In such embodiments, the first and second buttonhole pairs may take any direction in which they are elongated more nearly parallel then perpendicular to said first and second axes. In a preferred embodiment, these first and second buttonhole pairs are substantially parallel to said first and second axes. Buttonholes with this orientation are designated 5 in FIGS. 2a, b and 3a, b. As depicted in FIG. 3a and FIG. 3b, additional buttonholes 6 many have different orientation. Those additional buttonholes are more nearly parallel than perpendicular to an imaginary reference line extending along a side of the display panel. In many embodiments, and as shown in FIGS. 2a, b and 3a, b, the buttonholes are at the edge of the display panel. However, the buttonholes can be at any other suitable position. At least some of the buttonholes are, in certain embodiments, in single layer portions of the stretch fabric. In certain embodiments, for example, the particular angular orientations of the buttonholes and/or combinations of angular orientations of buttonholes for certain configurations and/or dimensions of the display panel aid in and/or effect the achievement of a wrinkle-free, or a substantially wrinkle-free appearance of the display panel.

Another embodiment includes fastening the display panels to a supporting structure via one or more VELCRO fasteners. FIGS. 4a and 4b shows how, for example, one part of a VELCRO fastener 7 can be attached to a display panel. In the embodiment shown, the display panel would be attached via a complimentary part of the VELCRO fastener which is attached or part of the supporting structure. Many modifications of the arrangement shown are within the scope of the present invention. The VELCRO fastener can take different shapes and positions. For example, the VELCRO fastener can be attached to the display panel along an edge of the panel and, if desirable, the center as well as any portion of the panel between the center and the edges. Also, the complimentary part of the VELCRO fastener can be attached to the display panel itself. In such an embodiment, fastening can be achieved, e.g., by wrapping parts of the panel around the supporting structure and securing the complimentary parts of the VELCRO fastener to each other.

Another contemplated embodiment of the present invention includes fastening the display panels to a supporting structure via hook(s) and/or loop(s) that are attached to the display panel. FIGS. 5a and 5b shows how a hook 8 can be attached to a display panel and FIGS. 6a and 6b shows how a loop 9 can be attached to a display panel. In these embodiments, the display panel can be attached to any part of the supporting structure to which a hook or loop, respectively, can be fastened. Alternatively, loop(s) and hook(s) complimentary to the hook(s) and/or loop(s) of the display panel can be attached to or be part of the supporting structure. In one embodiment, a display panel includes both hooks and loops. Many modifications of the configurations shown in FIGS. 5a, b and 6a, b are contemplated. The hooks and loops can take any form and size that allows attachment to a respective supporting structure. The hooks and loops can be made of any suitable material, e.g. plastic, metal or fabric. The hooks and loops can also be attached to the display panel at different places including the edges of the panel and, if desirable, the center as well as any portion of the panel between the center and the edges. The hooks and loops can take any form and size that allows attachment to a respective supporting structure. The supporting structure may or may not have complementary loops and hooks.

Another contemplated embodiment includes fastening the display panels to a supporting structure via mounting structures such as hook(s) and loop(s) that is/are attached to one or more mounting supports such as a rod. FIGS. 7a and 7b shows a mounting structure in form of a hook 10 attached to a mounting support, e.g., a rod A, that is sewn into a hem of the display panel 2. FIGS. 7a and 7b show a rod B that is sewn into the hem and is attached to rod A. In some embodiments, rod B or a similar mounting support, will be a integral part of rod A. FIGS. 8a and 8b shows a loop 11 attached to a mounting support, e.g., a rod, that is sewn into a hem of the display panel 2. The mounting supports can take different shapes, can be made from different materials and can be attached to the panel in any suitable way. While FIGS. 7a, b and 8a, b show hooks and loops as distinct entities of the mounting structure, integral hooks and loops or any other integral mounting structure such the mounting structures discussed above, as well as structures that are part of the mounting support and that fulfill mounting structure functions are within the scope of the present invention. Again many modifications of the configurations shown in FIGS. 7a, b and 8a, b are contemplated. The mounting support can be attached to a display panel at different places including the edges of a panel and, if desirable, a central portion of the display panel as well as any portion of the panel between the center and the edges. The mounting structures can be at any suitable place on the mounting support.

Another embodiment includes fastening the display panels to a supporting structure via elastic loop structures that are attached to the display panel. FIGS. 9a and 9b show two of many different ways in which an elastic loop 13 can be attached to an display panel. FIG. 9a shows an elastic loop that forms an integral part of the hem of the display panel. FIG. 9b shows an elastic loop that is attached to a corner of the display panel. In a preferred embodiment, the elastic loop(s) are/is attached to the hem of the display panel. In another preferred embodiment, the elastic loop(s) are/is an integral part of the hem of the display panel. Additional elastic loops can be attached at any other part of the display panel. The loop(s) only have to have minimal elasticity and are not restricted to any particular material.

Another embodiment includes fastening the display panels to a supporting structure via a zipper. FIG. 10 shows a display panel that envelops a supporting structure whereby envelopment of the supporting structure I is achieved via a zipper 14 that connects edges of the display panel. While FIG. 10 shows a configuration in which the entire supporting structure is enveloped, partial enveloping of a supporting structure is within the scope of the present invention. One or more zippers are contemplated. The zippers can be aligned with the support structure as shown in the drawings, but can, depending on the shape of the display panel(s) be aligned in any other suitable way. In connection with this zipper configuration, a singular display panel can be zipped up around the supporting structure or multiple display panels can be zipped together. Also, one or more display panel attached to one or more other panels, such as stretch r non-stretch cloth panels, via one or more zippers.

FIGS. 11 and 12 show some representative configurations of the display panel according to the present invention. FIG. II shows a round panel and FIG. 12 shows a triangular panel. However, any desirable configuration of the display panel is within the scope of the invention.

Turning now to FIGS. 13-15, an alternative embodiment of display panel 2 is illustrated therein (shown assembled on frame or support structure 1). In the illustrated embodiment, display panel 2 exhibits curvilinear edges or borders 15. In particular, the formation of such curved borders, alone, or in combination with methods of manufacture described below, aid in ensuring that graphics printed on the display panel are generally, or, in some cases, substantially completely undistorted when the display panel is stretched over and connected to support structure 1. Moreover, the formation of the curved sides or borders 15 results in a substantially wrinkle free (or completely wrinkle free) display panel when installed on a frame. Substantially wrinkle free, in this context, refers, in particular, to a condition in which the display panel is smooth or unwrinkled at least throughout the central portion of the display panel where graphics or text is normally printed i.e. to an extent such that the appearance of the printed text or graphics is generally undistorted in appearance. Nevertheless, in some applications, an entirely wrinkle free display panel is preferred.

In at least one embodiment, in order to obtain the curvilinear borders 15 such as shown in FIGS. 13, 14a and 14b, apertures 5 (e.g. buttonholes) are specifically configured and oriented to achieve a particular appearance. For example, in an embodiment of a display panel having four corners (and hence four apertures) as illustrated in FIG. 13, each aperture 5 is an elongated eyelet-type structure (having an imaginary axis extending longitudinally therethrough) which is oriented at an angle of approximately 45 degrees relative to the sides or border edges of panel 2. It is noted, of course, that due to the curvilinear nature of the sides or borders, measuring a specific angle is a somewhat difficult task. Thus, for the purposes of interpreting the disclosure herein, angles should be measured as if the sides are linear and oriented horizontally and vertically, respectively. Nevertheless, it is contemplated that a variety of angles and combinations thereof are capable of producing the desired end panel configurations (as well as are capable of assisting in achieving a wrinkle free or substantially wrinkle free appearance, for example), such useful angles being generally selected from between 30-60 degrees (i.e. measured from a horizontal or vertical side) but not necessarily limited thereto.

In another embodiment of display panel 2 which utilizes more than four apertures such as depicted in FIGS. 14a and 14b (eight are shown in these figures), the orientations of the non-corner apertures are angularly different than the orientations of the apertures located at the panel corners. For example, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 14a, non-corner apertures 5 are oriented generally perpendicularly to their respective vertical panel sides. In other embodiments, such as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 14b, however, non-corner apertures 5 are oriented angularly parallel to the vertical sides of the panel. In either event, a specific combination (or combinations) of aperture orientations can be selected depending on the end appearance desired for the particular display application.

During certain printing processes for producing graphical images on the display panel, such as dye sublimation, certain factors in the process, such as heat, cause shrinking of the fabric display panel. Thus, if such shrinking is not accounted for, the panel, when mounted on a support structure 1 will display an image which is distorted in appearance. Therefore, certain methods of display panel manufacture have been devised which solve the aforementioned image distortion problems.

In one such method, once the desired end size of a fabric panel is selected (for mounting on a display frame), adjustments are made to the dimensions of the starting fabric material in order to account for the shrinkage which has been determined to occur during certain image printing methods, such as during dye sublimation, for example. It is noted, in this regard, that the shrinkage which occurs is not simply limited in effect to the end size of the fabric panel, but, additionally, acts to distort the image which is printed thereon when the panel is mounted on a support structure 1.

For example, in a dye sublimation printing process, when printing an image on a generally square or rectangular fabric panel, it has been discovered that a shrinkage occurs in both the x and y axis of the panel (i.e. in the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the fabric). In this regard, in such a printing process, it has been discovered that approximately 3-4.5 inches of shrinkage occurs in the x-axis of the panel (i.e. the width) designated as linear shrinkage-x (LSX), and approximately 2-3 inches of shrinkage occurs in the y-axis of the panel (i.e. the height) designated as linear shrinkage-y (LSY). This shrinkage, in turn, if not accounted for, causes a corresponding distortion in the appearance of the finished display panel. Therefore, in order to adjust for such shrinkage, the starting panel material is increased in size in dimensions corresponding to the determined dimensions of shrinkage. Thus, the following formula can be employed when selecting the starting dimensions of a fabric panel which will be subjected to a dye sublimation:
Width=x+LSX
Height=y+LSY

When employing such a formula in fabric display panel production, the desired end appearance and dimensions of a fabric display panel are consistently achievable thereby dramatically improving the efficiency of the display panel production process.

It is noted, of course, the different fabric materials, as well as differently dimensioned fabric panels, will likely experience different rates of shrinkage during dye sublimation. Moreover, if alternatives to dye sublimation are employed, shrinkage rates may differ as a result of the differences in the printing processes. Therefore, it is contemplated that certain experimentation must be undertaken when alternative printing methods are used, new fabric materials are employed, or new panel sizes are printed. Nevertheless, once dimensions LSX and LSY are determined (e.g. as averages calculated according to the results of batch experiments), such dimensions can be employed in the formula above to reliably produce fabric panels which will be acceptable in both appearance and size for end use (e.g. within certain tolerances) such as at trade shows, for example.

Once given the above disclosure, many other features, modifications, and improvements will become apparent to the skilled artisan. Such other features, modifications, and improvements are therefore considered to be part of this invention the scope of which is to be determined by the following claims: