There are a few things a designer can do in the early stages of the POP display design process that are more important than expertly selecting the materials that will be used to manufacture a display. Settling on the best material choices early on is a bit like laying the foundation before starting to build a house. Welcome to Part III of our blog series on the importance of material selection in the POP design process.
In the first two installments of this series we covered acrylic and PVC in Part I and then wood, including solid wood, plywood, MDF and wood composite materials, and bamboo in Part II. If you missed those blogs, be sure to check them out. In today’s post we will focus on metal, which is one of the most widely used materials in the POP display industry.
Wire– Wire is ubiquitous in the retail display world, owing in part to its high utility and relative cost effectiveness. It is used to make hooks, shelves, baskets, grids, dump bins, various merchandising accessories, and even entire displays. Wire is generally purchased on large spools in different gauges or thicknesses. It is cut to size and can be bent and welded in order to create various POP display items. After welding the wire piece is typically chemically treated and then powder coated. An example of a good application of wire are the two Jordana nail polish displays shown in the collection we made below.
Wire can also easily be combined with other metal materials and MDF or wood as shown in the Welder Nation counter display we made below.
Metal Tube– Metal tube is also a key staple in the world of POP display materials. Square tubing and round tubing are most common, but rectangular tubing is also readily available. The frame on the example above was constructed using square tubing. Another example that combines a round metal tube frame and wire shelves is the WD-40 rack shown below. It’s also a good illustration of how a powder coating finish can be customized to match specific PMS colors.
Sheet Metal– Sheet metal is another commonly used material is retail display fabrication. It is a higher value material relative to wire and tube and is therefore relatively more expensive. Sheet metal is often a preferred material choice for shelves since it offers a flat surface for merchandising products. It is also frequently used for items like header sign holders or shelf channels such as the ones shown above in the WD-40 example. To illustrate how sheet metal can be used for different types of shelves and in combination with other materials, see the MDF and sheet metal Cadex bike display we designed below.
Perforated sheet metal is also popular in the industry since it can be used to make stronger, more durable pegboard panels compared to standard MDF pegboard, while also being lighter weight and more visually interesting than plain sheet metal. An example of perforated sheet metal shelves is shown below. These clear powder coated shelves show how sheet metal can be laser cut to incorporate a logo or other design elements.
Other Metal and Related Materials– There are a variety of other metal material specifications such as stainless steel which is frequently used for food service applications or when moisture is common and avoiding rust is important. On occasion we will also use mesh metal to make shelves or baskets. Another material that is worth consideration is aluminum. Aluminum offers the benefits of being lighter weight and rust resistant, but it is roughly twice as expensive as metal, is softer, and is not as strong as metal.
In summary, metal is widely available and frequently used to construct POP displays. It is strong, durable, versatile, and relatively cost effective compared to other display construction materials.