What is a Backlit Silicone Edge Graphic (SEG) Frame? Or Lightbox?

What is a Backlit Silicone Edge Graphic (SEG) Frame?

A Backlit Silicone Edge Graphic (SEG) Frame is a fabric and aluminum sign or display with internal lights, illuminating a fabric print with silicone edge trim. Bright and bold, the graphic print stands out with dramatic contrast and colors that pop. Lightboxes are well known to effectively steal attention and ensure eyes fixate on the display. The options are endless for size and application, but each decision will impact the full potential and budget of the completed project. In this white paper, we will cover the ins and outs as to why we choose specific lighting for certain sizes or locations and how these options will need to be taken into consideration when building the best Silicone Edge Graphic Lightbox.

Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame Components

Silicone Edge Graphic Frame Quick Reference Glossary 

  • Backlit
  • Lightbox
  • Lit

Terms used to describe a Silicone Edge Graphic Frame with internal lighting. Sometimes used to describe the type of light.

  • SEG

Acronym for Silicone Edge Graphic.

  • Extrusion
  • Profile
  • Frame

Terms used to describe the aluminum frame with a channel holding a silicone edge sewn into a fabric print.

  • Keder
  • Silicone
  • Bead

Terms used to describe the substrate sewn or glued to the outside edge of the print. This substrate edge is then pressed into the SEG Channel on the profile.

  • Graphic
  • Print
  • Fabric

Terms used to describe the front-facing substrate displaying printed artwork or image.

What Components Make Up A Backlit SEG Frame or Lightbox?

Aluminum SEG Extrusion: A Backlit SEG Frame is produced with aluminum extrusion specific to various lighting options. The profile of XCEL #25 Nonlit SEG Profilea backlit extrusion has a dedicated lighting channel. This channel serves the purpose of mounting the lighting or mounting the components which hold a specific type of light. The profile of the extrusion also has a specific depth created for one or more types of lighting. A good rule of thumb is lighting needs to be a minimum of 1.25” away from the SEG Print, this can fluctuate with the type of lighting or fabric used.

 

 

Hardware for Assembly and Mounting: An essential part of every Silicone Edge Graphic frame is the hardware for assembly, usually Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame Wall Mount Hardwareincluding corner hardware, 180 connectors, and reinforcing or heavy-duty components, if needed. These components are specific to the extrusion profile used and the overall design of the frame. Mounting hardware will also depend on the installation location of the frame and the chosen orientation. A backlit frame can be freestanding, hanging, or wall mounted. Some profiles or lighting options are better suited for certain types of applications.

 

 

Lighting: Lighting is what makes the SEG frame illuminate. there are various types of lighting options, each having specific characteristics Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame Lighting Examplesuitable for a certain environment, budget, size or fabric. LEDs are most commonly used for lighting and come in many forms, and usually specific to the extrusion profile used. Generally, all frames can be placed into two categories, lit and non-lit. The lighting option is sometimes used to describe or name the type of frame, such as lattice, backlit or edge lit but it is not necessarily exclusive. Often, we will refer to lit frames as a lightbox or a backlit frame.

 

 

 

Power Supplies: Your backlit SEG frame must have power supplies. Power supplies are necessary to convert high voltage power to low Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame Power Supplyvoltage, which is suitable for LED lighting. Power supplies are specifically chosen depending on the voltage/wattage required within the frame. Power supplies can be mounted internally in most frames and include a power cord that will plug into standard outlets. For large or ultra thin frames, external power supplies are equipped with a wire lead from the lights to the power unit. The external power supplies should be in a storage space or in a drop ceiling where there is air circulation. In some instances, an electrician can assist in answering questions or installing the final run of your power.

 

Fabric Graphic with Silicone Keder Trim: The final piece that creates a backlit SEG frame is the Fabric Graphic with a Silicone Edge called keder or silicone bead. The fabric used on a lit frame is specifically for lightboxes, usually polyester and ideal for dye sublimation XCEL ECO X-BEAD SILICONE SEG KEDERprinting. Other compositions of fabric can be used and will be produced with other various types of printing technology, such as UV printing. There are pros and cons to different fabric compositions and the applications allowed. Research and testing with your current printer(s) and potential printing investments is advised. Backlit fabric is dense, with minimal transparency and created so the light evenly travels within the box and illuminates the graphic display completely for a clean final look. It is usually required to also install a Blockout layer on the back of a lightbox. This layer is generally black outside and white inside, helping to diffuse the light evenly across the surface and ensure there is no leakage outside the frame.

Now that we have covered the essential components that create a Backlit Silicone Edge Graphic frame, we will dive a bit deeper into lighting options and discuss the potential opportunities for these unique displays.

What To Consider Before Purchasing A Lightbox?

There are a few must-know details before getting started on estimating the price of your lightbox. We have a short checklist of questions to ensure we are accurately building every project to the specifications you and your client may desire.

1. Frame Size – What Size SEG Frame Can Be Lit?

2. Frame Install Location – What Options Do you Have? 

3. Types of SEG Lighting- Which Is Best? 

4. Power Supplies – Which Power Supplies Do you Need For Your Lightbox? 

5. Budget – Do You Have A Limited Budget for Your SEG Request? 

6. Brightness & Color Temperature – Will Your SEG Print Look Its Best? 

7. UL Certification – Do You Need A Certified Frame?

8. Frame Depth Allowance – Does Your Frame Need To Meet ADA Compliance Standards?

9. Preferred Fabric Choice – Will Your SEG Frame Need A Specialty Fabric?

10. Accessories – What Accessories Are Available for Lightboxes? 

11. Where to Purchase Silicone Edge Graphic Frames and Prints?

 

#1: What Size Silicone Edge Graphic Frame Can Be Lit?

Great news! Any size Silicone Edge Graphic Frame can be lit, small, medium or large. The size of the frame is the greatest influencer of which lighting option is used, as well as the environment, budget and project scope.

Small Frames (< 48”)

Can be built with a variety of lighting methods. Edge Lighting, Light Guided Panels or Direct Backlit Sheets are all very common lighting used for small frames.

Medium Frames (< 120”)

Can be built with Edge Lights or Lattice Lights. A frame this size can easily be wall mounted, hanging, double sided, free standing or customized to meet your needs.

Large Frames (> 120” x 120”)

Are typically made with lattice lights and require extra attention to the details of power supplies, installation and budget. Also, you may need to consider a seam placed in the fabric when the print is larger than 120” in both directions.

 

#2: SEG Frame Install Location, What Options Do You Have?

Application options are endless. Interior is most popular but there is specialty lighting available for exterior use, specially designed for exposure to the elements.

SEG frames can be found throughout the world in a variety of business, home or office environments. Airports, restaurants, retail shopping centers, automotive showrooms, hotels, corporate offices, museums, and studios are some of the most common environments where SEG lightboxes shine.

Standard mounting options include wall mounted, free-standing or hanging. For wall mounted frames, the hardware used is specific to the profile used and the quantities are based on the size and cut lengths of your frame. For a free-standing frame there are various feet options. Larger frames may require vertical support on the feet to add stability. A hanging frame will include eyelets for securing to a truss or other support. There can be customizations made within these options and each profile has a dedicated channel for the mounting applications.

 

#3: Which Type of Silicone Edge Graphic Frame Lighting is Best? 

There are many different types of lighting on the market today. Each having specific applications as well as pros and cons. Below we will cover the most popular options and the applications in which each is used. It’s important to know that each lighting option is tested and specific to the use with a certain profile for the best quality in any application.

Popular Silicone Edge Graphic Lighting Options:

EDGE LIGHTS:

XCEL #120 Edge Lit Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame

 

Edge Lights are the most popular SEG lighting option. The benefits are plentiful with these economical and versatile lights. Mounted on the inside channel of an extrusion profile typically 3.5” and precisely secured with channel keepers. The spacing and depth are crucial to this lighting making your graphic look its best. It’s also important to note, the edge lighting will travel up to 5’, because of this we do not suggest this type of lighting for a frame that is larger than 10’ x 10’

 

Edge Lighting Quick Facts:

  • For frames less than 120” x 120”
  • Available as single sided or double sided
  • Many mounting methods are available – wall, floor standing or hanging
  • Ships broken down with easy assembly to reduce shipping costs and possible damage
  • Power supplies are typically internal and can be plugged in within the frame on a wall
  • Lights are easily replaced on site if needed

LIGHT GUIDED PANELS:

XCEL Guided Light Panel Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame

 

Light Guided Panels (LGP) are common for small frames that are under 48” in any direction. They are most popular for clients looking for a shallow frame of 1.5” or less. Lighting is very even and bright. These frames do come assembled so it is good to budget for additional shipping charges. These shallow frames also have external power supplies, so installation could require some extra steps to conceal the power source.

 

 

Light Guided Panel Quick Facts:

  • Ideal for frames under 48” in one direction, no more than 96”
  • Usually single sided
  • Usually wall mounted
  • Frame ships fully assembled
  • External power supplies

DIRECT BACKLIT SHEETS:

XCEL Direct Backlit Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame

 

Direct Backlit Sheets are very similar in application to the Light Guided Panels but have a very different build to the lighting system itself. Direct backlit sheets are used in applications where the client is looking for a very shallow frame of 1.5” or less. Unlike LGPs, Direct Backlit Sheets can be built into small, medium or large frames – even custom shapes! These frames do come assembled and require extra care to the lights themselves because the sheet is adhered to a back panel and not removable.

 

Direct Backlit Sheets Quick Facts:

  • For various frame sizes, great for custom shapes like a triangle or hexagon.
  • Single sided
  • Wall mounted or hanging
  • Frame ships fully assembled
  • External power supplies
  • Lights are difficult to replace

LATTICE LIGHTS:

XCEL #120 Lattice Lit Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame

 

Lattice Lights are best suited for medium to large frames. The most common use for this lighting system is for frames larger than 120” x 120”. Lattice lights provide even lighting throughout the frame and can be used with various types of power supplies. Because these frames are typically very large, a large power supply will be required or many small internal power supplies as the alternative. It’s also important to know that a seam may be required for prints that are larger than 10’ in more than one direction.

 

Lattice Lights Quick Facts:

  • For frames larger than 120” x 120”
  • Usually single sided
  • Usually wall mounted, but can be hanging or freestanding.
  • Large amount of internal power supplies or larger external power supplies
  • Large amount of wiring at time of install
  • A seam within your print will most likely be required. Most fabric options are only 10 feet in one direction.
  • Ships unassembled, professional assembly and installation is recommended

PROGRAMMABLE WHITE LED LIGHTING: 

XCEL White Programmable LED Lit Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame

 

Programmable White LED Lighting systems are relatively new to the market but growing in popularity. This is a specialty option that is only available in standard sizes unless volume warrants a custom order. The LEDs are white in color and programming is required to turn on or off each individual LED, allowing the lights to interact with the printed graphic. The structure of these lights is very similar to lattice lights or sheet lights with the addition of a small control box for program storage and operation of the light pattern animations.

 

 

Programmable White LED Lighting Quick Facts:

  • Programming is required
  • Standardized frames sizes (in increments of 12″ or 24”)
  • Single sided
  • Wall mounted, Free standing or hanging
  • Large amount of internal power supplies or larger external power supplies
  • Large amount of wiring at time of install
  • Ships fully assembled

PROGRAMMABLE RGB LED LIGHTING:

XCEL RGB Programmable LED Lit Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame

 

Programmable RGB LED Lighting is similar to programmable white LEDs but with Red, Green and Blue LEDs. This is a specialty option that is only available in standard sizes unless volume warrants a custom order. Programming is required to create a specific color and to turn on or off each LED, allowing the lights to interact with the printed graphic. The structure of these lights is very similar to lattice or sheet lights with the addition of a small control box for program storage and operation of the light pattern animations.

 

 

 

Programmable RGB LED Lighting Quick Facts:

  • Programming is required
  • Standardized frames sizes (in increments of 12″ or 24”)
  • Single sided, wall mounted, free standing or hanging
  • Large amount of internal power supplies or larger external power supplies
  • Large amount of wiring at the time of install
  • Ships fully assembled

#4: Which Power Supplies Do You Need For A Lightbox?

Your backlit SEG Frame must have Power Supplies to convert high voltage power to low voltage, which is suitable for the LED lighting. The power supply is usually then equipped with a standard plug to use with an outlet. The specific type of supply is often chosen based on the type of lights being used, the overall size of your lightbox and the install location. For instance, if your lightbox is very thin and using Guided Light Panels, the required power supply will need to be external or mounted outside the lightbox.

External Power Supplies:

The external power supplies are often larger and therefore can power more lights.  External power supplies are wired so they are still hidden from the visibility of the outside frame. Usually mounted in a drop ceiling or possibly part of the display that is enclosed such us under a counter. If you have a large lightbox that is over 10 feet in both directions it is suggested to use external power supplies for budget and for efficiency, sometimes this is the only option because of limited space inside the backlit frame.

Internal Power Supplies:

For frames that are less than 10 feet in both directions, it is common to use internal power supplies. Internal power supplies can be mounted strategically inside the frame so there are no shadows or wires shown when the lightbox is on display. It is most common to have the power supplies and lighting mounted to the aluminum extrusion before shipping. In addition to controlling quality, this makes installation easy for the installer (plug and play).

Because power supplies have various sizes and mounting techniques, planning, and design of the display in conjunction with the location of power outlets or a power supply room are critical. It is possible to drill through the side of most frames so the power cord will exit out the frame for an outlet. The best installations have an outlet that is positioned behind the lightbox, so there is no need for additional wiring or drilling on site. It is best to work with your SEG frame manufacturer, electrician, and installer to ensure the power location and total power needed is available and accurate. Often an electrician can assist in answering questions or installing the final run of your power.

#5: How Much Should You Budget For A Backlit SEG Frame?

The size of your lightbox ultimately determines your budget. The size of your frame will help determine the type of lights used and the amount of power needed.

XCEL Silicone Edge Graphic SEG House Frame

For example, if you have a 240” x 120” frame that you would like backlit there will be a lot of components and planning needed to make the frame light up and be structurally sound. A frame this large will be lattice lit. Lattice lights are specifically sized and installed on stabilizers that are all perfectly spaced to provide even and beautiful light throughout your box.  With many lights, there will be more power required and it will take longer to build and install. The power supplies can eat up valuable space inside the frame and may need to be external, this may require extra planning and installation services on your part.

For a second example, if you have a 240” x 60” Frame, this can be economically lit with edge lighting. The lighting will only be needed on the 240” lengths. This decreases the amount of power supplies needed and decreases the amount of labor and time needed to build these frames.

Consider your size and budget when looking to configure a backlit frame, the options are endless.

#6: Will Your SEG Print Look Its Best?

For backlit SEG frames, it is smart to consider lighting quality. The standard color temperature will be 6000K-6500K, depending on the light system. This is a bright, cool white that works well with most interiors, fabrics, and imagery. Depending on the look and feel desired you may want a warmer temperature. Some lighting systems are offered with these warmer temperatures but may not work with the scope of your project, which is often dependent on the size and location of your frame. There are various options, depending on the lighting used, when it comes to brightness. It may be possible to double the number of lights used or find a brighter light that is within the same temperature. Testing and prototyping are recommended with large volume programs.

#7: Do You Need A UL Certified Lightbox?

UL Certified - XcelUL stands for Underwriter Laboratories, a third-party certification company founded in 1894. They certify products intending to make the world a safer place for both workers and consumers. To obtain UL certification, the manufacturer must follow UL Standards when innovating new products. The product must then match those approved standards and be labeled with a unique holographic UL sticker identifying the UL Certified Manufacturer.

Often, heavily regulated, high traffic locations require this certification to ensure safety for individuals on the premises. Airports or hospitals, for example, may require electrical and/or lighted displays to be UL certified. UL certification can only be obtained when the manufacturer requests approval for each new product and meets quarterly obligations to ensure those products stay approved. Without UL certification, the display may be removed, or the owner may be fined.

Be sure to confirm install location requirements and if UL certification is required. If it is, choose a UL certified manufacturer qualified to meet these specifications.

#8: Does Your Frame Need To Meet ADA Compliance Standards?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures access to components within a building is equal for people with disabilities. The ADA Standards establish design requirements for the construction and alteration of facilities. This law has an impact on how signage or displays can be installed in public spaces.

According to ADA compliance standards, wall mounted signs must not stick out more than 4 inches from a wall. This law specifically serves people who require wheelchairs or other devices to assist movement. By adhering to these standards, your displays will not interfere with people’s movements around the display and you can ensure maximum safety.

This is important to note for Silicone Edge Graphic Frames. The depth of the profile used must then be 4” or less when wall mounted. With endless extrusion options and configurations, it is important to plan if this law will be present for the frame install location.

Visit www.ada.gov for additional information.

#9: Will Your Silicone Edge Graphic Frame Need A Specialty Fabric?

A backlit fabric option is often dense with a highly reflective sheen on the opposite side of the print. Fabrics will vary in weight and could be knitted or woven. Wide format printers will have a preferred fabric, often depending on the printer and process they choose. The print service provider you use will most likely have tested their fabric choice extensively and know how the fabric will appear in the lightbox.

Lightboxes will often require a blockout fabric backer as well. This backer has the purpose of blocking light from spilling out the backside and to keep the light reflecting throughout the box. Without this backer, it is common for hot spots or shadows to be seen when viewing the finished print. The lightbox is not defective, it most likely just needs a blockout backer to finish the box properly.

Beyond standards, some fabrics can be sheer or transparent and used for special display designs. You may also find or hear of fabrics that are specially coated for high UV exposure. Your dedicated frame manufacturer or print service provider can discuss available options with you.

#10: What Accessories Are Available For Lightboxes?

XCEL Custom Lit Silicone Edge Graphic SEG Frame TV Display

 

Consider optional accessories before installing your Silicone Edge Graphic Frame.

A popular option for lightboxes is an external power switch. The switch is specific to the model of lights and amount of power, but a great addition for retail or hospitality locations. A timer or remote controls are also available.

Accessory hardware can also be used to fit the overall design and install needs for your backlit frame. The option of feet for a freestanding frame can be added to single- or double-sided frames. Hanging hardware for a ceiling mounting system can be added for frames installed in areas where signage is not wall supported. Hinges can be added for various shapes and functionality as well.

Custom accessories can also be modeled, depending on your project. Consider working with a frame partner who understands customization and all variables assorted with building a perfect frame for your environment.

Consider optional accessories before installing your Silicone Edge Graphic Frame.

 

 

 

#11: Where To Purchase Silicone Edge Graphic Frames And Prints?

When beginning your search of where to purchase Silicone Edge Graphic Frames it is suggested to create a list of priorities that you can refer back to as you forge ahead.

List of considerations for choosing your Silicone Edge Graphic Frame supplier:

  • Quality and detailed craftsmanship.
  • UL Certification.
  • Responsive lead times that meet project needs.
  • Excellent service with you and your client in mind.
  • Provide a turnkey solution.
  • Custom engineering, including SolidWorks and 3D printing for prototyping.

SEGFrames.org is an excellent resource to start your journey with Silicone Edge Graphic Frames. Here you will find a list of suppliers and manufacturers that will meet various needs who have been vetted within the visual merchandising community for many years.

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Contact XCEL today to discuss your Silicone Edge Graphic Frame Project.