Kodak has introduced a new product called PhotoTex Repositionable Fabric. It is for use with large format printers (commonly known as plotters) and comes in rolls that are 100 feet long and 24,36, 42, or 60 inches wide.
The paper has a texture similar to canvas. It comes with an adhesive backing that is best described as a strong Post-It note. It sticks to any non-porous surface and does not leave any sticky residue behind. You can print exhibition panels on it without worrying about repainting or patching holes when you take it down.
If you’ve tried hanging regular paper, cardstock, or photo paper with double stick foam tape, you know that no matter how you hang it, it will not stay flat. PhotoTex eliminates the need for a more sturdy substrate such as foam core or Sintra. You can print directly on PhotoTex, peel off the backing, and stick it directly to the wall.
Colors are vibrant and bright, making it an ideal paper for exhibition elements. The paper is also translucent for use on backlit panels or windows. You can also easily cut out any shape and stick it to the wall!
There are a few minor drawbacks to the product:
1. While it does lie extremely flat on the wall, imperfections on the wall will show when illuminated with raking light. If your exhibition lighting is mounted on the wall, the texture will definitely show on lighter colors. It seems less obvious on areas printed with darker colors like black, blue, and purple. (PhotoTex is also available in an opaque version called PhotoTex OPA that can eliminate this issue. The author has not yet used this product.)
2. The translucent nature of the paper means patterns on the wall will likely show through as well. As with the texture, it is most obvious on lighter colors. Darker colors obscure the patterns sufficiently, so consider this when designing exhibition panels. (Again, PhotoTex OPA can reduce or eliminate this issue.)
3. PhotoTex is pricey. It ranges from around $200 per roll to almost $500 per roll, depending on the size. However, you will be eliminating the extra expense of mounting plain paper on foam core and lamination for a clean finish. Plus the cost of labor, in-house or outsourced.
4. While its repositionable capabilities are its main selling point, there is a chance that a mischievous visitor will also realize the panels can be moved. In galleries with limited security, you may find this an issue.
5. There are a few issues with compatibility with the HP DeisgnJet 500. First, the paper roll core is larger than the standard size for the HP DesignJet 500. Adapter cores are available but did not fit properly and were returned. The roll will still work on the smaller core mounts, but it is probably a good idea not to leave it hanging there between uses. Also, when using the “canvas” setting to load the paper, the cutting blade does not engage. (Although the supplier has suggested other settings to try that will engage the cutting blade, the author has not yet tested them.)
Overall, PhotoTex is a fabulous product. It solves many of the issues associated with lower-budget temporary exhibition projects. If you want a paper that will hold up in your gallery for much less than the cost of materials used in permanent exhibitions, PhotoTex is for you!
The author did not receive any benefit from writing this review. She purchased a roll of 100’ x 42” of PhotoText from freedompaper.com through her employer’s exhibitions budget for her HP DesignJet 500. Her observations are based on testing the product before using it in a gallery application.
If you are interested in a free sample of PhotoTex, please use the Contact button to send the author an email. She will pass on the PhotoTex email where you can request a sample.