Most people see Duratrans every day and just don’t notice it. Duratrans is used in news sets, as theater design sets, retail displays and bus and subway advertisements or menu boards. For those of you who have visited New York City the advertisements that are lit up on top of the subway entrances (urban panels) are a translite application. Another place people see translite applications are in their local mall or airport as the airport graphics or mallscapes (‘you are here’) are another common translite application.
What is Duratrans?
Duratrans (short for Durable Transparency), like Kleenex to facial tissue, has become a generic, yet branded name for a translite product. Duratrans (more formally known as Endruatrans, a product of Kodak) or Translites are a semi-transparent material which can range in material from polyesters to vinyl to something (specifically Duratrans by Kodak) with a plastic base with photographic emulsion. Basically, Duratrans specifically is a large scale, color photo negative. We’re talking HUGE, backlit images as if you held a view master slide to the sun to see the image without the view master itself and then made it about 100 times larger (minimum).
Translites have traditionally been created by printing in a photographic darkroom with a mural enlarger projecting onto a wide strip of film. Now, translites have computer rendered images printed onto them using large format printers which can be laser or inkjet. The size of a translite is only marginally dictated by the size of the printer, as it can, and commonly is, seamed. Seaming is done by overprinting one of the panels, overlapping the two and then tapping the seam with any heavy duty double sided tape. This is done because most translites are over 15 feet wide and can be as large 12-40 feet high (think – Times Square).
How Do I Use Duratrans?
Duratrans is stretched perpendicular to the floor over an opening in the wall designed specifically for a backlit display purpose. Often times it is placed in a door, window or series of window (lightboxes to be exact) with lights mounted behind it to give the images more depth. One of the major things people need to take into account when using a translite product is how bright they need to be. If the display needs to be very bright, the lights can burn/melt the display if the correct material is not used. Unfortunately it is easier to contact a vendor directly and get their venue spec sheets to ensure the correct material is used, than it is to get specs for the type of lighting needed for a specific material from the manufacturer. Other non Duratrans options are Opaline, Duratext, Magic Intellicoat, or backlit vinyl. It’s best to call your local printer to discuss your needs especially in regards to the backlit vinyl.