Banner Box flies flag for British print at Commonwealth Games

Dominic Bernard
Friday, August 5, 2022

Banner Box and sister company Flagmakers printed over 7,000 flags after they won a contract for the Commonwealth Games.

An athlete flies the Bangladeshi flag, printed on Pongs polyester textile
An athlete flies the Bangladeshi flag, printed on Pongs polyester textile

Chesterfield printers Bannerbox and sister company Flagmakers, part of the Specialised Canvas group, printed every flag required for the Games, which run from 28 July to 8 August.

More than 7,000 flags were required, including the flags for the 72 competing nations at the 25 venues in and around Birmingham, the various protocol flags of the Commonwealth Federation and sporting bodies, the opening ceremony parade, and the flags used for medal ceremonies.

The flags have been used indoors and out: the differing needs of each installation led to Bannerbox producing four different variants of flag.

One venue required a little creativity, according to Paul Noble, Bannerbox’s managing director: Edgbaston cricket ground. He said: “There wasn’t a natural opportunity to hoist a conventional, fabric flag. They don’t have flagpoles, and there’s certainly no overhead structure to hang them from.”

Unlike the fabric flags, therefore, which were printed onto Pongs Supreme Fabric Flag polyester, Bannerbox printed the flags onto two rigid substrates before mounting them to three-millimetre fluted board cut with an AXYZ router.

These rigid ‘flags’, printed on Bannerbox’s Mimaki GFX 200 UV LED flatbed digital printer, were then installed in the ground's perimeter hoardings, with filler panels – printed with protocol flags, like that of the International Cricket Council – between them to help each nation’s flag stand out.

The other flags, however, were largely printed on the firm’s EFI Fabrivu 340, sublimated on a Monti Antonio 3.2m rotary calendar, then cut on a Zund G3 XL cutting table, with materials all supplied by CMYUK.

The companies won the contract through competitive tender by proving their competence and offering a competitive price.

“Contracts for flags are extremely rare,” Noble said.

“They’re certainly not things that come around annually.”

Ryan Shelton, Bannerbox’s general manager, said that the contract had been a real opportunity to show off the group’s work, even gaining new high-profile jobs through the kudos gained in the Commonwealth Games contract, adding: “Large sporting events are a fantastic shop window for our work.”

There was one curiosity involved in the job, Noble explained, with so many nations having a small union flag in the corner of their own flag’s design.

He said: “You’d have thought the Union flag would be identical every time. But because this proofing process was sent out to 72 nations and 72 nations responded, there were six different blues we’ve had to use.

“Now, I would say that’s wrong, but the protocols even say “No, that’s what’s been approved.

“[Sometimes] during the course of production, there was essentially a version of a flag, which was entirely accurate from a professional perspective, that still wasn’t the version they wanted – it was quite funny.”

While the Games will end on 8 August, the flags’ lifespan will long outlast this one use. 

Many will be re-used at other international sporting events, and those that cannot be re-used will be directed to the right recycling stream as part of the company’s wider product lifecycle management system; all of them are made from polyester that can be recovered and reused in ‘second life’ products.

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