The supporting cast

Pick up a catalogue of audio video mounts for projectors, screens, plasma and LCD screens nowadays and you will find several hundred products in various categories. Today’s enormous range of displays and wide variety of locations requires a plethora of supports. Steve Montgomery reports.

Matthew Bennett, Managing Director of B-Tech summarised the range of screens his company supplies: “Our catalogue covers several hundred products that are available in a range of colours. We have two ranges: the first aimed at consumer markets, which includes products quick, easy and safe mounting solutions. The second is our System 2 range of modular mounts for professional applications featuring 50mm tubing for installation of screens in almost any situation”
Recent advances in display technology have complicated the mount industry further as massive flat screen displays and short throw projectors become available and more common. Add in the new ranges of slim and bezel-less monitors that are now being used in video wall applications for matrix displays and the range of mounts expands even further. Charlie Fenton, Product Application Manager at Panasonic: “We supply our own brackets for projectors and plasma displays to only a very small percentage of customers. There is generally a need for more specific mountings, which is fulfilled by third party manufacturers. We work with them closely to ensure that their designs match the display exactly to prevent obstruction of projector filters, lamp housings and ventilation holes and in the case of plasma, do not put undue stress on the device that might cause it to break or crack.”
One of the greatest challenges at the moment lies in the new generation of short throw projectors. These are now available for positioning less than 1 metre from the screen allowing usage in awkward locations and removing the problem where a presenter blocks the projected image. However that convenience brings new problems, the physics of projection and optics means that positioning of the projector is much more sensitive and critical to obtaining a good picture. Richard Svahn, Product Manager at SMS Smart Media Solutions in Sweden: “There are two types of short throw projector: mirrors and fish eye types. These can be mounted on the same wall as the screen using a strong arm pillar mount with the mirror types closer to the wall itself. Positioning of the projector is critical so we have had to develop smooth and readily adjustable mounts that can be finely adjusted and locked into position with millimetre precision.” Simon Pilcher, Marketing Manager at B-Tech agrees: “Previous projector mounts did not require ‘micro’ adjustments and a screw and Allen key was suitable. Now, however alignment needs to be much more accurate, and we have developed a screw and lock mechanism that allows such tiny changes to be made”.
As screen sizes increase and are found more frequently the market for mounts is expanding. Monitors of 50” to 60” are commonplace, 80” are regularly found. Roland van Marlem, Business Manager at Vogel’s: “Digital signage is the most rapidly expanding market at the moment with significant demand for displays of 65” to 70” to be mounted in portrait mode, using our 5000 series mounts. TV Skin is a complementary product that provides attractive enclosures, cable management and off-image branding and static messages, that frees up space on the display itself.”
The sheer weight of the largest displays means that mounts have to be strong and robust. Adding any amount of movability increases the design issues and load bearing constraints with increased design complexity. Cristiano Trafferi, Managing Director of Business Development at Euromet comments: “We focus on top quality support systems that are extremely robust and reliable, including mounts for very large screens. The design of these becomes more complex as the size increases. For example the increase in size of a plasma between 50” and 65” increases the weight from 40Kg to 75Kg. A 108” display weighs a massive 230Kg. Professional projectors can easily weigh up to 50Kg and are often mounted on lifting devices to take them into the ceiling void when not in use. Euromet offers a mechanical solution, ARAKNO able to manage such weights.” A company that has faced up to the issues in movable mounts for large screen displays is Home and Marine, based in Germany. Gunter Trempnau, Managing Director describes their solutions: “We specialise in super yacht AV installation of the very highest quality, where screens are normally concealed until required. Our plasma and LCD mounts are capable of storing the monitor in a wall or ceiling either horizontally or vertically and then lifting or lowering it into place. As well as that it can be tilted and rotated to position it in the best possible position for viewing. We currently have models that are capable of this up to 80” and will also have one for the Panasonic 103” plasma by mid-summer.”
Another trend in displays that needs to be accommodated is the tendency to provide thinner and thinner displays, to the point where the actual display is thinner than the fixing screws. many companies are chasing the title of ‘thinnest bracket’. However there is hardly any point spending money on a super-slim case, if it is going to be mounted on a thick support and stand proud of the wall. Paul Dawes, Group Sales Director for BBG: “The new Peerless SlimLine mounts are only 8.5mm thick, capable of supporting 65” displays up to 70Kg. This new design provides an incredibly quick and simple installation with all-steel universal screen adapters that attach to the screen before hanging on the wall plate. The horizontal screen position is fixed by the industrial strength Velcro latching system, preventing accidental movement if the screen is bumped or knocked.” Richard Svahn: “In order to reduce the thickness of the brackets, we have departed from folded metal designs in favour of a completely new material; PolyTech, a durable synthetic material with a 21-year guarantee, designed in conjunction with the Royal Institute of Technology in, which allows us to manufacture a mount with a 200 x 200 Vesa fiting of just 12mm.” Future display development will see ultra-thin OLED displays. Simon Pilcher sees this as eventually changing the design philosophy, at least in the domestic environment: “OLED is some way off yet and there is still a lot of life left in LCD, particularly as they become thinner. I do, though, believe that the mounting assembly will form part of the OLED display itself, although there will still be a large requirement for professional solutions that will dictate additional mounts for highly accurate positioning.”
Chief has addressed issues raised by system installers, as Robert de Jong explains: “We sent our engineers out with installers to understand the problems involved in real life installations. As a result they came up with the new modular Fusion range. This includes post-installation adjustment to enable screen levelling, together with horizontal and vertical adjustment as well as a release mechanism that allows the bottom of the screen to be moved away from the wall to access the connections. In addition a range of accessories allows speakers, cameras and multiple screens to be installed quickly and easily.”
Even with a vast range of standard product, bespoke designs are important. So too is customer support. Unicol operates by supplying both standard and bespoke product lines. Robert Seward, Marketing Director: “Customers challenge us all the time with different methods of mounting their screens, projectors and peripheral equipment. Many of these bespoke solutions turn into standard products such as the Video Wall system we made for Nike Town in Oxford street, London, which was also installed at the BBC. Whilst bespoke systems are generally more expensive than standard equipment it is also the fact that if mount manufacturers are brought in early to a project money can be saved to the overall budget by designing a system tailor made to the environment faced. This is particularly relevant where refurbishments are taking place that can only be done out of normal working hours and involve different trades or where additional peripherals need to be housed behind the screens.”
Clearly, the technology behind mounts is extensive and growing rapidly to meet market demands. Manufacturers respond quickly to meet new needs and products so that installers are offered the most appropriate and efficient solution to their requirements.

Article Categories

Most Viewed