Rigid substrate manufacturers strive to create new, innovative products for use in applications beyond basic signage. As customers develop more creative projects, and print service providers (PSPs) stretch the limits of what and how graphics are printed, media manufacturers continue to roll out new and improved material to fulfill these needs. Several newly introduced rigid substrate products offer unique qualities in line with the innovative applications served.
Recently Introduced Rigid Substrates
American Permalight, Inc.’s photoluminescent rigid substrates absorb ambient lighting and emit a non-electrical, non-radioactive glow in full darkness. They are mostly used for ADA signage with raised legends and Braille, staircase identification signs, directional safety signage, and evacuation maps to facilitate the evacuation of building occupants during emergency situations such as power failures and fires. Non-emergency related uses include shadow walls, outdoor guides where little light is present, or for decorative table tops and wall panels in restaurants and clubs.
Public buildings such as hospitals and hotels, as well as high-rise office buildings and government facilities call for the added safety of photoluminescent signage. “Following the events of 9/11, survivors of the New York City World Trade Centers mentioned that safe evacuation was facilitated by photoluminescent egress path markings inside the high-rise towers’ emergency staircases,” shares Marina Batzke, GM, American Permalight. “This led to new high-rise building requirements in the city, followed by nationwide code requirements for non-electrical signs and markings.”
Eastsign International Ltd.’s Dingpanel aluminum composite panel with Fluoroethylene Vinyl Ether coating meets the demand for durable outdoor rigid substrate media with a high glossy finish. It is used mostly for outdoor signage and construction, which must hold up to natural elements and abrasion over time. Additionally, the company’s C-Board is a corrugated paper panel suitable for v-cut and UV printing. C-Board was recently applied to an outdoor building application in which a mirror finish was used to catch the attention of the general public and increase brand value. It is also used for creative indoor point of purchase (POP) signage.
Kommerling USA, Inc. is in the process of developing four new products—a bright white and low-cost lighter weight sheet for digital and screen printing, solid type I and II PVC for industrial applications, and CMG for marine applications, such as in boat hulls, where fiberglass is used for strength at anchor points.
Styrene is often used as PVC, but is not as white. Kommerling plans to change that some time next year by introducing the brightest white PVC sheet in North America. The company also offers TEX II, a lower cost sheet to compete with offshore brands. Currently TEX II is printable on one side but the newest version has two printable sides.
Laminators Inc. enhanced the Omega-Bond product line so that sign shops and digital printers may now use it in double-sided applications and various thicknesses including two, three, four, and six millimeters. It is available in bronze metallic and light ivory colors to complete a full spectrum of colors. Omega-Bond products are used in exterior and interior signage, exhibits, billboards, scoreboards, backlit signs, channel letters, POP displays, cut outs, mounting, and framing.
Lamitech, Inc. developed Ultra Bright White, which provides enhanced print quality at high production speeds. The 92 bright surface enhances colors and the 92 bright coated two-sided board ensures a consistent look across all print campaigns, regardless of whether the piece is printed with latex or UV inks. Due to added sturdiness, Ultra Bright White is ideal for applications such as indoor retail signage and POP displays.
“Often times, high-end graphic projects are printed on a secondary flexible substrate that is a brighter white and smoother, then laminated to a backer material for rigidity or stability. With products like Ultra Bright White board, PSPs print directly on the substrate without the need to laminate an expensive flexible media,” explains Andrew Londergan, national sales, Lamitech.
Tekra Corporation concentrates on solutions that optimize ink adhesion for emerging inkjet and toner technologies and is currently in the process of launching JetView UV inkjet coated media, which can be applied to any polycarbonate finish. “This proprietary coating improves UV ink adhesion when compared to a non-coated product,” says Damian Mannino, marketing specialist, Tekra.
JetView UV inkjet coated media is ideal for POP, industrial graphics, membrane touch switch graphic overlays, labels, and nameplates. Thus far, successful testing was achieved on EFI, Mimaki USA, Inc., and Océ North America printers.
“UV inkjet is a new and growing market due to its speed and efficient production, ability to overcome environmental issues, and UV ink’s ability to adhere to a variety of substrates,” continues Mannino. “However, when adhesive is applied over UV ink, the adhesive often bonds stronger to the ink, thus separating the ink from the substrate and damaging the print.” Tekra’s JetView coating resolves this by acting as a promoter for the ink to the substrate.
With the help of new rigid materials, applications are created to fill a need, such as lighted safety signage, or to express an idea, such as high-end marketing campaigns using bright white media.“As the quality of digital prints increases so too does the demand for better substrates. The project is only as good as the substrate it is printed on,” states Londergan. From more sturdy materials to brighter white, metallic, and even luminescent media, the opportunities for PSPs and customers continue to expand with rigid substrates.