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The Rise of Rigid Substrates


By Katrina Ceruolo


Part 2 of 2


The rise of flatbed printing contributes to the increased amount of available substrates. These may be metal, paper/wood, or plastic based depending on the overall composition. Because of this, certain ink sets and environments are better for some substrates over others. Here, we feature a round up on digitally printable rigid media.


3A Composites USA supplies Dibond, an aluminum composite panel that combines a UV resistant polyethylene core with two high-quality aluminum alloy surface layers. It is versatile and lightweight yet rigid, which makes it the ideal substrate material for signage, displays, interior design, exhibition stands, and point of purchase (POP) and point of sale (POS) displays. Dibond Digital features a lacquer system that is ideal for digitally printing directly to the substrate. The surface grants enhanced ink adhesion for both UV-curing and solvent-based inks.


Also available from 3A Composites is Gatorfoam. It features laminated layering construction with a polystyrene foam core and resin-filled liners on both sides, creating a material that is flat and stiff and available in a range of thicknesses up to 25 millimeters. This versatile plastic substrate is useful for applications such as company logos, sales displays, lettering, advertising signage, three-dimensional (3D) applications, and other large format projects. The substrate features a bright white surface.


American Permalight, Inc. manufactures the UL1994 listed photoluminescent—non-electrical—rigid PVC substrate. The rigid PVC is available in sheet size 39.375x47.25 inches at less than 0.046 inches thick. Its surface is soft yellow photoluminescent with a white non-adhesive backside. Solvent and eco-solvent digital print inks are recommended. It is ideal for staircase identification signs and other emergency signage.


Calsak Plastics offers high-impact polystyrene litho grade SP-250. The uniquely designed SP-250 is rubber modified to create maximum ink adhesion. It is ideal for fine art work such as screenprinting and lithographic or offset applications. The plastic may also be used for flat signs or thermoformed displays. Features of the SP-250 include controlled dyne level of 40 to 45, consistent surfaces, and good adhesion.


Available from Curbell Plastics, Inc. is Acrylite, designed especially for the sign market. This sign grade acrylic sheet is rigid, tough, easily fabricated and machined, and resists chipping and melting, ideal for channel lettering, flat-and pan-faced signs, and vacuum-formed letter applications both indoors and outdoors. Acrylite is available in a variety of colors or colorless clear, translucent, or opaque.


EnCore Products offers a wide array of products suitable for digital printing. This includes its FoamBoard, Colored FoamBoard, MightyCore, MightyBull, PilloCore, and Fine Art Boards portfolios. Designed with the artist in mind, the Fine Art Boards line includes some of the company’s newest products. Canvas Foam Boards include a textured surface that provides an artistic quality. Cork Foam Board allows for direct printing onto cork board to create a custom look. Chalk Foam Board can be printed or painted to create a unique application.


Hartman Plastics, Inc. offers a variety of foamboards in its product line. The white clay-coated polystyrene foam-centered HartBoard is available in standard and custom and works well with solvent and UV flatbed printers. Available for mounting applications, Hartman Plastics’ naturally bright white acid free foamboard, HartLite is available. For a stronger foamboard, there is the Harty line. Similar to heavy fiberboard this rigid polystyrene foam-centered board requires standard power tools to be shaped. HartPlus, a versatile, all-plastic polystyrene core with high-impact polystyrene liners prints well, and both die cuts and hand cuts using a standard blade.


Hexacomb Corporation, a Boise Co., presents Falconboard paper-based graphic display boards, which are primarily from renewable forest resources and are recyclable. The graphic display board features a patent-pending engineered paper core and water-based adhesives that are joined by a white printing surface, and is available in three varieties—Falconboard Print, Build, and Mount. Falconboard is printable on both sides and works with will solvent screens, UV digital printing, and screenprinting. The substrate withstands indoor humidity and outdoor temperature changes, making it ideal for applications in any environment.


For plastic substrates, Kommerling USA, Inc. offers its Komafoam product line. Komafoam Rigid, a polystyrene foam panel with white-lacquered aluminum film on both sides, creates a flat surface and a strong material. There is also Komafoam Adhesive, a lightweight panel with single-sided self-adhesive foil. The Komafoam products are ideal for designers and graphic artists, photographic laboratories, advertising technicians and agencies, architects, artists, and model makers.


Masterpiece Graphix presents its new wood veneer, made from 100 percent wood in both cherry and birch finishes. The veneer is available in rolls and sheets and compatible with offset or digital printers, flexographic, letterpress, screen presses, and UV ink presses. It showcases a natural, vintage look the substrate can be treated without affecting print capabilities. It is ideal for numerous applications including invitations, folders, business cards, postcards, packaging, signage, cards, and labels.


Metsä Board creates the Carta series, fully coated folding boxboards with coated backs. The Carta product line is suited for offset, gravure, flexographic, and serigraphy printing and is available in three styles—Carta Elega, Carta Integra, and Carta Solida. The series’ lightweight nature makes it ideal packaging applications such as cards, paperback covers, and multimedia covers, folders, and POS materials.


Palram Industries, Ltd.’s most popular substrate is its Palight Foam Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Sheet and is available in three varieties—the Palight Economical Print Substrate for general purpose jobs, Palight Premium, and the new Palight Outdoor, which features built-in UV protection for extended outdoor use. Palight Outdoor is available with an embossed wood grain surface, making it ideal for trimming outdoor signs or adding depth to a printed, simulated wood finish and can be used as a wood substitute product. Palight Outdoor can be painted, is essentially waterproof, and easy to print on. The Palight Foam PVC Sheets are compatible with UV-cured inks.


Piedmont Plastics supplies Duraplast Biodegradable foamboard by Gilman Brothers. The polystyrene-centered foamboard contains 15 percent recycled content and features an all-plastic cap that is also recyclable and biodegradable. The smooth, bright white foamboard exterior is washable, screenprintable, moisture proof, and warp resistant. The surface is also pH neutral, making it compliant with both cold laminating films and liquid laminators. This particular foamboard can be cold bent, making it ideal for 3D displays, theater sets and props, POP displays, and mounting.


Xanita carries the X-Board line with four available X-Board options-X-Board Print, X-Board Kraft, X-Board Lite, and the X-Board Decor. The most popular offering is X-Board Print. All X-Board varieties are comprised of post-consumer re-pulped cellulose fibers such as kraft cardboard boxes and sugar cane waste. Because the X-Board clay coated liner allows for excellent printability the boards are compliant with UV screenprinting and solvent inkjet printing. Their durability and versatility make the X-Boards suitable for POS displays, exhibition and trade show displays, and some semi-permanent interior applications.


Xcel Products, Inc.’s popular rigid substrate is its rigid vinyl. Rigid vinyl is an affordable plastic print stock that is flexible and durable with thin gauges. It features dimensional stability, high aesthetic qualities, and gauge control. Xcel Products offers a variety of rigid vinyl such as co-polymers, homo-polymers, and PVC composites to suit numerous printing applications.    


Metal, Paper, and Plastic

Whether it’s recycled kraft paper, polystyrene, or aluminum, many materials that may once have been passed over are now considered for digitally printed applications. A stiff plastic is transformed into a backlit, old sugar cane extract becomes a display structure, and aluminum changes into exterior signage. With the use of these rigid substrates stemming from advancements in flatbed technology it will be interesting to see what appears next.


Click here to read part one of this exclusive online series, Metal, Paper, and Plastic.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Dec2013, Digital Output DORS1312

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