Rigid Media

Written October 16, 2019

Flatbed printing can help a business take on specialty and unusual printing jobs. Having a flatbed also means trying to output on substrates you might never have seen or heard of before. Where do you get the materials and who carries them? Below are descriptions for common media used in flatbed printing. Remember, that testing of unknown substrates is an important part of the flatbed process.

Talk to your machine manufacturer to check if a particular substrate has the qualities required for your printers ink system. Check to make sure that the media dimensions, thickness and weight fit within your output devices acceptable range for production.

The biggest issue with UV flatbed digital ink is adhesion. Primers are available from Ontario Specialty Coating Corporation (www.ontspct.com), VUTEK, Mimaki, Durst, Triangle Digital INX, and others. These primers can be used to aid printing on difficult substrates, such as acrylic, polycarbonate and glass. Application can either be with a roller or by sprayer.

Common Rigid Sign Substrates

Acrylic - Although sometimes used as a generic term for plastics, acrylic is a particular type of plastic characterized by its clarity and color. Suitable for long-term indoor or short-term outdoor use.

AlumaCorr - A corrugated copolymer core with a laminated aluminum surface (thickness may vary) on both sides. It's very strong yet lightweight and a good choice for outdoor construction site signs.

Aluminum - A durable sign blank commonly used for real estate and parking signs. It comes in various thicknesses (standard .020 & .040) and standard sizes, used for long-term outdoor signs.

Coroplast - A word for a corrugated plastic material most often used for "yard sale" or campaign signs or other short-term indoor/outdoor advertising signs. Made of a polypropylene co-polymer resin. Has a high degree of thermal expansion.

Dibond - Brand name of an aluminum composite material made of two pre-painted sheets of .012" (or varying thicknesses) aluminum with a solid polyethylene core. Extremely weather and dent resistant, it is thinner than AlumaCorr. It comes in 2, 3 and 4 mm thicknesses and is suitable for permanent outdoor displays.

FoamCore - It consists of three layers: an inner layer of polystyrene clad with outer facing of either a white clay coated paper or brown Kraft paper.

Gator Board - Produced by Alcan Inc., Gatorfoam is an extruded polystyrene foam mounting board encased between layers of a smooth melamine and wood fiber veneer. This results in a harder outer surface than other paper faced foam core boards and resists warping. Also produced under various names by other manufacturers.

Lexan - Brand name of a plastic substrate that offers light transmittance (clarity), and the ability to withstand extreme impact. Can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Plexiglas - A brand name for a type of acrylic sheeting. Often used as a generic term for clear plastic.