The fact that the product is magnetized presents the most challenges when printing, according to Kanis. “But really, with a little finesse any perceived obstacles can easily be overcome.”
One way to overcome it is by using magnetic-receptive media. “While magnet itself can be heavy and, well, ‘magnetic,’ which can cause issues with roll-fed printer platens, magnetic-receptive media is lightweight and does not stick to the roll-fed platens,” said Haugen.
Drytac took a similar approach by making the interchangeable portion of the print non-magnetic.
“Our biggest challenge is explaining to customers that the self-adhesive magnetic sheeting material is applied to the wall surface only once during initial installation,” said Conklin. “Because FerroJet itself is very thin and not magnetic, it prints just like any other print media and does not have any of the issues commonly associated with printing directly onto heavy magnetic sheeting, such as tracking issues through the printer, shipping, packaging and disposal,” explained Conklin.
“Flatbeds don’t seem to have an issue because the magnetic material is not feeding through the machine. In fact, with some flatbeds, the magnetism will hold the print in place during the job, making it easier,” said Thompson. “Wide-format printers sometimes have metal parts, like the platen, that magnets will stick to. Many times the solution is to coat these surfaces with something that creates what we call an ‘air gap’, reducing the attraction of the magnet. We have heard transfer tape, release paper, duct tape, or thin chip board, will work for this. We also have suggested sticking a piece of white magnetic sheeting to the platen, which allows the printed magnet to slide over the other magnet. There are some printers that have too many metal parts on the inner workings to allow printing on a magnet. For those types of printers, we recommend either printing on non-magnetized magnets, which will be magnetized after the printing process or printing on a substrate and adhering that to a magnet.”
Another challenge is making sure you have the correct printable magnet for your particular printing process. “The sign maker will need to work closely with us to ensure they have the proper printable magnet for their application,” said Stout.
The next biggest challenge is educating the end user to make sure they properly clean and care for the magnet. “Proper care and cleaning of a car sign magnet extends the product’s life and ensures that it will adhere to the mating surface,” Stout said.
Magnetic Media will continue to grow and evolve, according to Kanis. “With digital imaging increasingly influencing the marketplace, we are constantly working on new items for DDP applications,” he stated. “We hope to soon be announcing some new products for this market.”
Stout believes magnetic media will become more prevalent in in-store retail advertising and indoor and outdoor signage for conventions and tradeshows where graphics need to be frequently changed and updated.
A 42-inch FlexIron, a magnetically receptive material, is next for Master Magnetics, according to Thompson. “We have been getting many requests for extra-wide (wider than 24 inches) magnetically receptive material for use in various projects such as POP displays and menu boards,” she said.
Sustainability will continue to play a role in the growth of this market as Haugen said the trend is moving quickly towards magnetic-receptive graphics, noting that most magnet and magnetic-receptive products are either recyclable or can be processed as a renewed resource. “The magnetic-receptive graphic system allows for permanent backerboards, which eliminates throwing foamboard and other rigid graphics into the landfills,” she said.
Drytac recently introduced a more economical 10-mil Synthetic paper version of FerroJet especially for users of UV flatbed printers. “Customers are just starting to become aware of the many applications for FerroJet,” noted Conklin. “Adding a dry erase UV-curable coating to FerroJet is just one of many innovations to expand the creative possibilities.”