Stan Schultz, director of marketing for Kutztown, PA-based PALRAM Americas, sees great opportunity ahead for PSPs and substrate manufacturers. “There are many people who have been using large-format digital printers, but they’re not going direct to rigid substrates,” he notes. “They’re laminating vinyl in a two-step process. That presents a big opportunity for cost and labor savings.”
PALRAM Americas manufactures polycarbonate, foam and rigid PVC, and some acrylic substrates. They’re used for everything from signage and POP displays to backlit sign faces, displays and channel letters, Schultz says.
He believes decreasing prices for flatbed and hybrid printers are making flatbed printing accessible for even small print shops. “With the addition of CNC cutting and routing tables, their productivity is increased in that they can print or cut any shape they want, whether artwork, lettering or whatever,” he points out.
Yet another maker of rigid substrates is Xcel products, of the Minneapolis suburb of Champlin, MN. Company director of sales and marketing Jodi Haugen, like others, believes sustainability is the greatest trend impacting rigid substrates. “Because of more demand for sustainable products, there’s more focus on it, and that demand in turn generates more products,” she says.
Another trend impacting this niche is that some flatbed printers are so fast they can now be used not just for rigid but for flexible substrates too, she says.
The prime beneficiaries of the move toward printing rigid substrates on flatbed printers will be the PSPs who seek products and processes that can set them apart from their competitors, Haugen believes. “And some of the rigid substrates can provide that differentiation,” she says.