When it comes to rigid substrates, not all products are created equal. With the proliferation of flatbed printers, substrate manufacturers have unveiled a cornucopia of media types, all with their own distinct benefits and intended uses. They range from basic paper boards to UV backlit films to opaque materials, enabling two-sided printing and much more.
But that leads to the question: With so much to choose from, how do PSPs select the right rigid substrate? And does it really matter?
Rigid substrate manufacturers have well-articulated answers to each question. First, however, let’s take a look at a few of the companies offering rigid substrates, and present the wide range of offerings now available.
Lamitech, Inc. makes special grades of cardboard and chipboard for a number of industries. Its best seller is Thru White, says the company’s national sales manager Andrew Londergan. “It’s a solid white board, which offers the benefits of affordability and ease of use. It’s a tried-and-true product.”
EarthBoard is an environmentally-friendly version of Thru White, made from 100 percent recycled fibers, with a brown edge. EarthBoard can also be recycled via most stores’ recycling receptacles. “One big box retailer actually factored that in to their cost projections how much they would be paid on the back end [of use],” he adds.
A third product from Lamitech is called Opacity. “This is the same kind of material playing cards are made from, but thinner,” Londergan says. “You can’t see through it, because it has a black adhesive in the middle, guaranteeing 100 percent opacity, and allowing you to print two sides. It can be rolled up in a tube for easy distribution, and easily changed out with the need for a sign crew.”
Those who have printed campaign signs are likely well acquainted with another provider, Sign Zone. “For the most part, our customers buy from us the corrugated plastic materials,” says Jim Siesennop, Sign Zone’s director of sourcing and new product development.
“They’re durable, also inexpensive and perfect for yard signs, political campaign signs, and other temporary signs. They also can adhere them to plastic A-frames. It is temporary signage, and our customers do a lot of that.”
About 80 percent of the company’s rigid substrate business is corrugated plastic, with styrene and other materials representing much smaller percentages. Styrene is usually used in higher-end restaurant and indoor signage.
MightyCore Rigid from Encore Products, a division of Elmer’s Products, Inc., is a rigid substrate with an extra-rigid core of dense polystyrene that makes it ideal for digital printing, cutting, and any indoor application where rigidity is required. It’s available in white, black-on-black, white-black-white, white-black-black, and bright white in 3/16, 1/4, and 1/2-inch thicknesses.
The protective release liner can be lifted to prepare the board for quick mounting applications in a roller laminator or without a machine by cold mounting. Its dense polystyrene core provides an extra rigid structure to support heavy and hard to hold items. MightyCore Pressure Sensitive is offered in white and black-on-black in 3/16-inch thicknesses.
MightyPrint Canvas allows users to print directly to a rigid artist canvas substrate. The embossed canvas surface gives printed images a rich, hand-painted appearance, and can be used to create canvas wraps.
MightyBull is a heavy-duty, all-plastic board that features an extra-rigid polystyrene core with a bright white, high-impact polystyrene surface. Its high-impact polystyrene facers are corona treated, making them perfect for screen printing, digital printing, vinyl lettering, and POP applications.
Specializing in eco-friendly substrates is conVerd. The company produces a paper product designed to replace petroleum-based products, says conVerd CEO Don Tomes. The product, conVerd Board, on which there is a patent pending, is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. “Our paper comes from upstate New York, where Finch Paper has been harvesting stock for paper since before the Civil War,” Tomes says. “That’s an FSC-certified forest. So we’re starting with a base stock that’s renewable and sustainable.”