The product also includes 10 percent post-consumer waste from recycled paper. When the paper has served its purpose, it is fully recyclable, not just biodegradable. “When someone says they’re biodegradable, they’re not even in the race,” Tomes says. “We took our board to North Carolina State University School of Wood and Paper Science, and they certified the recyclability of it.”
Combining all these characteristics results in a dimensionally stable product that’s rigid and very strong, he adds. Those qualities ensure users have low scrap when going to press. The strength prevents boards from being damaged when they’re put on the press, a common issue with foam board.
Also, conVerd Board doesn’t include benzene, a known carcinogen common in many foam products, and can be printed screen or on a UV press.
The absence of a petroleum base in this product is worth emphasizing, Tomes says. “Oil is not a renewable resource, whereas trees are,” he stresses. “Trees are naturally part of the carbon cycle, whereas oil is not. Take oil out of the ground and you’ve just added it to the carbon cycle.”
A coating company that focuses optimizing media for digital print, Sihl Digital Imaging concentrates on a couple of key products, says director of marketing and product development Mark Friedman.
The first is Glamour Photo Board, something of a middle ground between a premium photo paper and a foam board. “It has a thick coating on it, [making it] sort of a thick photo paper,” he says. “But it is more like a card stock, or a material that we don’t think of rigid but semi-rigid, crossing the line. It is as thick as something that can come on a roll, yet it delivers the printer and the end application a board rigid enough to do anything you want something rigid to do.”
The other product is a thick UV backlit film, which the company calls UV Fusion Backlit Film. “It also crosses over,” Friedman says. “When UV printers came out, you could print directly to plexiglass. But there were a couple problems: plexi is not inexpensive, and it’s not optimized for being printed upon by UV printers. It works, but not always with the best performance.
“We developed a UV backlit film 17 mils thick; as thick as required for an application. Embedded in the film is a diffusion layer, giving the film a frosted look, which diffuses the light evenly, and prevents hot spots. What you have is a semi-rigid product that can be printed and rolled up. It’s easier to use, install, print, and transport than a piece of plexiglass, is more affordable, and will speed up your production.”
Offering olefin and PVC solutions is Vycom Plastics, the largest converter of both, says product manager Christopher Art. Vycom offers Celtec Expanded PVC, a foam PVC product, and Celtec Ultra White, a solid PVC product. Sheets are oversized by a minimum of 1/4 inch in length and width, which facilitates improved yield for cut jobs. Sheets are square to within 1/8 inch. The same production process is used for all gauges, 1 mil, through 30 mil, which products consistency throughout all gauges. Surface finish is consistent, and one material is acceptable for both screen and digital printing.
Vycom produces Celtec and offers the broadest range of foam and solid PVC sheets in today’s market. All Celtec material is produced in the USA. It is RoHS compliant, and is USDA approved for incidental food contact. Celtec provides acceptable flammability ratings for ASTM E-84, UL 1975 and UL-94.
3A Composites specializes in manufacturing substrates for the graphic display market in North America and South America. Fome-Cor is the original paper-faced foam board, and consists of extruded polystyrene foam bonded between various high-quality papers, featuring smooth surfaces for decorating. It can be die-cut, creating a compressed edge that stays closed, and it may be embossed to create 3D effects.
Sintra, a PVC board, is comprised of moderately expanded closed-cell polyvinyl chloride in a homogenous sheet with a low-gloss matte finish.
Gatorfoam consists of extruded polystyrene foam with wood-fiber veneer facers. Digital printers and screen printers value Gatorfoam for its excellent reputation for resisting dents and scratches, as well as routing cleanly with ease.