Another is the desired overall effect of the finished piece: shiny, matte, or canvas. Yet another is the question of whether the image will be mounted to the surface, direct printed, or screen printed. Encore has a Preferred Media Chart on its website which identifies the Encore Foam Board that works best with a specific printer/ink combination. “We discovered that the ink composition, the drying method, and the surface paper all play important roles in the quality of the printed result,” Martin reports.
A final consideration is whether the final piece will be placed into a frame, or whether edges need to be finished, die-cut, routed, machine cut, or hand cut.
Martin says it “absolutely” makes a difference what substrate is chosen. “The texture and/or shine on a board’s surface affect the final output, regardless of the ink set,” she reports.
For his part, Siesennop feels PSPs must consider the intended end use of the boards. Many of his company’s customers use corrugated plastic, both because it’s inexpensive and because the signs are intended for the outdoors.
“The flatbed printers now allow a lot better detail,” he says. “You have more flexibility in what you’re doing. If you want just one or just five signs, you can do that. In the past, with screen printing, you could only justify the costs if you did many, many signs. Now you can virtually take a photograph and print it on rigid substrate such as corrugated plastic, the colors pop right off and it looks great. It’s beautiful. Signage has really changed in that regard.”
In the end, it really matters what product is chosen for both the printer and the end user, Tomes adds, noting that his company’s product provides a quality image at a reasonable price, and is part of the solution to ecological issues.
Tomes is among those who believe we haven‘t seen the end of invention in rigid substrates. “There’s going to continue to be tremendous innovation in the rigid area, as the speeds and quality continue to grow,” he says.