Printed Vinyl and Styrene Signs
Vinyl, Styrene, Foamcore, Gatorboard, Coroplast Corrugated Vinyl, Komatex and Sintra Expanded PVC, PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and Dibond Aluminum Composite Signs
Custom vinyl, styrene, and plastic signs are printed using several methods; and can be printed on a myriad of substrates, not just plastic. Signs can be digitally printed, UV digitally printed, screen printed, or UV offset printed? Why do we choose one printing method over another? The short answer is that it depends on the length of the run, the thickness of the material, and the type of image we're printing. The longer answer involves where the sign will be hung, and the look you want conveyed.
For more in-depth answers to these questions, we'll take a look at each printing technique and substrate in the following article. We'll you when it's best to use vinyl, styrene, Coroplast®, Sintra®, Komatex®, Dibond®, PVC, foamcore or Gatorboard®. For some projects, more than one type of substrate is needed to complete an entire point of purchase display. At Dilco, we specialize in all these materials and can help direct you to the sign that best suits your project or campaign.
SCREEN PRINTED SIGNS
Screen printing is the best method to achieve spot colors, specifically precise colors from the Pantone® Matching System (PMS). Signs with PMS spot colors tend to be more graphic in nature so they don’t normally require 4-color process printing to achieve photo-realism. What they do need, though, are exact colors to match your logo, reinforce branding, and blend seamlessly with the rest of the marketing campaign. A great example is this Mitsubishi styrene sign that we screen printed with three PMS spot colors on 60 mil black styrene.
UV OFFSET PRINTED SIGNS
UV offset printing is the method of choice for long runs where 4-color process printing is required. Using cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK), an infinite number of colors can be obtained to produce incredibly life-like images. The limitations with UV offset printing are that it’s not as cost-effective for short runs, the maximum size we print with this method is 27" x 39", and 20 mil is the thickest vinyl we UV offset print.
The UV offset printed signs below were printed for Dreyer’s Frozen Yogurt; specifically, they were 4-color process UV offset printed on 20 mil matte vinyl. We then added a magnetic strip to the back before they were custom die cut so they could attach them to a magnetic menu board.
DIGITALLY PRINTED SIGNS
Most of our signs are digitally printed; and between our new MGI® Meteor DP8700 XL and Fujifilm® Acuity Series 26, we utilize the most versatile digital presses in the global graphics market with the widest range of substrates, the largest sheet size among production sheet-fed digital presses, and the highest print resolutions in the industry. Our equipment is not only eco-friendly and lickety-split quick, they also provide the sharpest images and highest color saturation.
Below is one of a series of four signs we made for Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH). Each digitally printed Komatex sign is 19.5" x 12", and was 4-color process printed on 3mm Komatex expanded PVC with custom die cut with holes for hanging.
We print signs on a variety of substrate materials including vinyl, styrene, Sintra and Komatex expanded PVC, Coroplast corrugated plastic, foamcore and Gatorboard composite polystyrene foam, and Dibond aluminum composite. The most critical factors in choosing the proper substrate for your sign are where it will be hung, for how long, and cost-effectiveness.
If a sign will be used outdoors, it must be on a substrate that will withstand the elements; over a cooler or freezer section, it will need to be moisture-resistant; for overhead use, the weight of the sign must be taken into consideration. Below is a breakdown of the various substrates we use and—more importantly—why.
Vinyl is durable and can be used both indoors and out. It's available in either gloss or matte finish. The gauges (thicknesses) offered are 10, 15, 20 or 30 mil. Both vinyl and styrene can be screen or digitally printed.
Styrene is also quite durable. It’s more rigid than vinyl, but is not as well-suited for outdoor use. It's available in .020", .030", .040", .060", and .125". The Mitsubishi sign above was printed on 60 mil (or .060") black styrene.
SINTRA AND KOMATEX SIGNS
Both Sintra and Komatex are brand names for expanded polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It's a lightweight substrate—not nearly as dense as styrene—so it's less expensive. This material is available in 2, 3, or 6mm gauges in either black or white. The OSH sign above was printed on 3mm Komatex.
This "Ice Cream Cake Creations" sign for Baskin-Robbins® was digitally printed on 3mm Sintra.
Coroplast is a 4mm gauge corrugated plastic that is very lightweight and works well for short-term outdoor use; i.e. pole-hugger signs, open-house real estate signs, and signs that affix to tables. Below is a sign for Dole and Weber Grill that was used outside affixed to the front of a table at Dole's annual California Cook-Off competition. At nearly 7 feet long, the weight would be too much if printed out of expanded PVC; and vinyl wouldn't have been rigid enough.
FOAMCORE AND GATORBOARD SIGNS
Although neither foamcore nor Gatorboard are as hard-wearing as vinyl or styrene, like corrugated plastic, they are rigid and incredibly light. This makes them the hands-down winner for use on overhead signs. The 3 18x23 signs below were from a series of 5 that we digitally printed for Aryzta are from a series of 5 that we digitally printed for them on Gatorboard
Dibond is an aluminum composite material that works great for long-term outdoor applications. It has the look of brushed aluminum at about half the weight (it has a plastic core). For real durability and strength, Dibond is one of the toughest surfaces we offer. It will last for years without warping or cracking. It's available in white, matte or brushed silver; in either 2 or 3mm gauge.
Below is an 84" x 12" sign for Cimplex Creative Group that we 4-color process digitally printed on Dibond.
CARD STOCK SIGNS
In addition to plastic, vinyl and styrene printed signs, we also offer a more cost-effective alternative: card stock signs in 48 and 50 pt. weights. They're less expensive, lightweight and can be printed up to 48" x 96". Card stock signs are for indoor use only, though, since they are a paper product and not as durable as the other substrates we offer.
CUSTOM PRINTED SIGNS
No one needs to tell you the benefits of Custom Printed Plastic Signs. They're still one of the best and largest point-of-sale displays available. Now that you know all of the different printing processes and substrates available, give us a call or fill out our free quote form. We'll walk you through the process and help you choose which type of sign will work best for your application.