Digital Print Media and Laminates

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Tech Review: Digital Print Media and Laminates

Everyone who owns a digital printer typically has one go-to media in stock at all times. That would be good, old white adhesive vinyl. You can make signs, stickers, magnetics and frankly, a whole bunch of stuff. You might even be able to get by forever just having white vinyl in stock. However, there are a lot of other things your printer can produce just by changing out the media. Before moving on, we also want to mention the digital printer’s sidekick, the laminator. With the right laminates you can add some additional, real cool effects to your catalog. So, let’s take a look at some of the great media and laminates available today.

Finding something that will stick to rough surfaces is an all-too-common problem. Brick and concrete, for example, can present real challenges that cannot be addressed with standard adhesive vinyl. Luckily, there are printable vinyls with ultra-high tack adhesives that will do the job nicely.

Windows aren’t straightforward, either. Does your customer want to be able to see through the graphic? Is it just a temporary display? While perforated vinyl is an option, one often-overlooked solution is static-cling vinyl. Available in opaque white or clear, these films allow you to produce graphics that can be mounted on windows – without the need for an adhesive – which makes for easy installation and removal.

If you go to tradeshows, you’ll no doubt see the full-color array of graphics installed on the floors of most exhibit halls. As long as you also own a laminator, producing these graphics is a snap. Floor graphics generally involve a PVC film specially developed for floor surfaces, over-laminated with a special film that can withstand the scuffs of footsteps and carts. This PVC-laminated film combination lets you create short-term floor graphics for customers who want to make a quick splash, both indoors and out.

As we were just speaking about lamination, this is a good time to remind you that laminates can also add value to a digital print. Of course, printed vehicle wraps need lamination, but what about signs? We all know that laminates provide UV protection and scratch-resistance, but how about adding an anti-graffiti overlaminate for an outside sign? These are great ways to add a lot of value to your finished signs.

Do you have a latex or UV printer? If so, a cool option is to use a PVC wallpaper media. This will allow you to offer custom murals and wallcoverings. The media includes a water-activated adhesive on one side that makes it is as easy to install and remove as modern (not old!) wallpaper. And, if not installed in direct sunlight, the customer can expect the wallcovering to look appealing for as long as 20 years.

Another interesting application that can be solved through using the proper media is finding something that will stick to low-energy plastics, such as polyethylene. For the non-chemist, that’s the stuff Porta-Potties and most plastic kayaks are made from. Typical adhesive vinyl will not adhere to this surface. You need high-tack vinyls specially made to stick to these types of plastics. We have sold a lot of decals and graphics for kayaks printed on this type of media.

As you can see, your printer can become incredibly versatile with just the addition of the right media. This is only a small sampling of the things you can do and there are many more that would take volumes of pages to discuss. Also, remember that print media is not the only area where you can add value to your graphics. Laminates can extend life, offer better protection and, in many cases, provide a means to address a specific application. 

Experimenting with digital media and laminates will broaden your product offerings and is – perhaps best of all – a means to recoup the investment you’ve made in digital printing equipment. If in doubt, contact your manufacturer to explore new output options.

Signs of the Times May 2019

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