12 Substrates You Should Know About

Twelve popular large format substrates your customers should know about

When it comes to printing large-scale graphics, sometimes half the battle is choosing the appropriate substrate. Not only does image quality, layout and messaging affect how your signage will perform, but also what the piece is actually printed on! For example, the substrate you choose for an outdoor application with a 30-ft. viewing distance may be completely different from what you would need for an indoor application with a 3-ft. viewing distance. Yes, there are thousands of certified substrates for large format out there. In an effort to help you become the go-to expert for all of your clients when it comes to large format, here are the most popular substrates for large format production, along with their intended applications.

1. Acrylic

Printing directly to acrylic will give your clients’ next large format projects remarkable luminance and optical depth – another great selling point. Much lighter and more versatile than standard glass, acrylic facilitates easy hanging and mounting while adding durability and preventing damage to your customers’ printed images. It’s ideal for outstanding quality signage, photographic images, and lightbox applications.

2. Black PVC

With today’s sophisticated large format printers, dark substrates don’t need to pose a problem. White-ink technology offers a unique solution that allows you to print directly on dark and coloured substrates. Black PVC, in fact, has all the benefits of classic white PVC – while still offering an exceptionally high quality and durable final product.

3. Coroplast

This corrugated plastic material is made using an extruded polypropylene sheet and is lightweight and cost-effective. It’s waterproof, weather-resistant, well suited for indoor and outdoor use, and offers an affordable visual communication solution for just about any application.

4. Dibond

With aluminum facers on each side of a plastic core, Dibond is an ultra-smooth, maintenance-free and long-lasting product. The ability to print on both aluminum faces and long-term resilience to the elements makes Dibond perfect for both indoor and outdoor custom-mounting applications.

5. Falconboard

This product is ideal for visually outstanding, cost-effective production of graphic displays for applications such as interior signage, POP displays, tradeshow graphics, kiosks, framing and mounting. It’s paper-based, includes recycled fibre content, and is known for its superior print quality. Falconboard’s honeycomb core (made from engineered paper and water-based adhesives) offers the dimensional stability required by many demanding applications, which is a great selling point for your clients.

6. Foamcore

Foamcore (or Foam Board) signage is extremely lightweight, easy to handle and is suitable for cost effective indoor signage. Rigid enough to be mounted on a wall with or without a frame, Foamcore signs offer a high quality yet budget-minded solution for all your customers’ large format advertising needs.

7. Gatorboard

This extruded polystyrene foam board bonded between two layers of wood-fibre veneer offers a rigid, yet lightweight signage solution. Ideal for presentations and displays that require stability and easy portability, Gatorboard’s laminate compound includes resin for excellent water resistance. Gatorboard is ideal for clients looking for additional durability in their signage and displays.

8. Matte Scrim Banner

Most clients demand banners, exhibition stands and portable displays with high impact. Matte Scrim Banner material can be used to promote a product, advertise a sale, or simply increase brand recognition. The product is ideal for indoor and outdoor use in airports, restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, tradeshows, or any retail event.

9. Removable Vinyl

This popular product features vinyl material backed with a removable adhesive and is ideal for interior graphics applications. With its clear, ultra-removable adhesive, removable vinyl can be easily taken down without leaving a messy residue on any dry, flat, painted wall surfaces, as well as most types of wallpaper and wood panels.

10. Smooth Banner

Smooth banner material offers exceptional image quality for just about any of your customers’ large format signage needs. Made of durable vinyl, this substrate facilitates long-lasting and affordable banners that will be sure to attract attention and communicate your clients’ message effectively.

11. Styrene

This thin, lightweight, durable and economical PVC sheet can be used for a cost-effective approach for indoor and outdoor signage. Common uses for styrene include free-standing displays, billboards, POP displays, bus advertising, temporary signage, and tradeshow exhibits.

12. White PVC

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a high-grade, resilient plastic material known for its durability. It’s waterproof and weather resistant, making this substrate ideal for outdoor signage, while its outstanding image quality adds maximum impact to various indoor applications.

Show (feel) and tell

When assisting your customer in choosing a substrate for their next large format project, keep in mind that there are hundreds – if not thousands – of other options available on the market. Choosing the best substrate will come down to the intended application, and ultimately, what your client is trying to achieve with his or her finished product. The best way to become the expert in the eyes of your client would be to first, educate yourself as to each substrate’s properties, benefits, applications and cost and, second, prominently display impressive samples on each substrate to showcase the applications to potential and current customers. Although seeing is believing, when it comes to large format, feeling may just seal the deal. Don’t simply show prospects your large format masterpieces – allow them to experience the quality and durability directly by allowing them to get their hands on some printed samples.

Five large format applications you might be missing out on

The world of large format printing can be quite daunting if you’re new to the industry, given the multitude of various substrates, equipment, methods, and techniques available. So whether you’re a veteran or new to the market, here are five applications you should definitely mention to your customers.

1. Direct-to-substrate printing

Traditional signage involves printing a large image onto a desired paper, and then mounting it to a board stock using an adhesive. This cumbersome process can be eliminated using a flatbed printer that prints directly on the board. Some presses can print on any rigid substrate up to 2” thick.

2. Wallpaper

With large format printing, you can design and produce wallpaper to a customers’ exact specifications. By printing with specialized latex ink onto a roll-based wallpaper substrate (which can be hung with traditional wallpaper adhesives) you can create beautiful, customized wallpaper that’s non-toxic and has no odour.

3. Removable vinyl

Even though I mentioned this previously, it’s often underrated. Made of thin PVC plastic, the cool part about this substrate is that it’s backed with a low-peel, repositionable adhesive. So, no matter how many times you peel up, reposition it, and stick it back down, it’ll never lose its effectiveness! And here’s another benefit your clients likely don’t know about:  it’s completely safe to use on surfaces such as painted walls, wood – and even cars. Get your clients to start thinking of the possibilities!

4. Floor graphics

When you reflect on a place that you’ve been, chances are that you were indifferent about the flooring. Large format printing can change all that, leaving a lasting impression while uniquely boosting your clients’ brand. For example, by reverse printing your image on an application-specific substrate called G-Floor, you can create a scuff-resistant, high-impact floor graphic that people will notice (and remember) while they walk over it!

5. Fabrics and textiles

Another large format application that’s gaining traction is the ability to print on fabrics and textiles. Are your clients into recovering their chairs or sofas? Are they looking to design attractive window treatments? Put some colourful, custom-printed fabric samples into their hands as soon as you can and watch their eyes light up!





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