For Flatbeds Only: Rigid Substrates
More than 25 companies offering rigid media.
Say "flatbed" and one of the first benefits that comes to mind is that it can print directly onto flat, rigid media. Your sales staff sells that idea of versatility to prospective clients, and those same customers typically will come up with all sorts of projects that require different and wide-ranging media. You’ll be asked to output onto a variety of surfaces-from a score of composites, cardboard, glass, and wood, to plastic, metal, tile, carpet, and much more.
Taking on specialty and even unusual printing jobs can indeed help your shop carve out a new and lucrative line of products. But finding sources of a variety of printable rigid media can sometimes prove difficult, and flatbed owners can’t afford to have their machine sitting idle simply due to hard-to-find media.
To help you in your search for rigid media, we have done some of the legwork for you. On the following pages, you’ll find more than 25 companies offering print-ready rigid media at least 24-in. wide. We’ve provided brief descriptions of each company’s rigid offerings, as well as the company’s website, so you can follow-up for more information.
In addition, you may want to keep these points in mind as you shop around for rigid products:
* Before you purchase the all-wood 4-ft door or the 5 x 10-ft glass panel to print upon, be sure you take a look at your machine’s specs. Check how thick materials can be and how heavy a payload the printer can handle. Some are designed to accommodate very thick and very heavy substrates, but many are not.
* In addition to the resources that follow, you might consider using smaller-format pieces-such as pretreated glass, foamboard, or tiles. Since most flatbeds allow the ganging of smaller items onto the bed, users could print an image onto a bed of smaller pieces to make a mural.
* Since flatbeds can print onto virtually any flat surface, you may be able to find local distributors of these and other uncoated products. Test first, however, to see if your printer can print directly onto a sample piece.
If the test graphic isn’t satisfactory, see if your distributor can apply an inkjet-receptive coating/pretreatment to the uncoated stock. Or, check with your printer OEM-many, such as NUR and VUTEk, are selling primers that shops can apply to substrates. Typically, these primers are hand-applied using a roller or spray.
Acriglas Metallic acrylic sheets emulate the look of bright dipped brushed anodized aluminum, come in a brushed finish (4 x 4 ft) or a matte finish (4 x 6 ft), and range in thickness from 1/8 to 1/2 in. Compatible with wide-format inkjets, Acriglas Metallic is available in 16 colors and 10 textures.
Alcan Composites offers several rigid substrates for direct-print with large-format printers.
Dibond consists of two sheets of 0.012-in. aluminum bonded to a polyethylene core. Pre-painted with a polyester finish, it’s available in 2-, 3-, and 4-m thicknesses and in sizes up to 60 x 120 in. Designed for interior signage, exhibits, and displays, as well as outdoor applications, it’s compatible with solvent and UV-curable wide-format printers. Dibond Brushed Gold gives a metallic gold finish in a 3-mm rigid media.
Sintra is a lightweight yet rigid, expanded PVC board with a low-gloss matte finish. Designed for large graphics, signage, exhibits, visual merchandising, P-O-P displays, and photo mounting, it is available in a wide range of thicknesses-from 1 to 13 mm, and in various colors and sheet sizes.
Gatorfoam, made of durable polystyrene foam between Luxcell wood-fiber veneer liners, is available in sizes up to 60 x 120-in. sheets for direct printing. Gatorplast features an extruded polystyrene foam core laminated on both sides with high-impact polystyrene.
Fome-Cor, a foam-centered board with clay-coated paper liners, has a wide range of uses-from P-O-P and displays to picture framing, photography, and exhibits-and is available in stock sheets up to 60 x 96 and 48 x 120 in. It can be digitally printed directly using water-based, solvent, or UV-curable inks. Fome-Cor JetMount board has a higher density, is more rigid, and is specifically designed for mounting and direct printing of digital images.
Foam-X, a polystyrene foamboard with clay-coated paper liners is a recovery board that retains its shape (producing an open edge) when die cut (while Fome-Cor compresses completely and stays closed permanently when die cut, creating a 3-D effect).
American Fiber Technologies
FiberBrite comprises a line of fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) panels, all of which are compatible with solvent and UV-curable flatbed digital printing. The panels are available in a variety of sizes, sheets, and thicknesses. Products include: FiberBrite Original, VandalSafe, Survivor, and TuffStuff.
The photoluminescent PermaLight rigid media (PVC or aluminum) can be used with both solvent and UV-curable flatbed printers. The rigid PVC Permalight is 0.045- to 0.059-in. thick with glossy or matte surfaces. Used to print safety signs, the 48 x 40-in. rigid aluminum Permalight sheets have a matte surface and are 0.7-mm thick. The product is also available in a range of luminance, for specific code and safety compliance.
Available in a wide variety of thicknesses and sheet sizes, Plexiglas acrylic sheets and Tuffak polycarbonate sheets can be printed on with wide-format inkjet printers.
Bienfang Framing Products
Bienfang, a division of Elmer’s Products, features Bienfang MightyCore 0.25-in. foamboard, which is compatible with solvent and UV-curable inkjet inks.
French manufacturer DHJ International features inkjet-printable Decoprint Brusan, a printable fabric laminated onto a thin aluminum film. The resulting rigid material is inkjet printable (with solvent, mild-solvent, or UV-curable printers) and then formable into 3D shapes or objects. The materials can be shaped by hand or by vacuum forming, and will retain its shape after forming; it can be reflattened, rolled up, and used again. Available in checkmate texture (for photographs) or brilliant (for advertising), Decoprint comes in 57-in. rolls and two thicknesses: 50 or 100 microns. Hi-Tech Textiles is the US distributor (www.hitechtextiles.com).
Offers a variety of rigid roll and sheeted products, including Lexan, PET UV, PETG, Veltex, C-M/M, Dynox, White HI Impact Styrene, Expanded PVC, and Acrylic. Products are available in ranges from 0.05- to 0.5-in. thick and are compatible with UV-curable inks; some products are compatible with solvent and aqueous systems.
Gilman Brothers offers many foamboards that can be directly printed using solvent and UV-curable wide-format inkjets. The boards are available in a variety of thicknesses (1/16 to 4 in.), sizes (up to 48 x 192 in.), densities, and surfaces.
InSite Reveal Magnet Receptive Foamboard features a printable paper surface with a ferrous film under it, which allows a magnetic sheet to "stick" to the front surface. InSite Reveal features a bright white paper exterior with extruded polystyrene Reveal foam with memory (to retain its thickness during printing, mounting, laminating, and die cutting). InSite Polycoated offers a polyethylene-coated paper surface that creates a barrier to moisture and humidity; this stable and lay-flat foamboard is a good choice for hanging signs. InSite Flame Resistant features flame-resistant paper and extruded polystyrene foam, which can be utilized for trade-show exhibits, retail store, theaters, and other public places.
Ryno Board has an extra heavy-duty paper exterior, with an extruded polystyrene interior, which features good compressive strength and dimensional stability. It resists denting and warping and also prevents moisture absorption.
A heavy-duty plastic-faced foamboard, Duraplast is moisture-proof, warp-resistant, and offers a clean crisp edge for cutting and finishing. Available in a variety of colors and sizes from 3/16 to 2 in., Duraplast is designed for use in signs, exhibits, and displays.
Hartman offers a variety of foam-centered boards that can be used in printers using pigment or dye-based aqueous, solvent, and UV-curable inks.
HartPrint can be used with both pigment, dye, and solvent inks, offers either a satin or matte surface, thickness of 3/16 or 1/4 in., and is available in sheets up to 48 x 96 in. Harty is a 1/4-in. ultra-rigid clay-coated foam-centered board available in sheets up to 48 x 96 in.
Other printable foamboards are its standard clay-coated HartBoard (available in a 1/8- or 3/16-in. thickness and in sheets up to 48 x 96 in.), color-coated HartCote (3/16-in.-thick and up to 40 x 60-in. sheets), and an all-plastic HartPlus with a smooth white surface (1/4-in. thick in 48 x 96-in. sheets).
Horizons Imaging Systems Group
AlumaJet is an inkjet-printable aluminum that can be used with water-based dye and pigment inks; no pretreatment is required. Laminate or overspray adds protection against image loss due to moisture or UV exposure. AlumaJet can be printed on using an inkjet printer with a straight-paper-path configuration. Sheet thicknesses range from 0.012-in. to 0.016-in. AlumaJet comes in matte, satin, or brushed silver, as well as satin gold and semi-gloss white. It also offers an 0.005-in. thick flexible material that will work with "J-path" printers.
Imaging Alternatives features SmartGrain inkjet-printable wood veneer. The veneer is specially treated using chemicals, enabling it to be printed on most standard inkjet printers using aqueous, solvent, or mild-solvent inksets. The pretreatment allows it to accept the digital image and also accept a protective finish (spray or self-adhesive plastic laminate). Large-format materials are 0.02-in. thick, depending on the backing material. Only available in maple, SmartGrain veneer comes in sheets up 4 x 8 ft.
Jains Irrigation Systems
Jains Irrigation Systems features Excel-Pro, a PVC foam sheet specifically designed for use with large-format printers. Compatible with solvent inksets, it is weatherproof, non-warping, and has fine cell structure and high-impact strength. Featuring a bright-white smooth matte finish, Excel-Pro is available in thicknesses from 3 to 10 mm and in 48 x 96-in. sheets.
Kommerling offers four PVC media that can be printed by wide-format flatbeds: Komabrite, Komabrite dp, Komacel Plus, and Komatex.
Komabrite features a bright white matte surface, a fine-celled foam structure, and excellent ink adhesion at production speeds. Weather- and chemical-resistant, it’s available in thicknesses from 1 to 6 mm and in 4 x 8-ft sheets.
A closed-cell PVC sheet, Komabrite dp is designed for digital printing on interior applications such as P-O-P displays, trade-show exhibits, and signage (as well as limited outdoor uses). It offers a bright-white matte surface, is available in 2- to 6-mm thicknesses, and comes in standard sizes up to 5 x 10 ft.
The newest product, Komacel Plus is a thicker, but lighter PVC material. It offers all of the characteristics of the company’s standard Komacel, but adds a matte wood grain faux finish (the surface’s roughness is what allows it to be printed on UV-curable flatbeds). Used for both interior and exterior applications, Komacel Plus is available in thicknesses from 10 to 30 mm, and in sizes up to 48 x 120 in.
KomaTex is a printable, rigid PVC with a fine matte finish on both sides. It comes in 14 standard colors, thicknesses from 1 to 12.7 mm, and in sheets up to 5 x 10 ft. It can be printed using water-based, solvent, or UV-curable inks.
D-Lite panels from Laminators Incorporated are lightweight, aluminum sign panels that can be directly printed using solvent or UV-curable flatbed printers. The 3-mm panels comprise a high-gloss aluminum surface bonded to a corrugated plastic core and are available in 12 colors.
Omega-Bond is a solid polyethylene core with painted aluminum surfaces that is compatible with aqueous, solvent, and UV-curable inksets. It’s available in several colors and in sheets up to 5 x 10 ft.
Compatible with wide-format solvent and UV-curable flatbeds, Polyguard and Thru White are available in 0.05- and 0.072-in. thicknesses and in sheets up to 48 x 72 in. Thru White is bright white with a smooth coating and is for indoor signage; Polyguard is for short-term outdoor use and has a high glossy polyethylene coating on both sides.
UltraPrint is an inkjet-receptive rigid foamboard (3/16-in. thick). For use with aqueous pigment and dye-based inks, it has a matte finish and is available in 48 x 96-in. sheets.
Ontario Specialty Coatings
Ontario Specialty Coatings has inkjet-receptive rigid media for the Kodak/Encad NovaJet 880: Digiboard is a 5-mm foamcore board with either a white matte or satin gloss finish; CoroJet is a 4-mm white matte or clear glossy water-resistant Coroplast; and SintraJet is 3-mm Sintra expanded PVC with a white matte water-resistant finish.
Outdoor Sign Supply
Offers standard and coated foamboard, CoroBoard, and PVCBoard compatible with aqueous, solvent, and UV-curable printers.
Plaskolite's 3015 White acrylic is compatible with wide-format inkjet printers using UV-curable inks. Sheet thicknesses range from 0.118 to 0.236 in.; sheet size is 49 x 97 in.
Seal Graphics Americas
All of Seal’s white- and black-surfaced foamboards (including PillowCore and MightyCore) are printable using digital flatbed printers with UV-curable and solvent inks. Seal recently added White on Black Foam Board, which features 11-pt clay-coated white paper sandwiching a black foam core.
Seal Inkjet Stoplight is an 8- or 12-mil bright white polyester/aluminum media for pop-up exhibit and display graphics. Made of 100% opaque backing film with a universal inkjet coating, the media offers a quick-drying printable surface for dye and pigment-based aqueous and thermal inkjet printers.
Offers Rigid PVC sheets from 0.2- to 0.82-mm thick and up to 47-in. wide. Also offers 2- to 20-mm PVC foamboard up to 48-in. wide. Both are compatible with solvent inks.
Produces a variety of clear and opaque rigid materials that are compatible with aqueous, solvent, and UV-curable inks: 41- and 44-series polypropylene; 55-Series APET; 65-series PETG; Rejuven8j is a PLA plastic made from renewable sources such as corn; Valiant Ultra clarified styrene; 10-, 12-, 14-, and 16-series HIPS, and Valiant styrenic alloy.
Available in more than 40 textures, Texture Plus is a molded high-density polymer with a water-based acrylic finish compatible with either solvent or UV-curable inks. The 1/2-in. thick 2 x 4-ft panels come in standard or interlocking styles. Textures include bamboo, brick, diamond plate silver, castle stone, driftwood, slate ivory, and the company’s latest-coral
Its Opacity line of clay-coated paperboard is opaque, available in thicknesses from 8.5 to 11 mils, and comes in sheets up to 60 x 75 in.
UltraFlex offers several sheet and rolled rigid media, all of which are suited for use as P-O-P displays, bus shelter advertising, backlit boxers, and indoor posters. Rigid media includes 14- and 18-mil Styrene and Pressure Sensitive Styrene; clear, white, or frosty Rigid Vinyl; translucent Dulkote; and opaque Spraytex. Compatible with UV-curable and many solvent-based inks.
United Industries offers several rigid substrates with extruded foam cores that are compatible with UV-curable and solvent inks.
Ultra Board is a heavy-duty, all-plastic foamboard with a high-impact polystyrene surface. It ranges in thicknesses from 3/16 to 3 in., comes in white, black, red, and blue, and is available in sheets up to 48 x 96 in.
Ultra Aluminum is foamboard with an anodized aluminum face. Available in brushed or polished gold and chrome, as well as acrylic baked white finishes, it’s available in thicknesses from 3/16 to 3 in. and in sheets up to 48 x 96 in.
Ultra Plus is heavy-duty polystyrene foam between two layers of 1- or 2-mm PVC liners. It ranges in thickness from 1/4 to 3 in., comes in white, and is available in sheets up to 48 x 120 in.
Other printable rigid media includes Ultra Core (3/16-in. foamboard with a 12-pt clay-coated paper face) and Ultra Mount (available with pressure-sensitive or heat-activated liners in 3/16- to 1-in. thicknesses).
Celtec is a foamed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheet for high-strength, lightweight applications. The smooth, matte-finished sheets are available in a wide range of sizes and thicknesses (from 1 to 25 mm), and can be digitally printed using solvent and UV-curable inks. Celtec is available in sheets up to 60 x 120 in. and in 12 standard colors. Recently, Vycom announced that Celtec is now available in 30-mm thicknesses in 49 x 96-in. sheets.
Ultra White is a 2- to 6-mm solid PVC substrate designed for outdoor use where resistance to UV degradation is critical. A bright-white high-gloss product, it’s available in 4 x 8-ft sheets, and is printable with solvent inks.