Print providers have more options than ever when choosing a rigid media.
Before the proliferation of flatbed printers, utilizing rigid substrates in a job was a much more labor-intensive process. Typically, graphics were printed on vinyl and these graphics were then adhered to the substrate and then laminated. Any damage or imperfections during the process typically meant that images required a shop to back through the entire printing, mounting, and laminating process.
Of course, as the capabilities increase for rigid media, so does demand—and with the number of options out there, to help shops narrow their selection, The Big Picture has compiled a list of manufacturers and exclusive distributors of print-ready rigid media that is at least 24-inches wide. Nearly 40 companies are listed here; keep in mind that, due to space, we have only provided a sampling of each company’s rigid roster; visit the company’s website for more information.
The Acriglas Clear Impressions line is designed to reproduce the look of patterned glass, is crystal clear, and carry textures on one or both sides of the sheet. Nine new textures are available (18 total): Brushed, Woven Silk, Mesozoic, Precambrian, Box Mini-Flute, Waffle Iron, Techno, and Morning Dew. Offered in standard sizes of 4 x 6 ft and in thicknesses from 1/8- to 1/2-in. Also available: Acriglas Metallic and Neon Lights substrates.
The company’s Eco Advantage rigid media line includes: HD Board (made from 92% recycled material, FSC-certified), Outdoor Board (with printable white paper liner, FSC-certified), Earthboard (100% recycled content, compostable, biodegradable), and Eco Styrene (biodegradable, high-impact).
Alcan Composites offers several rigid substrates for direct-print with large-format printers, including its newest addition, e-panel, an aluminum composite material (ACM) made of two pre-painted sheets of .008-in. aluminum with a solid polyethylene core. Masked on both sides, e-panel is suitable for direct digital print, and can be saw cut, routed, or punched. Available in 2-mm white (4 x 8-ft sheets), 3-mm white (4 x 8-, 5 x 10-ft sheets), and 4-mm white (4 x 8-ft sheets).
Alucobond ACM consists of two smooth .020-in. aluminum facers thermobonded to various thicknesses of polyethylene forming a prefinished panel. Available in 3-, 4-, and 6-mm thick sheets up to 62 x 196 in., and in various colors and finishes.
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-mm thicknesses, in sizes up to 60 x 120 in., and is compatible with solvent and UV-curable printers.
Sintra is a lightweight, rigid, expanded PVC board with a low-gloss, matte finish. It’s available in a wide range of thicknesses—from 1 to 13 mm—and in various colors and sheet sizes.
Gatorfoam, polystyrene foam between Luxcell wood-fiber veneer liners, is available for direct printing in sheets up to 60 x 120 in. and 3/16- to 2-in. thick. Also offered is Gatorplast, a 3/16- to 1/2-in. thick extruded polystyrene foam core laminated on both sides with high-impact polystyrene.
Fome-Cor, a foam-centered board with clay-coated paper liners, 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. Polystyrene-based Fome-Cor JetMount board has a higher density, is more rigid, and is specifically designed for direct printing and mounting of digital images.
Earlier this year, Alpolic released its Graphic-al line of rigid media:
Graphic-al OR has the rigidity of an aluminum composite material with a thinner, 0.005-in. aluminum skin and a foamed plastic core. It’s available in 48 x 96-in. sheets in 3-mm thicknesses.
Graphic-al DP is similar to OR but specifically engineered for flatbed printing and UV-curable inks. Both can be cut with a saw, substrate cutter/router. Custom sizes available.
Graphic-al LT comprises two skins of 0.010-in.-thick aluminum and polyethylene core. Top and back surfaces are polyester coatings; both sides are covered with transparent protective film. The 48 x 96-in. sheets are available in five colors.
Note: Pre-testing is suggested on the LT and OR products prior to printing.
Available in a wide variety of thicknesses and sheet sizes, Plexiglas acrylic sheets and Tuffak polycarbonate sheets can be printed on using wide-format inkjet printers.
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, available in a variety of sizes, sheets, and thicknesses, include: FiberBrite Original, ValuePlus, Survivor, and TuffStuff.
The photoluminescent PermaLight rigid media (PVC or aluminum) can be used with solvent and UV-curable flatbed printers. Available in 0.045- to 0.059-in. thicknesses and a glossy or matte surface.
MightyCore is available in 8.33- to 32 sq-ft sheets in white, white-on-black, black-on-black (1/4-, 1/2-in. thicknesses) and white-on-black-on-black (1/4-in. thickness only). MightyCore is compatible with solvent and UV-curable inkjet inks.
Specifically for the flatbed market, MightyPrint Glossy combines MightyCore’s rigidity with dual-sided, high-gloss paper liners; available in 1/4-in. thickness. UnStik pressure-sensitive foamboard is available in repositionable and permanent variations, two color options (white and black-on-black), and in 3/16-in. thickness.
The company’s inkjet-printable Fine Art Metals, designed for fine-art applications, are aluminum and gold coated with an inkjet-receptive clear gloss. Available in a five finishes—Brushed Silver, Matte Silver, Satin Silver, Satin Gold, and Satin White—the metals are produced in sizes from 8.5 x 11 in. to 20 x 60 in., and in thicknesses of 0.005, 0.012, and 0.016 in.
Offers a line of CV rigid vinyl (non-plasticized) media in various sizes and thicknesses. Gloss and matte finishes available.
Precision Board High Temperature (PBHT) and Low Temperature (PBLT) Urethane boards can be digitally printed using inkjet. Available in thicknesses from 1/2 to 20 in. and in sheets up to 5 x 10 ft.
Enviroboard FR (Flame Retardant) and Enviroboard MR (Moisture Resistant) are rigid boards designed as a multi-ply alternative to traditional foamboard and corrugated plastic boards; print on both sides. Available in sheets for flatbed UV printing applications. Hydros-Board is a flame-retardant poster board available in 7- and 14-point; used for UV as well as other digital print methods, plus screen and offset.
Compatible with most solvent-based printing systems, CoolFlex Rigid is a 15-mil (custom thicknesses available) rigid PVC sheet that’s engineered for use with multi-image billboard systems. Available in 48 in. x 150-lb rolls.
Its 14-mil rigid vinyl is available in gloss white or translucent and is compatible with solvent and mild-solvent inks; and designed for applications where flexible rigidity is desired.
Re-board sandwich board is a 100% recyclable sandwich board with craft liner; water-resistant and flame-retardant; available in various thicknesses and sizes. Designed for outdoor applications, Out-board is a polymer-laminated, paper board-based composite material, which provides a water vapor barrier. Available in sheets: 50 x 70 in. and 720 mµ thick.
Decorative Panels International
GreenCore Rigid Print Media (RPM) is a two-sided, ultra-smooth board designed for UV-curable as well as dye-sub printing. Made from raw materials, the media is biodegradable. Available in matte finish 1/8- and 1/4-in. thickness and in 4 x 8 ft sheets.
Ireland-based Foamalite’s products are foamed PVC sheets. Available standard with polyethylene masking on one side or without coating, Foamalite offers a smooth finish for use as P-O-P displays and is available in thicknesses from 1 to 19 mm and in a range of colors. Designed for digital printing, Foamalite DigiWhite has a smooth, brilliant-white surface for high-res printing. Gilman Brothers is the US master distributor.
Gilman Brothers offers many foamboards that can be directly printed using solvent and UV-curable inkjets. The boards are available in a variety of thicknesses (1/16 to 3 in.), sizes (up to 48 x 192 in.), densities, and surfaces. All feature the Reveal extruded polystyrene foam center.
InSite Reveal has a bright-white paper exterior over a foam with memory; also available with adhesive-coated or acid-free liners. Insite Biodegradeable is the latest addition to the InSite foamboard line; it contains a biodegradeable polystyrene foam center made from 15% or more recycled content and is faced with smooth, bright-white paper liners formulated from wood products certified by the Sustainable Forest Initiative. InSite Polycoated offers a polyethylene-coated paper surface that creates a barrier to moisture and humidity. InSite Reveal Magnet-Receptive Foamboard features a printable paper surface with a ferrous film under it. InSite Flame Resistant features flame-resistant paper liners on both sides of the extruded polystyrene foam, which can be utilized for trade-show exhibits, retail signage, theaters, and other public places.
Hartman offers a line of HartBoard substrates that can be used with pigment or dye-based aqueous, solvent, and UV-curable inks.
A printable foam-centered board, HartPrint can be used with aqueous (pigment or 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. and now in a brighter white.
Other printable foamboards include 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).
AlumaJet is an inkjet-printable aluminum that can be used with water-based dye and pigment inks. Sheets range up to 20 x 24-in. and thicknesses from 0.005-in. to 0.016-in. AlumaJet comes in matte, satin, and brushed finishes.
Imaging Alternatives features SmartGrain inkjet-printable wood veneer. Compatible with most aqueous, solvent, or mild-solvent inks, the wood veneer is 0.018-in. thick and comes in sheets up to 24 x 30 in. Custom sized sheets up to 55-in. wide are available.
IntePro Graphic Arts Material sheets are either extruded polypropylene or high-density polyethylene. Designed to be more durable than corrugated fiberboard and lighter than wood or solid plastic sheets, they can be used for indoor and outdoor graphic-art signage applications, including pole signs, advertisements, signs, and P-O-P displays. Available with a conical flute or X-flute, which offers a smoother, more rigid printing surface.
Jain features a range of PVC rigid media in various sizes and thicknesses, including Excel PVC Pro. Compatible with solvent ink sets, Excel PVC Pro—a PVC foam sheet—has a closed-cell structure, features a bright-white, smooth matte finish, and is available in thicknesses from 3-10 mm.
Kapco Graphic Products
Rigid substrates include 14-mil Gloss White Rigid Vinyl and 14-mil Translucent White Rigid Vinyl, which are compatible with solvent and mild-solvent inks.
Kömatex is a lightweight, closed-cell, free-foam, rigid PVC sheet with a matte finish and is available in a range of thicknesses. Kömacel Plus is a PVC foam sheet with a semi-rough surface and gives the finished digital print an aged look. Also available in an embossed version, the lightweight substrate can be used for indoor and outdoor applications and is available in 10-, 13-, 16-, and 19- mm thicknesses and a sheet size of 48 x 96; 48 x 120 size sheets are available on request.
KömAlu is a 3-mm printable sheet designed for outdoor applications with a lifespan of five years; comprising two aluminum sheets sandwiching a polyethylene core, it features a durable surface for both interior and exterior uses. Sheets are available in 2 mm 48 x 96 white/white; 3 mm 60 x 12 gloss white/matte white; and 3 mm 48 x 96 white/black.
These products are compatible with solvent and UV-curable inks; most are available in several colors. Alumalite features a corrugated plastic core and double-sided aluminum for stability and strength. Rigid yet lightweight, Omega-Bond panels feature double-sided painted aluminum bonded to a solid polyethylene core, which prevents bowing, warping, swelling, and de-lamination.
Pro-Lite comprises painted aluminum faces bonded to a 10-mm corrugated plastic core that is resistant to water and exposure to UV light. Omega-EP is a durable, lightweight, economical expanded PVC graphic board with dent and scratch resistance. The lightweight 3-mm D-Lite panels comprise a high-gloss aluminum surface bonded to a corrugated plastic core and are available in 12 colors.
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. Designed for indoor signage, Thru White is bright white with a smooth coating; Polyguard is for short-term, outdoor use and has a high-gloss, polyethylene coating on both sides.
Lamitech’s Earthboard is composed of 35% post-consumer waste and is 100% recyclable. The substrate is compatible with UV-curable printers, has a bright white smooth clay coating, and is available in 0.050-in. and 0.080-in. thicknesses.
SolvoPrint Easy Panel 310 (12 mil) and Easy Panel 430 (17 mil) are rigid PVC media for use with solvent, eco-solvent, and UV inks. Designed to produce excellent print quality and strong color vibrancy, they also have high scratch and water-resistant properties. Available in 36- and 42-in. widths.
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.
Its inkjet-printable products include Poly-Metal, a 3-mm aluminum on a polyethylene core; AlumaCorr, a co-polymer core with a laminated 0.013-in. aluminum surface on both sides; White-Wood, white PVC vinyl laminated to wood; and Poly-Scribe, co-extruded as one piece of plastic and available in 1/8- and 1/4-in. thicknesses and 48 x 96-in. or 48 x 120-in. panels in various colors. Poly-Scribe FC (fluted/corrugated) is available in 1/2- 5/8- 3/4-, and 1-in. thicknesses. Poly-Scribe SCR (solid core) is available in 3/8-, 1/2-, 5/8-, 3/4-, and 1-in. thicknesses.
PaLight is a foamed PVC sheet featuring a bright-white, smooth, and uniform surface; it’s compatible with flatbed printers; matte or gloss finish, several colors. Available in thicknesses from 1 mm up to 25 mm (only white PVC available in sizes more than 6 mm thick). Sheet sizes range from 1220 x 2440 mm to 2030 x 3050 mm. PalSun is a polycarbonate sheet available in various finishes, in either transparent (clear, solar grey, bronze) or translucent (sign white) colors and in sheets in 4 x 8, 5 x 8, 6 x 8-ft. widths in thicknesses between 0.04 to 0.5 in. PalGlas is an extruded acrylic sheet available in either clear or sign white and in sheet sizes of 4 x 8 ft. and thicknesses of 0.093 to 0.236 in. Also available are PalGard, SunLite (polycabonates) and PalClear, PalOpaque (PVCs).
Compatible with UV-curable inks, Optix 3015, 2447, and 7327 white acrylic offers thicknesses from 0.04 to 0.5 in. and widths up to 100 in.
Polyproplyene Multi-Wall sheets are designed for outdoor and indoor signage, displays, and packaging. The substrate is also recyclable.
Falconboard is a 100% paper-based product made from renewable resources (20% recycled fiber content minimum) and is recyclable. It features an engineered paper core and water-based adhesives coupled with a white printing surface. Produced chlorofluorocarbon-free, it emits zero VOCs during manufacturing, and has been designed to be a “green” alternative to foam boards made from polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS) or polyvinylchloride (PVC). The board accommodates most inks and adhesives and is offered in eight standard thicknesses, from 1/4- to 4 in.; standard sheet sizes are 48 x 96 up to 60 x 120 in. (custom sizes also available).
KromaPlex, a reverse-printable polycarbonate, is backed with its 10-mil white, opaque, rigid backer film; it’s compatible with solvent- and mild-solvent printers.
Offers a variety of rigid products compatible with solvent, UV-curable, and aqueous inks. Rigid products include Lexan and polyester films, as well as matte or gloss 10-mil, semi-rigid vinyls with permanent adhesives. Also offers various rigid media for non-illuminated signs and P-O-P displays.
Sihl Digital Imaging
Sihl’s line of DuraSol Rigid PVC are all designed for solvent and UV-curable inkjet inks. The company’s DuraSol Heavy 450 is an 18-mil, satin coated, and tear-resistant rigid PVC film with a waterfast coating for solvent inks; it has a cardboard-like feel and is well-suited for pop-up displays and tradeshow graphics.
Produces a variety of inkjet-compatible products, including: Rejuven8 Plus, a PLA plastic made from renewable sources such as corn. Also available is Valiant, a high-impact polystyrene sheet product specifically engineered for the graphic-arts market; it boasts superior toughness, tear resistance, and is designed to meet the embossing, die cutting, lamination, and printing needs of the P-O-P market.
Available in more than 40 faux 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.
Compatible with UV-curable and many solvent-based inks, UltraStyrene Opaque is a 20-pt rigid, plastic material (polystyrene) best suited for front-lit signs due to its structure and opacity.
UltraStyrene Translucent is available in a 14-pt. and 18-pt. thickness. It is a rigid, plastic material (polystyrene) best suited for back-lit signs.
United Industries offers several rigid substrates with extruded foam cores that are compatible with UV-curable inks. Specifically for flatbed printers, Ultra White DP is a lightweight, heavy-duty, bright-white 18 pt. poly-coated kraft paper-lined foam board with a dense extruded polystyrene foam core. Standard sheet size is 48 x 96 in. (increasing soon to 60 x 120 in.) with a standard thickness of 3/16, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 in.
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 several colors, and is available in sheets up to 48 x 120 in.
With a white core and white surfaces, Ultra Plus is an all-plastic polystyrene foamboard between two layers of expanded PVC liner. It ranges in thickness from 1/4 to 3 in. and is available in sheets up to 48 x 120 in.
Celtec is a foamed PVC sheet for high-strength, lightweight applications. The smooth, matte-finished sheets are available in a range of sizes (48 x 96 in. up to 60 x 120 in. in selected gauges), thicknesses (from 1 to 30 mm), and 11 colors. “Opaque in even the thinnest gauges, and best white for UV-cured digital printing,” the company reports.
Ultra White is a solid rigid PVC substrate designed for outdoor applications where resistance to UV is critical. It features a durable, high-gloss finish. Available in 2-, 3-, 4-, and 6-mm thicknesses and in 48 x 96-in. sheets.
Optimized for UV flatbed printers, X-Board Print is a versatile, lightweight board for short-term displays and structures. X-Board’s high-crush-strength paper core is manufactured from post-consumer recycled paper and sugar cane waste. Panels can be UV inkjet printed direct or decorative laminates can be applied over the board.
X-Board Kraft is a lightweight, eco-friendly composite board with a kraft surface. The board can be laminated with pre-printed or decorative laminates and it can be converted in the same ways as X-Board Print. Both are available in 10-, 12-, 16-, 20-, and 32-mm thick sheets and up to 48 x 120 in. in size.
Xcel’s product roster comprises 50%-post industrial content polystyrene. Other rigid, printable substrates include styrene, a rigid PVC, polyester-PET, APET, and PETG.