By Olivia Cahoon
Part 2 of 2
Plastic substrates continues to gain popularity as digital flatbed printers advance. With demand increasing, different types of treated plastics emerge. Plastics include acrylic, polycarbonate, polypropylene, polystyrene, PVA, and styrene.
In part one, we took a look at different types of plastics and the applications they are generally used for. In part two, we provide a roundup of rigid plastic materials produced by vendors and discuss their sizes, printability, and uses.
Coroplast and Intepro
Coroplast offers a number of plastics for different uses. The company categorizes its plastics in five different sections–graphic arts, packaging, agriculture, automotive, and industrial. They use propylene for their plastics which range from 2 to 25 mm and standards sizes of 24×18, 24×36, and 48×96 inches.
John McCurdy, marketing director, Coroplast, describes plastic substrates for digital printing as lightweight and durable. Coroplast offers plastics in a range of standard colors and thicknesses. Custom sizes are also readily available. He adds that products include lower costs versus many rigid substrates.
“All Coroplast and Intepro materials are corona treated to have proper surface tension for optimum ink adhesion,” says McCurdy. Corona treatment is the process of increasing surface energy on plastic films for better toner and ink adhesion.
He adds that IntePro UltraSmooth has an enhanced corrugated plastic sheet that is made specifically for the digital print segment. It is available in 48×96 and 24×18 inches as well run-to-size jobs.
“UltraSmooth is flatter and smoother than standard corrugated plastic sheets and much more cost effective than PVC or styrene materials,” shares McCurdy. The UltraSmooth is designed to make grooves less visible compared to regular corrugated prints. “Coroplast and Intepro are ideal for both indoor and outdoor short-to-medium term signage,” he adds.
American PERMALIGHT, Inc.
American PERMALIGHT, Inc. supplies UL1994-listed photoluminescent polyester thin films and photoluminescent rigid PVC sheets. At a 0.046-inch thickness, the rigid PVC sheets are priced from $99.50 to $187.50.
PERMALIGHT is known for making photoluminescent signs and luminous path markings for darkened environments including buildings, vehicle tunnels, trains, ships, and mines. Photoluminescent signs glow in the dark and perform a number of functions.
The company uses PVC sheets to create staircase identification signs required by the nationwide building codes that are generally enforced by high-rise offices, administrative buildings, hotels, motels, and hospitals.
Marina Batzke, general manager, American PERMALIGHT, says that the company optimizes their plastics to print directly to digital because the material surface is immediately ready for digital print. “No surface preparation is necessary for solvent-based digital printing inks.”
PERMALIGHT’s plastics are international building code compliant and are possible of functioning during a power failure, building fire, and natural disaster.
Plaskolite recommends the OPTIX DA digital acrylic sheet to provide optimal adhesion of UV curing inks without adhesion promoters. The sheet is available in clear and white up to 104 inches while the OPTIX Non-Glare DA is available up to 60 inches. They are available in thicknesses ranging from 0.060 to 0.375 inches.
Ken Davis, Plaskolite sales representative, Davis Marketing Associates, shares that after years of development, research, and consulting with UV flatbed manufacturers, Plaskolite created a propriety surface that facilitates adhesion without the use of promoters. He adds that they are less costly than working with an adhesion promoter.
Davis shares that the sheets are made from acrylic and vivak—or PETG—and are designed for superior clarity and light transmission. The non-yellowing and durable substrate has a flat, stable, smooth surface with a water clear edge.
“Plaskolite’s OPTIX DA, digital acrylic, provides a clear, clean image that is both durable and versatile,” says Davis. He shares that the OPTIX DA is the solution to improving ink adhesion and for eliminating chipping and peeling. “This is critical when it comes to fabrication of printed parts as well as long term durability,” Davis adds.
Vycom Plastics is a manufacturer of PVC sheet products designed to replace wood, metal, and other traditional materials in a variety of applications. The company uses its plastics to create a number of different applications including point of purchase displays, signage, store fixtures, exhibits, kiosks, dimensional letters, and display boards.
The digitally printable fabrics are made of expanded PVC foam and are available in 1 to 25 mm thickness. Vycom offers plastic sheets in sizes of 4×8 and 5×10 inches as well as custom sizes. “We have introduced a vivid white to the market which makes the colors pop. Our material is denser so the ink sits better and the material routes better,” says John Smith, general manager, Vycom Plastics.
The company offers the Celtec Expanded PVC for digital printing with a satin smooth finishing. It is a lead and heavy metal free material that can be die-cut and is easy to laminate. The Celtec Solid PVC is also available in ultra white and is designed for outdoor applications where resistance to UV degradation and impact strength is critical. Vycom’s performance tests indicate the Celtec Solid PVC Ultra White is up to eight times more resistant to UV damage. It is most commonly applied as outdoor and real estate signage, and exterior chemical processing equipment.
A Plastic Market
The market for digitally printed plastics is diverse with demands for indoor and outdoor signage. While several types of plastics are available, certain qualities affect the material’s printability. Durability, thickness, size and what type of environment the plastic will be exposed to are all important considerations when shopping for the ideal plastic for digital print.
Dec2016, Digital Output DOPL1612