September 20


What Materials Can You Print On?

By Hackworth

September 20, 2019

Printing Materials, printing services, sign printing

In materials, sign printing can offer a lot of options. Each material has special features and benefits that can make it suitable for a specific situation. Here are some commonly used materials we have tested and compared for your reference.

  • Medium Density Overlay - Popularly referred to as ‘MDO’, is made of plywood panels with a resin fiber fused to the surface. Commonly used in sign designs, because of its tough quality.
  • Glass–glass applications can be found almost everywhere. This material is used as a canvas to apply graphics for signage and marketing purposes.
  • Aluminum–A perfect material for any permanent outdoor sign, this material will not rust with tough enamel that will not flake or peel like other painted materials.
  • Fabric- Printed fabrics are relatively new to the sign industry but are making a huge name thanks to digital printing. Fabrics can be printed for banners, awnings, flags and fine art, including canvases.
  • Acrylic This tough, transparent, versatile thermoplastic is used in many applications, especially in visual communications, design and architecture. This material is also very resistant to shock, flexing, scratching and weathering, which comes in a variety of colors and finishes and is recyclable.
  • Gator board is a hard but lightweight display material that has a thick inner foam core and a wood-fiber veneer exterior. It is water, scratches, and dent resistant. Thanks to its portability and toughness, gator board is ideal for signs that will need to be frequently moved around.
  • The foam core is a thick, inexpensive, and super lightweight display material. It has a dense foam core sandwiched between two layers of thick matte paper. Because it is so low cost, foam core signs are a great option for temporary displays and presentations.
  • Ultra-board is a heavy-duty, all-plastic panel used for vivid prints and high use displays.
  • Vinyl and painted wall graphics –creative designs with bright and colorful details can be achieved using this material. They are adherent and can be applied directly to walls.
  • Wood–Wood can be used when it is important to match the surroundings. But not only just woods, good quality wood can have excellent durability and looks high end.
  • Textured wall coverings–or without the technicality, the ‘wallpaper’. It adds intensity and interest with a huge range of visually pleasing looks and feels.
  • Steel and stainless steel–Strong, durable and versatile, this long-established construction material is made from mixing iron and carbon in the right proportions at high temperature, but other additives give it qualities.
  • Stone–Whether a just a normal-looking stone or slate can be cut it to size and shape. Great for traditional architectural signage with natural surroundings, this signage also gives the feeling of permanency and solidity to any environment.
  • Coroplast is ridged polypropylene with a limited exterior life. These materials readily accept stress0-sensitive vinyl graphics, screen inks, and digital images.
  • Polycarbonate- this material is clear, shatter-proof plastics that provide more durability and more flexibility than conventional acrylic plastics. They are widely used for exterior sign faces in areas that are subject to vandalism. Polycarbonates are also used for light box graphics.

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About the author

In 1991, Hackworth opened its doors as a blue printer in Chesapeake, VA. Under the direction of Dorothy and Charlie Hackworth and their son Charles, the business is now a full-fledged graphics, printing and technology company serving the Mid-Atlantic.

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