You can make it fast or make it right. Continue reading to find out how to optimize your graphics for appeal and application.
By Paul Roba
What is the expected durability of the graphic and the project? How long does it need to last? Getting an idea of a customer’s expectations for the life of the graphic is helpful in specifying the exact product to meet performance expectations. It’s also an opportunity for you to make certain the customer’s expectations are realistic. Cast films typically have the longest lifespan. Cast films can last ten years or more for cut graphics used in signage. Screen-printed graphics on cast film generally last six up to seven years. Digitally printed graphics typically last up to five years when they are laminated or clear coated. Life of calendered film is usually one to six years with digitally printed calendered films having a maximum durability of five years.
Is an overlaminate needed? Digital printing is a bit different from screen printing or cut-signage technologies in that an overlaminate is generally required to extend the graphic’s life beyond two to three years. The inks typically will last that long outdoors on their own; however, they have poor chemical and abrasion resistance. An overlaminate is required for graphics that need to last longer.
Not using a laminate is one of the easiest and most obvious methods for cost cutting. Be careful here. Even if the graphic only needs to last one or two years, a laminate may still be a good idea because of its ability to protect the ink from chemicals or from being scratched. If you are pushed by your customer to go this route, proceed with caution and make certain the customer understands what may happen to the print if it goes unprotected. If you are using UV printing technology, the graphic may not be at as high of a risk.
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