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Expert Q&A:
Trends in Substrates for Digital Printing

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Masterpiece Graphix Supply Chain & Business Manager Charity Brueggemann and Digital Material Specialist Jeremy Underhill. To get answers about running specialty substrates on your digital press and how to use them to grow your business, contact one of our digital material specialists today at 636-349-6401 or email us.

Q: What types of specialty substrates are currently trending and why?

A: The trending substrates for printing are Polypropylene (synthetic paper), Rigid Vinyl PVC and PET (Polyester). Developments in dry toner technology, such as low melt toner, are opening up the use of more plastic polymers beyond just polyester. This translates to a broader range of applications for printers as well as cost reduction.

Q: What environments and applications are these substrates being used for?

A: Synthetic paper, PVC, and Polyester are used for both indoor and outdoor applications. Commercial printers are using these substrates to create menus, manuals, covers, signage, loyalty cards, ID cards, and more. The options are almost endless.

Q: What are some other new or popular options for substrates?

A: Commercial printers are looking for more than ‘just paper’. They want unique material to make their customer’s brand stand out from the competition. These unique materials include plastics, canvas, soft touch, and metalized.

Q: What are the challenges of printing on these substrates versus more traditional materials?

A: When printing on plastics, sometimes a commercial printer may encounter challenges including consistent toner transfer, especially on high solids. However this is easily solved. Where paper may be ‘plug and play’, plastic substrates may require slight setting adjustments to fine tune. Occasionally, post print static can create challenges for finishing processes. Masterpiece Graphix offers a Guide to Printing on Plastics and our digital material specialists are available to provide one-on-one support.

Q: What are the benefits of specialty substrates?

A: The durability and longevity of plastic substrates is unbeatable, with many options for tear, water, and chemical resistance to extend the life of the finished piece. Due to the longer life cycle of synthetic-based solutions versus paper-based products, reprints are less frequently required. Plastic substrates are less expensive than laminating paper and often result in faster turnaround times since the printer does not need to outsource lamination.

Q: What are some of the top selling specialty substrates?

A: 1) Synthetic Paper – it’s recyclable, flexible and has a soft hand feel. It is easy to score and fold. As a polypropylene, Masterpiece Graphix Synthetic Paper is a more economical choice than some of the over-engineered polyester-based products on the market. Synthetic Paper is available in a variety of thicknesses and sizes.

2) Rigid Vinyl PVC – it offers excellent durability and it’s easy to use. In fact, PVC is the most widely used print plastic. It is resistant to UV degradation, has good rigidity, and low flammability (resists ignition).

3) Solid Core Polyester – it offers a unique toner receptive coating which makes it a universal substrate for dry toner and HP Indigo digital presses. Polyester is tear, stain, and weather resistant, offers high definition image quality, a bright white matte finish, and comes in multiple thicknesses. Masterpiece Graphix polyester has anti-static properties, high heat resistance and is cost-effective.

The above is an excerpt from an interview with Masterpiece Graphix Supply Chain & Business Manager Charity Brueggemann and Digital Material Specialist Jeremy Underhill. To get answers about running specialty substrates on your digital press and how to use them to grow your business, contact one of our digital material specialists today at 636-349-6401 or email us.

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