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Choosing the right media for digital printing
By Denise Nathan 

To achieve the best print results and performance throughout a campaign there are a number of variables to consider. Firstly one of the most important aspects is choosing the right media. It sounds obvious, but surprisingly vinyl failures still occur because the film used did not meet the criteria of the application.

There has been a sizeable shift in the sign market from computer cut lettering to digital printing. While many aspects remain the same there are some important differences that are worth considering.

When choosing computer cut vinyl, the focus is on the durability of the film. The question that drives many purchasing decisions is "How long will the film last?" This is a valid consideration as the life of the sign will be dictated by the life of the film. Once the coloured vinyl starts to fade, crack or peel, the appearance of the sign also diminishes so understandably it is important to match your customer's expectation and requirements with media that will last the distance.

When we consider digital printing the focus alters. The self adhesive film now becomes a substrate; the sign is really the digital print which is the ink. So ink durability becomes more of a critical component in the durability of the sign. Most reputable ink manufacturers warranty their inks for around 3 years. If the ink is not going to last 5 years, the question is why use a 5 year vinyl, or a 7 year or a 10 year? The durability of the vinyl therefore is not so critical and should not be the sole reason for buying a particular film.

Instead products need to be chosen on FEATURES and their suitability for the intended application. Considerations should focus on printability, shrinkage and performance on the substrate. A high performance fleet film is chosen because of its conformability and ability to remain on convex and concave surfaces, not because the film has a 10 year life. Applications can be divided into key areas

BANNER GLASS (one way/two way vision)
SPECIALTY ( floor graphics, aircraft, etc.)

Choosing products based on their performance in each area will ensure the success of any graphic installation. 


Denise Nathan is Marketing Manager - MACtac in Oceania
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