Effective substrate selection involves asking important questions up front.
4. What environmental elements will act on the graphic?
Many forces can act upon media, whether a graphic is located outdoors or indoors. Your supplier needs to know about these elements to provide an effective recommendation. Will chemicals, temperature, moisture, or other factors affect the graphic? How about wind and precipitation? Different print media and adhesives are available to resist damage from exposure, but a supplier may not be recommended the best options if you don’t call out environmental factors for the indoor and outdoor graphics you produce.
5. To what surface will the printed media be adhered?
There is much to be said on the subject of adhesives as there is substantial variance between different adhesive formulations to ensure adhesion to specific surfaces. For instance, an acrylic-based adhesive may need to be used to adhere to high-energy surfaces, whereas a rubber-based adhesive offers better tack with low-energy surfaces. Also, certain surfaces, such as rough brick or cement-block walls and floors, may require very specialized print media (Figure 1).
6. Will a graphic need to be repositioned?
Another consideration when it comes to adhesives is the idea of permanence versus repositionability. Some print media can be easily repositioned on walls (Figure 2). Other materials, however, are meant to go on and stay on, lasting for an extended period. Be clear with a supplier regarding your repositionability needs to ensure the appropriate adhesive is chosen.
7. How long does a graphic need to last?
Longevity is a key consideration. Some economy print media can be attained for very little investment, but these substrates may not be meant for long-term use. Remember that printing methods and environmental elements can affect how long printed substrates last; therefore, you might need to replace media that may be labeled as two-year material earlier if you do not account for certain conditions.
8. Will this graphic be placed over another graphic?
Sometimes, particularly with signage, a graphic might be placed over an existing graphic to save time and removal effort, especially when the applicator is not professionally trained. Screen-printed graphics can be difficult to adhere to, however, and a specialized adhesive may be required to accomplish this job.
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