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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

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Large Format Printing: Producing Signage on Coroplast

Ever since the basement electrical fire, Home Depot and Lowes have been my homes away from home. And these first few weeks of Spring, in particular, I have seen brightly colored signage printed on Coroplast, urging customers to plant trees, shrubs, and flowers.

What Is Coroplast?

Coroplast is actually a trade name rather than a product. It is corrugated plastic, and from the edge, it looks very much like corrugated paper board, in that it is composed of a fluted interior sandwiched between two layers of flat plastic sheeting.

And just like corrugated board, Coroplast is both durable and light in weight due to its particular construction.

Printing on Coroplast

One of the best things about Coroplast is that you can print on it using either screen printing (for long print runs) or inkjet equipment (for shorter runs). That said, plastic is not porous, so it can be frustrating to print on such a smooth surface. The ink can cake up and flake off since it doesn’t actually seep into the substrate.

One way around this problem is to treat the plastic surface with alcohol prior to printing, and another way to deal with the smoothness of the plastic base is to use UV lights to cure UV ink on the Coroplast surface. In fact this is an ideal use for both Coroplast and UV curing technology.

Benefits of Coroplast Large Format Print Signage

I have seen Coroplast signage on the backs of buses as well as inside buildings. It is very durable, and it tolerates weather. Think about the kind of abuse a Coroplast sign can expect on the back of a bus, between the toxic gas fumes, dirt, rain, and constant sunlight. When you need an inexpensive substrate that’s light and durable for signage or advertising, this is one to consider seriously.

Uses of Coroplast for Signage

When I think back to the signage I have seen printed on Coroplast, a number of uses come to mind:

  1. You can produce political signs, and then use wire supports stuck up into the corrugated fluting to support signs that you can then place on people’s lawns.
  2. You can do the same thing with real estate signs.
  3. You can produce intricate POP (point-of-purchase) displays with shelves to hold products, such as cosmetics. You can either print directly on these plastic structures or print on substrates (like laminated custom label paper) that can be affixed to the Coroplast with an adhesive.

Options for Custom Printing on Coroplast

As noted above, if your press run is too large for inkjet equipment, Coroplast works well with screen printing inks. In fact, you may have noticed the difference in real estate or political signage. In most cases, if you see simple, two-color, large format print signage, it’s probably made using custom screen printing. If the signage is more intricate, with halftones, gradations, and multiple colors, it probably was inkjet printed.

What You Cannot Do with Coroplast

Think about it. An offset press puts the commercial printing paper stock under tremendous pressure. That’s why you would offset print a project first and then emboss or deboss it. If you reversed the process and first embossed a job which you then offset printed, the pressure of the press rollers would crush the embossing.

The same is true for offset printing on fluted corrugated board or even on plastic corrugated board (such as Coroplast).

Therefore, your best bets are still custom screen printing, digital inkjet printing, and/or possibly flexography, which is the process used for custom printing large simple designs on paper corrugated board.

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