By Cassandra Balentine
Magnetic signage offers many opportunities, especially in retail environments, on vehicles, and at restaurants. The ability to change-out graphics quickly and easily is the primary advantage. Magnetic and magnetic-receptive substrate manufacturers and suppliers continue to introduce and enhance product offerings to provide even bigger benefits to print providers.
One way this type of media is adding value is through specialty finishes, such as a chalkboard or whiteboard effects. Print service providers benefit from magnetic media options and the innovative, specialty finishes available for them.
NEWLIFE MAGNETICS-Graphic Systems a division of NEWLIFE MAGNETICS produces many custom specialty finishes from canvas to soft touch chrome and chalkboard.
Finishes for Magnetic Media
In addition to plain white vinyl and paper options, a variety of finishes such as canvas, fabric, chalkboard, whiteboard, soft touch, and wood are available for magnetic sheeting.
“Magnetic materials can be customized with many different finishes,” comments Darrell Adams, VP North America, Newlife Magnetics LLC. He says the most popular are printable white PVC and PET films. “Printable canvas is sometimes used for artistic graphics and wall murals. “Magnetic materials are also available with white dry erase finishes or black chalkboard finishes,” he adds.
NEWLIFE MAGNETICS offers a full line of white, dry erase, and green and black chalkboard materials. The company laminates these substrates onto magnet sheeting or magnetic-receptive sheeting. It offers solutions to apply re-writable dry erase or chalkboard material to glass, metal, or dry wall surfaces.
“In addition to the printable top coatings such as vinyl, coated, and paper that have been around for quite a while, chalkboard and whiteboard/dry erase finishes are relatively new for magnetic sheeting,” agrees Mike Gertz, marketing manager, Master Magnetics, Inc.
Master Magnetics offers specialty finishes including Flexible Magnetic Chalkboard and Memo Magnet. Its Flexible Magnetic Chalkboard features a writable finish, allowing users to create messages, menus, sale specials, and designs with chalk or chalk markers. The chalk is easily erased with a damp cloth. It can be printed on with solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex ink systems.
In terms of popularity, several finishing effects stand out. “Dry erase magnetic materials are the most popular finishes and can be found in many different installation and application methods,” points out Adams. For example, magnetic sheeting with a dry erase finish might be used to resurface a conventional dry erase board at a low cost. Dry erase magnetic-receptive materials are also used in combination with other magnet and magnet-receptive materials to create custom walls with both dry erase and printed graphics.
Magnetic-receptive print media in a chalkboard finish is an impressive option for signage and wallcoverings, “Not only does it pass as the real thing, it is PVC-free, easy for chalk artists to work with, and can incorporate printed graphics. When updating a chalk illustration, a professional—or novice—can create beautiful artwork or lettering using liquid or regular chalk, with the chalkboard media layer laid out on a table and then easily hang the lightweight finished chalkboard graphic in seconds. Magnetic-receptive media can also be printed onto, so combining chalk art and graphics are no problem.”
Gertz believes that flexible magnetic sheeting with vinyl finishes are still the most popular products since they are printable with the widest range and most common ink systems—including solvent, eco-solvent, and latex—and have been around the longest.
According to Larry Budnik, sales manager, Adams Magnetic Products, PET is the company’s most popular magnetic-receptive finish due to the availability and printer compatability. For printable magnet, vinyl is more popular than PET he says because of printer capabilities coupled with quality.
The allure of magnetic media is well known, it provides a cost efficient and easy installation. “Many times the need for these types of materials are temporary so low cost and easy installation are key to buying decisions,” says Adams.
The availability of finishing effects presents even more opportunities.
Benefits and Challenges
When using specialty media options—like magnetic and magnetic-receptive systems—there are benefits and challenges. This is furthered when you add in specialty finishing effects.
Another benefit focuses on sustainability. “In the printing industry, magnets enable signage and displays to be assembled and updated quickly and neatly with minimal tools and no training—reducing installation time and increasingly profitability,” explains Budnik.
Adams’ GreenMAG printable magnet sheet is coated instead of laminated. Recyclable, the magnet won’t delaminate or curl. The flexible magnets Adams supplies contain no phthalates or conflict minerals.
For printing to magnetic materials in general, Gertz warns of several considerations, including weight, thickness, and dealing with a metal platen. “Printing direct to magnet if the platen is metal can be easily resolved by covering the platen with styrene, chipboard, vinyl, or another smooth, flat, material to create an air gap, allowing the magnetic sheeting to smoothly feed through the printer.”
Ink compatibility should also be considered. Adams points out that dry erase magnetic materials usually require a different ink set, which can be purchased from most ink providers if custom printing is required.
Gertz says solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex inks are all compatible with its PrintMagnetVinyl, ThinFORCE, and chalkboard magnetic sheeting, in addition to FlexIRON magnetic-receptive sheeting. Its PrintMagnet high-gloss and matte paper topcoats are compatible with aqueous inks.
He adds that latex, UV, solvent, and eco-solvent inks do not require a pre- or post-treatment, but a protective laminate can be used to extend the durability when used outdoors. “Paper topcoats printed with aqueous ink definitely require a protective laminate if used outdoors, or if the printed piece is handled often,” offers Gertz.
Magnetic and magnetic-receptive media options are unique in their own right. Adding specialty finishes heightens appeal and broadens application reach. Canvas, fabric, chalkboard, and whiteboard are just some of the many unique options available beyond traditional white vinyl and paper.