When printing a large format project, choosing the proper substrate is crucial. While the art, text, and other elements of your design plays a huge role in the success of your large format print, it is just as important to consider what your content is being printed on. There are tons of different substrates to choose from, so choosing the best one for the job can seem a bit overwhelming. However, taking the following factors into account can help narrow down your list significantly, and ultimately help you make the selection.
Since substrates vary so widely in their physical attributes, it’s only natural that their costs vary widely as well. That’s why it’s important to select a substrate that is appropriate for your budget. When working with a tight budget, you may want to go with more cost-effective materials, like paper or coroplast boards. These substrates tend to fall on the cheaper end of the substrate-spectrum, and support a wide range of uses and modes of utilization. However, if you have a bit more wiggle room in your budget, using materials like acrylic, aluminum, or PVC could be in your realm of possibilities. These substrates tend to be a bit more limited in their design possibilities, but often result in a more luxurious or high-end looking print.
It is also very important to consider the environment that your large-format print will exist in. Specifically, will it be placed inside or outside? And if it will be placed outside, what temperatures and weather conditions will it be exposed to? Some substrates are heavily affected by factors like rain, heat, cold, and the sun. Paper, for instance, is highly susceptible to water damage and color fade due to the sun. Most outdoor-appropriate substrates can also be used indoors as well, but indoor substrates may not always be able to be utilized outdoors. Luckily, since there are so many substrates available on the market, you are sure to find an outdoor substrate that is appropriate for your price range.
The desired duration and flexibility of your large format project’s application is the final factor to consider when choosing an appropriate substrate. Do you wish your print to have a long lasting, or even permanent application? Or maybe you want an application that supports a shorter lifespan. When deciding what your application goal is, it’s important to remember that the time you wish the piece to last is ultimately determined by the overall cost and substrate choice. Also, you should also keep in mind that applications that support a long duration may not be the best option if flexibility is your main goal. For example, if you want to change a sign after a relatively short period of time, opting for a more permanent mode of application can prove to be costly. If flexibility is your main goal, short or medium term applications are much more cost effective.
Large format prints can act as highly effective marketing materials, when done the right way. This “right way” includes, of course, it’s content and design. However, choosing the right medium for the job is just as imperative to the success of your print. As previously stated, selecting the proper substrate can seem like a daunting task, since there are so many to choose from. Though, when you consider your budget, the environment that your print will be in, and your application goals, it trims your list of options considerably. From there, you can easily choose the best substrate for your large format print!
Written by Omega High Impact Print Solutions Digital Marketing Associate, Emily Steel