Custom Printing on Styrene
Styrene is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world and can be found in consumer packaging, foams, take-out trays, bottles, and retail print. Retailers prefer printing on styrene sheets because it’s incredibly easy to work with, inexpensive, durable, and safe for retail; making it the preferred substrate for header signs, aisle violators, shelf strips, hanging signs, point of purchase display panels, posters, trans light backlit signs, or shelf-talkers.
What is Styrene?
Polystyrene (PS) is a synthetic polymer thermoplastic referred to as ‘styrene’, it can be molded or sheeted making it versatile, easy to machine, and inexpensive to use. When destined for print applications, additives like 5-10% rubber or butadiene copolymer are included in the styrene manufacturing process to increase its impact resistance and toughness. Without the additive, styrene is quite brittle. This specially formulated styrene is called HIPS (high impact polystyrene) and is a sign-makers choice favorite substrate material.
UV Digital Printing on Polystyrene
Digital inkjet printing is the process of spraying picoliter-sized droplets of ink in perfect unison and placement onto a substrate material. Billions of droplets of cyan, magenta, yellow and black build up an image and when seen from a distance create amazing imagery. Image Square Printing is home to some of the most advanced UV digital printing presses designed specifically for good ink adhesion to polystyrene material, amazing production speeds and stunningly beautiful process color output. Using Image Square Printing that specialize in particular markets or materials ensures your dealing with experts of their craft. While HIPS is an easy material to work with, many printers have ink formulations for printing on paper or certain plastics but not HIPS. This may result in poor ink adhesion and failure in the field.
Why Should I Use Styrene Sheets?
Retail print buyers choose high-impact polystyrene because it is a well-rounded easy material to work with. It has good ink adhesion, UV printing looks great on it, it’s easy to cut, inexpensive to acquire, it is safe and durable in the field, rigid enough to self-stand, and recyclable.
High Impact Polystyrene for print is generally white but is available in colors for large production runs. There are numerous advantages making it a favorite in the printing industry but one of the main and commonly used across retail due to its durability, rigidity, and overall cost.
Attributes of High-Impact Polystyrene:
- Impact resistance – HIPS is extremely durable and has a tendency to bend and flex before breaking making it a great option for use within the general public in retail environments.
- Fabrication – HIPS can be die-cut, router cut, drilled, heat bent, machined, fabricated, and bonded. Ease in manufacturing increases output, and reduces the overall costs.
- Rigidity – is one of few materials that is cost-effective, printable, and rigid without being a sandwich board type (cardboard, coroplast, foamboard) where they have ugly exposed sides or simply less durable. Styrene is rigid and self-standing at thicknesses as thin as 0.020 mil but it depends on the final cut size.
- Printable – It is excellent for sheet-fed digital inkjet printing, and litho offset. Image Square Printing uses digital ink jet method. The base white color doesn’t have a strong yellow hue, resulting in the colors looking truer than many alternative options.
- Recyclable – HIPS is 100% recyclable under recycle code #6. In fact, Image Square Printing recycles all of its drops and scraps back to our vendor.
- Colors – Printable HIPS is generally stocked in white or translucent white, but it can be procured in custom colors for large production runs.
- Translucent – HIPS is available in different levels of opacity from Opaque, Standard, or Translucent. Backlit signage is typically printed on acrylic or translucent HIPS. Light passing through the white styrene brings out all the vibrant colors of a digitally printed graphic.
- Low cost – HIPS is very cost-effective when compared to other similar materials.
- Dimensional stability – Many plastics and papers are sensitive to humidity, heat, and UV which can cause them to warp, shrink, saturate, bend or become brittle. HIPS resists the elements and has good dimensional stability.