Here at AlphaGraphics Arvada/Downtown Denver/Golden/Aurora, we are often asked about materials that are more eco-friendly for large format (signage) projects. There are certainly options in the “small format” print world – recycled paper, tree-free paper, hemp-based paper – even paper made of ground rock!
Although the range of eco-friendly materials are more limited for large format projects – new products are being developed on a regular basis. Let’s start with inks. Although not all-inclusive, the major ink types used for large format printing are solvent, eco-solvent (low VOC), latex and aqueous. Here at AlphaGraphics Arvada/Downtown Denver/Golden/Aurora, we use three types of inks – aqueous (indoor use only, limited substrates), latex (water-based, very low volatile emissions, weatherproof, some limitations to substrates), and UV cured low VOC solvent (permanence, weatherproof, prints on almost any substrate). The printers we use are manufactured by EFI (our model 16h UV Hybrid printer) and HP (latex and aqueous roll printers). HP posted a nice summary article – How Friendly is Large Format Printing – that covers a broad view of materials, inks, and equipment. EFI also touts the advantage of LED UV printing for the environment.
Why are plastics and synthetic materials used in large format printing? Because they print well and stand up to the elements, the use of adhesives, handling and re-use. Are they eco-friendly? Not particularly and the qualities vary by material. For example – PVC, polycarbonate, and polypropylene are recyclable, but acrylic, polystyrene (foam core and gatorboard) and vinyl are much more difficult to recycle. Furthermore, there may not be recycling available in all locations or at the volume being used.
So…new materials are being developed to address some of the needs in the world of large format printing. Yes, eco-friendly large format materials really do exist!
One material that has recently been made available is Bulldog Board. Bulldog Board is a very rigid paper-based board.
- It is coated on both sides for high-quality printing.
- It’s very stiff and rigid and resists curling.
- Cuts easily and cleanly.
- Biodegradable and fully recyclable.
- Applications for short-term, indoor use: hanging signs, table toppers, POS displays, chiller signs, meeting signage.
- It is an alternative material to expanded PVC, styrene, foam boards (foam core/gatorboard) and corrugated plastic (coroplast).
Bulldog Board is readily available in 2 mm (79 pt) and 3 mm (118 pt) thicknesses. It comes in 48″ x 96″ sheets.
Another material we have been using is EAGLECELL™.
EAGLECELL™ comes in a variety of colors (outer surfaces and insides) and thicknesses. EAGLECELL™ is the recyclable, eco-friendly option for replacing plastic, metal and wood as an all-paper honeycomb graphics board with 100% fully recyclable paper core and surface papers. EAGLECELL™ is available in both White and Kraft Core Options. It features a proprietary open core design engineered with 95% open space making it lightweight yet able to deliver I-beam like superior structural strength for carrying shear, bending and compressive loads that provide outstanding strength, rigidity and warp resistance. EAGLECELL™ features triple-thick, bright white clay coated liners manufactured for superior ink coverage and exceptional color gloss. The Kraft color core is bonded to bright-white SFI certified surface papers.
- 100% Paper Based
- Proprietary Honeycomb core with 95% open space makes it lightweight
- I-Beam like Strength, Rigidity and Warp Resistance
- Triple-thick bright white clay coated liners
- Kraft color core is bonded to bright-white SFI certified surface papers
- Superior Cutting Performance on ZÜND (which we have at AlphaGraphics)
- 100% Recyclable. Compatible with any recycling program
- Available in White and Kraft Core Options
- Exhibits & Signage
- POP Display
- Photo Mounting
- Digital & Screen Printing
- In-Store Merchandising
- Trade Show Booths
This stuff is TOUGH! We have even made tables out of it.
Our mascot “selfie image” is even made of EAGLECELL™.
SUMMARY: ECO-FRIENDLY SUBSTRATES
Although finding eco-friendly substrates for large format printing can be a challenge, new and exciting materials are available for indoor use. At AlphaGraphics Arvada/Downtown Denver/Golden/Aurora, we have found these new materials great replacements for foam board and gatorboard for temporary indoor signage and have had a great reception of these products from our more environmentally conscious clients!
Email or call us to find out more about large format printing and the types of substrates available – or stop by and take a tour and see samples first hand!