Hello and welcome to our brand new Product Spotlight series.
If you’re looking for high quality signage that can be custom-built to boost your high street presence, make your stall stand out at trade shows and exhibitions, or advertise a new line of products in your store, then you’ve come to the right place.
You know you need a great sign – that’s a given – and you probably have a great design all prepared and polished and ready to print (although if you haven’t, give us a bell, as we can provide great artwork, too).
But, what you might not realise is that you need your sign to be made out of the right material so that it looks as good as can be and is suitable for the environment in which it will be displayed.
This can be a bit of a sticking point for many of our customers. There are so many materials to choose from, so many brand names and so much jargon to get your head around, that without some insider knowledge it can be quite easy to make the wrong decision (or no decision at all!)
We don’t want that to happen, so we’ve created this Product Spotlight series. Over the coming weeks and months we will be putting our most popular products under the spotlight, to help you see and understand everything we do, as well as illuminating which materials are best suited to which designs and environments. We have many years of experience in sign-making and printing under our belts. We want to pass on this hard-earned expertise so you can make an informed choice about your signage needs.
This week we’re putting Foamex Signs under the spotlight – a rigid yet affordable type of signage that will last for years. Let’s take a closer look…
What Is Foamex?
Much like Hoover, Sellotape and Aspirin, Foamex is actually a brand name that has become genericised over time to refer to PVC foam sheets. Foamex signs are made from extra sturdy PVC and are characterised by their lightweight, semi-rigidity and polyurethane foam core.
However, you shouldn’t be put off Foamex because its name makes it sound like it’s made out of foam. In reality, there’s nothing remotely foam-like about the material – it’s not soft, spongy or formed out of bubble bath. In fact Foamex is a superior quality, rigid and durable material that can be cut, drilled, and, depending on its thickness, be used for both indoor and outdoor displays.
What Are The Most Suitable Uses For Foamex Signs?
Foamex signs are a great choice for many environments and circumstances. PVC foam sheet is a lightweight material, with good chemical resistance and great insulation properties, making it very suitable for both indoor and outdoor signage and displays.
With its smooth finish and range of colours, Foamex can be printed on both sides and is easily cut to any shape. Signs can be drilled, screwed to walls, post-mounted, hung in a frame, and PVC foam’s low water absorption means that it won’t rot or swell over time.
Most commonly, Foamex signs are used for shop signs and other retail signage, menu boards, exhibition graphics, shell scheme panels, outdoor exhibition signage and for crafting visitor attraction directional signs.
Put simply, Foamex signs are a great option for many different scenarios – the only choice you will have to make is on thickness.
Foam PVC Thicknesses Explained
Foamex signs come in three thicknesses – 3mm, 5mm and 10mm – each suited to specific usage. Let’s consider one at a time.
3mm Foam PVC
3mm Foamex boards are the lightest of the bunch. Though still rigid, durable and weatherproof, 3mm Foamex signs are best used for indoor displays, exhibitions and trade show shell schemes. This is because 3mm Foamex is quite flexible and so would need to be fixed to a stronger board to withstand outdoor conditions for any length of time.
5mm Foam PVC
5mm Foamex signs are still lightweight, though slightly less flexible than their 3mm siblings, meaning they are suitable for outdoor use. Indeed, 5mm Foamex is the standard and the material’s fine cell structure makes it the preferred choice for professional digital printers – it’s our biggest seller in the Foamex range.
10mm Foam PVC
With a whole 10mm of thickness, these Foamex signs err on the heavy side. Though the extra density will certainly mean that the material will withstand even the toughest outdoor conditions, the weight of it can make the finished sign a little difficult to work with when it comes to mounting, hanging etc. In fact, we often recommend aluminium dibond to be used instead of 10mm Foamex, as this is a lighter material and even more robust (the trade-off being that dibond doesn’t spring back into shape when it flexes).
Printing Foamex Signs
Here at Print 2 Media we are able to print your designs and artwork directly onto Foamex boards using our high-quality UV printer. Most wide format printers are limited to solvent printers which only print to self-adhesive vinyl. This then needs to be stuck to the Foamex board and optionally laminated.
Because of our investment in top-of-the-range print technology we can manufacture using either method. We will produce your sign in the way that best suits the finish you are looking for, your budget and the environment the sign will be situated in.
We can print any design onto Foamex. Our UV printer can even print white white and clear inks, which looks great when printed onto coloured Foamex or for achieving special effects like a spot UV varnish.
Extremely high quality, visually appealing signage and display products are very easily achievable with our Foamex prints, resulting in finished signs that have the look and feel of being much more expensive than they actually are.
Cutting Foamex Signs
If you’d prefer rounded corners for your signs rather than pointy ones, then we can very easily do that for you. However, Print 2 Media are also in possession of a CNC flat-bed cutter that can contour-cut shapes from any thickness of Foamex. The cutter can even make internal cuts on designs, which mean any slots or windows can be easily created.
Want to see it in action? Take a look at our video below…
The CNC flat-bed cutter produces a perfect cut from any artwork with a vector cut-line. This vector line is the path the cutter travels whilst cutting your sign to shape. You know those dotted lines on the back of the kids’ cereal box that are there to guide your scissor cuts when cutting out the Toni Tiger mask? Well, vector cut-lines are kind of like digital versions of those, but instead of guiding a pair of scissors in a human being’s hand, they’re guiding the knife or router bit of the machine.
Making vector cut-lines can be tricky, and so we are always happy to help you get them right if the process leaves you a little flustered. In the meantime, though, take a look at our artwork guidelines to help you get your head around vectors, as well as what we’ll need when you submit your design for your Foamex sign.
The Foamex Finish
Foam PVC is completely weatherproof. It does not absorb any moisture. The UV and Eco-solvent inks we print with are also waterproof, making our foamex signs very suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications.
Depending on where they are situated, you can expect your Foamex signs to resist fading from the sun’s UV for approximately 3 years. After that, fading of the inks may begin to occur but in every other respect the sign should be just fine. You can extend the UV resistance for longer by having the sign laminated. It may also be useful to have the sign laminated if it is in a pedestrian area and may be in contact with the public – it helps prevent scratches and scuffs.
Our laminates are available in gloss or matt and you may opt for one or the other purely for the finish. Unlaminated Foamex has a satin finish (somewhere between gloss and matt) depending on how much ink coverage there is, so if you want your sign to be especially glossy, or you want it to reflect as little light as possible, choose a gloss or matt laminate respectively.
How To Order
If you think that Foamex is the right material for your signage needs, then head over to our Foamex Signs product page and select your finish, thickness, dimensions, corners and cuts from our simple check box form.
Alternatively, if you need a little more help in making your final decisions, then don’t hesitate to get in touch and speak to one of our team in person – we’re always happy to help you choose the right material for the right sign, every time.