This is the second of a 2 part article on how to choose the right material for your sign. Part 1 covered flexible vinyl signs, Part 2 covers rigid signs.
Cutting through the confusion
In the first part of this article, we started by talking about the confusion surrounding the range of materials available in the sign industry. We advised that the first question you should ask yourself is…
- Am I adding a graphic to an existing fixture (a wall, a window, a vehicle, an existing rigid sign)
- or do I need a new, rigid sign to fix to posts, a wall or to free-stand?
If you’re looking to place a graphic on an existing fixture then you need self-adhesive vinyl signage,which we covered in detail in Part 1 – Vinyl Signs. If you need a rigid sign then read on, because we’re going to cover those in detail here in Part 2.
Rigid sign materials
There are three principal materials for producing rigid signs. They variously get called by generic industry names and / or manufacturers’ brand names. Think Hoover™ vs. vacuum cleaner! The materials and their aliases are detailed as follows:
|Brand name||Other names||Details|
|Correx®||Fluted plastic board, corrugated polypropylene sheet||4mm, 6mm, 8mm or 10mm thick, cheap, low durability|
|Foamex™||Foam PVC, Foamalite, Forex, Palite||3mm, 5mm or 10mm thick, cost-effective, good durability|
|Aluminium Dibond®||Dilite, Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP), Alucobond||3mm thick, premium signage material, highest durability|
Correx is a brand name for fluted plastic board, or corrugated polypropylene sheet. It’s a very lightweight material and is the cheapest form of rigid signage. However, it’s light weight and fluted construction mean it’s best used for short term promotional signage. The most popular use for correx signs is as estate agents boards, but it is also used for exhibition directional signage (indoors and out), building site signage or miscellaneous other short term signage jobs. In exposed areas the sign can be mounted to an additional wooden board to add strength, otherwise it can be prone to bending along the flutes when subject to a high wind load.
Correx can be screwed using normal wood screws although it is advised to use large washers when doing this to avoid the heads pulling through the boards.
Our Correx signs are printed straight-to-board with UV, waterproof inks and can be over-laminated with a clear (matt or gloss) laminate for extra durability. The material has a white finish front and back (although other colours are available on request).
Foamex is a brand name for PVC foam sheet (or foam PVC), sometimes known as Forex, Foamalite or Palite. Don’t confuse it with the soft, spongy board known as “Foamcore” which is sometimes used for mounting pictures. We don’t use Foamcore because it’s rubbish!
The “foam” part of the name is a bit deceptive and seems to catch people out. There is nothing foam-like about the material in the traditional sense. To all intents and purposes you can treat it like a solid plastic sheet.
It’s a fairly dense material with a smooth finish, available in three thicknesses 3mm foam PVC, 5mm Foam PVC and 10mm Foam PVC. The 3mm and 5mm thicknesses are light for their size. Due to its density, the 10mm thickness is quite heavy for its size and you may be better off with Dibond (especially for large signs). Foam PVC boards are strong and can be drilled or cut to shape to create stunning signage. We can also round off the corners if required. The boards are water proof and can be used both indoors and out, however 3mm foamex is mostly recommended for indoor use – it’s a bit too flexible to withstand outdoor conditions unless fixed to another board.
3mm Foamex boards would be the first choice for indoor exhibition display graphics, it’s the perfect material for cladding the panels of a shell scheme. The Foamex panels can be backed with velcro tape that is compatible with the velcro walls of most shell schemes.
Other applications for Foamex signs include shop signage or outdoor exhibition signage, visitor attraction directional signage, shaped display signs. The 10mm foam PVC boards offer excellent strength and rigidity and will withstand the toughest of outdoor conditions. These thicker boards can be used for display signage in exposed outdoor areas or are often used as exhibition signage that is reused year on year.
Foamex signs are easy to drill and screw and so are easily fixed to wooden posts or batons.
Dibond is a brand name commonly used for aluminium composite sheet or ACP, these can also be found under the name Dilite or Alucobond. Dibond sheets consist of a solid polyethylene core sandwiched between 2 sheets of aluminium that is approximately 0.3 to 0.5mm thick, giving the panel a total thickness of 3mm.
Dibond or ACP sheets can be drilled, screwed and shaped on a CNC cutter to create signage with great impact. We can also round off corners for pedestrian safety or aesthetic effect. It doesn’t rust or deteriorate in the sun. ACP can be used for general shop signage and fascias, directional signage, event and exhibition signage and much more. We can also mount rails to the back of Dibond that is compatible with clamps for fixing to round metal posts (like road signs).
Aluminium Dibond is a premium form of signage, it has the highest durability of the available materials and the greatest strength to weight ratio. If 10mm Foamex is too heavy you need a Dibond sign – it will provide greater strength (suffering a higher wind-load) and weigh less. If your sign is going to be exposed to strong winds you definitely need a Dibond sign.
Fantastic printed signage
All of our rigid signs are printed with weatherproof UV inks on our wide format printers that are capable of full photographic reproduction. There’s no need to compromise on the artwork for your signage – if you can dream it up, we can print it! We can also over-laminate our rigid signs with a clear (matt or gloss) laminate for extra durability.
We hope you’ve found this article useful. Remember, if you want to find out more about flexible vinyl signs, see What Material Should I Choose for My Sign? Part 1 – Vinyl Signs.