Contrary to popular belief you can print on plastic and other synthetic substrates. How you actually go about printing on these substances can be a bit tricky. There are a few things that come into play when trying to print on a synthetic material instead of paper. What type of material are using, is it synthetic paper, hard plastic, or a shopping bag? What do you what this piece to do? Will it be bent constantly like a menu, or book, or will it need to be very rigid like a ID or credit card.
What Type of Material are You Printing On?
People call many different substances plastic, so knowing exactly what you are working with is key. Would you like to print on banner material, or would you like to print on shopping bags, maybe you would like to print on synthetic paper(learn more about synthetic paper)? All of these are made from synthetic material, and they each require a different printing process. There are specialized printers that are able to print on any of these surfaces, but very few(if any) that can do all of them. Knowing what you will be printing on will decide which commercial printer you need to use.
What are You Going to do With it?
The type of material that you need for your printing project will depend greatly what you are using it for. Odds are if you are thinking about using some form of synthetic material you are tying to protect your printed piece. Some of the most common uses for synthetics in printing include, but are not limited to:
Menus, many restaurants us synthetic material for their menus for the tear and stain resistance, and their ability to withstand constant use. If menus were printed with just paper they would have to be replaced much more frequently.
Manuals, a number of manuals, especially those for maintenance, use synthetics because it can take a lot more punishment than paper. If it gets greasy, of thrown around it will still stand up.
Books, reading on the beach, or near water is always problematic, unless of course you are using a synthetic material. With plastics, or synthetic paper, water isn’t an issue. The pages won’t swell up, and the ink won’t run. Throw the book in the ocean, just dry it off and continue reading.
Plastic bags, printing on synthetic papers is very different that than printing on plastic bags. The material used in bags is very flimsy and it stretches and tears easily. Also it does not handle heat very well so you need to very careful what type of printer you are using.
Laminate, is a layer of plastic encapsulates a printed image. Typically the paper is printed on the wrapped by laminate, but there are laminates that can be written, and printed on. For more information about laminating click here.
There are a number of other items you can print on, like mugs, or pens, that are made out of plastic. These types of items involve a process called screen printing, and there are many commercial printers that specialize in this type of service.
You can absolutely print on plastic, but there are some things you need to know that will ensure that it is done properly. You need to know what type of material you would like to have printed. The type of synthetic materiel you chose will change the printing process the item will go through. Know where your piece is meant to used, and how it is going to be handled. If you need something that has to hold up in very adverse conditions the substance and printing process may need to change. If you have further questions about printing on synthetic material click here.