Can I print on acrylic sheet with my UV-curable flatbed printer?
Yes you can. We suggest using ACRYLITE® digital print acrylic sheet for printing with this type of printer. Many people like to use these printers with an acrylic substrate but find that those inks typically don’t adhere well to standard acrylic sheet. The ink does not get absorbed into the acrylic and needs a different way to stay adhered without flaking off. With ACRYLITE® digital print acrylic sheet, these inks adhere very well.
What benefits does ACRYLITE® digital print sheet provide for me?
Its primary benefit is that ACRYLITE® digital print solves the ink adhesion problem when printing on acrylic sheet on UV-curable flatbed printers. It has a special coextruded printable layer on one side that allows these inks to adhere very well.
How does ACRYLITE® digital print sheet achieve ink adhesion?
ACRYLITE® digital print achieves ink adhesion through its special coextruded layer made exclusively for the purpose of providing good ink adhesion. Additionally, this material has been tested with leading digital UV flatbed printers to ensure a perfect print every time and passes the cross-hatch adhesion test as per ASTM procedure D3359.
How can I tell if I have good ink adhesion?
Watch our product spotlight video to see how to test the ink adhesion on both non-digital acrylic and ACRYLITE® digital print acrylic. If you notice that your ink is chipping off or scraping off of a print on non-digital acrylic, you can safely assume that the adhesion is insufficient.
My printer seems to print on standard acrylic just fine, do I really need digital print?
For better durability, we would still recommend using ACRYLITE® digital print. There may be some applications where printing on standard acrylic does not show any ink adhesion issues. For example, if the printed result is not subjected to post-printing operations (such as cutting or routing) and is protected from harm, then printing on standard acrylic might satisfy your needs. However, we have seen issues where a piece of standard acrylic was printed and “appeared” to work fine, but post-printing steps such as routing caused catastrophic delamination of the ink.
I have a lot of standard acrylic in stock, there’s no way for me to print on it with my UV-curable flatbed printer?
In this case, you would likely need to use a primer to get the ink to adhere to the standard acrylic. Note that priming can be a messy and time-consuming step, and there are also safety and environmental considerations. This can be completely avoided by using ACRYLITE® digital print sheet.
Will the printable layer flake off from ACRYLITE® digital print acrylic?
No, this printable layer is coextruded and will not chip or flake off the way a coating might.
How can I tell which side to print on?
ACRYLITE® digital print sheet has white poly masking on the printing side and clear poly masking on the non-printing side. The non-printing side also has strip tape on it indicating to “print other side”. The use of clear poly masking on the non-printing side allows you to view the final second-surface printed work through the protective clear poly and reduces the chance of damaging the surface.
What kind of masking is used on ACRYLITE® digital print sheet?
We use a unique masking configuration that is low static, which can also help maintain the quality of your print. There's white poly masking on the printing side and clear poly masking on the non-printing side. Refer to the above question, 'How can I tell which side to print on?', for additional details.
I heard ACRYLITE® digital print sheet is provided in special moisture-control packaging, is this true?
Yes, ACRYLITE® digital print sheet is provided in special moisture-control packaging to keep absorption of moisture to a minimum. This packaging is essential because acrylic sheet can absorb moisture, and the two different surfaces of ACRYLITE® digital print (digital printing side and standard acrylic side) can lead to a differential rate of absorption. When this happens, the acrylic has the potential to begin to warp – this can lead to inconsistent printed results and potentially a print head strike.
What makes up the moisture-control packaging?
This moisture-control packaging is a double-layer of polyethylene overwrap with desiccant bags inside. The pallet has a yellow label with the instruction to keep the pallet sealed when not in use. With this packaging, the material is well protected to avoid moisture-related problems.
Is ACRYLITE® digital print an extruded or cast product?
ACRYLITE® digital print is an extruded product, providing tight thickness tolerances which will work better with flatbed printers. It is not available as a cast product. Cast sheet is also subject to potentially wide thickness variation within a single sheet, which would also likely produce inconsistent printed results.
Does ACRYLITE® digital print sheet have an edge color?
We make ACRYLITE® digital print sheet with a water-clear edge color that looks the same as standard acrylic. This allows for beautiful, exposed edges when polished. Some competitive materials have a tinted appearance that not only can look unsightly but can also result in a color shift of the final print. With ACRYLITE® digital print, this water-clear edge color will enhance the overall look of the print.
Can I perform fabrication steps on ACRYLITE® digital print just like standard acrylic?
Most fabrication steps, including saw-cutting, routing, laser-cutting, drilling, edge finishing, cementing, and buffing can be performed on ACRYLITE® digital print. Line-bending and thermoforming may also potentially be performed but this may compromise the appearance of the final result by thinning out the caplayer and will also affect the ink layer which may not be flexible enough to be thermoformed. We recommend that you test this in your application first. The primary fabrication step that we specifically recommend against is flame-polishing, since the flame will visually damage the printable surface. For additional information, refer to our tips on fabricating ACRYLITE® digital print.
Can I backlight my image?
Yes, you can absolutely backlight your image. Several factors can affect your result – the print density, number of printed layers, flooding, etc. Please consult with your printer manufacturer for guidance on this.
Is ACRYLITE® digital print sheet available to be hard-coated or markerboard-coated?
Yes, ACRYLITE® digital print can be hard-coated on the non-printing side. This provides mar and chemical resistance on the first-surface when the digital print is printed on the second-surface. This product is called ACRYLITE® digital print mar resistant. Similarly, ACRYLITE® digital print can be coated on the non-printing side with a markerboard coating. This allows the sheet to be used as a dry-erase board on the first-surface and printed on the second-surface – this product is called ACRYLITE® digital print markerboard.
What other versions of ACRYLITE® digital print are available?
ACRYLITE® digital print is also available in a P99 (non-glare on the non-printing side) version and in a translucent white version (color code WM730, analogous to our standard color WT030). These are available on a made-to-order basis; please contact us for minimum quantities and lead times.