Polystyrene Foam Board
YES. While foam core (aka foam board) is perfect for the one-time-use project, it may not be the best solution. It’s flimsy, dentable, cracks easily, and it’s easily affected by moisture. It’s the non-wax-coated paper plate of the print industry. (You know, the kind of plate you need three of to hold a hotdog, but the second you put the chili on the dog they fall apart.) Sure, it might work well for your son’s graduation party or if you’re having a flash sale over the weekend, but if you’re doing a new product roll-out, a trade show, or a 3-month campaign in a regional grocery store, there are some options in the same price range that will work better. Let’s look at a few.
Styrene is a plastic-based material that works great for signage with a life expectancy of less than a year. It’s 100% waterproof and doesn’t tear, dent, or crack the way foam core can. Not only that but thinner styrene sheets can be rolled and placed in a tube for easier shipping. Styrene is great for hanging signs, inserting into sign holders and stanchions, or mounting to a wall or frame.
Short for “polyvinyl chloride,” this tongue-twisting space-age polymer is the same thing they make drain pipes out of and is made to take a beating. PVC is more rigid than styrene, and can even survive a few years outdoors in our harsh Minnesotan winters. It’s opaque for 2-sided printing, and it can be hung, placed on an easel, die-cut, put in stanchions, placed outside, attached to a wall.
PVC Yellow Foam Board
Gatorfoam and Ultra Board are 2 foam board alternatives to foam core with longer lifespans. They are foam so they are incredibly light, BUT with styrene or wood pulp faces and a super rigid expanded polystyrene core, they are far more durable. It’s like scientists crossed The Hulk and foam core took away all the green and got a perfectly flat printable surface. These materials are perfect for medium to longer-term indoor signage, where weight might be an issue (think hanging signage). They’re great for meter boards, POP, endcaps, and all other kinds of other indoor signage. They cost a bit more than foam core, but you get far more performance from your signage. If you’re looking for a long-term lightweight signage solution, heavy-duty foam boards are the answer.
Foam core is a great product, and for short-term indoor signage, it’s a great go-to product. For events, short-term meter boards, and short-term hanging signage, foam core is perfect. In the signage world, it’s a great contender. It’s just good to know who the other contenders are.
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