Firehouse Blog

Monthly Archive: September 2015

When is a Bargain NOT a Bargain?

PaulPic

You generally get what you pay for. But, when you want inexpensive, rigid graphics, are they really a bargain? The answer is, “it depends.”

Firehouse’s least expensive rigid material is foamcore. It’s very popular because it’s lightweight and works great for many applications. So, when the job calls for rigid graphics on a budget, foamcore is usually the winner. That’s fine, but there is more to consider. The characteristics that make foamcore an attractive material also make it difficult to ship. Simply put, foamcore is easily damaged in shipping. It flexes, creases and dings. To help foamcore survive the trip to its final destination, we have to really beef up the packaging. We sandwich foamcore sheets inside 6 layers of corrugated cardboard to add rigidity. And, because corners are so easy to ding if the package is dropped, the box and corrugated sheets are several inches larger overall than the foamcore they protect. We often use what we call tube boxes that have a corrugated cushion on each side. All of that leads to a larger, heavier box with more filler.

Foamcore IS an inexpensive material, but consider this example. The packaging for a foamcore sign is roughly 6 times the cost of the sign itself. Unfortunately, corrugated cardboard isn’t free. We have to pass those costs on to our clients.

That doesn’t sound like a bargain any more. The alternative?

Packaging

An upgrade in your print material can allow us to downgrade the packaging. Switching to gatorboard or PVC sheets gives your graphics a much higher survival rate in shipping, and because they are more rigid and durable, all that extra cardboard isn’t needed. Another factor to consider is where the graphic is to be displayed. If it will be exposed to heat or direct sunlight, foamcore may have difficulty in that environment. Gatorboard and PVC are more stable choices there too.

So, the next time a project calls for foamcore, contact us and we can discuss material cost vs. packaging cost. Then you’ll really know you’re getting what you paid for.

Paul Meek
Vice President of Operations