Firehouse Blog

Author Archive: Paul Meek

A CLEAR Guide to Transparent Materials – Part 1

paulnewpicFirehouse’s clear substrates span the range from affordability to durability. Printing can be layered with white ink for maximum color saturation. Let’s discuss our most popular options for direct printing.

Window Cling
An 8mil, non-adhesive material primarily used for temporary window advertising, temporary product markings, POP displays and protective masking. Easily removable and repositionable. Can be first- or second-surface mounted.

For a complete explanation of first-surface and second-surface printing and mounting, stay tuned for Part 2 of my transparent materials guide.

Pressure Sensitive Vinyl (PSV)
This 4mil, clear, flexible vinyl material has an adhesive layer and adheres well to glass, metal, plastic and most smooth, clean surfaces. It’s ideal for indoor uses. PSV is available with a repositionable or permanent adhesive. It is easy to install and remove.

The following materials are rigid substrates. In addition to printing direct, Firehouse can also mount other printed substrates to these clear materials for a wider variety of options.

Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-Modified (PETG) is a plastic resin in the polyester family. Extruded PETG sheets make an incredibly strong printing substrate. Firehouse prints PETG in .020”, .040” and .080” thicknesses. PETG’s strength makes it suitable for indoor and outdoor signage. It’s a perfect fit for outdoor backlit signs.

When you need a thicker clear sheet than PETG, acrylic is the next step up. Firehouse prints to 1/8” acrylic for frames, wall mounts or hanging graphics. While acrylic can be used outdoors, the better choice for clear outdoor graphics is polycarbonate.

For the ultimate in strength and durability, polycarbonate sheets can’t be beat. Available in 1/8” thickness, polycarbonate is about 200 times stronger than glass and virtually unbreakable with a very high impact strength. For vehicle signage, bus kiosks and any application that demands durability, polycarbonate is the perfect choice.

Paul Meek
Vice President of Operations


paulnewpicComing off of a strong 2016, Firehouse is foreseeing fantastic growth opportunities for 2017! To meet that demand we are installing a new EFI Vutek HS125 printer in early May. This new machine is a hybrid system that can print both boards and roll goods. But the most exciting aspect of the HS125 is its print quality coupled with blazing speed.

Speed is everything now. For clients, print quality is a given. They want to know who can turn jobs the fastest since their turn times are always getting tighter. The HS125 will meet that demand.

In addition to faster production for existing work, the HS125 can handle print runs that are beyond the reach of other digital devices. Our clients now have options for those larger print runs that, traditionally, could only be produced by the offset shop.

Since jobs will be flying through the shop faster than ever now, clients will appreciate the ability to instantly check job status and tracking through our Spark software. Spark is free to all Firehouse clients and the intuitive browser interface allows 24/7 access to your Firehouse projects. We are continuously developing this application to build out the feature set. We recently added the ability to view and download invoices for any completed job.

To sum up our hardware and software, it’s Faster, it’s Better, it’s Firehouse!

Paul Meek
Vice President of Operations

Save Time & Money by Printing Directly to Rigid Materials

paulnewpicIn the past, if you wanted a rigid print for wall mounting, hanging or an easel stand, you would print to paper or vinyl stock, apply and adhesive layer and run it through a mounting press to adhere it to foamcore, gatorboard or a thicker vinyl. But, today’s flatbed printers can eliminate the mounting stage from your projects by printing directly to many rigid substrates. Below are a selection of our most popular options. If you need a specific material, please let me know and we’ll get it.

SBS Card Stock
SBS (Solid Bleached Sulfate), is a high-quality paper board substrate produced from bleached wood pulp. This durable card stock is available in 12pt., 18pt., 24pt. and 50pt. thicknesses. SBS can be printed on both sides. Because of its price point, SBS is ideal for temporary signage. Additional applications include counter cards, tent cards, sign holders and door hangers.

Most commonly seen as yard signs mounted to metal H stakes, corex is a lightweight, extruded polypropylene sheet with a corrugated internal structure. It’s 4mm thick and can be printed on both sides. Corex is a great choice for short-term outdoor graphics such as pole- or wall-mounted signs.

Polystyrene is Firehouse’s most popular substrate for indoor signage. Styrene is a rigid, bright white board available in .015”, .020”, .030”, .040” and .060” thicknesses. Styrene can be printed on both sides and it’s the perfect material for most indoor POP applications.

Foamcore contains a polystyrene foam center laminated on both sides with a white, coated paper stock. That results in a very lightweight board. It is available in 3/16” (5mm) thickness and can be printed on both sides. It’s a great choice for easel graphics, fixtures, short-run standees, tabletop displays and signs.

Gatorboard is a more durable alternative to foamcore. It also contains a polystyrene foam core, but it’s sandwiched with a wood veneer infused with resin for water resistance and strength. It’s available in 3/16” and 1/2” thicknesses and can be printed on both sides. Gatorboard and foamcore are equally suited to most indoor applications, but choose gatorboard for extra durability and dimensional stability.

Expanded PVC Sheets
An extremely versatile material, PVC sheets are much more dense than foam boards. They provide a more durable and moisture resistant alternative for long-term indoor, or short-term outdoor signage. Available in white or black and either 3mm or 6mm thicknesses. PVC can be printed on both sides, and it works well in fixtures, wall mounts or hanging applications.

Clear Substrates
Firehouse offers three clear materials spanning the range of affordability and durability—Acrylic, PETG and Polycarbonate. All are optically clear and will not fade or yellow over time. A blog post detailing clear materials is in the works, so stay tuned.

Corrugated Cardboard
Firehouse prints to white-faced corrugated in two popular thicknesses—1/8” B flute and 1/16” E flute. Corrugated is great for temporary graphics and can be scored and assembled into printed boxes and POP displays.

Paul Meek
Vice President of Operations