Magnetic signs have long been used as a removable signage solution for vehicles, SUVs and trucks, but magnetic signage material is increasingly being used in P.O.P. applications on shelving and other retail applications. Understanding the properties of the material and its print properties can help shops take advantage of these unique opportunities.
The most common types of magnetic signage material are based on magnetized flexible substrates—either magnetized vinyl or inkjet magnet paper. Magnetized paper is readily available, but it is generally sold in 8.5" x 11" sheets and is intended for small-format desktop inkjet printers for the home craft market. However, some manufacturers also sell rolls of vinyl-based magnetic material with a paper top coat material (up to 42" wide), for use with water-based wide-format printers.
Magnetized flexible vinyl material is available from several manufacturers including Master Magnetics, Castle Rock, Colo., and Magnum Magnetics, Marrietta, Ohio. The material is much thicker than its paper cousin—typically 12 to 30 mil—and is either designed for use as a mounting substrate for self-adhesive vinyl, or for large-format direct printing. The imaged side of the material is generally white, but colors are available, and you can choose between a gloss or matte finish.
磁化的柔性乙烯基材料可从以下几家制造商获得，包括Master Magnetics、Castle Rock、Colo.和美国俄亥俄州玛丽埃塔的Magnum Magnetics。该材料比其纸质材料厚得多（通常为12至30密耳），并且被设计用于自粘乙烯基的安装基本材料或用于宽幅直接印刷材料。材料的成像面通常为白色，但有多种颜色可供选择，并且你还可以选择光泽或哑光表面。
The most important distinction among magnetized vinyl signage products is the thickness of the magnets. The thicker the magnet, the more magnetic pull it has. This is critical because the stability of a magnetic sign depends entirely in its pull strength. Pull strength is generally measured in grams per square inch or pounds per square foot.
The required thickness of the magnet will vary depending on the application. For example, 30-mil magnetic sheeting will offer sufficient of pull strength to resist peeling off of a vehicle door at highway speeds. And 12- to 20-mil magnets are good for stationary signs, but might not cut it as a vehicle graphic.
When looking at vinyl-based magnetic signage products, it at first appears that the vinyl and pull strength are fairly standardized, but are they all really the same?
“Shop owners should look at print quality,” says Mike Gertz, marketing manager of Master Magnetics. “There are big differences in print surfaces. Each manufacturer has its own ‘secret sauce’ formula for creating the vinyl base material and especially the print surface. We invite sign shops, when checking out products, to compare print quality on their own equipment. Our vinyl has the ability to print high resolution graphics with different ink types—UV, solvent, eco-solvent and Latex.”
Master Magnetics公司的营销经理Mike Gertz说：“卖家应该对材料的印刷质量有所关注，当表面材料不同时，印刷也会有相当大的差异。每个制造商都有自己的‘秘密武器’，用于制作乙烯基材料，尤其是印刷的表面。我们经常会邀请标识商店的管理者来考察我们的产品，观察我们的产品用于他们的设备上时的印刷质量。我们的乙烯基材料可以使用各种不同的油墨类型（比如UV固化油墨、溶剂型、环保溶剂型油墨和乳胶油墨）来打印出高分辨率的图形。”
But not all magnetic signage products are vinyl based. There is a non-traditional magnetic signage system that employs some unique materials, and is primarily aimed at P.O.P. and retail graphic applications. The system, available from Visual Magnetics, Mendon, Mass., matches magnetic-receptive technologies with a thin, lightweight printable media. Its components consist of three parts: a micro-iron latex primer that can be painted onto a wall or other surface; a double-sided adaptable high-performance substrate magnet that will stick to the primer on one side; and a micro-iron impregnated print media that is printable on one side and mounts to the magnetic substrate on the other. The printable media is available in polyester or cotton fabric and polypropylene.
Printing onto Magnetics
There are several ways to image onto vinyl-based magnetic material, the most common being screen printing. However, sign shops also can use cut vinyl, or print to PSA vinyl and mount it to the magnetic sheeting. A laminated vinyl print mounted to magnet sheet is very durable.
Manufacturers also offer direct-printable magnetic products—both coated and uncoated. Direct-printed magnets have some advantages. Direct printing reduces the cost of producing the job, the end product looks and feels like it was screen printed, and there is no concern about vinyl peeling off the material.
“We sell a lot more material that’s direct printable,” says Doug Rummer, product technician for Magnum Magnetics. “I think the guys who mount, because of the added cost in materials and labor, are having a tough time competing.”
Magnum Magnetics的产品技术人员Doug Rummer说：“我们更多的情况下是对可直接印刷的磁性材料进行销售，随着材料和劳动力成本的增加，商家的竞争也会不断地加强。”
In terms of inks, most magnetic vinyl today is compatible with UV, solvent, eco-solvent and Latex inks. Coated magnetic sheeting is available that improves image quality, but was once considered critical for use with UV-cure printer systems. However, manufacturers now say that for UV-cure printers the coating is not as critical as it used to be.
“When UV-cure printers first came onto the scene, coatings were necessary,” says Rummer, “But for whatever reason, the newer models don’t require the topcoat. Of course we still offer a coated version for improved image quality.”
Many shops use flatbed printers to image directly onto magnetic materials, but roll-fed printers can be used as well. Manufacturers caution that the thicker (30 mil) material may be prone to headstrikes, and so advise shop owners to be sure of head height adjustments prior to printing. Rummer notes that his company will soon offer “MuscleMag” a 15-mil product with a higher-energy magnetic pull. “It has about the same magnetic strength as a 30 mil product, is less prone to headstrikes and is much less expensive to ship,” he says.
Many manufacturers offer downloadable ICC profiles for their printable magnetic products. Check with your supplier.
Printed vinyl magnets, for most applications, will need to be cut—rectangle with rounded corners for vehicle door magnets, or shape-cut for many other applications. Typically car magnets are 20" x 16" and are cut with a ruler and then a corner rounder is used to clean up the corners. It’s important to round the corners if you are cutting your own vinyl for a vehicle application. This makes it less likely that wind will catch an edge and lift the sign from the car. Or, you could take the quick and easy option of buying magnetic sign blanks that are pre-cut with rounded corners.
Shops equipped with a flatbed printer often also have a digital die cutter on hand. The digital die-cutter is by far the easiest way to cut magnetic vinyl signs of all kinds, especially where higher volume jobs are concerned. Cutting smaller refrigerator magnets from a large sheet is a snap with this type of system.