Substrates have adapted to digital presses through the use of various resources that ensure compatibility. Substrates have evolved to meet specific printing demands, making several different substrates available for various applications. When choosing print materials, important factors include customer interaction, versatility, creativity, and aesthetic appeal, as well as longevity and durability. Let’s take a look at some substrate varieties that can enhance your printing possibilities.

Synthetic Substrates

Synthetic substrates are sourced from various forms of plastic, including polycarbonates, polyester, polypropylene, polystyrene, PVC, PETG and A-PET (amorphous PET). When it comes to high-quality performance, synthetic substrates guarantee it. Their dry toner technology, like low melt toner, makes them ideal for different applications.

Though synthetics appear and feel like paper, and have excellent opacity, they have unmatched rigidity, strength and durability. They possess unique properties that allow them to stand up to particular conditions, such as tears and outdoor elements like UV rays. These versatile substrates are available in a range of colors, thicknesses, and templates, as well as specialty options, such as magnetized material. However, they are also less ink/fluid-absorbent than paper, and are possibly prone to ghosting, so they are best used with 100% solid inks.

Synthetic substrates can be employed in a number of applications, including common uses like menus, loyalty cards, instruction manuals, cookbooks, maps, luggage tags, and wall charts.

Pressure Sensitive Substrates

Pressure sensitive substrates offer a wide range of possibilities that can greatly influence branding. They feature face stock, adhesive, and a release liner. When the backing (release liner) is pulled away from the pressure sensitive material (facestock) and pressure is applied, the adhesive instantly bonds to the surface. Pressure sensitive substrates are created from an array of materials (paper and synthetics) and adhesives of different strengths (permanent, ultra removable, all-temp, cling, etc.)

Pressure sensitive substrate applications include common end uses like product identification labels, direct mail labels, sticker books and scrapbooking stickers/papers, display signs, name badges, trading cards, postage stamps, decals, gift tags, and many others.

Writing, Text, and Cover Substrates

If you are wondering how to choose paper stock for your next print job, you might want to consider writing, text, and cover paper, with coated and uncoated options, as well as various price points, finishes, textures, and colors. This category of substrates commonly offers white papers with a broad cross-platform stock assortment, which creatives and marketers can appreciate. 

Commercial printers largely use these substrates because of their versatility as a design element. They allow for greater creativity, with paper options that include shimmery pearlescents, metallics, pastels, translucents, bright shades, and earth tones. With the options in this category, it is possible to meet brand standards with specific color requirements. You can make your affordable print materials look expensive with customized writing, text and cover substrates.

Exotic Substrates

Exotic substrates take printing to new heights by adding a unique touch with instant appeal and an element of luxury that standard, untreated substrates cannot produce. These substrates are worth considering if you are wondering about the ROI of a high quality print piece. Still, exotic substrates require solid skills and particular care to work with. Some popular exotic substrates include:

Metallized Papers: This group of non-foil, metallic, holographic paper is unique for its decorative attributes. These can be used with print graphics to elevate appearance, on-shelf visibility, and create a dynamic impact with features like cracked ice effect, microdots, and metal colors like gold and silver.

Linen Substrates: These non-porous and non-absorbent substrates allow for the creation of high-end, luxury looks with the appeal of highly tactile packaging and print pieces that increase the perception of value.

Uncoated Substrates: Being highly porous, these substrates have a natural and raw appeal, and a fine ground finish for enhanced performance. They can be used to create elegant and prestigious print pieces.

Lenticular Substrates: These printing options allow for the creation of images and graphics that are captivating and dramatic. Lenticular prints can be viewed from different angles and feature visual effects such as flips, morphs, 3D images, and animations.

Variety and versatility characterize the types of substrates that are on the market today. The possibilities of print are numerous, and will likely continue to evolve in this digital age. With the substrate varieties available, your print work can deliver considerable ROI.

If you’re interested in using a unique substrate for your next print project, contact the print experts at Ironmark today to get started!


Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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