Printing Methods for Rigid Signs and Posters

There are two common ways to produce rigid signs and posters.  At American Color Labs, we call them:

(1) print-and-mount and

(2) direct to substrate or flatbed printing

Rigid signs or posters are ideal for displays on an easel, tabletop, or on the wall.

There are many different substrates for your rigid sign or display.  Check out our Guide for Rigid Materials for Signs and Displays to learn more about the options that are available to you.



In the past, the print-and-mount method was the dominant way to produce rigid signs.  It is still used today but not as extensively.  Print-and-mount is the ideal method if you need a high-quality image on a rigid surface.  In general, we recommend this method if one of the following conditions are met:

  • Your image is supposed to be viewed from less than five feet away
  • The color gamut in the image is especially broad or matching with other display pieces is very important
  • It is an indoor artistic or other prominent graphical feature of the display space

Print-and-mount is the process of printing to a roll material such like adhesive vinyl and then mounting that roll material to the rigid surface.  Generally speaking, roll-based printing technologies tend to have wider color gamuts and produce images at a higher dpi than flatbed technologies.  As a result, the image is generally considered among the best available.  This is usually the best method for point of purchase displays, wall art, and other prominent indoor displays.


Direct to substrate printing a.k.a. flatbed printing technology

Today, flatbed printing technology allows us to eliminate the mounting process by printing directly to the rigid surfaces.  This saves time, which allows you to get your product faster than if you were printing and mounting to a surface.  This also saves money because there are less materials involved in the production process.  The main drawback of this process is that the print quality is sometimes not considered to be a good.  Today, this is a limitation of the printing technology, however technology in the printing industry changes rapidly‚Ķso who knows what might be coming soon!

At American Color Labs, we usually recommend flatbed printing if your sign is being used as a short term display, outdoor display, or as a display that is intended to be viewed from a distance of greater than five feet.  We also are able to apply white ink to the substrate.  This allows us to get a full color image on a substrate that is not white (such as wood or aluminum).  You can learn more about white ink in this blog post.

Contact us today to find out what printing method is best suited for your project.


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