ACM/HPL/GRP or PC? A quick guide to different graphics panel materials

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Written by Guy Walton - 17 Mar 2020

Having designed your sign, you’ve then got the problem of deciding what type of panel to put in it. There are loads of different sorts, all at different price points and with different properties. To help you we’ve summarised the common panel types below with in roughly ascending price order.

UV resistance levels are guides only as formulations and print techniques are constantly evolving, but medium resistance is 5-7 years and high resistance is 10+ years. This also depends on the printed graphic, location and orientation of the finished panel.

PVC foam board (MatteRok)

Sometimes call Foamex this is a lightweight PVC foam board, usually 3mm or 5mm thick. It accepts digital print and screenprint. Often used for temporary signage as very economical and lightweight. Vandal resistance – low.  UV resistance – medium.

ACM aluminium composite material (BaseRok)

This board has a black plastic core with an aluminium face and back. It’s easily recognised by viewing it from the edge. Accepts digital print, screenprint and vinyl lettering and usually has a laminated finish for extra UV and graffiti resistance. Used extensively as very economical and stable. No scrap value. Vandal resistance – medium.  UV resistance – medium.

Aluminium (FlatRok)

This material is a solid aluminium sheet and is similar to ACM in finished appearance apart from having a silver edge. It has similar properties but is slightly more expensive. Accepts digital print, screenprint and vinyl lettering and usually has a laminated finish for extra UV and graffiti resistance. Used extensively as very economical and stable. Vandal resistance – medium.  UV resistance – medium.

Encapsulated aluminium board (HardRok)

This is a premium board at a moderate price point. The panel is powder-coated, then a print is applied and the panel is sprayed or powder coated with a high-grade finish. Accepts digital print.  Vandal resistance – high. UV resistance – high.

Polycarbonate (ArmaRok)

This is a very tough panel, the print is laminated onto the reverse so is very well protected again impact and sunlight. However polycarbonate can scratch so a matt finish is recommended. Vandal resistance – high. UV resistance – high.

Etched stainless steel plate (DeepRok)

Used for topographs and viewing panels. The steel plate is chemically etched and filled and works equally well in contemporary and traditional settings. Vandal resistance – high.  UV resistance – high.

Cast polyurethane resin (CastRok)

Used for heritage settings, these panels are individually moulded and painted. Very durable with almost a ‘cast-iron’ look to them. Vandal resistance – high.  UV resistance – high.

GRP Glass reinforced polyester (ToughRok)

A very durable material although not considered particularly environmentally friendly for disposal.  Used extensively at remote sites as very durable and weather proof. Scratches or impact marks can be polished or sanded out. Vandal resistance – high.  UV resistance – high.

HPL High pressure laminate (EcoRok)

This is a paper sheet laminated between layers kraft paper them compressed in resin to create a chemically solid block. Very stiff so can doesn’t need a backing panel, allowance for shrinkage/expansion must be made in the fittings. Graphics quality not so high for small reversed out text due to the ‘wet’ process but can still produce very high quality durable panels.  Impervious to salt water. Vandal resistance – high.  UV resistance – high.

Written by Guy Walton - 17 Mar 2020

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