Graphics & Printing Industry

Plastics have become a ubiquitous material in our daily lives, used in everything from packaging to electronics. But did you know that they also play a significant role in graphics and printing? Whether you're looking to print a banner for a trade show, create a custom bag for your business, or produce a backlit display, there is a type of plastic that's just right for the job. 

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the different types of plastics used in graphics and printing, their properties and applications, and the tools you'll need to get the job done. Whether you're an artist, designer, or small business owner, you'll find something of interest here! 

Types of Plastics Used in Graphics and Printing 

There are several types of plastics used in graphics and printing, each with its own unique set of properties and applications. 


Polypropylene is a versatile plastic material commonly used in graphics and printing applications. This material is lightweight, strong, and durable, making it ideal for a wide range of applications such as screen printing on boxes, plastic bags, posters, and banners. It is also easy to print on, with vivid colors and sharp lines that resist fading over time.  

In addition to its durability and print quality, polypropylene is also a cost-effective choice for many printing projects. Whether you're printing a large batch of promotional posters, custom bags, or other items, polypropylene is an excellent choice for your printing needs. 


Polycarbonate is another popular material used in graphics and printing applications. This high-performance plastic is known for its transparency, strength, and durability, making it ideal for applications such as printing on CDs, DVDs, bottles, lenses, signs, and displays. Unlike many other plastics, polycarbonate can be molded into complex shapes and designs, making it a versatile choice for a wide range of printing projects.  

Additionally, this material is resistant to impact, UV light, and other environmental factors, ensuring that your printed items will look great for years to come. Whether you're printing promotional materials, packaging, or other items, polycarbonate is an excellent choice for your printing needs. 

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) 

PVC is a thermoplastic that has become one of the most common materials for large-format printing. When you see large banners over a store opening or other large applications, even some billboards, they’re often PVC or a PVC blend.  This material is able to be lit from the front or the back, and can even be made into a mesh material. There are few materials better suited to large-format flexible printing than PVC. 

Not only is PVC easy to work with and print on, but it’s also incredibly durable and weatherproof. This means they can be used outside in the elements for extended periods without breaking down or suffering a loss of visual appeal. Their longevity is a major benefit when thinking about a printing project with PVC. 

Common Applications For Wide Format Printing On Plastic Substrates 

While there are countless potential applications for using wide-format printing on various plastic materials, here are some of the most common or popular ways that plastics like vinyl, PVC, and others can be used across a wide range of industries and spaces.  

Soft Signage 

Without a doubt, one of the most popular applications of wide-format plastic printing is in the soft signage space. Soft signage is nearly unbeatable in terms of versatility and it can be used in an incredible variety of ways to either advertise or otherwise display signage on a semi-permanent or temporary basis. There are some soft signage staples that you’re likely familiar with, such as banners or billboard covers, but using PVC foam and polycarbonate sheets is also a popular way to get more longevity out of temporary signage.  

Mesh Banners 

A growing trend in many spaces where much larger outdoor banners or even building wraparounds are needed is to use printed PVC mesh banner material. Not only does the printing give the potential to meet any design elements or advertising needs, but the perforations ensure that wind is not a factor in keeping the banner displayed, allowing for much larger applications.  

They allow airflow without compromising visibility, ensuring that any messaging, branding or information presented retains its value. These are popular for use with popup restaurants, carnivals, and more, which need to enclose a large area while keeping branding visible. 

Window & Floor Coverings 

While windows have long been a staple of display and advertising real estate, more brands and events are leveraging floor coverings to provide more value and visibility. Ideal for large retail outlets, conferences, professional exhibitions, and location-based promotional events, floor coverings can be made from any variety of either rigid or flexible plastic materials, depending on the need for durability, longevity, and installation ease.  

Windows can likewise benefit from printed plastics across a wide range of settings. Seasonal displays can be printed on clear polycarbonate sheets that can provide holiday or other decor, can be easily changed out after use, and can remain more durable than flexible window films. Wide-printed products on materials like thin PVC film can create more versatile short-term or temporary solutions.  

Plastics Have Wide-Ranging Applications In Graphics & Design 

The world of graphics and printing has made great strides in recent years, thanks in part to advancements in plastic technology. Plastic materials like polypropylene, polycarbonate, and more have become essential components of many printing and graphics applications, offering durability, versatility, and affordability. Whether you're looking to create signs, displays, or packaging, these plastics have a lot to offer. 

In addition to these traditional plastic materials, cutting-edge printing techniques like interlacing and lenticular printing are also changing the game. These technologies allow for the creation of images and designs that change and morph as the viewer's perspective changes, adding a whole new level of depth and interaction to printed materials. Whether you're a business owner, marketer, or just a printing enthusiast, there's never been a better time to explore the world of plastics in graphics and printing.