It used to be that sign companies produced full color printing for only the big corporations like Coca-Cola, IBM, or Xerox (back when they were still a dominant player). Full color printing by sign companies was expensive unless it was done in huge volume, especially when sign companies printed larger format full color advertising media such as posters or banners or signs.
With the onset of digital printing in the 1990′s, however, sign companies were able to offer affordable full color printing – also known as 4CP or 4-color process printing – to smaller corporations and companies. Today, most sign companies are able to offer full color printing to even Mom & Pop businesses.
Sign Companies That Offer Full Color Printing May Refer to it as 4-CP or 4-color Process…What is 4CP/4-color Process?
4CP printing refers to the 4 colors of the printing spectrum, also termed CMYK, which stands for Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black. You may also see the RGB – Red/Green/Blue – color spectrum referred to at times, but that has to do with your computer or television, not printing. If you are sending full color printing files to sign companies to be printed, make sure those files are saved in the CMYK color spectrum, not RGB, or you may get significant color shifting and your print may not look like what you wanted it to look like.
Sign Companies That Today Offer Full Color Printing Used to Offer only “Spot Color” Printing – How is This Different from 4-color Process Printing?
Up until the 21st century, most signs produced by sign companies, unless they were hand-painted, were generally what is termed “spot color” signs. So the main identification sign in front of the local Coca-Cola distributorship would be red and white, essentially a “one spot color (red) on white” sign. With 4CP printing (full color printing), some sign companies that screen printed signs could create a color separation of the CMYK spectrum, and, using a pattern of dots called “half-tones,” they could create full color printing on various materials – metal, plastic, fabric, and later, vinyl.
Although most main ID signs are still spot color, many companies are now availing themselves of one of the latest developments in main ID internally illuminated exterior signs, the full color printing of digital translucent vinyl media which can be done by numerous sign companies. This process involves printing translucent adhesive vinyl on a roll-to-roll, large format digital printer, usually at around 300 dpi (dots per inch). The print is then laminated with a high quality matte or gloss laminate (gloss usually carries a longer warranty), and mounted to .114″ or .136″ thick polycarbonate sheets (also known by the brand name Lexan®).
Similar to the polycarbonate sheet signs, many sign companies can execute full color printing on pressure-sensitive adhesive vinyl, using a large format digital printer, then laminate the vinyl – after a 24 hour period dry time – and mount the prints to various substrates. Sign companies utilizing this full color printing on vinyl are able to adhere these prints to less expensive business signs on other materials like DiBond®, MDO plywood, Alumalite®, aluminum, and other substrates.
Sign Companies Provide Full Color Printing for Various Uses Including -
- Project Signage – Typically sign companies will use full color printing on PS vinyl, and mount it to MDO plywood or 10mm corrugated plastic, although the latter is not advisable in high wind areas.
- Product Promotion – Full color printing is used by sign companies to print temporary signage on foam board, EPS board like Sintra or Komatex, Gatorfoam, or on banners and posters as well.
- Illuminated Signs – Over the past few years, sign companies have perfected full color printing of translucent vinyl for use on internally illuminated signage. This was elucidated above.
There are many more applications that sign companies make use of full color printing for, read here to check them out.
You may be interested in: