By Safeer Meerakutty – Director ELAN Print
As industries around the world look at making their operations and processes COVID safe, ELAN Print, as a local leader in the printing sector, would recommend they revisit the printing materials they use during and post the pandemic. On the surface, it may seem that printing might be one area least likely to be impacted by cross-infection, indeed printed material, including way finding, floor graphics and packaging, has been invaluable in passing on crucial preventative measures messaging and encouraging public response, but in fact, it too needs careful attention to the materials used during these trying times.
The reality is that some materials can withstand disinfection better than regular printing materials and it is crucial that those requiring printed collateral of any kind – particularly for high quality venue branding or retail activation, for instance – opt for materials which can be cleaned and sanitised without detracting from their readability or impact. This prevention requirement rules out paper because it can’t be washed.
Deep cleaning of facilities is now a part of health regulations and for many organisations whose premises have an abundance of printed collateral, such as retail, hospitality, leisure and healthcare, it’s important that disinfectant chemicals don’t cause the materials to deteriorate. And with deep cleaning comes the need to sanitise branding, office signage, PoP and PoS units, branded walls, and floors. The optimum aim will be to keep the collateral, hygienically sanitised and in as good a visual condition after cleaning, as prior to it.
Basically, it all depends on the printed material used. Great alternatives to paper are PVC-based rigid material, acrylic, foam board, flute sheet or ACP sheets.
Though leaving something to be desired from an eco-sustainability viewpoint, direct acrylic printing has several hygiene advantages necessary in these trying times and no solution can yet meet both the optimum in health and environment ideals. Acrylic printing is easy to clean and delivers great results with vibrancy of image colours and impressive durability being waterproof and featuring UV protection, so it won’t fade when exposed to sun rays or deep cleans Acrylic prints are also shatter proof and will survive if they are dropped and they are also scratch proof.
Foam board printing being waterproof is another easy-to-clean alternative. It is affordable and has a moisture barrier which stops the collateral from warping and can deliver a high-quality image. It is lightweight, ideal for both indoor and outdoor use and can be used for dual-sided printing.
Another lightweight solution is the fluted polypropylene board – a lightweight, corrugated plastic sheet which is waterproof, stain and moisture resistant and impervious to UV rays, making them great for outdoor POP displays and online delivery goods packaging. The boards are suitable for hygienic cleaning as they are largely resistant to most solvents.
Printing to Aluminium Composite (ACP) is a high-quality option for signage. High durability qualities again lend themselves to outdoor use. This is a good option for commercial signage, PoS displays and advertising boards.
All collateral can be produced with a PVC, polyester or polypropylene film overlay which all have some degree of resistance to chemical cleaners. PVC, though only allowing single way vision, has impressive resistance to the aliphatic alcohols widely used in grade A institutional level disinfectants and to the diluted acids found in more common cleaners. Organisations should, however, take care to avoid organic solvents such as acetone and products using ester-based chemical compounds as they can damage protective PVC overlays. Collateral with a polypropylene (PP) overlay can resist as well as PVC but can also withstand ester-based cleaning solutions.
For those planning new printed collateral of any type, the advice is: take professional advice to ensure you have the most suitable for your sector’s cleaning and sanitisation needs. As one of Qatar’s largest digital printing houses with cutting edge, digital printing and plotting equipment is eminently qualified to proffer advice which if taken now, could save replacement costs later.
GO: Visit www.elanprint.qa for more details on your printing options.