A Glossary Of Printing Material Terms

Novatex Serigraphics Inc   |  

Printing Services Saskatoon SK

Every industry has its own language and terms. These words and phrases can be confusing to anyone who is not part of the daily operations of a specific industry, and the printing business is no exception.

To help you understand the terms, acronyms, and phrases regularly used in the printing business, Novatex Serigraphics Inc. has created this handy reference guide on printing materials. Here you’ll find valuable information allowing you to comprehend and communicate your printing needs effectively. 


This is the most versatile and cost-effective of all the sign materials that we use today. It is a corrugated plastic material that comes in a range of colors, although white is the most common. It can be used both indoors and outdoors, although it is not recommended for long-term outdoor exposure. Today, you can see it on real estate signs, election signs, field signs, and roadside advertisements. 

Step stakes.

Step stakes are H-shaped sign holders where the wires are inserted into the flutes of coroplast sign to make a temporary sign. They are often used in lawns to advertise a business or to hold an election sign, or along roads in boulevards.

Dibond or ACP.

ACP or Aluminum Composite Panel is used in place of heavier, thicker crezone boards. They are great for long-term outdoor signs due to their lightweight and durable properties. 


Styrene is a thin plastic material that comes in thicknesses that range between .020 to .060. Being a polystyrene, it should only be used indoors, but it is often used outdoors for security company signs. It’s also commonly used for safety signage as Danger or Warning placards. 


Polyester comes in a variety of metallic shades and finishes from chrome to brushed and from silver to gold to rainbow holographic. While outdoor printable polyester is available, it is recommended for indoor use. It is also commonly used for attractive decals.


Vinyl is used for screen printing and digital printing. It comes in a variety of grades and adhesive strengths. They are all suitable for indoor and outdoor use, but durability is determined by the type of vinyl (cast, which is the best quality or calendared which is a lower cost alternative) the thickness of the vinyl (2mil-3.5mil) and the adhesive (repositionable, removable, permanent or high tack). 


A laminate is meant to protect vinyl decals from damage via UV or abrasion. Like vinyl, it comes in cast or calendared, as well as various levels of gloss from ultra matte to high gloss, as well as options for clarity. 

Reflective vinyl.

There are several types of reflective which vary from promotional quality to high intensity. Glass beads in the material pick up light and reflect it back so that the sign or decal is seen in a wide variety of lighting conditions. Mining companies use reflective for safety signs and decals for this reason. High intensity reflective is used for street, highway, and parking lot signs. Many customers also like to use reflective vinyl for impact on things like hard hats and tool boxes. 

Cling vinyl.

Cling vinyl, or static cling, is a non-adhesive decal product for indoor use. It is placed inside the window facing out so that it can be viewed from outside. It’s recommended that these decals are backed up with white so that they are visible through the glass.


Magnet is used as a promotional product or for vehicle and industrial use depending on the thickness. It most commonly comes on a 24” roll but 40” and 48” is also available in some thicknesses. 


Rigid PVC sheeting used for indoor signs. It’s lightweight and attractive. 3 mm is the most common thickness, but it ranges from 1mm to 13mm. 


Foamboard is a cost-effective rigid board for short term indoor signs. It’s often used for presentations.

Computer cut graphics.

The text and image are cut out of colored vinyl using a computer program and a vinyl plotter. Like vinyl used for screen printing, computer cut graphics come as cast (ideal for vehicle decals or long-term outdoor signs ) or calendared (used for short-term indoor or outdoor decals, banners, and signs). The graphics have to be vector (or scalable) so that the letters or image can be cut.


Banners come in a variety of weights from thirteen oz for short-term outdoor or indoor use, to eighteen oz for long-term outdoor use. There are a number of specialized banner products such as mesh, for large outdoor banners, and non-curl for retractable banners and displays. 

Embossing foil.

It looks like aluminum foil and can be heat embossed so that numbers or other information can be read even after the ink fades. Most people do this with a pen, but old typewriters also work well.

If you’re looking for custom printing services in Saskatoon, SK, reach out to Novatex Serigraphics Inc. With over twenty-five years of experience, we have the knowledge and technology to handle all of your printing requirements. We are known for our screen printing high-tech overlays, panels, faceplates, and CSA certified labels for electronics, mining, and agricultural manufacturers, as well as a variety of decals, tags, coroplast signs, and banners.