Printable Magnetic Signage

Most of today’s magnetic printable substrates are created using a rubber-ferrite media with an ink-receptive top-layer. Printable magnetic material is available in both pre-cut sheets and rolls of various lengths. For many years, 24" was the widest available width, but a growing number of manufacturers now offer wider materials. One thing to keep in mind with wider media is that magnets are heavy. Some manufacturers offer those wider rolls in shorter lengths to keep the weight down. Make sure the roll-weight is not greater than what the printer’s feed/take-up system can handle. Here are some tips for working with this material.

  • The printable rubber surface is heat-sensitive, so keep the heat settings to a minimum on solvent and eco-solvent printers to avoid creating heat distortions.
  • Magnetic sheeting is available in coated and coated versions. A solvent printer can easily print onto uncoated stock but coated material offers better ink adhesions and higher print quality.
  • Make sure to create an ICC profile for the magnetic material before printing. Some manufacturers offer free printer profiles on their websites.
  • The thicker the magnet substrate, the heavier the stock and the stronger its magnetic pull.  In general, 12- to 20-mil thicknesses are ideal for advertising specialties items. A 30-mil thickness is recommended for magnetic vehicle signage, even at highway speeds.
  • A phenomenon called “migration” can sometimes occurs when a rubberized magnet is left on a painted vehicle for too long. Heat and moisture can cause material from the rubberized surface to migrate onto the surface of the vehicle which is difficult to remove. This can be avoided by regularly removing and cleaning the magnet and painted surface.
  • Wait at least 90 days to use a magnetic sign on newly painted vehicles — 60 days for clearcoat, 2 days for newly waxed surfaces.
  • Magnets are heavy. Make sure the printer’s feed and media take-up system can adequately handle the weight of the roll.
  • Use a slip-sheet to reduce drag on printer platens.
  • Never place a magnetic sign on the ground with the magnet-side down. Tiny bits of iron debris can become attached that can damage a vehicle’s finish and are hard to remove.

A new type of printable magnetic system has been developed which uses a different principle, avoiding some of the difficulties of most printable magnetics including weight, thickness, heat-sensitivity and migration. The new system, patented by Visual Magnetics, uses a magnetic mounting substrate (permanent or temporary) together with a thin (8 mil) magnetic-receptive print film which can be easily changed whenever a new graphic is required.