Printing Direct to Magnet: Achieving Quality Results

Printing direct to magnet is a cost effective method of creating high impact vehicle graphics, P.O.P. displays, calendars and other ad specialty items, portraits, decorative magnets, message boards, photos, way finding signs, temporary signage, and more. Achieving quality results from your printer and magnetic sheeting is essential for the success of every project.

Magnetic sheeting is considered a semi-rigid substrate, and, like all semi-rigid substrates, takes a little know-how to produce the best quality product. Here are some tips for printing direct to magnet.

  • Choose the right top coat. Selecting the type of magnetic sheeting is critical, as different inks react differently with different coatings. PrintMagnetVinyl is a vinyl topcoat that is designed to work with solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex printers. For aqueous-based ink printers, PrintMagnet, a magnetic sheeting with a paper topcoat, is an ideal match.
  • Choose the correct thickness. For roll-fed wide format printers, thinner magnet can be advantageous as the weight of the magnet pulling through the machine can get quite heavy. Many printers prefer staying below 30-mil for this type of printer and have the best success with 20-mil. Sheet fed or flatbed printers can handle slightly thicker magnet. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended maximum thickness to ensure that the printer can handle the thickness of the magnet for the required application.
  • Avoid strikes. As with other semi-rigid substrates, it’s important to steer clear of head strikes. In order to avoid damaging printheads, adjust the printer’s head height to the highest setting. Your owner’s manual provides information on the thickest material that it can handle in order to prevent head strikes.
  • Make some space. As some printers may have metal platens, it is important to cover this piece to keep the magnet from sticking or catching during the printing process. A simple strip of heavy tape will do the trick, as will a thin piece a chip board. The point is to create a little air gap or space that prevents the magnet from attracting to the metal as it passes over.
  • Raise it up. Elevating the roll of magnet sheeting in a way that gives a slightly straighter feed into the printer or lessens the steepness of the angle from the feed spindle to the printing area often provides better printing results. The goal is to prevent the magnetic sheeting from rippling, bunching up, or pulling too taught while feeding through the printing area. Check your owner’s manual for the maximum weight restrictions on the feed end of your printer.
  • Slow and steady. Now isn’t the time to rush. Take the time to adjust the printer settings and be patient. Slowing your printer down and having patience is a necessity when printing on magnet. It is NOT a “set-up and walk away” type of printing job.

On a final note, it’s always a good idea to contact your printer manufacturer for recommended printing profiles. And we always recommend using material tested for compatibility with your printer.

Author: Shalea Hardison for Master Magnetics: