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All About Substrates

We carry a wide variety of white & clear, metallic, and specialty substrates. Most are vinyls (PVC) and polyesters (PET), with some BOPP & Paper. Contact your Custom Label Specialist to find out what would be the best for your application.


  • Low Temperate Resistance, generally less brittle at lower temperatures than other substrates
  • Good UV Resistance, Vinyls hold up well to UV in outdoor applications.
  • Conformable, works good for curved or irregular surfaces.
  • Good Printability, Generally has the best printability with most print processes.
  • Shrinks, especially when printed with solvent inks, slight shrinkage to be expected and can be compensated for, always test for tolerant critical applications.
Vinyl is also known as PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). Vinyl is conformable and is generally subject to shrinkage, especially in calendared form and when printed with solvent based inks. Vinyl has excellent outdoor durability characteristics as well as good chemical resistance and conformability for application to curved or irregular surfaces as it has the ability to stretch and conform. Vinyl is also easy to die cut and contour cut and also can generally be domed higher and holds doming resins better making it a good option for complicated or scripted labels when doming. Vinyl can be in various forms and manufactured with different processes primarily they are calendared or cast.

Cast Vinyls

Cast vinyls are poured into a cast or mold. Cast vinyl is generally thin 2-3 mil (0.002” – 0.003”). Cast vinyl will generally have little shrinkage and very good conformability. Calendared Vinyl is extruded and calendared down to the appropriate thickness. Calendared vinyl is generally 3-5 mil (0.003” – 0.005”).

Calendared Vinyls

Calendared vinyls generally tends to shrink more but are less expensive than cast vinyls. Calendared vinyls tend to shrink more one direction then the other and will shrink more when printed with solvent based inks.  


  • Dimensionally Stable, does not stretch or shrink.
  • High Temperature Resistance, can withstand higher temperatures generally than vinyls.
  • Inert, is less reactive with chemicals than vinyl generally is more chemically resistant
  • Rigid, is generally more rigid than vinyl and doesn’t work on curved surfaces as well and will not work on compound radius surfaces.
  • Less Conformable, doesn’t work on curved surfaces as well and will not work on compound radius surfaces.
  • Less Printability, isn’t as printable as vinyl, solvent inks will not print on polyester and most print processes perform better on vinyl.
Polyester substrates are very rigid and inert. Polyesters are generally easier to handle and apply than vinyls of the same thickness. Polyester is a good outdoor durable product but is generally not as outdoor-durable as vinyl. Polyesters have slightly better chemical resistant properties than vinyl and also the white polyesters have a “pearl” appearance. Polyesters are not conformable and are not recommended for curved or irregular surfaces. Polyester has good abrasion resistance and dimensional stability. Polyester is good for dimensionally critical labels. Polyester is not printable with solvent inks. Most metallic substrates are polyester.

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