Digital Printing Basics

July 17, 2021

At Speedpro Burloak we often get asked, “What digital printing is and how is it done?”

Here’s a quick overview: 

Digital printing describes the process of transferring a digital document (either text/image or both) from a computer or other digital storage device to a substrate or media.

What’s a substrate? A substrate is any backing material that your digital image is mounted on. Some digital printing can be printed directly onto the substrate (i.e. coroplast signs) and other times it can be printed onto vinyl (often referred to as media) and applied to a backing.

What are the different Substrate’s or Media’s and how would I choose which one to use? At Speedpro we’ll always be your guide as to which media you need to achieve your desired result. We commonly print on a variety of vinyl, banner material, or canvas. Each of these has dozens of variations, one of which would be chosen, based on the requirements of the print job. Common variations in each include finishes, thicknesses, textures, adhesive ability or transparency.

What are the different variations? Variations differ by material.

Vinyl variations can be thickness, adhesive ability, translucency and finish: Common finishes are matte, lustre and gloss – these are the same as your basic paint finishes. Each will have a different effect on your print job and will be recommended under different circumstances.

Banner variations: These usually differ based on how smooth the fabric is or the weight of the material. Outdoor banners often have a woven layer in them which adds strength, texture and weight. That may not be necessary for indoor banners, which will be thinner and lighter.

Canvas variations are based on different texture patterns and thicknesses.

What can signs be made out of? Common backings include MDF (wood), acrylic (plastic), alupanel (lightweight aluminum composite), and coroplast (corrugated plastic).

In order to select the material most appropriate for your job we’ll determine the length of time sign is required, where you are installing the sign (inside or outside), along with the budget you have in mind. Gathering the right information ensures we deliver the right solution!

Now, we’ve only scratched the surface of digital printing basics. However, rest assured that in Speedpro’s 25 years of business in Canada (across 50 locations) we haven’t met a sign design challenge that we couldn’t solve. That cumulative experience makes us your go to source for design knowledge and inspiration. 

Contact Speedpro Imaging Burloak to book your free on-site consultation today at 905-582-4873 or

Find us on social media @speedproburloak.


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