Dibond and Foamex are both renowned for being excellent substrates to print on, making them suitable for a wide range of products in a variety of environments. Despite the undoubted similarities in performance there are some key differences to be aware of when deciding on which material to use.
Dibond is the pricier of the two, but you get a premium finish and higher durability for the extra investment. It is comprised of two 0.3mm aluminium sheets sandwiching a polyethylene core with a total thickness of between two and four millimetres depending on the product.
The aluminium sheet provides a superior surface finish that is totalling flat and excellent for printing on, preserving the design for longer. It is available in several finishes that also highlights the better quality of material – brushed aluminium, bronzed and painted.
Dibond is highly resistant to the environment and weather conditions, being weather, water and rust proof and it will not react to temperatures as low as -50C and high as 80C. It remains in top condition for longer and the design will fail before the material itself does.
The aluminium keeps the board light, and by using a polyethylene core keeps it at half the weight of what full aluminium sheeting would be – with no compromise on the strength meaning it won’t warp and resists flexing against the wind.
When combined with durable inks that also resist weather damage, it makes Dibond highly suitable for outdoor use and permanent signage. Shopfronts, shop fittings, exterior signs, are all ideal uses for the material, but it can also be used in less demanding roles if a more premium look is desired. Exhibition booths, product displays and trade fairs can be made to look of a higher quality by using Dibond.
Whereas both Dibond and Foamex can be bent and folded to create displays and other fabrications, an advantage Dibond has is that it can be rolled to produce sweeping curved sheets, adding a touch of elegance to a design.
Foamex is the more cost effective option, but no less of a material for it. It is reliable and takes ink very well with direct printing.
Despite being termed as foam it isn’t soft – entirely made from PVC it’s completely rigid with smooth layers either side of the compressed foam core. It’s available in a wider variety of thicknesses and sheets sizes can be significantly larger than Dibond.
Its light weight is one of its biggest advantages, able to be easily mounted to surfaces with as little as Velcro depending on the size and thickness being used - making it highly suitable for both permanent and temporary installations.
Exhibition booths, conference branding, promotional events are all excellent uses of Foamex, where the lightweight but durable nature of the material provides a quality looking product combined with mobility. Equally, permanent signs in offices and stores also benefit from its professional appearance while being economic.
Displaying almost as much resistance to the weather as Dibond, it is more than capable of being used outdoors too. It is weather and water proof, but is more sensitive to heat than Dibond and will expand and contract as a result. This also makes more susceptible to warping, which is something to consider when fixing it to surfaces.
Closely matched as they are in actually taking a printed design, their differences are instead highlighted by their physical characteristics. They both provide an excellent finish and wherever they are displayed the finished product will look high quality and professional.
The higher resistance to temperature and more durable nature of Dibond pushes it towards more outdoor applications unless a premium quality finish is desired in an indoors setting.
Foamex benefits greatly from its lighter weight making it easy to install and move, which compliments its economic pricing to open up more temporary and mobile applications for its use.
Whichever you choose both materials make outstanding quality signage and displays.