Custom Magnets: More than Meets the Eye
Jan 10, 2018
Whether we are at trade shows or simply providing a quote to a customer, we always like to inform people that our custom fridge magnets are different from, and superior to, magnets from many other suppliers. Most suppliers first print on paper, then laminate that to very thin magnet. They then use premade die-cut shapes to punch out the magnets. They may be advertising the magnet as 20mil, but the thickness that they show actually includes the paper, so the finished magnet you are buying is much thinner and weaker. The print and final product is also less durable since it can tear easily and the paper print makes the artwork less than vibrant. Another method that some suppliers utilize is to print to a vinyl film adhesive and attach to flexible magnet material.
When we peel back the printed paper you can see the poor quality as well as the thinner magnet that it is laminated to. These magnets are more prone to rips and tears and are not able to be placed anywhere they may come into contact with water or outdoor conditions.
Printing to vinyl is another method for custom magnets. It is more durable than paper, but the vinyl can become separated from the base magnet. You can see that the vinyl does come cleanly off the magnet and will have a harder time tearing than paper.
Our magnets are durable, strong, and reflect true magnet thickness. Instead of printing on paper and laminating to thin magnet, we print directly to the magnetic roll so the thickness and strength are known. White vinyl is pre-mounted to the magnet so the finished product thickness is about 5mil thicker than the 15, 20, or 30mil magnet to which it is mounted. We use a UV ink to directly print onto white-front magnet. The 4-color print is exceptionally sharp and vivid and will not become detached from the magnet itself. The beautiful print on our magnets is noticeably higher quality and the finished product looks and feels complete. Printing on paper is the fastest and cheapest way to produce flexible magnets, but strength and quality are difficult to ensure using that method.
Once we are ready to print custom flexible magnet, we follow a specific procedure and use two machines to produce the end product. We use a large-format flatbed UV printer to print the serial images using a 4-color CMYK process. We start with our 15mil, 20mil, 30mil, 60mil, or ThinForce™ magnet material and cut sheets to optimally fit the size, shape, and quantity of the magnets. Vehicle magnets must be ordered in pairs so as to print sheets in the most economical way in order to avoid discarding excess scrap material. There is almost always scrap material to be accounted for but we try to print in the least wasteful manner possible.
Our UV printer reads the art file from the accompanying computer and begins printing as the header sweeps repeatedly across the material, the UV light visible as it instantly dries and cures the ink. The large size of the flatbed printer allows us to print high quantities at once and on a single sheet of material. We also use flatbed printers for large quantities of other products, such as name badges and Hold Everything Magnets.
Once the full quantity of magnets is printed, we move the sheet to a flatbed cutter. This routing cutter reads the settings on the computer as well as the crop or plotting marks with its automated camera. The cutter has built-in pneumatic clamps to hold the material in place as it cuts. The cutter can also move material continuously from a magnet roll. This technology allows us to cut magnets, particularly high quantities and intricate custom shapes, faster and with great precision. The thickness of the magnet determines the number of passes the cutter must make in order to cut completely through the material.
Direct print gives the most reliable, resilient, and clean print for the final product. The true magnet thickness, in this case 20mil, stays intact as we print on a single material.
When working with a customer to buy flexible magnets, there are a few things to consider:
Purpose of the promotion
Does the magnet need to be strong and useful?
Indoor or outdoor use and desired quality of the finished product.
We find that most projects work well with 20mil standard indoor magnets, although the thinner 15mil does work for many projects as well. If the magnet is designed to hold paper in place it is important that that information is included in your quote request. Some flexible magnets barely hold themselves to the filing cabinet because of the way they are designed to work. Outdoor use may require lamination using a UV clear coat to prolong the life to the magnet. Also, outdoor magnets must be stronger in order to withstand various weather conditions and temperature fluctuations. If the client wants people to keep the promotional magnet after distribution, then a quality piece in a unique die cut might work better than a standard shape.
Please feel free to send us any questions you have about magnets! We consider ourselves the Magnet Experts and are happy to help you!