Photographic quality indoor backlit printing for displays and directories are very popular in malls, financial institutions, restaurants, airport backlit displays, trade show exhibits and special events. They are also used on television sets and in stage productions where backlit set pieces are needed. We have several different types of backlit graphics materials to accommodate every type of lighted display and light box, for both indoor and outdoor use and for short or long term display.
With backlit graphics, our ability to create custom color profiles for each material is particularly important in order to get accurate color that doesn't look washed out when backlit. We create profiles for each of the different backlit materials we offer, so now matter which one you choose, you can be sure to get the best looking image possible. Look through the Printing Materials tab below to learn more about the different materials we have available for backlit signage and graphics.
This page describes our services for printing backlit graphics. For backlit displays and light boxes, visit our Backlit Displays page.
The information below shows the variety of materials we offer for backlit graphics and finishing options, has our recommendations for the best materials to use in different situations, shows answers to common questions, and explains how to place an order.
If you would like to get prices on printing and shipping, or place an order, click the Pricing/Order button next to each item in the Printing Materials tab. The Pricing/Order wizard will prompt you for the necessary information such as quantity, dimensions and finishing options to show you prices in real time, and allow you to enter you state and zip code to see the shipping costs. If you're ready to order, you can provide additional information such as how you're sending files or if you need design work, if you want a proof, and how you want us to handle cropping of your files if necessary, and then add the print to your shopping cart. You can also compare product prices in the wizard by clicking the Products tab and selecting different materials from the drop down menu to see how the price changes.
This symbol denotes a eco-friendly option. These materials are generally PVC free, recyclable, and printed with water based inks as an earth-friendly option.
Below are the most popular materials we offer for backlit printing. Look at the Our Recommendations tab for suggestions on the best materials for different situations.
Front Print Backlit Film - 7 mil
This matte polyester film features a state of the art opacifying layer that diffuses light throughout the printed image so that it is evenly lit and produces a wide color gamut with good saturation. It should be laminated for greater durability and scratch resistance, as well as to increase the stiffness. Available in widths up to 60"
Premium Backlit Polyester Film - 8.5 mil
This front printed backlit film has excellent color depth and is designed for high quality graphic arts applications in backlit-boxes with high contrast. It's printed with UV curable inks, so it's waterproof and suitable for areas with high humidity and condensation, and it's extremely scratch resistant without the need for lamination. Like our other products, it can be laminated for increased stiffness. Available in widths up to 60". Approx. longevity of 2 years outdoors and 5 years indoors.
Hollywood Backlit Film - 13 mil
This extra heavy weight backlit media is an excellent choice for backlit displays and trade show graphics. It produces vivid colors, is waterproof and will last for up to 2 years outdoors or 5 years indoors in a lightbox. It offers great scratch resistnace without lamination, although laminates should be used when making backlit trade show panels.
Available in widths up to 60".
Repositionable Backlit Film - 5 mil
This matte finished backlit film features a low tack, repositionable adhesive on the back and is designed for high quality graphics on store front windows, indoor or outdoor menu boards, deli counters, or in backlit boxes. This material is suitable for areas with high humidity and condensation. The adhesive on the back side of this material is made for indoor and outdoor use, and with strong lighting, the image is visible from both sides making for interesting window cling applications.
Approx. longevity of 2 years outdoors when laminated, and 5 years indoors.
Translucent Adhesive Vinyl - 6 mil
This high-quality translucent calendared adhesive-back vinyl is designed for backlit printing applications such as backlit graphics, sign faces for backlit lightbox signs, or for trade show backlit graphic displays. It images nicely and has a removable adhesive for a variety of applications. It is waterproof both laminated and unlaminated, although lamination is recommended for protection against abrasion and chemical deterioration. Available in widths up to 60". Approx. longevity of 2-5 years outdoors, and 5-10 years indoors.
Clear Adhesive Vinyl - 2 mil
This clear cast adhesive-back vinyl is designed for a variety of applications. It can be used for vehicle and fleet graphics, outdoor backlit displays and other applications where a clear base material is needed. It is durable both laminated and unlaminated, although lamination is recommended for protection against abrasion and chemical deterioration. Available in widths up to 54". Approx. longevity of 2-5 years outdoors, and 5-10 years indoors.
Backlit Banner Vinyl - 14 oz
This flame resistant glossy backlit banner vinyl offers tremendous image quality and color depth in a durable material that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. A true translucent vinyl, it can be used in lightboxes or free hanging since it has the strength of a scrim reinforced banner. Available in widths up to 98".
This panel contains information on finishing options for poster printing.
Satin Eco-Friendly Polypropylene Laminate - 3 Mil
This satin finished pressure sensitive laminate offers surface protection for long-lasting, durable graphics with materials that are free of PVC (vinyl) or heavy metals. The absence of heavy metals or phthalates reduces the risk of damaging the health of humans or the environment. Compared to PVC laminating films, polypropylene provides better image clarity for more accurate, vivid colors. This film is a great option for indoor graphics at children’s museums, or other environments, where visitors are encouraged to touch the displays. This laminate is intended for indoor use, but can be used outdoors for up to 6 months.
Vinyl Laminate - 4 Mil
This pressure sensitive laminate is available in gloss, luster or matte finishes, with the matte finish being the most popular as it has a sand texture like polycarbonate that diffuses glare without muting the colors of the print. Laminates offers surface protection and can change the finish of your print to suit the display environment. When a high-gloss finish is desired, and glare is not a concern, gloss is the appropriate choice. Keep in mind that a gloss finish will show flaws, scratches and fingerprints more than any other laminate. Luster and matte offer the same protection without these disadvantages.
Cast Vinyl Laminate - 2 Mil
This laminate offers protection against water, abrasion, chemicals and UV exposure. Since it is thicker, it offers better physical protection than Fluorex or AccuShield, and is extremely flexible, which makes it the protection of choice for vehicle graphics. Available in a gloss, matte or textured satin finish.
Polycarbonate Laminate - 5 and 10 Mil
These pressure sensitive laminates, also know as Lexan, are the most durable available. They resist scratches, abrasion and chemicals, and their textured velvet finish hides fingerprints and diffuses glare. They also provide a unique optical technology that prevents the laminate from making the print darker or dulling the color.
While not technically a laminate, this pressure sensitive adhesive applied to the back turns any print into a decal, complete with peel-off release liner. We can apply the adhesive and either send the print rolled for mounting to the surface of your choice, or mount the print for you to a variety of substrates. See the Mounting Materials section below for more information.
Repositionable Optically Clear Adhesive
This adhesive can be used on the face of a graphic to turn it into a window graphic or to second surface mount backlit films. It can be removed and re-applied as long as the adhesive is kept clean. Like a post-it note, once the adhesive picks up debris, it won't stick well. Once applied, the adhesive will become more aggressive over time, so it can also be used for permanent installations.
Permanent Optically Clear Adhesive
This adhesive can be used on the face of a graphic to second surface mount backlit films, or mount outdoor backlits to the face of the acrylic. The adhesive is very aggressive, so it must be applied correctly the first time, and it's not designed to be removed so it's not recommended for window installations, where the repositionable adhesive is preferred.
Also called Plexiglas, this clear plastic sheeting is great for mounting backlit graphics, either on the surface, or face first the back side, called second surface mounting. It comes in many weights, but only the 1/4" thickness is on our price list, but all other weights are available. Lexan or polycarbonate is also available when greater impact resistance is needed. Call for pricing.
Backlit Graphics for Indoor Use
For backlit trade show graphics, the Hollywood Backlit Film or Premium Backlit Polyester Film combined with the 10 mil polycarbonate laminate are the best choices. These combinations will make for long lasting, semi rigid backlit graphics that have a non reflective finish and will hold their shape when attached to a support frame. These is also excellent combinations for television sets and stage displays.
For backlit graphics in displays that support the graphic without mounting, such as snapframe displays or lightboxes where the graphic is sandwiched between acrylic sheets, the Front Print Backlit Film, Premium Backlit Film and Hollywood Backlit Film are all good choices. The Premium Backlit Film and Hollywood Backlit film are printed with UV curable inks, which makes them extremely scratch resistant without the need for lamination. If lamination is selected as an option, these materials will be printed with latex inks, as UV curable inks do not laminate well. The Front Print Backlit Film should be laminated to protect the image from scratches and abrasion. The Premium Backlit Film and Hollywood Backlit Film can be used for displays that are not always illuminated because they look acceptable when frontlit, although the image will look much darker without the backlighting.
In cases where the graphics need to be mounted to another surface, the Repositionable Backlit Film or Translucent Adhesive Vinyl would be the best choices. Both materials have a removable adhesive that can be cleanly removed, but the Repositionable Backlit Film has a special adhesive that makes it very easy to install, and also allows it to be removed and reapplied. The Translucent Adhesive vinyl offers the greatest color depth and is the best choice for a more permanent installation.
Backlit Graphics for Outdoor Use
For outdoor applications or for greater longevity indoors, the Premium Backlit Film, Hollywood Backlt Film and Backlit Banner Vinyl are your best options where the graphics need to be changeable. The Premium Backlit Film and Hollywood Film are the most durable without a laminate, and offer the best color and image quality in a long lasting film. The Backlit Banner Vinyl offers the best color, but it's more flexible than the other two so if a more rigid graphic is desirable, the other products are better choices.
For more permanent graphics, the Translucent Adhesive Vinyl and Clear Adhesive Vinyl can be mounted to a face of acrylic or lexan for insertion into light boxes. The Translucent material offers removable adhesive, so it's preferable where the graphics will be changed, but the Clear provides the best color saturation. The Repositionable Backlit Fim can also be used for more temporary installations where the graphics need to change frequently, and this material can even be reused.
Lamination and Mounting
Lamination is recommended for any backlit graphics that are not printed with UV curable inks, and that are going to be handled frequently. Printing good backlit graphics requires a tremendous amount of ink, and with that amount of ink being printed on any product, the image ends up being more susceptible to scratches and abrasion than with a material that is not printed for backlit display. UV curable inks will maintain a high level of scratch resistance even with a high ink load, but other printing methods will require careful handling to avoid damage. We recommend lamination of any backlit graphic that is not printed with UV curable inks to be safe. Regular vinyl laminates are inexpensive and provide good surface protection, but cast vinyl and polycarbonate laminates also provided increased UV resistance which will increase the fade resistance and extend the life of the graphic. Polycarbonate laminates will add stiffness to the finished graphic, so they are the preferred laminates for trade show displays such as backlit bubble panels on pop up trade show booths, or other types of displays, such as those on television sets, where the graphic is held around the perimeter and needs to hold it's shape.
For mounting graphics to acrylic, we have several options. A permanent adhesive can be applied to the back of the print for mounting to the face of the acrylic. In this case, the graphic should also be laminated as it will be left exposed in the display. A repositionable adhesive an also be used if you want to be able to remove the graphic easily and change it out. This adhesive also allows you to reuse the graphic later if you replace the release liner on the adhesive to keep it clean. Optically clear adhesives can be applied to the face of the graphic for second surface mounting, where the graphic is mounted face first to the back of the acrylic. This is common when you want the acrylic to act as protection for the graphic from the front, but a laminate works just as well, and provides more UV resistance, so we prefer the graphic to be laminated and mounted to the front of the acrylic. Second surface mounting is much more difficult as well because there are many opportunities for flaws, bubbles or impurities to end up between the acrylic and the face of the print. While we use sophisticated techniques to prevent this from happening, it can sometimes be difficult to eliminate them completely. A speck of dust that would be undetectable on the back of the print, can be very noticeable on the face, so that's another reason to avoid this type of mounting if it isn't necessary.
No, because the process is digital you can order any quantity from 1 on up. There are discounts for ordering multiple copies, so the price per print decreases with larger quantities, but there is no minimum.
Normal turnaround time is 4-5 business days. During the order process you will be asked if you have a specific due date, and if you do, we will adjust your shipping method, if necessary, to get your order to you on time. If you need your order even quicker, we also have a rush service. If you authorize rush charges, we can get your order shipped in 1-2 days. Rush charges are $75 per order. If we're able to meet your deadline without bumping other jobs, we won't actually charge the rush charge, but you must authorize the rush to guarantee delivery.
We recommend that bitmap images such as digital photos be 150dpi at the actual print size in order to look good from close range. Larger display graphics tend to viewed from further away, so if that's the case, lower resolution files of 72-100 dpi at the actual print size can be used and still look good from 5 feet away. We use special software to enlarge smaller images to their full print size, but the larger the original file, the better the results will be. If you're images are smaller than we recommend, which is common for larger prints, it's important to consider viewing distance as well. A print that shows a lack of resolution due to enlargement up close, might look just fine from arms length. We've printed images at 16 feet wide from 8 megapixel cameras that look very good from five feet away, so where a print will be displayed and what viewing distance you expect are important to consider when deciding how large a print can be made. When in doubt, send us your file and we'll examine it and let you know how large we think it can go and still look good.
That depends on the specific material you choose. Look through the descriptions of the materials in the Printing Materials tab to find out the largest available width for each material. Keep in mind that we generally cannot print the full width of the media, so the printable size will be at least 1" less than the material width.
There are two reasons one of these things can happen. One if the fault of the printing company, and one is the fault of the display. Many companies are not able or willing to create color profiles for any of their printing materials. Instead they use profiles that are supplied with the printer, choosing a profile that sounds the closest to what they are actually printing on and hoping for the best. This doesn't work particularly well, but it's possible to sneak by most customers who aren't very demanding with this type of technique. With backlit graphics, this doesn't work and is the main reason for backlit graphics to be washed out or too dark, and will also cause the colors to be off as well. We create color profiles for all our medias, including our backlit materials, so we can get accurate color from every one of them.
Backlit graphics do have an extra degree of difficulty because not all light boxes produce the same amount, or same color of illumination. When we create our color profiles, we assume the industry standard for illumination. If you're display puts out more light than is standard, it can make your graphics look too light, and if your display is too dim, the graphics will look dark. Also, lamps come in many different color temperatures so if your lamps are warmer or cooler than the standard 5000k temperature, your graphics will look warmer or cooler as well. We can compensate for these variances if you have a situation where color accuracy is critical, but it can involve some back and forth with color correction and proofs to get the color adjusted for a particular display, so it's obviously not recommend if precise color in a specific lightbox isn't needed.
Yes, we have several materials that can be second surface mounted. We prefer to have the graphic on the face of the acrylic with a laminate over the face for protection, but if you have a situation where second surface mounting is required, we can do that as well. We have two optically clear mounting adhesives that allow any of our backlit films to be second surface mounted, and we can also use clear adhesive vinyl reverse printed and backed with a translucent vinyl for a the same effect in a more flexible material.
Plexi or Plexiglass is a trade name for acrylic, and Lexan is a trade name for polycarbonate. Acrylic and polycarbonate are very similar in many ways, but polycarbonate, used as bullet proof glass, is very impact resistant. It will still break, just like acrylic, with the right type of stress, but it will handle impacts without shattering so it's used for safety reasons on displays in certain public areas. You should check your local sign ordinances to see if polycarbonate is required before requesting it since it tends to be more expensive than acrylic.
Lamination is recommended for any backlit graphics that are not printed with UV curable inks, and that are going to be handled frequently. Printing good backlit graphics requires a tremendous amount of ink, and with that amount of ink being printed on any product, the image ends up being more susceptible to scratches and abrasion than with a material that is not printed for backlit display. UV curable inks will maintain a high level of scratch resistance even with a high ink load, but other printing methods will require careful handling to avoid damage. We recommend lamination of any backlit graphic that is not printed with UV curable inks to be safe.
Outdoor backlit graphics should always be laminated unless they are for temporary use.
For graphics that are to be mounted to an acrylic face, our translucent adhesive vinyl with a cast vinyl laminate would be the longest lasting product we offer. In most situations, this combination should last for 5 years without noticeable fading, although depending on the amount of sunlight it's exposed to, and the amount of time the lights in the display are used, it can last longer. Also, the colors in your graphic can make the eventual fading that occurs more or less noticeable, so certain images will appear to last longer, even though they are fading at the same rate.