The technological age has brought new options into the sign industry.  Digitally printed signs are now an option to offset printed signs or screen printed signs.  With more options, there is an even greater need to work with a company who can answer your questions and explain the advantages of one type of signage over another based upon your  specific requirements.

Digitally Printed Signs – The Best Choice For You?

When it comes to sign manufacturing, there are many factors to consider. Will this be an indoor or outdoor sign? How long do you need the signage to last? (Some signs are more temporary, like construction project signs).  How many colours are there in the design?  How many signs are required? (The need for a poster style sign or a decal may be in the thousands).  The answers to these and many other questions can help determine if a digitally printed sign is your best choice. To get the answers you need in order to make the best decisions about your signage, contact National Sign Link and get the benefit of our sign expertise.

Here are some basic points about digitally printed signs.

  • Fewer steps to initialize printing (compared with offset printed signs)
  • Less set-up time equals fast turnaround particularly for small quantities
  • Cost effective for highly detailed graphics and many colours
  • Easy to print proofs

Sign Material Options for Digitally Printed Signs

  • Medium Density Overlay (MDO) (See Glossary)
  • Vinyl
  • PVC Foamboard
  • Aluminum
  • Corrugated Polypropylene
  • Magnetic
  • Aluminum Composite

When large format or multiples are required, our industry relies on digitally printed signs.  Screen-printing is still alive and well for larger volume signage and specialty product needs.

National Sign Link has a special partner to serve as our link to provide you with the following products:

  • Flat Bed Printing (Direct Print)
  • Banners
  • Mesh Banners
  • Window Graphics
  • Indoor Signs
  • Illuminated Exit Signs and Open Signs
  • Floor Graphics
  • Fence Scrim
  • Vehicle Wraps
  • Grand Format Images
  • Wall Murals
  • Building Wraps
  • Site Signage
  • Trade Show Signs
  • Retail Displays
  • For Lease and Real Estate Signs
  • Traffic and Safety Signs


National Sign Link will go the extra mile to establish an alternate source in your area to ensure that you are getting the product that you need, when you need it and at the best price.  Our ‘Links’ exist across Canada so we have flexibility.  In fact, your favourite sign company may be a link in the NSL network.  Tell us who you have previously requested pricing from, so that we use resources wisely and avoid duplication.  Contact National Sign Link, we can answer your questions about digitally printed signs and provide a quote.

Digital Printing Gallery


ACRYLIC:  A resilient and weather-resistant plastic, similar to glass, used to make interior and exterior signs.  Plexiglas® and Acrylite® are well-known commercial brands of the material.

ADAA:  (Americans with Disabilities Accessibility Guidelines) A set of U.S. standards enacted in 1990 with the goal of ensuring equal access to public places and facilities for all persons.  For signage and wayfinding, the ADAA defines proper letter forms and letter heights for best legibility, proper Braille and tactile lettering forms, and also appropriate signage materials and finishes.

ANIMATED SIGN:  A sign used to depict motion.  Channel letters can be made to flash, scintillate or change colour, if that appeals to you.

BANNERA sign made of non-rigid material such as canvas or vinyl, and typically having no enclosing or supporting framework.  Often intended for temporary use, a banner sign can be screen printed or painted, and is commonly hung from a pole or mounted to the facade of a building.  A durable scrim within the banner fabric makes the banner extremely durable when used outdoors.  May be sewn, seamed, and grommetted to finish in a wide variety of methods, sizes and grades.  Banner Mesh is an extremely lightweight, durable mesh polyester banner material.  It is great for large exterior wall murals where weight and/or wind would become a problem using other substrates.

BLEED:  A term referring to the portion of a printed image or graphic which extends beyond the intended borders of a sign.  This excess portion is trimmed away.

BRANDING:  The process of creating a unique, positive and recognizable identity for a product or service.  Along with marketing and advertising, creating a visual identity through signage is an important part of the branding process.

BUILDING CODEProvincial and/or local regulations governing public health, welfare and safety of construction and maintenance.  Be familiar with code before ordering a sign.  National Sign Link offers code review, permitting and installation services as well as product.

CABINET SIGN:  A sign structure consisting of the frame and face(s), not including the internal components, embellishments or support structure.

CLADDING:  A cover added to conceal or decorate the base or supporting structure of a sign.  Sheet metal, aluminum and Dibond are often used.

CMYK:  The CMYK colour model (process colour, four colour) is a subtractive colour model, used in colour printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself.  CMYK refers to the four inks used in some colour printing:  cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). Sign shops require a PMS colour in order to match your desired colour.

COLD CATHODE:  (1.)  Electric discharge lighting, which uses an electrode with a large metal mass to emit electrons.  Neon tubing is a cold cathode type.  (2.)  Generic term employed to specify custom interior lighting produced through the use of larger diameter cold cathode tubing.

CONSPICUITY:  The characteristics of the sign that enable an observer to differentiate the sign from its surrounding environment.

CONTRAST:  (1.)  The amount of difference between the lightest and darkest areas in an image or scene.   (2.)  The visual characteristics of an object such as size, shape and colour that make it distinguishable from other objects near it and the background it is set against.

COPY:  As a whole, the written message on a sign.

DIGITAL GRAPHICS:  With digital printing, an image is sent directly to the printer using digital files such as PDFs and/or those file types from graphics software such as Illustrator.  Consider the following product types which can be ordered in your choice of shape and size printed on your choice of substrate.  Mesh banners, window graphics, replacement sign panels, floor graphics,  fence scrim, vehicle wraps, building wraps, wall murals, point of purchase signs or billboards, to name a few.  Use digital graphics to brand any surface in your space.

DIMENSIONAL LETTER:  A letter, logo or symbol, either cut-out, cast, moulded or fabricated in material such as metal or plastic to create a raised condition.

DUAL COLOUR VINYL:  A perforated vinyl that can be utilized to create a different daytime and nighttime sign effect where contrast issues exist thereby allowing maximum visibility of the sign at all times.

FACE:  The surface area on a sign where advertising copy is distributed.

FASCIA SIGN:  A building mounted sign.  Often referred to as a wall sign.

FIRST SURFACE:  That element or layer that comprises the outermost surface of a sign.

FLEX FACE:  Generic term for reinforced, translucent fabric made of PVC or polyester typically used for awnings, canopies and other types of signage.  An abrasion resistant, antifungal durable scrim extruded within the fabric makes this an extremely durable outdoor material.  Diffusion layer provides for brilliant graphics.  May be sewn, seamed and grommetted to finish in a wide variety of methods and sizes.

FLAT CUTOUT LETTER:  A dimensional letter cut from sheet or plate stock acrylic, metal or high density foam of various thickness depending on the desired effect.  The industry often defaults to 1/8″ material but National Sign Link defaults to 1/4″ material.  See our Partner link to Gemini for a listing of various substrates, thicknesses and finishes.

FONT:  A set of letters and numerals sharing the same design characteristics.  Examples of font sets include, Times New Roman and Arial. (Also called typeface.)

FULL SERVICE SIGN COMPANIES:  Sign companies that complete the entire signage project, including surveying, designing, engineering, permitting, manufacturing, installing, and maintaining signs.  National Sign Link allows clients to choose products independently of our other services.

GRADIENT:  The smooth transition from one colour to another colour, from black to white, or from colour to the absence of colour.  (Also called gradation.)

JEWELITE:  Manufacturer of trim cap for channel letters.

JPEG:  (Joint Photographic Exports Group)  A common file format for colour digital images.  The JPEG standard utilizes a ‘lossy’ data compression method, meaning that in order to reduce the overall size of the file a small amount of sharpness from the original image is sacrificed.

LEXAN:  Brand of polycarbonate.

LOGO:  An identifying symbol (as for use in advertising).

MDO:  (medium density overlay)  An exterior grade plywood sheet that has been given a resin-impregnated overlay on one or both sides to improve its paintability.

MESSAGE AREA:  The area within the sign panel describing the limits of the message.

OFF-PREMISE SIGN:  An off-premise sign is a sign displaying advertising copy that pertains to a business, person, organization, activity, event, place, service or product, not principally located or primarily manufactured or sold on the premises on which the sign is located. Commonly referred to as, Outdoor or third party displays and usually associated with billboards.

ON-PREMISE SIGN:  A device whose message and design relates to a business, an event, goods, profession or service being conducted, sold or offered on the same property as where the sign is erected.

PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM:  A popular colour matching system used by the printing industry and the sign industry to print spot colours or to match colours.  Most applications that support colour printing allow you to specify colours by indicating the Pantone name or number.  This insures that you get the right colour when the file is printed, even though the colour may not look right when displayed on your computer monitor.  PMS works well for spot colours but not for process colours, which are generally specified using the CMYK colour model. National Sign Link uses the Pantone Matching System to match your colour needs, rather than CMYK colour codes.

PERMIT:  A document attesting to municipal approval of the installation and secured by formal submission of an application and fees. Engineering may be required in some jurisdictions. 

POINT-OF-PURCHASE SIGN:  Signage that advertises a product at its point of sale.

POLYCARBONATE:  Various tough transparent thermoplastics characterized by high impact strength and high softening temperature.  Commonly referred to as ‘Lexan’, which is actually a brand name.

PUSH THROUGH:  A letter or graphic which is cut out, then pushed through a corresponding space that has been removed from a sign substrate.  The push-through is typically a different colour and/or material than the rest of the sign.  Typically used with an opaque sign cabinet and internal lighting.  “Push-through letters” are most often translucent acrylic letters that are pushed through a sign face panel to be flush or over-flush with the front surface of the sign face.

READABILITY:  The quality of a sign’s overall design that allows the viewer to correctly interpret the information presented on it.  Also, the optimum time and distance in which this can be done.  Letter size and style, legibility of typeface, colour contrast between letters and background, and a sign’s layout all contribute to readability.  (See also conspicuity.)

READER BOARD:  A sign on which copy can be changed manually.  It usually consists of a panel on which individual letters or pictorials are mounted.  Used to advertise special prices,  items or events.  Also referred to as a read-o-graph.  The electronic version is referred to as a digital display or EMC (Electronic Message Centre).

RETAINER:  A framing member mounted around the perimeter of a sign face, and attached to the sign cabinet structure.  It is designed to attach the face to the cabinet and/or intended to provide a decorating trim piece.  Trim Cap or Jewelite are commonly used as retainers on channel letters.  A channel letter that does not have a trim cap may be made utilizing Let-R-Edge or Chanellume.  National Sign Link defaults to letter fabrication utilizing an Accubend process so our letters will have a Trim Cap.  Let-R-Edge is available upon request.

SCREEN PRINTING:  Screen printing is a printmaking technique that creates a sharp-edged image using a stencil and a porous fabric.  Screen printing can be applied to virtually any material with outstanding clarity and long lasting durability.  Product types typically include decals, magnets and signage in all shapes and sizes.

SECOND SURFACE:  Refers to a sign made of a clear substrate, such as acrylic, where the art is applied in reverse on what can be an interior face of the sign providing extra protection from the environment.

SERIF:  A small line or embellishment finishing off the strokes of letters in some fonts.  Well-known serif fonts include Souvenir, Times New Roman and Garamond.

SIGN:  Any visual display with words or symbols designed to convey information or attract attention.  National Sign Link can provide all sign types.

SIGN BAND:  Generally, a horizontal area above a tenants’ entrances, architecturally designed to accommodate signage in a sign-centric manner.

SIGN FACE:  The area of a sign on which copy is intended to be placed.

STROKE WIDTH:  The width of the major lines comprising a letterform.  A wider stroke width is used to make a bolder letter; a narrower stroke width is used to make a lighter letter.

SUBSTRATE:  The surface to which graphics are applied, which can be plastics, metals, vinyls, banners, fabrics, papers, glass and many more.

TRIM CAP:  One inch plastic trim that is added to cut-out plastic letters, which adds dimension, and enables attachment to a channel letter.

VECTOR IMAGE:  Unlike JPEGs, GIFs, and BMP images, vector graphics are not made up of a grid of pixels.  Instead, vector graphics are comprised of paths, which are defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way.  A path can be a line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape.  These paths can be used to create simple drawings or complex diagrams.  Paths are even used to define the characters of specific typefaces.

Because vector-based images are not made up of a specific number of dots, they can be scaled to a larger size and not lose any image quality.  If you blow up a non-vector graphic, it will look “blocky”, or “pixelated.”  When you blow up a vector graphic, the edges of each object within the graphic stay smooth and clean.  This makes vector graphics ideal for logos, which can be small enough to appear on a business card, but can also be scaled to fill a billboard.  Common types of vector graphics include files created with Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, and EPS files.

VEHICLE WRAPS AND FLEET GRAPHICS:  Only limited by your imagination, custom graphics and fleet markings will turn your vehicle into a moving billboard.  Take advantage of cost-effective vehicle graphics and reach thousands of potential customers every day.

VARIANCE:  Special administrative procedure by which one may obtain an exception to zoning rules such as height, setback and type of use.

VINYL GRAPHICSVinyl lettering and graphics are one of the most efficient and cost effective means of producing banners, signs, vehicle markings and lettering.  Our vinyl products are available in various levels of quality to suit your usage or budget.  From temporary banners to long lasting fleet markings, vinyl has it covered.

VISIBILITY:  The quality of a letter, number, graphic, or symbol, which enables the observer to distinguish it from its surroundings or background.  Always pay attention to the wall colour when planning your display.  Corporations often have flexibility built into their branding so that alternates are acceptable.  Dual colour vinyl is a great help where this issue cannot be addressed any other way.

WALL SIGN:  A building mounted sign.  Also referred to in the industry as a fascia sign.  Most often, a fascia sign is a cabinet type display.

ZONINGMunicipal planning system to standardize developments in a particular area.  Signage is usually regulated under a zoning bylaw pertaining to land use.  We can help you ensure that a design will be approved.