So you have your graphics designed for your new point of purchase display with the words, images, and color scheme selected; but the effect you desire hinges on the graphics printed on a clear material instead of a white substrate. All you have left to decide is which material to use.

When a clear material is desired the two most common types found in the retail signage and POP display market are acrylic and polyethylene terephthalate, better known as PETG. Both of these materials are robust and can get your visual message across clear and true.

Here are a few key differentiating factors between the two materials that may help you decide which clear substrate is best for your retail signage application.

Strength
In order to evaluate strength, it’s important to consider how accessible the graphics are to people’s reach. Acrylic and PETG carry different properties and avoiding injury while also ensuring the display is durable should be most important. Both are strong and resilient, but if acrylic is under impact or if a force is applied, it can shatter or crack and those areas can have sharp edges. Acrylic is a very dense and hard material which makes it both durable and strong, but when safety and handling is a concern we recommend using PETG as the substrate.

PETG, on the other hand, is impact resistant and won’t shatter like acrylic. It’s also about five times stronger than acrylic, making it suitable to display in areas where customers pass by such as end caps, aisle violators, or header signs. PETG is also a superior choice if shipping is a concern as acrylic graphics packed into kits and shipped UPS or FedEx can run the risk of cracked corners from mishandling before the graphic reaches stores.

Color
When color and clarity are a concern, acrylic is the superior choice over PETG. Acrylic has excellent optical clarity and is a great substitute for glass-like applications. PETG’s clarity carries a blue/green hue. This is not always a characteristic a customer is looking for, but it is worth considering, especially when printing on the back and the print is intended to be viewed through the material. This is commonly referred to as printing on the “2nd surface.”

In terms of variety, acrylic also offers more color translucent options for backlit graphics like light boxes and translites. Acrylic is available in optically clear to opaque white with a variety of translucent white options in between. The translucency is important to consider because it effects the brightness of the sign, the printed color vibrancy, and the transparency of the sign when backlit. This makes acrylic great for backlit, edge lit and POP display applications like translites, headers, and high-end finishes. Acrylic is also available in colors and can be customized in large quantities.

PETG color options are more limited, and are generally only available in clear gloss or clear matte finishes.

Cost
Comparing the cost of both acrylic and PETG can be difficult, as signage is highly customized and costs tend to vary as a result. As a general rule, the PETG material is slightly more expensive than acrylic to purchase – about 10 percent more – but PETG is easier to fabricate and easier to print on which can close the gap between the two.

At the same time, though, acrylic may be a better buy depending on where the sign will be placed. For instance, since it’s weather durable and UV resistant, acrylic is better than PETG for outdoor signage purposes, so just because it costs less doesn’t mean it’s not built to last. Context is everything.

Famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign.

Acrylic is ideal for outdoor signage.

Cleanable
The ability to clean the respective materials may be their most similar characteristic. Acrylic and PETG are very easy to clean; all you need is soap and water. This may be the respective materials most similar characteristic. In fact, using alcohol-based cleansers may cause cracking in both over time,  so our recommendation is to stick with the basics.

In the end, regardless of which clear material you choose, you can rely on us at NGS Printing. We have more than 60 years of experience in the retail signage and point of purchase printing printing industry. As a Qualified G7 Master Facility in COLORSPACE, NGS Printing uses state-of-the-art technology and only the finest of clear rigid materials that makes your POP graphics, well, “pop”! Seeing is believing, so contact NGS Printing for your next project and see for yourself.