PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a plastic product used in manufacturing packaging, toys, shower curtains and art and for graphic design. PVC is a flexible, lightweight and durable material that can be made into sheets suitable for inkjet printing. Art and graphic designs can be printed on PVC sheets and then laminated for greater durability. PVC sheets are available in various finishes from glossy to dull. The matt finish PVC is widely used because it will accept most inks and paints.
Purchase the style of PVC sheets pre-cut in sizes to fit your inkjet or laser jet printer. Matt finished PVC sheets will take ink better than smooth or glossy sheets. PVC sheets for printing have a rough side. This is the side that you should print your design on. The rough side will take the ink and hold it better than the smooth side. You can use the smooth side, but the ink will take much longer to dry and may bubble depending on the humidity.
Insert only one sheet of PVC into your home inkjet or laser jet printer and set the printer to print on PVC sheets or on transparencies. Some home printers may jam or not feed properly when more than one sheet of PVC is loaded into the tray. Double check that you have inserted the PVC sheets into the printer tray so that your printer will print on the rough side.
Open your graphic design or image editing program on your computer. Open the graphic or photograph you want to print on the PVC sheet. Make sure that the image you want to print is of sufficient dpi (dots per inch) or ppi (pixels per inch) to produce a clear image. Click "Print" in your editing software. Make any adjustments like centring, borders, cropping or resizing before sending the image to the printer spool.
Allow the finished print to dry completely before attempt to frame the PVC sheet. Hold the PVC sheet by the edges to avoid touching the printed surface. Place the printed PVC sheet in a safe place away from heat and moisture and allow it to dry completely. PVC prints will usually dry in about 15 minutes.
Do not hang or display finished prints in direct sunlight because the sun will cause colours to fade. Avoid touching the printed surface because the ink may smudge until it is thoroughly dry. Print a test sheet using your printer before attempting to print the final product. You can judge the colour saturation and appearance before you commit to printing a picture.
PVC sheets can be expensive, so make sure that your ink cartridges have sufficient ink to complete a print job. Do not bend or fold PVC sheets. Store them flat. Do not stack finished prints on top of each other. The surface can be damaged. If the print will not be framed immediately, place a protective sheet of paper between prints before storing them.