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Projected Signs Versus Signage Printing: Which is Better?

Projected Signs Versus Signage Printing: Which is Better?

Long considered to be the only option for businesses and individuals looking to implement suitable signage solutions for their needs, printed signage is a traditional and popular choice, but is it the best? In this blog, we’ll be discussing the benefits and disadvantages of using sign printing in comparison to the more modern alternative of signage projection, taking into consideration the environmental impact of each option, their durability and longevity, and their adaptability. 

Whether you’re in the process of replacing old or damaged vinyl or acrylic signage and are doing some research on alternative options in the hopes of saving some money, or have been considering investing in signage projection for some time after being disappointed by your current printed signs, join us as we share three ways in which projected signs have become a more cost-effective alternative to traditional signage printing.

Long-lasting and durable

When choosing a signage solution for your business or individual needs, the question of durability should always be asked. All too often, the option which seems cheapest at first glance can become more expensive in the long run as they require regular maintenance and replacements, as is the case for traditional signage printing. Designed to last between 3 to 10 years depending on materials and printing methods chosen, printed signage such as acrylic and vinyl signs has a significantly shorter lifespan than the more high-tech alternative of image projection. This lifespan can be further shortened by updated regulations or a change in business operations rendering the information currently on them redundant or outdated.

At Projected Image, all of our projectors feature long-life LEDs that are capable of continuous operation for several years, all without any reduction in brightness or diminished image clarity. It’s this lack of image degradation that makes projected signage stand out against printed competitors, which suffer damage and fading more than any projection.

How long do PVC signs last?

Typical PVC signs with a digital print should last on average from 3 to 5 years, though additional factors can influence this. When placed outdoors in particular, uncontrollable elements such as poor weather conditions, bleaching from direct sunlight and unexpected damage from bad storms can turn a clean, sleek-looking sign into one with scratches, chips and colour fading. PVC options created through calendered vinyl signage printing methods are also known to suffer when placed outside, with UV radiation from the sun causing colour fading after only a few years of usage. Depending on your needs and budget, higher-quality cast vinyl signs can last longer, offering between 5 to 12 years in an outdoor environment, though these are more expensive to create.

Acrylic signs are usually a longer-lasting option within the medium of traditional printed signage, with the average lifespan usually sitting between 5 to 10 years before colour fading and material degradation begins to set in, with signs kept outside once again falling at the lower end of this timeframe. 

Purchasing replacement printed signs, whether they’re PVC vinyl signs or acrylic signage, when their fading and damage becomes too noticeable to keep is a costly process in more ways than one. Beyond paying for materials and a professional sign printing service to ensure good quality, there are also installation costs to consider, especially for large outdoor signs such as retail storefront branding. Because of this, the one-off projector payment and affordable image inserts, lack of fading or diminishing image quality and easy installation of projected signage systems makes it a clear winner when considering lifespan and durability.

Adaptability of placement and materials

While printed signs may have a reasonably long lifespan, those years mean little if the needs they serve change; that’s where the adaptability of projected signage comes into its own. Capable of growing with your business, gobo projectors can be easily moved from place to place, dependent on your needs. That means that, whether you’re changing your signage to remain inline with factory safety procedures, are moving the location of your retail store or are travelling from event to event, your signage can go with you.

Beyond simply being easy to set up in different locations, the signs themselves which are used with projected solutions are also incredibly versatile. While printed signs are uneditable once produced, the gobos which are used to create projected signage can be swapped easily, giving you access to a wide catalogue of signs to use at a moment's notice. Once the initial projector investment has been made, gobos, which start from as little as £45, also represent an ongoing affordable option, making them more cost-effective for people and businesses that rely on changeability.


In today’s increasingly eco-conscious society, making decisions with some consideration towards environmental impact has become a necessity. Beyond the personal moral influences that push individuals to weigh earth-friendly benefits against cost or convenience, businesses have the additional responsibility of protecting the environmental priorities of their clients, customers and staff. Not only can these decisions make a long-term impact on the world around us, both in terms of minimising pollution and by inspiring others to do the same, but it can also help to encourage customer loyalty and respect.

What is acrylic signage made of?

When asking yourself if traditional printed signage is an eco-friendly choice, the first thing to consider is what it’s made of. Whether you’re choosing PVC, acrylic or vinyl signs, plastic is an unavoidable inevitability and, with this information accepted, the next question to ask is, how long will these materials exist? As we’ve already discussed, the average lifespan of an acrylic sign is between 5 to 10 years (with PVC signage falling further behind at 3 to 5 years and outdoor vinyl signs between 3 to 6), but the non-renewable materials they’re made from can take centuries to degrade - a steep price for such a short amount of usage.

In comparison to non eco-friendly signage printing, the gobos which are used with projected alternatives are made from a much more easily recycled material: glass. This material advantage, and the freedom to swap, redesign and reuse images as and when you please makes them a clear favourite when it comes to the environment.

Find alternatives to signage printing at Projected Image

With over two decades of experience in the projected signage industry and a long line of happy customers satisfied with their investments, Projected Image has built a reputation for quality that can be relied upon. Whether you’re a company hoping to upgrade to projected signage, or are just learning how beneficial the swap could be after years of replacing faded printed signage, we have all you need to take the leap.

Start your search today by browsing through the wide selection of gobos we have at Projected Image, or get in touch to discuss a custom project.

In-House Manufacturing Our gobos are delivered straight from our in-house lab to your doorstep.