There are several different manufacturing processes for whiteboards.
We are going to cover 4 of these in this article;
Our stick-on whiteboards are printed on a cast 3M self-adhesive film which has an air-release adhesive. This adhesive has microscopic glass beads give the film repositionability, which allows the user to run, or float, the film over the surface they would like to apply it to before application. We put the films through printing process using Latex inks designed by HP. This print process uses less than 1% solvent and is cured through the printing process, which is faster than traditional solvent printing, and allows us to make to order.
The base layer cast film is made with molten PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which is superior to most film laminate whiteboards which use monomeric or polymeric films. Monomeric and polymeric refers to the type of plasticizer used in the film and determine how flexible the film is and it durability. Cast films on the other hand are poured from a molten PVC mixture and spread flat underneath a rubber blade, called a knife. This means it is set flat and does not shrink like monomeric and polymeric films. The base film is laminated to a hard-coated dry erase clear laminate which give the product it’s whiteboard properties.
After printing and laminating our whiteboards are put through a plotter, to be cut to the required size giving them their radius corners which do not catch as much as pointed corners, therefore last longer. We chose flexible laminates over rigid board because they worked well, are easier to ship, and you can choose to stick them on a wall, fridge, window, desk, you can even recover and old whiteboard with them. They can also be customized to suit your own personal needs.
Melamine is a hard resin and is manufactured as a low-pressure laminate (LPL). Melamine is an organic compound that when combined with formaldehyde forms a durable thermosetting plastic. The plastic is then added to a kraft paper and is bonded directly to either MDF (medium density fiberboard), chipboard, or plywood. This produces a whiteboard which will be economical but will ghost sooner than the other products discussed here. It’s a popular choice for a lot of companies as you can buy finished sheets, cut them to the size needed and sell them.
Low pressure laminates can be known as pre-finished boards. They are manufactured at 200-350kg per square meter of pressure, at 170°C, unlike high pressure laminates (HPL) which are produced at a lower temperature, but higher pressure.
HPLs are comprised of an overlay paper, a decorative paper, and a kraft paper, these are brought together in a thermal lamination process with resins and mounted to the backing board. In total 6-8 layers can be used to form the laminate. These layers are combined by saturating them in phenolic formaldehyde and melamine formaldehyde.
The overlay paper is a laminate which serves to add durability to the composite. The overlay paper increases the products abrasion, scratch, and heat resistance. When making a whiteboard from melamine this becomes the dry erase surface.
The decorative layer, as you would guess is where the design is. In the case of most whiteboards, a blank white sheet. Although as their primary use is benchtops and other décor products, the bulk are produced with a pattern.
Kraft paper is used to control the thickness of the laminate, sometimes known as the core. You may see these products most commonly as whiteboards desks. They are durable, and works well, the downside is that they are expensive.
Enamel coated metal, or porcelain whiteboards are made by combining nickel, cobalt, and glass in a kiln at 1700°f, or 927°C. The mixture created is applied to steel sheets, sometimes mesh. These sheets still need to be mounted to a backing board for rigidity, making them heavy. The overall process produces a high-quality whiteboard that will last well without ghosting. They are expensive because or the materials, process, and shipping, although they are magnetic, unlike HPL, or LPL. Flexible film whiteboards are not magnetic either, but they are very easy to apply to a magnetic surface, then voila! You have a magnetic whiteboard!
All off the different manufacturing methods have their pros and cons. If you are after cheap and cheerful, go for a melamine whiteboard, it won’t last as long but you may not need that. If you are after something more substantial and long term, porcelain or HPL whiteboard may be better, and if you want the best of both worlds, then a flexible laminate is what you’re looking for.