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Choosing the right Digitally Printed Vinyl Films

Peeling Vinyl Graphic
We get asked for what is the cheapest graphic all the time but I always try and find out what the application is for.  The reason being that there is a lack of knowledge to buyers out there in the market and they don't know the differences between different print processes and medias.  It is common for customers who want a vehicle graphic or sign to buy the cheapest but then a few weeks or months later they have a problem.
If you look closely there at full vehicle wraps where there is a double recess on the side of the van and the graphic has "popped" out from the recess.  This is because the wrong vinyl has been used.  I was doing some searching on articles about the different vinyls available and came across this, hope it helps!
At first sight, there is little to distinguish between the three types of vinyl available today: cast, polymeric calendered and monomeric calendered films. However, the difference between them is obvious after they have been applied to a vehicle for any length of time. The film that looks as good as the day it was applied is manufactured using a process known as casting and is described as a cast film.

Cast films

A cast film is a premium grade vinyl that starts life as a liquid, which is then allowed to spread out to an extremely thin layer. Cast films have no memory and are stable, so shrinkage is barely perceptible. Because cast films are thinner and softer, they are easier to cut, weed and apply. Cast films conform over substrate irregularities such as rivets and textures, making them the preferred option for the most extreme exterior applications – especially vehicle wraps. Cast films are also often used for interior or less challenging applications when special or PANTONE® colours are required.
If there is any doubt as to which film to use, always choose cast for its enduring quality and long life.
  • Long term solution
  • Highly Conformable
  • More dimensionally stable and resistant to shrinkage
  • Highly resistant to fading
  • Highly resistant to chemicals

Calendered films

Calendered films start life as a lump of plastic that is then flattened by being passed through two pressure rollers. Though not as high quality as cast films in demanding applications, film produced by this process can nevertheless be adequate in less demanding conditions. Calendered films come in two types: polymeric and monomeric.

Polymeric calendered films

Polymeric calendered films have added polymers to reduce shrinkage. However, although they have developed significantly over the years, they still fall short of the stability and durability of cast films. Polymeric films fare much better in exterior applications than monomeric films but are not suitable for application over surface irregularities such as rivets and corrugations. For less demanding exterior work, polymeric films offer a workable alternative to cast. If there is any doubt as to which film to use, however, avoid risk and choose cast film.

Monomeric calendered films

The least expensive vinyl film is monomeric calendered. These films are not suitable for demanding exterior applications such as vehicle liveries or fascia signs. The face film of monomeric film is not stabilized so it will almost certainly shrink to reveal the adhesive beneath. Dirt will adhere to this revealed adhesive and will be clearly visible as a sticky, black outline around the lettering and other elements. The sticky black outline is usually only the start of more severe degradation to come. Eventually, the vinyl face film will begin to curl up and flake off like peeling paint. Monomeric films, therefore, are best suited to short-term exterior applications and interior work.
This article was published by Spandex, one of the leading media suppliers in the UK.
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