Five media purveyors provide insights
By Steve Aust
For this column, ST contacted various vinyl manufact-urers for input on the best tools and methods for vinyl use. In the March issue, we’ll feature users’ tips for effective installation.
Marcio Oliveira, commercial-graphics tech-service engineer
What should you look for when buying a quality application tape?
This first thing to consider is what’s going on top of the graphic – film, ink, a clearcoat or an overlaminate? If the premask’s only function is to add stiffness to the film to make handling easier, a premasking tape is used. If the need is to hold cut graphics to register them for placement and weed excess film, then a prespacing media is needed. Application tape must have less hold to the film than the film to the substrate. If the tape’s adhesive is more powerful, you risk lifting the graphics as you remove the tape.
Do you prefer torches or heat guns when you have to warm the film?
It depends on the situation. If you’re installing film on a textured wall, you have to use a high-temperature heat gun; a torch doesn’t provide the temperature control needed for a porous surface. When installing a vehicle wrap, either is sufficient for film removal. However, we don’t recommend torches for textured-wrap films. Excessive heat may alter their appearance, and heat guns provide better heat control.
What have been some key tool improvements that have made the job easier?
Vinyl-roller products, such as 3M’s V-CAT vehicle-channel and TSA textured-wall applicators, have been well received in the market. Vehicle-channel applicators are designed to effectively work heated vinyl into deep channels, and textured-wall rollers that include heat-resistant rollers are designed especially for conforming films to textured surfaces with heat pressure.
Ritchie Daize, digital sales manager
What film improvements make a vinyl-graphic fabricator’s job easier?
There have been many improve-ments, but the greater impact for vinyl-film applications has been the development of air-egress technology. This advance has made bubble-free applications possible, even for novices. Most manufacturers have also engineered better adhesives that allow the film to be repositioned more easily.
What tool improvements have made installation easier?
One key addition to my toolbox has been a set of magnets. Few things are more frustrating than trying to tape a single-panel wrap over protruding door handles. Magnets solve this problem by holding the media.
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