Whether you laminate application tape by hand or with a laminator, avoid trapping air bubbles between the vinyl graphics and the application tape. Bubbles and wrinkles in the application paper often result in bubbles and wrinkles in the applied graphic, regardless of the skill and effort of the installer. If you inspect the adhesive side of a graphic, after removing the release liner, you often can see the formation of wrinkles and bubbles in the adhesive. In the application process, you will just transfer these wrinkles and bubbles to the substrate.
An Alternative to Spray Adhesive for Textile Printers
Many years ago, I had one of those bright ideas that backfired on me. Instead of extruding lines of adhesive across the web of a production line laminating one sheet of paper to another, I replaced the extrusion heads with six spray values.
I learned an important lesson. Anytime you atomize something, it gets into the air. You may not see the miniscule particles of adhesive. Nevertheless, a mist of glue gets over everything. In no time the equipment was covered with adhesive.
Printers, who spray aerosol adhesives in a garment print shop, experience the same problem but to a much lesser extent. I recently discovered an alternative for spray products. It’s a non-aerosol adhesive that you spread onto a pallet with a squeegee. Not only is it a cleaner application, it’s also a little more environmentally friendly.
The new adhesive is Tekmar TB-HV. Because it is water-based, it is non-flammable, unlike some spray adhesives. Using this product is also healthier. It has none of those nasty VOCs that pollute the air. And if you follow the product instructions, it is also non-hazardous.
One printer, who was using RTape Protek™ pallet protection tape, asked if you could apply the new adhesive to the paper tape. His concern was that the water-based adhesive would penetrate the paper resulting in the tape delaminating from the pallet. Not a problem!
If you use the adhesive sparingly, this should not occur. In the photo below I have applied the Protek™ tape to the pallet. Then I spread a very thin bead of adhesive at the top of the pallet.
Using a squeegee, quickly spread the adhesive over the entire surface of the pallet, as show below. If you need more adhesive, just apply a dab more and spread that out too. The key is to use the least amount of adhesive to accomplish the task.
When you are done, clean up is a piece of cake. Because the adhesive is water-based, you can easily wash off your squeegee with warm water. If the adhesive on the tape gets dirty, just replace the old pallet protection tape with a new piece and reapply the adhesive. When you are working with this adhesive, I recommend wearing latex gloves to prevent skin contact and the potential for any allergic reaction.