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.
Why Premask Laminated Graphics?
Do you really need to premask a graphic if it has an overlaminate? Many installers believe that an application tape is unnecessary. In the vast majority of cases premasking the graphic will make your installations faster and easier, as well as providing protection for the graphic during shipping and handling.
Masking with application tape adds to the stiffness of the graphic, which makes it easier to handle. If you need to reposition a graphic, the extra body that the tape adds to the graphic makes it easier to snap the film back off of the substrate without deforming it.
More importantly, when you are performing an installation in hot weather, a paper application tape will prevent the graphic from stretching. This is especially important if you are applying multiple graphic panels with multiple points of alignment. If one panel stretches, then you will need to stretch all of the subsequent panels so that the images on one sheet of film match up with the next one.
Using a premask or application tape also protects the graphic during application. Many of the high gloss cast vinyl overlaminates are soft and susceptible to scratching during the installation process. The scratches from squeegees, especially the hard nylon squeegees that are preferred by professional installers, are very noticeable. After squeegeeing the graphic and removing the application tape, you will need to resqueegee the applied film. In doing this, always use a squeegee with a low friction sleeve or a squeegee with some type of edge protection.
This article was written by Jim Hingst, Business Development Manager-Technology for RTape Corp. and posted on Hingst Sign Post.