With years of experience, we've come across a few recurring questions that customers have about our products. Take a look.
Heat Transfer Films
Can you use AT60n on a speed press?
No. The adhesive on AT60n is too aggressive for use on a Speed Press. The problem is that the tacky adhesive will not release from the graphic following application.
How can I prevent the application tape from yellowing?
All application tapes with a rubber based adhesive will yellow. For this reason, your customer should store the tape in its box until it’s time to use it.
Are your tapes reusable?
Do I need to use heat when applying your pre mask to vinyl?
Using heat in applying an application tape or premask is not necessary, but it doesn’t hurt either. Here’s why. The heat causes the adhesive to flow and “wet out” the surface. Better wet out makes the tape stick better to the graphics.
How can I remove the adhesive residue from the vinyl?
When performing a wet application, occasionally the adhesive can delaminate from the application tape leaving adhesive residue on the graphics. Or the adhesive on the application tape can leave a milky residue on the vinyl graphics. To clean off the adhesive or milky adhesive residue, use Rapid Prep.
How do I line up my graphic without using wet solution?
Large and unwieldy graphics panels can make vinyl applications tricky, even for the experienced professional decal applicators. So the pros came up with some tricks of their own. Applications using masking tape hinges are some of the most popular of these techniques. Installing graphics with a tape hinge is like having a extra set of hands on the job. The three type of hinge application techniques are the side hinge; the top hinge and the center hinge.
NOTE: Masking tapes are available with different tack levels. For the best results when using these recommended procedures, always use a high quality masking tape with a high tack adhesive.
How long does the tape last on the shelf?
The warranted shelf life of application tape is one year. It’s unlikely that the tape will self-destruct after the warranty expires. In the right environment, the tape could last for years. But it’s best not to tempt fate. Just as a distributor will rotate his stock, so should a sign maker.
What is the difference between Conform® and Aplitape™?
Conform Series® features its advanced RLA® adhesive technology in release liner adhesion. Special adhesive additives allow the tapes to stick to slick silicone release liners. Because these tapes lay flat and conform to the liners, even when rolled, the Conform® Series products resist wrinkling, tunneling and edge curling. Although economically-priced, ApliTape™ is a high-quality application paper. ApliTape™ has all of the same features of the popular Conform® Series, but without the RLA® Release Liner Adhesion additive.
Why does Conform® cost more than standard tapes?
Conform® Series tapes cost more because the RLA® additive is very expensive. Conform® RLA® will offer significant saving versus the lower priced application tapes. Savings are seen in speed and ease of transfer, therefore lowering the labor cost to make a sign or graphic. Appeal to the end-user when graphics are received for self-installation as there are no curled edges or ripples within the graphics that may cause for poor installation and bubbles therefore assuring a good application and satisfied job completion.
Why should I not use wet solution with a clear film application tape?
Application fluid can cause the adhesive to delaminate from a clear film application tape. One reason is that the film tapes do not release as fast from the vinyl graphics as paper tapes do. Because the film can trap moisture under the tape for a long time the application fluid has time to loosen the bond of the adhesive to the film facestock causing delamination.
Why do I need DigiMask® if my graphic is overlaminated?
If your customer is a wrap specialist and works in a ideal air-conditioned shop environment with a constant ambient temperature between 65º and 78ºF, DigiMask® is probably unnecessary. On the other hand, if your customer’s shop environment is less than ideal and his training and wrap experience is limited, he may need all the help he can get. Here’s where DigiMask® can come to the rescue.
Why would I use regular DigiMask® vs. DigiMask® Plus?
DigiMask® is a standard weight paper digital premask. DigiMask® Plus is a heavyweight premium grade premask.
The heavyweight product has a number of advantages:
- It’s easier to laminate to a digital print. This easy to handle feature means that it’s less likely that you will wrinkle the paper in lamination and less likely that you will trap bubbles between the premask and the print. Why’s that at big deal? Because wrinkles and bubbles in the premask often result in wrinkles and bubbles in the applied graphic.
- The thicker premask has a higher concentration of latex saturant in the paper. That means that the paper is more stable in a humid environment.
- The thicker paper give more body to vinyl graphics
Can I use Eclypse™ outdoors? If yes, what one?
Some Eclypse™ overlaminates can be used for outdoor applications. Our 3 mil PVC overlaminates are an excellent choice for protecting flat surface vehicle graphics.
RTape polyester overlaminates can provide economical protection for construction site signage. Safety labels and exterior graphics, which are exposed to chemical spillage, are best protected with a polyester overlaminate.
Can RTape overlaminates be used for floor graphics?
Liability is a major concern for retailers, graphics producers and raw-material manufacturers. If a shopper falls on a slippery graphic, someone could get sued. Because of the liability associated with floor graphics, RTape does not warrant the use of any of its overlaminates for use in the manufacturing of floor graphics.
Do Eclypse overlaminates protect a graphic from UV light? If yes, what one?
Just about any overlaminate will provide some protection against the bleaching UV rays of the sun. So how much added life will the overlaminate provide for a print? It depends on a lot of things. Altitude and latitude are two key determining factors. Days of exposure to the sun is key, too. But the most important factor of all is the ink. If the ink has problems with fade resistance, an overlaminate won’t perform miracles. All fluorescent colors -- and even certain non-fluorescent colors, such as magenta -- will always be vulnerable.
What really determines how lightfast a print is, is the fade resistance of the ink itself. Period.
Some, but not all, overlaminates provide UV protection by either absorbing or reflecting UV light. With one type of overlaminate, substances in either the facestock or adhesive absorb UV light. The absorbers convert UV radiation to heat, which prevents print damage. The film's UV blockage is cumulative; eventually, the substances reach a saturation point at which the film can't absorb any more light. The other type of overlaminate merely reflects UV rays.
When choosing an overlaminate for screenprinting applications, test the components before using them in production. Because they need a thicker layer of ink, screenprinted graphics typically require an overlaminate with a heavier coating weight of adhesive. An overlaminate with a thin adhesive coating will bridge the edge of the ink deposit, causing a slight, but noticeable, air pocket.
Do you have any tips for cold lamination?
There’s usually more than one way to do something. Sign makers, for example, have devised many different techniques for laminating prints. What follows are some tips that have worked for some industry friends. Hopefully, these words of wisdom will help you prevent laminating mishaps, save production time and, most importantly, improve profitability.
What are the differences between paper and film release liners used for overlaminates?
The type of release liner used with pressure-sensitive overlaminating films can affect the finished print's appearance. Using a paper liner, some cold glue overlaminates exhibit a mottled, or “orange peel,” pattern, which is especially noticeable over dark colors. The mottling effect results from the adhesive picking up the mirror image of the rough, paper surface. To correct the effect, manufacturers are improving the paper's smoothness. R Tape’s Eclypse 3 mil overlaminates use an exceptional smooth paper release liner. One advantage of a paper liner over a film liner is that it is easier to separate from the overlaminate.
Polyester and other types of plastic release liners are perfectly smooth. The smoothness of the plastic liners makes the adhesive of an overlaminating film perfectly smooth. Hence, overlaminates with polyester liners aren't prone to mottling or orange peel. One disadvantage of plastic release liners can be very difficult to remove from an overlaminate. Plastic liners are used on the Eclypse polyester, mar-resist vinyl and polycarbonate overlaminates.
What is the proper way to roll an overlaminated show graphic for shipping and storage?
The best advice is to store and ship prints flat, whenever possible. This is especially true, if you use polyester overlaminates. Generally, a flexible overlaminate, such as vinyl, is preferred for rolled graphics. If you need to roll a print, roll it with the printed image to the outside of the roll. Don’t roll the print too tightly or you’ll end up with tunneling between the overlaminate and the print. This is especially true with constructions of media and overlaminate thicker than 15 mils. As a rule of thumb, the inside of the roll should be no less than 12 inches in diameter.
What type of overlaminate should be used for fleet graphics?
The substrate and durability requirements determine which type of film is best for fleet graphics. One rule of thumb used in this selection process dictates using a calendered-vinyl overlaminate with a calendered vinyl film and a cast-vinyl overlaminate with a cast vinyl film.
Here’s the reason. Similar films typically expand and contract at the same rate. If not, the overlaminate can delaminate from the base film or substrate. A tunnel could also form between the two films.
Which overlaminate is the best for floor graphics?
Floor graphics is a demanding application, pushing graphics materials to its limits. Graphics must withstand extraordinary abuse from pounding foot traffic, dirt, grease, grit and chemical cleaners.
Several types of overlaminates have designed for these applications. Polycarbonate makes the best choice for floor applications because this tough, resilient film can withstand daily traffic, and its matte texture prevents slippage. However, polycarbonate film is expensive. Thus, calendered vinyl overlaminate is an economical, but less durable, alternative. Whichever film you choose, all floor graphics should be waxed with a product recommended by the film manufacturer to prevent edge lifting.
To ensure that a floor graphic is slip-resistant, overlaminates are rigorously tested. The industry standard is American Standard for Testing Materials (ASTM) D2047. The ASTM test checks the overlaminate's coefficient of friction, the force required to move one material over another. In essence, the test measures the traction a pedestrian could expect as he/she walks on a floor graphic.
Why are polyester overlaminates the best choice in protecting graphics from chemical spillage?
Graphics on chemical tankers are frequently subjected to chemical spillage. Acids, caustics and solvents can quickly erode the ink and clearcoating system of printed fleet markings, as well as leech the plasticizer from pigmented vinyl, embrittling it and causing the film to crack. Cement-truck graphics, which are easily damaged by caustic cement and harsh cleaning chemicals, should also be overlaminate-protected.
Although vinyl overlaminates are usually best for vinyl markings, chemical tankers and cement trucks are an exception. For protecting markings subject to chemical damage, polyester overlaminating film was the best choice 20 years ago, and remains so today. Polyester exhibits outstanding chemical and temperature resistance -- features that also make it an excellent protective film for warning labels. But, because polyester isn't conformable, it can't be used over rivets, corrugation or compound curves. Furthermore, it shouldn't be used to protect such flexible surfaces as awnings.
Are Vinylefx® films cast or calendered vinyls?
Neither. It’s a trick question! The process used to manufacture Vinylefx® films is similar to calendering, but not the same. Calendered films are first extruded, then pressed and stretched between very large calendering rollers. Vinylefx® films are just extruded and then embossed with some really cool-looking patterns.
Can I apply VinylEfx® films on top of another vinyl films?
Yes, if you apply the VinylEfx® graphic to a cast vinyl film. Cast vinyl films are less prone to plasticizer migration, which could contaminate the adhesive of the overlaid film. Before applying VinylEfx over a cast vinyl film, be sure to clean the surface of the cast vinyl with isopropyl alcohol to remove any contaminants.
Can I do vehicle wraps with this Vinylefx® films?
You’ve heard of trick questions? Here’s a trick answer. Yes and no. Vinylefx® films are rigid vinyls and will not conform to complex curves. Which means that they cannot be used for a full body wrap. They can be used on the flat surfaces and slight curves of a vehicle. The side of a car is a great place to use Vinylefx® films, as an overlay. For applications to slight contours, get out your heat gun or propane torch. Vinylefx® films are not flexible vinyls, as cast vinyl films are. Instead they are classified as rigid vinyls. You can heat up the vinyl to its melting point and thermoform the film to the shape of the substrate.
TIP: Using heat to make a film conform to a substrate is a two-part process. First, you use heat to stretch or conform the material to the shape of the surface. Second, when completing the application, post heat the graphic to bond it to the substrate.
Can I install it with wet solution?
Absolutely Not! Vinylefx® films are metalized films. Using an application fluid with any metalized film can result in galvanic corrosion.
Can I peel off a VinylEfx® film, after it is applied to another vinyl film?
VinylEfx® films are coated with an aggressive permanent pressure sensitive adhesive. Once VinylEfx film is applied to another vinyl, it is unlikely that you can remove it from the first layer without deforming and damaging it.
Can I print on this material?
Vinylefx® films can be printed using just about any type printer with just about any type of ink system EXCEPT water based inkjet inks.
Sign makers and screen printers have successfully used vinyl screen print inks, thermal transfer systems, solvent-based ink jet printers and hot foil stamp devices.
Before going into production, the sign maker needs to carefully read and heed the printer manufacturer’s recommendations. As we like to say at R Tape: Test, don’t guess.
Can I use the material on t-shirts?
No. Vinylefx® films will not stick to fabrics or any other porous substrate.
Can I use the VinylEfx® Outdoor Durable Series for vehicles?
The outdoor durable series of the VinylEfx® films are suitable for application to most flat and slightly curved vertical vehicle surfaces. You will note that I said “vertical” surfaces. Many pressure sensitive films, including our VinylEfx® films, should not be applied to the hood, trunk and the top of a car, truck or van. Applications to surfaces above the engine compartment of a vehicle are subjected to high heat. The heat is further intensified, if the vehicle is a dark color. Dark colors, such as black and dark brown, which absorb heat, will bake the film, prematurely aging the vinyl.
Some clear coats and automotive paints, which contain additives to repel dirt, grime and graffiti, are problematic and not recommended for application. Untreated low-energy surfaces, such as polyethylene and polypropylene, are also not recommended for application.
Do not apply VinylEfx® films and other metalized vinyls, reflective sheetings and polyesters to untreated metal surfaces. Dissimilarity of the metalized layer of the film with the metal substrate can result in galvanic corrosion.
Can Vinylefx® films be applied to surfaces that will be under water, such as to the inside of a fish tank?
Vinyl films, including Vinylefx®, are just not intended for some applications. This is one of them. However, a technical service person for one of the vinyl companies told me of an application that worked. The graphic was applied to the glass bottom of a tour boat in Florida. After the vinyl was installed, the entire emblem was clear coated with Butch Anton’s “Frog Juice”. Wonders never cease!
Do you make double-sided gold for window graphics?
No. But, if you’ve got the will and a digital printer, there’s an easy way to do it. Here’s a Butch “Superfrog” Anton trick that will have them scratching their heads and wondering: “How the heck did he do that?” First print yellow in reverse (wrong reading) on a CLEAR cast vinyl film to match the shape of the computer cut Vinylefx® graphic. After applying the printed yellow graphic (printed clear cast vinyl) on the inside of the window, overlay the cut Vinylefx® graphic to exactly match the printed film. Using this technique, the graphics on the adhesive side of the film, which faces to the outside of the window, will be as golden as the surface on the inside.
How long will it last outdoors?
R Tape manufactures two different Vinylefx® series. Our Decorative series is for indoor applications only. If the decorative product is used outside, its durability is anyone’s guess. It could only last a few months when expose to the elements. Or, if protected with a clear coat or overlaminate, it could last a year.
For outdoor applications, we manufacture our Durable series. Generally, this outdoor grade will last between three to five years. This sounds like a trick answer—but it’s not. Outdoor durability depends on a number of different factors:
- What is the exposure to the sun? North, South, East or West? What is the angle of the substrate to the sun? Horizontal, vertical, 45º? How many sunny days are the graphics exposed to?
- To what temperatures are the graphics subjected? High heat can prematurely age any film. Extreme heat can discolor a film. Last year, Phoenix had more than 36 days with a temperature above 110ºF. Would you like your graphics regular or extra crispy?
- What is the altitude of the installation site? At an altitude of 5000 feet, Denver has less atmosphere to block the bleaching rays of the sun than Chicago does at 500 feet.
- What is the latitude of the installation site? Because of the curvature of the earth, closer you get to the equator, the sun’s rays have less atmosphere to penetrate. It should come as no surprise that the UV light is much more intense in Miami, Florida than it is in Fargo, North Dakota.
- Are the graphics subjected to air pollution? The polluted air of Mexico City or Los Angeles can actually pit the surface of a vinyl film.
Is the material a PVC?
Vinylefx® films are vinyl, NOT polyester. That’s why we call our films Vinylefx® and not Polyesterefx. The resin used in making our films is PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride.
Is there a profile for printable Vinylefx® products?
Generally, the ICC printer profile for white, intermediate high gloss vinyl works best.
What application tape should I use on Vinylefx®?
Use a high tack application tape, such as RTape ApliTape™ (#4075, #4076, #4775) or RTape Conform® Series (#4075RLA®, #4076RLA®, #4775RLA®).
What are the differences between Vinylefx® films and polyesters?
In the sign industry, two of the most popular types of metallized films are polyester and vinyl. Each film is a very different type of plastic with its own unique set of physical properties, performance characteristics and applications. Here’s how these two films are different:
- Vinylefx® films are thermoplastics. Vinyl and other thermoplastics, such as polycarbonate, acrylic and styrene, can be reheated and thermoformed. Vinylefx® films can be thermal die cut. Vinylefx® films are also as easy to cut and weed as any other intermediate vinyl – much easier to cut than polyesters.
Polyesters are a different type of plastic called thermosets. These plastics start out as liquids and cure with heat. Once they’re cured, they can’t be reheated, reformed or thermal die cut. Compared to vinyl, polyester is a very hard, durable film, which can resist chemical spillage. The toughness of polyester is both its strength and its weakness. Because polyester and other thermoset films cannot be reshaped by reheating, they cannot be thermoformed or thermal die cut. Hard, rigid polyesters are also more difficult to cut, which contributes to blade wear.
- Vinylefx® films are vinyls NOT polyesters and can be printed using the same technologies that are used in printing other vinyl films. These technologies include vinyl screen print inks, thermal transfer systems, eco-solvent and solvent inkjet printers. Virtually every technology other than water-based inks.Polyesters cannot be printed unless they have a special print-receptive top coating or have a surface treatment.
- Vinylefx® films are embossed after the film is extruded and still hot and impressionable. Embossing the film hot produces patterns as deep as 1 mil, which makes the designs look 3-dimensional. Polyesters are embossed while the film is cold, so their patterns are flatter and more 2-dimensional.
- Vinylefx® films use an integral colorant. That means that the color is inside the film through and through. Because the colorants are part of the Vinylefx® films, colors are richer, more vibrant and more durable, and cannot be abraded or solvent-washed from the surface. Polyesters are surface-dyed, which means that the color is roller-coated onto the surface of film. Because the color is on the top of the film, it’s exposed to abrasion and chemical spillage. This limits the films durability, especially when used for outdoor signage.
What blade setting do I use for cutting?
Cutting Vinylefx® film is similar to cutting an intermediate vinyl. Optimal cutting pressures vary depending on plotter type and blade sharpness. Typical pressure is between 135 grams and 165 grams. For best cutting results, use a sharp 45° blade at slow cutting speeds with swivel type of cutters.
What is the outdoor durability of Vinylefx® films?
Vinylefx® decorative series provides approximately six months to a year of outdoor durability. Vinylefx® decorative films, however, are not warranted for exterior applications. Vinylefx® outdoor durable series provides three to five years of exterior life. Durability varies depending on environmental conditions, installation procedures and the product suitability to the intended applications.
Black and other dark surfaces absorb a tremendous amount of heat. In the summertime, substrate surface temperatures often reach as high as 170ºF. This excessive heat often causes film failure.
Clear coating or protecting the graphics with an overlaminate can extend the film’s outdoor life.
Before clear coating or overlaminating, wait a minimum of 24 hours to allow the ink system to cure. (Some vinyl manufacturers are now recommending curing times as long as 72 hours.) Allowing the inks to cure completely is especially important when the print has heavy deposits of ink. After applying the clear coat, wait an additional 24 hours before application. All outdoor graphics should be edge sealed.
What is the shelf life for Vinylefx®?
One year form date of purchase, when stored properly, in an environment free from excessive humidity, temperature extremes and direct sunlight.
What kind of a printer do I need to print on the material?
You can print on Vinylefx® printers using just about any digital printer, except those that use water-based inks. These digital printers include thermal transfer systems; solvent-based inkjet printers; ecosolvent printers; UV-curable inkjet printers; and electrostatic printers.
When using an overlaminate with a UV inhibitor on VinylEfx graphic, how much additional outdoor life can you expect?
Using an overlaminate with a UV inhibitor can help extend the life of our VinylEfx films. How long is unpredictable. In some cases, an overlaminate has provided a couple of years of additional durability beyond what is considered its normal life. This does not mean, however, that a UV overlaminate will always guarantee the same results. Here’s why.
Environmental conditions vary from one part of the world to another. The intensity of UV light varies from one latitude to another. The intensity of light in Tokyo, Japan, for example, is certainly much less than in Quito, Ecuador. Elevation also affects the lifespan of a graphic. At higher elevations, there is much less atmosphere to protect a graphic. This is one reason that graphics fade and fail much sooner in the mile high city of Denver than in Chicago, which is only a couple of hundred feet above sea level.
The photodegradation of ultra violet light isn’t the only cause of weathering. While most overlaminates protect a graphic from humidity, abrasion, chemical spillage and pollution, I don’t know of any overlaminate that will protect against heat. Exposure to high temperatures will accelerate the aging of any graphic and will result in its premature failure.
The type of overlaminate selected also greatly influences the outdoor durability of a graphic. Films with UV inhibitors provide various degrees of protection depending on the concentration and the type of inhibitor used.
Does your paint mask remove cleanly?
ProGrade™ paint mask removes cleanly from most factory paint surfaces without leaving any adhesive residue or other surface contamination.
What type of application tape should you use with ProGrade™ Paint Mask?
If you are applying very large sections of cut paint mask, use a heavyweight or premium grade of application tape with a very low tack adhesive. As a complementary product to the ProGrade™ paint mask, R Tape has developed its 4700LT RLA® Conform® Application Tapes. The tape has a medium-low tack, latex adhesive, which is tacky enough to transfer the graphics, but low enough in tack so it does pull the paint mask from the substrate during tape removal. Many painters prefer using the heavier application tape, because it is less likely to tear when handling large sheets. If the tape tears, the graphics are often trashed.
Will ProGrade™ withstand bake cycles?
ProGrade™ paint mask withstands bake cycles up to +200ºF (94ºC). I selecting any paint mask, the end user needs to test and evaluate the paint mask, before using it in production. Using a paint mask, which is not compatible with a particular type of paint or your painting methods can result in disaster. Some of the most common problems that sign makers run into when using the wrong paint mask for the job are adhesive delamination, edge lifting and fish eyes.
The first step in qualifying a paint mask is to apply some of it to a test panel, spray paint it as you normally would and observe what happens. If the painted graphics will be cured in paint curing oven, you need to subject the panels to the type of heat that it will encounter.
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