Tips & Tricks
Paper application tape is one of the easiest sign products to use. It’s not idiot-proof though. Remember that guy Murphy? He knew that if there was a way to screw things up, people would find a way. Here are a few tricks of the trade that will help sign makers avoid problems when using application tape.
- Avoid stretching the application tape when laminating it to graphics panels. When you stretchtape, it will eventually stretch back to its original shape causing the graphics to curl.
- The best way to apply application tape is with a laminator. If the laminator is set up properly, you can apply tape with uniform pressure across the web, which helps minimize wrinkles and bubbles.
- Use a single sheet of application tape to cover the graphic. If you tape the graphic with two or more pieces of tape, fine lines of tiny air bubbles form wherever the tape pieces overlap.
- Allow digitally printed graphics to cure properly before clear coating or overlaminating. Opinions regarding how long to wait for the ink system to completely cure vary greatly. One rule of thumb is to wait 72 hours for complete curing. Consult the printer and vinyl manufacturers’ recommendations regarding curing times. After clear coating, wait at least 24 hours before applying the application tape and trimming the print. Solvents in uncured inks and coatings often cause the decal and tape to adhere to each other. This can make tape removal very difficult. An ultra-low tack surface protection tape, such as DigiMask®, will remove much easier than standard application tapes.
- If an application-paper tape isn’t releasing easily following an application, lightly spray the paper with application fluid, wait approximately 30 seconds and then remove it. The application fluid will penetrate the paper facestock and soften the tape’s waterbased latex adhesive, causing it to release more easily from the graphic.
- When removing the application tape, carefully pull the tape 180° against itself. This tape removal procedure prevents you from pulling the graphic off the substrate. After removing the application tape from the graphic, always resqueegee the entire graphic to prevent edge lifting.
(NOTE: This tip also applies to masking tape and paint mask. Pulling tape or masking at a 180° angle prevents pulling paint and damaging the surface.)