Which media do you recommend for decals?

Modified on: 2016-12-15 13:18:23 -0800


All of the intermediate and performance vinyl sold on USCutter is self-adhesive and can be applied to nearly any surface. Non-adhesive materials will be clearly listed as such and will typically only be for reusable stencil and banner material. Most adhesive vinyls can be used outdoors to some degree. Even Oracal 631 which is an Wall-Art material will last two years outside. Answering questions such as, "What are your (or your customer's) expectations for the life span and performance of the material" and "Where are you planning to apply the material" will help you determine which product will best suit your needs. 


Calendared or Intermediate vinyl while being very cost-effective will have a tendency to shrink over time and is slightly thicker (usually 2.5 to 3.4 mils) than cast films due to the limitations of the "calendaring" process. Unlike casting where a textured or smooth casting sheet is used to produce the material, calendaring implements a special finishing cylinder at the end of the process while the film is still warm. Cast or Performance vinyl is cast on a casting sheet in a relaxed state, this material offers very good dimensional stability. The process also allows the film to be very thin (most cast films are 2 mil), which helps with the conform-ability of the product. We recommend the use of cast materials on substrates such as fleets, vehicles, recreational vehicles or boats where a long term "paint-like" finish is desired. There are many variations of both classes of vinyl materials; from metallic to specialty and reflective. 


Advantages of calendared films: Greater production yields equals less cost. Stiffer/thicker film equals easier handling. Thickness of film increases resistance to abrasion.


Advantages of cast films: Shrinkage is nearly non-existent compared to all other vinyl films because the "casting sheet," not the material, is pulled through the machine during the manufacturing process. This means it will not try to shrink back to its original form.Durability of cast films is generally higher than that of other vinyl films due to the manufacturing method and the raw materials used.Cast films can be made very thin which produces a conformable product that allows application over substrates with rivets, corrugations, and complex curves. Also, once applied, this low caliper makes the graphic less vulnerable to abrasive forces.Cast films also maintain their color and other properties better than other vinyl films. This results in better performance of pigments and UV absorbents. The manufacturing process of cast films makes it easy to run small productions of special colors to match. It is relatively easy to change color during production making color matching in small batches possible.


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