Vinyl wrapping doesn’t come without its challenges. From the experienced to the novice, problems arise, so the best reaction is to be prepared. Common errors result from not matching the right vinyl to the job, temperature issues, improper cutting and layout, and even stretching the material.
Vendors continue to improve vinyl products to eliminate these issues, but many errors are simply man-made. To avoid them, there are educational classes and seminars—more on those in part two of this series—and media manufacturers are providing their input as well.
Most Common Wrapping Errors
We polled substrate suppliers to get their opinion on some common wrap mistakes.
There are three errors that seem to cause the most problems, according to Marcio Oliveira, advanced technical service engineer, 3M Commercial Graphics. “Failing to clean the substrate thoroughly—even a small amount of contamination causes the film to adhere poorly in those areas. Not using the right installation tools in the correct way; for example the type of squeegee—hard, nick-free, clean, rollers, or a heat source. And, the last common error is the failure to always re-squeegee all film edges, including at door seams or panels. Ignoring re-squeeging all graphic edges could result in a failed graphic,” he continues.
“One of the most common wrapping errors is using the wrong product for the application. For wraps, using a vinyl alternative is not a good idea, unless it’s truly conformable. Also, surface preparation and laying out the graphic properly with a detailed plan and specifications ahead of time are crucial factors to a successful wrap,” shares Jeff Leto, product manager, LexJet.
Some installers find themselves challenged in the areas of heat and tension. “There are standard techniques which if used result in long lasting wrap applications. However, if too little heat is used in the post heating of the application, there is too much tension left in the applied vinyl after the application is complete, or the application surface was not prepared correctly graphics could fail,” adds Ritchie Daize, international digital sales manager, Arlon Graphics, LLC.
Molly Waters, technical specialist, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, agrees with Daize’s comments regarding heat issues. She cites the importance of consulting the media manufacturer’s documentation prior to install to determine the recommended temperatures and then use an IR thermometer to ensure the graphics reach those temperatures.
More common errors include, “not letting solvents cure before laminating, not prepping the vehicle correctly, and not post heating the stretched areas,” lists Jason Yard, marketing specialist, MACtac Graphic Products.
Some print providers need to remember to take the sun, wind, and the environment as a whole into consideration as well, remarks Shawn Adams, manager, LG Sign and Graphics.
It is also essential to properly clean the intended surface prior to install. “Installers shouldn’t clean glass surfaces with Windex or other solvent-based glass cleaner. The solvents in the glass cleaner breakdown the adhesive on the film, causing it to lift. The best solution is mild soap and water, and drying the glass before applying the film,” recommends Judy Bellah, public relations manager, Clear Focus Imaging, Inc.
While errors are unavoidable, education to better understand why and when they may occur is encouraged. Learn to be more aware of these issues by taking classes, joining various organizations, and speaking with media manufacturers. Read about some options in part two of this series.