Laminates are used to help protect graphics from a variety of elements. Graffiti is one challenge poised to many publically installed graphics. Anti-graffiti properties help combat the threat, to ensure graphics remain clean throughout their intended life.
Craig Campbell, graphic products market manager, ORAFOL Americas, suggests that the increased cost of an anti-graffiti laminate far offsets the cost of having to pay to produce and re-install graphics that have been ruined because of vandalism or defacing. He finds this especially true when it comes to large projects that require multiple graphics.
“Durability, functionality, and ease of use are key benefits to using an anti-graffiti laminate,” states Ronit McGuthrie, product manager, SEAL. “Anti-graffiti laminates generally have a longer outdoor life than standard, more economical films,” she adds.
Anti-graffiti laminates are found in many locations including bus kiosks, transit stations, billboards, and building wraps and even indoor applications such as wall murals and point of purchase (POP) graphics.
A variety of anti-graffiti laminates are available and recommended for large format graphics.
Arlon Graphics, LLC’s Series 3350 vinyl film is an anti-graffiti overlaminate. A 2-mil PVDF film with clear, permanent pressure-sensitive adhesive, its outdoor durability is rated up to ten years. The color fastness of prints can be extended up to two years beyond the ink manufacturer’s warranty when following print recommendations by the ink and printer manufacturers.
Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions provides DOL 6060 Anti-Graffiti film and the OL-1000 Premium Anti-Graffiti film. DOL 6060 has multiple application uses, including backlit signs, wall murals, window graphics, POP, trade show, and outdoor signage. David Timmerman, West Coast technical service representative, Avery Dennison, suggests this product is suited to protect signs from damage that are the most public at street level, including bus stops, transit signage, school areas, and wall graphics along busy walkways. The OL-1000 is designed for over reflective sheeting traffic signs.
Timmerman comments that while price varies between competing anti-graffiti laminates, it comes down to ease of application, ease of cleaning, and signage protection.
Drytac Corporation offers its Protac Anti-Graffiti pressure-sensitive laminating film, a 1-mil gloss vandal resistant, pollution protection film. According to Wayne Colbath, national sales manager, Southern U.S., Drytac, the film features five years outdoor durable usage and a high coat weight.
Colbath notes that the high coat weight of adhesive used in its product allows it to adhere to a variety of digital ink sets. “The adhesive offers five years outdoor durability, and is cleanable with many solvent and ‘green’ cleaners,” he states.
GBC Arctic Anti-Graffiti is a polychlorotrifluoreothylene film with an estimated outdoor life of seven years. It is UV resistant in addition to stain, flame, and chemical resistant as well as plasticizer and stabilizer free.
Bob Elliott, product marketing, lamination, GBC, notes that its anti-graffiti laminating film is not a surface coating like many others. “The full thickness of the film has anti-graffiti properties, so even if someone scratches or cuts the film, or if it’s cleaned hundreds of times, the film retains its anti-graffiti properties,” he explains.
Grafityp Selfadhesive Products offers LAMPDF, a 50 micron glossy PVDF anti-graffiti laminating film. Designed for outdoor applications under the most extreme conditions, it features a solvent-based permanent acrylic adhesive.
ORAFOL provides its ORAGUARD 240 Anti-Graffiti Laminating Film designed with ETFE, which ensures paint or other marketing agents are easily removed with commercial cleaners or removers.
ORAGUARD 240 offers long-term graphic protection for as long as ten years. “Our product extends the life of OEM inks for up to five years,” adds Campbell.
SEAL offers its Print Shield Anti-Graffiti, a high-performance PCTFE film that protects UV and inkjet prints from a variety of stains and chemicals, such as paint and permanent markers. This plasticizer- and stabilizer-free film also offers the highest moisture barrier of any clear, flexible film and is also flame resistant.
McGuthrie says that most graffiti-resistant films have to be cleaned with chemicals, leaving the surface dull. However, Print Shield Anti-Graffiti can be cleaned with a mild household cleaner, such as Goo-Gone or even Isopropyl alcohol. “Graffiti is instantly removed, leaving the film at its original gloss level without ghosting. The benefit to that is the life of the graphic is extended and requires no professional cleaning,” adds McGuthrie.
Vandal Guard USA manufacturers Vandal Guard anti-graffiti laminate. Available in 54- and 36-inch by 100-foot rolls, it is a cold overlaminate designed to be applied over signs and graphics printed with inks with long lightfastness such as solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV. Apply over cast or calendared vinyl with a cold laminator or directly to flat substrates. Vandal Guard is also suitable for indoor/outdoor dry erase and flat window perforated applications. Most graffiti removal products available at any major home goods store easily remove graffiti from Vandal Guard. Also, solvents such as acetone, naptha, and lacquer thinner have proven to be effective.
Break from Tradition
Anti-graffiti options are designed for specific applications prone to vandalism. But what makes them different from traditional options? “Traditional laminates do not have the chemical resistance to spray paint and permanent markers—which are frequently used to damage signs—nor the chemicals and solvents used to clean vandalized signs that are protected with anti-graffiti laminates,” points out Avery’s Timmerman.
Campbell says that the added components make anti-graffiti laminates able to resist elements like paint and marketer from permanent staining. He notes that a majority of laminates used on a daily basis are PVC based, where most anti-graffiti laminates are polyester based.
While traditional laminates are designed to protect graphics against environmental elements such as rain, UV light, and even smudges or fingerprints, GBC’s Elliot points out that they are not typically able to deter or repel graffiti. “Anti-graffiti films not only do what regular laminates can, but also give an added layer of protection from all sorts of paints and markers,” he adds.
Laminates are needed to protect, and sometimes enhance, a printed graphic. However, specialty graphics provide unique traits designed for a more specific purpose. Anti-graffiti laminates are popular, especially as media applications enable print providers to offer solutions for nearly every surface—many vulnerable to vandalism in addition to regularly expected weathering and human interaction. Print providers should be well aware of the advantages these laminates provide.
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