Application Advice

Problem Solving Glossary

Check out these tips aimed at making life a bit easier

General Guidelines

Specific Application Guidelines to:

General Guidelines

Application of vinyl using the Dry Method

Vinyl can become brittle in cold conditions so it is best to work indoors and ensure that the substrate is at least 10C. If applying to a vehicle side it may be an idea to place a fan heater inside the vehicle for a few minutes before commencing not forgetting to leave the doors open. Graphics applied in low temperatures may suffer from reduced initial adhesion which can lead to problems later.

Once the design has been weeded and the covered with application tape and the surface prepared ready for the graphics, establish exactly where the graphics need to be positioned and fix in place by using small tabs of 50mm wide masking tape. Then use a strip of 50mm masking tape the full width of the graphic and create a hinge by fixing this along the top of the graphic, half on the application tape of the graphic and half on the substrate.

To apply, lift the graphic away from the substrate, folding it back on its hinge and loosen and peel down about 150mm of the backing liner then lower back down into place while at the same time applying squeegee pressure starting at the centre and working down and towards each edge in turn in overlapping strokes. Remove another 150mm or so of backing liner and repeat the process until the graphic is applied.

It is also possible to use this hinge method for larger lettering applications by slitting up between each letter, pairs of letters or groups of letters once the top hinge has been applied and applying these separately. Similarly, for long narrow graphics it is possible to fix the hinge on the left or right hand side instead of the top.

Now remove the application tape by carefully peeling it back diagonally at 180 to the surface and not lifting at 90 towards yourself as this can encourage air bubbles to form.

Any air bubbles can be punctured with a pin and the trapped air worked towards this puncture with a squeegee.

Re-squeegee the entire graphic area paying particular attention to the edges.

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Application of vinyl using the Wet Method

This method is commonly used when applying large areas of vinyl but for this purpose we will assume here that we are applying some simple text or graphics to a flat surface using Float-On  although water can also be used.

Vinyl can become brittle in cold conditions so it is best to work indoors and ensure that the substrate is at least 15C. If applying to a vehicle side it may be an idea to place a fan heater inside the vehicle for a few minutes before commencing not forgetting to leave the doors open. Graphics applied in low temperatures may suffer from reduced initial adhesion which can lead to problems later.

Once the design has been weeded and the covered with application tape and the surface prepared ready for the graphics, simply spray the substrate with a fine mist, remove the backing liner and lay the graphics down onto the wet surface. As this layer of liquid acts as a barrier between the graphics and the substrate it reduces the adhesion level and makes it possible to make slight adjustments to the graphics position.

Once in the correct position dab down and apply pressure using a good quality squeegee and by working from the centre outwards remove all the liquid from underneath the graphics and enable the adhesive to grab the substrate.

When applying graphics wet, the adhesive takes longer to reach it's final adhesive strength so the more liquid is used the longer it takes before the graphics are firmly adhered. We recommend at least 1 hour before the next step although on some substrates such as glass it may be necessary to re-visit the following day.

Re-squeegee the entire area to make sure that the liquid has been completely expelled and carefully peel back the application tape diagonally at 180 to the surface and not lifting at 90 towards yourself as this can encourage air bubbles to form. Finally re-squeegee the entire graphics again paying particular attention to the edges.


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Application of Polyester Films

Materials that are constructed of a Polyester film are very eye catching and popular, however it is important to know their limitations before opting for one of these effects. We have listed below some important points to remember and we would always advise that a suitability test is carried out before commencing and that you check the outdoor durability.

Only apply using the Dry Method and only onto clean, smooth, non-porous, flat vertical surfaces.

Never attempt to apply around compound curves or over rivets.

If applying across vehicle panels or door seam always cut the film and leave it short of the edge.

Some low energy surfaces such as polypropylene will present a problem and should be avoided.

Never apply to untreated metal surfaces.

If applying on top of a vinyl film we recommend using a cast pvc as the plasticizer migration of many calandered vinyls can cause bubbles and adhesion problems later.

We recommend that either an edge seal clear lacquer or a filmic laminate is used for demanding applications and those exposed to heavy handling.

Avoid high strong cleaning chemicals, pressure washing and hard bristle brushes. Polyester films should be washed with a mild detergent using a soft cloth.

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Application of Printed Media

It is advisable to apply printed media using the dry method and it is also advisable to leave digitally printed self-adhesive media at least 24 hours before applying it to any substrate as the retained solvents can cause the vinyl to soften as well as weaken the adhesive.

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Application of Acrylic foam double sided tape

The performance of our acrylic foam tapes is dependent on preparation. To make sure you are satisfied with our products. Please take notice of the following procedures

Cleaning the surface

In most cases it is preferable to wipe the surface with a 50:50 mixture of Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) and water prior to application of the tape. Some application may require extra measures:
Degreaser or solvent-based cleaner may be required to remove heavy oil or grease from a surface and should be followed by cleaning with IPA/water.
Abrasion can remove heavy dirt or oxidation and increases surface area. Use IPA/water to remove dust from abrasion.
Priming a surface can improve short term and long term adhesion to some materials such as plastics and paints.
Porous and fibered materials such as wood, particleboard, concrete, etc. need to be sealed to provide a unified surface.
Special surface preparation may be needed for glass and glass-like materials, copper and copper containing metals, and plastics or rubber that contain components that migrate (e.g. plasticizers.)

Temperature

Ideal application temperature is between 21C and 40C (70F to 100F). Pressure sensitive adhesives use viscous flow to achieve substrate contact area. Minimum suggested application temperature is 15C.   Application to surfaces at temperatures below these suggested minimums is not recommended  because the adhesive becomes too firm to adhere readily. However, once properly applied, low temperature holding is generally acceptable. To obtain good performance it is important to ensure that the surfaces are dry and free of condensed moisture.

Pressure

Our acrylic foam tapes are pressure sensitive, meaning that bond strength is dependent upon the amount of adhesive-to-surface contact developed. Firm application pressure develops better adhesive contact and helps improve bond strength. Typically, good surface contact can be attained by applying enough pressure to insure that the tape experiences approximately 15 psi (100 kPa) pressure. Either roller or platen pressure can be used.

Time

After application, the bond strength will increase as the adhesive flows onto the surface. At room temperature approximately 50% of ultimate bond strength will be achieved after 20 minutes, 90% after 24 hours and 100% after 72 hours.  Bond strength reaches its maximum faster at higher temperatures and slower at lower temperatures.  Ultimate bond strength can be achieved more quickly (and in some cases bond strength can be increased) by exposure of the bond to elevated temperatures (e.g. 150F (66C) for 1 hour). This can provide better adhesive wet out onto the substrates.

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Material Storage

Rolls should be stored either on end - see our storage system or by using the core plugs supplied ensure that the material is suspended and no pressure is placed onto the material. Vinyl film should not be left loaded into the plotter or printer overnight as the rollers can cause pressure bruising which can lead to colour variation in the print. Avoid direct sunlight and store rolls in a dry room, avoiding extreme humidity as this can cause delamination. Always handle printable material carefully using Lint Free Cotton Gloves as the natural skin oils may prevent the ink drying evenly and always print onto material at room temperature.

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Specific Application Guidelines to:

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

This material is commonly used to make toys and musical instruments and is an ideal material for applying self-adhesive vinyl graphics.

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Acrylic (also known as Perspex, PMMA, Plexiglass)

This popular substrate is suitable for most vinyl films however due to the fact that some acrylics suffer from outgassing which can cause bubbles to appear under the face film it is recommended that these are applied using the dry application method. To reduce the chance of bubbles forming remove any protective film early in the signmaking process and avoid high temperature exposure after application. We also recommend the thorough suitability testing of non permeable polyester films before use.

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Brick

A permanent adhesive bond is now possible onto brick as long as the surface is smooth and any debris has been brushed down. For printed vinyl, use Aslan DFP45

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Concrete

A permanent adhesive bond is now possible onto concrete using Aslan DFP46

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Fibreglass (also known as GRP)

When applying vinyl to fibreglass surfaces, which is commonly used for vehicle and boat bodies ensure that the waxy film used as a moulding release agent has been completely cleaned off. The use of polyester films is not recommended as fibreglass can outgas the solvents used in the production process causing bubbles to appear in the film.

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Floors

When applying graphics to floors it is essential to ensure that the floor is clean and free of dust and that materials designed specifically for floor graphics are used.  We recommend to overlap the laminate by at least 5mm around the graphic to reduce the edge thickness. When applying pressure pay particular attention to the edges to maximise adhesion.

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Galvanised Steel

Before applying vinyl graphics to galvanised steel make sure that any zinc corrosion on the surface is cleaned off and if the surface is relatively new that the protective chemical coating has been removed.

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Glass

When applying vinyl graphics to glass it is important make sure that the glass has been cleaned with an isopropyl alcohol to remove all traces of dirt as well as silicon based window cleaners which prevent a strong adhesive bond. Apply the vinyl graphics in warm conditions if possible and if using a wet application it may be necessary to leave the graphics overnight before removing the application tape.

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Leather

As leather is highly absorbent regular self-adhesive films are to be avoided as the adhesive may absorb completely into the leather leaving the face film with no adhesive properties.

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MDF

MDF is a porous substrate and requires a coat of primer to be applied to promote the adhesion of self-adhesive vinyl. We also recommend that adequate testing is carried out.

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Nylon

Application to nylon requires special adhesives that need to be applied with sufficient heat to promote a satisfactory bond. See our Nylo Flex Plus garment decoration film or the printable Image Flex Nylon

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Polypropylene

Some low energy surface plastics such as polypropylene present a problem for regular signage vinyls to adhere adequately and will require materials with an extra high coating weight of adhesive and applied with sufficient heat to promote a satisfactory bond.

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Polycarbonate

Some plastics such as polycarbonates contain a small percentage of water which can evaporate over time and this water vapour can become trapped under the face of the vinyl and cause bubbles to appear. Thinner vinyls such as cast vinyl is more permeable and is therefore the best choice as it allows the water vapour to escape. To reduce the chance of bubbles forming remove any protective film early in the signmaking process.

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Polystyrene

It is best to avoid applying self-adhesive vinyls to this substrate as it can change the adhesive properties significantly and cause shrinkage of the face film.

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Polyethylene

Application to polyethylene requires special adhesives that need to be applied with sufficient heat to promote a satisfactory bond.

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PVC - Rigid

Excellent adhesion can be obtained with rigid PVC but due to the make up of this material some removable adhesives may become permanent.

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PVC Banners

Flexible pvc such as the type used to make banners contain higher levels of plasticizer which migrate through the pvc over time and can cause any applied graphics to distort. It is important to use a flexible vinyl such the Ri-Flex 800 Series

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Rubber

This material is not suitable for applying self-adhesive vinyls.

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Stainless Steel

This is an excellent substrate for applying self-adhesive graphics although surface should be thoroughly cleaned prior to application.

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Vehicles

Any old graphics should be removed by using heat to help soften the face film before using an adhesive remover such as Right Off to remove any residual adhesive. Surfaces should now be cleaned, dried and wiped with Isopropyl alcohol to remove any residue car wax and polish before any application is attempted. In cold conditions it is best to apply heat after application to further enhance the bond.

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Vehicles - Newly Painted

Paint must be completely dry and cured before any self-adhesive application. Although the surface may be touch dry any remaining thinners can affect both the adhesive and the vinyl film. As a general rule at least 5-10 days should be allowed for adequate drying and curing.

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Vehicles with deep recesses

The most important factor here is selecting the most suitable film for the job and remembering that although cast vinyl can be worked into channels and recesses as well as around compound curves using heat, calandered vinyl should be applied onto these areas without putting the film under any stress. We would therefore always recommend using a cast vinyl for full vehicle wraps.

Vinyl can become brittle in cold conditions so it is best to work indoors and ensure that the substrate is at least 10C. If applying to a vehicle side it may be an idea to place a fan heater inside the vehicle for a few minutes before commencing not forgetting to leave the doors open. Graphics applied in low temperatures may suffer from reduced initial adhesion which can lead to problems later.

Once the design has been weeded and the covered with application tape and the surface prepared ready for the graphics, establish exactly where the graphics need to be positioned and fix in place by using either maounting magnets or small tabs of 50mm wide masking tape. Then use a strip of 50mm masking tape the full width of the graphic and create a hinge by fixing this along the top of the graphic, half on the application tape of the graphic and half on the substrate.

To apply, lift the graphic away from the substrate, folding it back on its hinge and peel down about 150mm of the backing liner at a time then lower back down into place while at the same time applying squeegee pressure starting at the centre and working down and towards each edge in turn in overlapping strokes and continue to install the entire graphic over the flat and level surfaces first.

Remove all paper or filmic application tape being careful not to stretch or tear the vinyl that bridges the channels and begin heating these areas one at a time using a heat gun until it softens enough to start working the film into the channel walls using a soft cotton cloth or soft cotton glove or a soft squeegee.

As soon as the graphic has been applied go over the entire area with the heatgun to achieve the best possible bond.

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Wallpaper

Some wall coverings such as stippled wallpaper do not allow for enough surface area contact to give good adhesion. When faced with this it is recommended that the material chosen should have a higher coating weight of adhesive. We have a number of different products which an ultra high tack adhesive such as D-Jet 200ATP GP412 and Aslan DFP07

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Windows

When applying vinyl graphics to glass it is important make sure that the glass has been cleaned with an isopropyl alcohol to remove all traces of dirt as well as silicon based window cleaners which prevent a strong adhesive bond. Apply the vinyl graphics in warm conditions if possible and if using a wet application it may be necessary to leave the graphics overnight before removing the application tape. Try the Aslan EL300 Dry Apply Etch, which has the benefit that graphics can be applied and finished in the same day therefore reducing labour costs.

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Wood

It is important that any wood surfaces are prepared properly before applying vinyl graphics or digital prints. Surfaces should be sanded smooth and sealed with a primer before applying a top coat. Graphics applied to emulsion surfaces will have a lower adhesion level due to the nature of the finish so tests are recommended especially if applying digital prints as the solvents in the ink can affect the levels of adhesion of the vinyl. Unpainted or badly painted wood will give low adhesion values and graphics often fail quickly after application.

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Please feel free to contact us at any time.

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