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Glass Etch Vinyl - Wet or Dry Application?

Glass Etch Vinyl - Wet or Dry Application?

When it comes to etched glass-effect vinyl and films the question we get asked the most by customers is whether we recommend a dry or wet apply product, we supply both kinds, by the way! The answer to this really does come down to the location of the glass, the environment, the complexity of the job and also the user’s preference.

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Etch glass vinyl on office partition
Using a squeegee to apply glass etch vinyl
Lines of etch glass vinyl on office window

Historically wet apply has been the go-to for applications, but with the introduction of impressive dry apply products to the market the usage of both is levelling up.

If you’re puzzled about which one to use here’s our quick guide to the benefits and limitations of both applications.

Wet Application Method.

This method is commonly used when applying large areas of etch glass vinyl but for this purpose we will assume here that we are applying some simple text or graphics using Float-On application fluid. It is also possible to substitute application fluid for some water with a couple of drops of Johnsons Baby Bath mixed by hand to produce a foamy solution.

Note: Graphics applied in low temperatures may suffer from reduced initial adhesion which can lead to problems later so it is best to apply at a minimum of 15oC.

Ensure that the glass has been cleaned adequately. First using warm soapy water, then with a degreaser such as isopropanol (or methylated spirit) and a lint free cloth or lint free wipes. Hardened debris such as paint spots can be removed with a blade flat against the glass. Particular attention should be payed to the edges of the glass panel and rubber seals to avoid dirt being drawn under the film.

Once the design has been cad-cut and weeded, cover the graphic with an application tape that has a good quality paper such as 900E or Conform ®: 4075RLA. and prepare the surface ready for the graphics.

To apply the graphics, simply spray the glass with a fine mist of your chosed application fluid, remove the backing liner from the etch glass vinyl, lightly spray the adhesive side 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 using a firm squeegee to enable the adhesive to key on to the glass.

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.

Re-squeegee the entire area to make sure that the liquid has been completely expelled and carefully peel back the application tape diagonally at 180o to the surface and not lifting at 90o towards yourself as this can encourage air bubbles to form. Finally re-squeegee the entire graphics again paying particular attention to the edges and trimming 1mm-2mm from any rubber seals.

Advantages.

● Suitable for indoor and outdoor use

● Ideal for areas which can experience moisture such as hair salons and launderettes

Dry Application Method.

Using our Dry Apply Etch Glass films is easy whether you are cutting logos and lettering or applying one large piece to the glass. These etched glass vinyls must be applied 'dry' using a soft squeegee such as a felt edged squeegee

Glass surface preparation is just as important here as it was with the wet apply method so take time to thoroughly clean.

If cutting out a design with pre-spaced elements you will first need to cad-cut and weed the waste away, then cover the graphic with an application tape such as Conform ® 4761RLA which is specifically designed for use with dry apply films.

Once you are ready to apply, 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 glass.

To apply the glass etch vinyl, lift the graphic up from the glass, folding it back on the hinge, then loosen and peel down about 150mm of the backing liner before lowering the now exposed film back down into place on to the glass, 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.

Finally re-squeegee the entire graphics again paying particular attention to the edges and trimming 1mm-2mm from any rubber seals using a sharp knife.

You will see from this video just how easy it is to apply and how any remaining creases or bubbles can be removed using heat and a squeegee.

Advantages.

● Clean, no mess application

● Easier to remove and reposition during installation

● ASLAN Dry Apply Etch films are Fire Rated to Euroclass DIN EN 13501-1:2019-05 with classification B-s1-d0

At Dorotape we work closely with etch vinyl and film market leaders, ASLAN and Ritrama, to ensure we stock a good range of their products. Our team have a great breadth of knowledge to help you get the best out of your project, so we’re always here for friendly advice and know-how.

How can we help you?

If you have a project that you are working on and need a little help selecting the right materials, just contact us or drop us an email. We're always happy to help.

And before you go:

We hope that you found this blog relevant and informative and that you'd be interested in reading some of our other blogs

Article Posted: 04/04/2023 10:02:14

Products Featured in this Blog

Conform 4075RLA High Tack Application Tape. Roll size 1220mm x 91.4m

R-Tape Conform 4075RLA is a high tack paper application tape with Release Liner Adhesion and is the most popular one in the range as it is pretty universal but especially aimed at applying small to mid sized graphics.

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Aslan EL300 Dry Apply Glass Etch :: 1260mm Width

ASLAN EL300 Dry Apply Etch film perfect for the decoration and manifestation of windows and other glass surfaces. Designed to be repositioned during application but with a high final adhesive strength. Dry apply only. Fire Rated to Euroclass DIN EN 13501-1:2019-05 with classification B-s1-d0. Buy it by the metre.

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Blue Masking Tape :: 50mm x 50m

Easy to remove blue masking tape peels off cleanly from a wide variety of surfaces.

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Carton of 24 rolls (£69.12 ex VAT)
IPA100 Cleaner

Isopropyl Alcohol Cleaner used for degreasing and removal of silicon based cleaners. Also useful to promote the adhesion of double-sided tapes.

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1 litre can (£14.90 ex VAT)
5 litre tin (£67.00 ex VAT)
Ritrama PTA Silver Etch (5600) 1220mm Width

Superb translucent etch materials with a solvent acrylic adhesive for creating that sandblast look on windows, office partitions etc. This film gives a uniform appearance onto glass, mirrors and acrylic and is suitable for interior & exterior use. Buy it by the metre.

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Conform 4761RLA Med/High Tack Application Tape. Roll size 1370mm x 100m

R-Tape Conform 4761RLA is a medium to high tack paper application tape with Release Liner Adhesion, specifically designed to adhere to the embossed liners of air flow vinyl and films.

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Ritrama PTF Polymeric Dusted Etch (5601) 1220mm Width

Ritrama PTF Dusted Etch is a superb translucent material with a solvent acrylic adhesive for creating that sandblast look on windows, office partitions etc. This film gives a uniform appearance onto glass, mirrors and acrylic and is suitable for interior & exterior use. Buy it by the metre.

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Float-On Vinyl Application Fluid

Float-On vinyl application fluid is specifically designed to aid the repositioning and application of vinyl graphics. This ready to use liquid is spirit based allowing it to evaporate quickly and dry faster.

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1 litre Bottle + Trigger Spray (£12.21 ex VAT)
5 litre refill bottle (£56.97 ex VAT)

Call us on 01858 431642 , we're always happy to help!

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