A brief overview of self adhesive vinyl.
It’s a sticky subject, so let us help you wrap your head around it (yes, 2 puns in one sentence!)
So you’ve made the right choice and decided to brand your company vehicle. But before you do, you might want to get to the bottom of all the lingo.
SAV, Vinyl, Stickers, Wrapping film … the stuff we use to bling your ride.
Any of the above generally refer to the material used to create the graphics for your vehicle. But be careful, they may refer to the same product, but there’s countless differences between the various options. SAV, or Self Adhesive Vinyl, is a vinyl top skin (the colour part or the part that we print on or is pre-coloured) with an adhesive bonded to the back. In it’s shipping form it’s married, or mounted, onto a special wax coated backing paper. Whilst the paper is very important to us producing the graphics, the biggest thing you should be knowledgeable on is the top skin and it’s adhesive.
The top skin generally comes in three performance grades, if you’ll indulge the over simplification of the subject. There is Monomeric, Polymeric and Cast.
Let’s start with the basic, entry-level film – Monomeric.
This is the lowest cost material in the range. Imagine taking a ball of dough and flattening it out with a rolling pin. The more you roll the the larger the area you’ll cover will become. Problem with this is the following: the dough will eventually start shrinking back to its original shape (more or less). The same happens with Monomeric vinyl. It retains that memory and wants to return to that state over time. Great for cost savings, bad for quality. Don’t be worried though, not all dough / Monomeric materials are bad. In fact, much of the graphics and signs you see around you are probably made from this grade of material. But as with everything in life, it has a place and purpose for it’s use. It almost does not need mentioning, but because of this memory issue the material has a short life cycle – usually between 6 months to 3 years, depending on manufacturer, and is not suitable to wrap a vehicle with.
Next up, Polymeric. The weird middle-child of graphic films.
Apart from sharing the aft part of the name, polymeric vinyl is very similar to monomeric vinyl. At the risk of over simplifying the matter further, it’s like the dough mentioned before, but with more (or less) of a particular ingredient. So the nett result is a slightly thinner material, better performance on slightly curved surfaces and slightly longer life – around 3 – 5 years. And once again the ball of dough is rolled into a larger flat shiny sheet, but not so much this time- we call this calendaring. (Monomeric materials are also calendared.)
And finally, there’s king Cast!
Life starts very much the same for cast film as with it’s lessor counterparts. Raw materials are mixed, but this time higher grade. It’s then coloured, poked, prodded and tested. But unlike it’s mono- and polymeric siblings, the material isn’t stretched and squeezed into a large sheet. Instead, the raw mix is cast (a fancy form of pouring) into a very thin sheet, then a lot of scientific stuff happens, and what you’re left with is a very thin film of vinyl top skin. By doing this the manufacturer eliminates the memory effect we find with the other classes of SAV.
Now for the really important part – the sticky stuff that makes it all come together.
Of course, self adhesive vinyl wouldn’t be called that without the adhesive part. Once more there’s too many choices to care about (but we do). There’s removable and non-removable, water and solvent based, clear, grey or black tinted, high bond, low bond, pressure sensitive etc. etc. etc.
Water based adhesives are normally used on mono- and polymeric vinyls. The choice of removable or not is purely a manufacturer decision mostly. Non-removable does not mean you’re stuck with that sticker on your beloved BMW for eternity, it simply means it’s a slightly more adhesive glue, and will probably take a bit more effort to remove. The adhesive is also one of the main reasons you might want to think twice about sticking monomeric material on your car. They tend to stay behind when removing the vinyl, and does not perform well with prolonged sun exposure/heat.
Solvent based adhesive is the tougher, harder working between the two types. It’s not so prone to failure due to moisture and other environmental conditions.
On removable or not removable: Both options will generally give you the same performance after 2-3 years. It’s the “immediate effect” of the adhesive that differs. Need a graphic on a board for a 3 day show? Then use the removable option.
So what gets used on your car? Magic glue! Super clever scientists have developed an unique adhesive for cast films that is repositionable, with high adhesive properties and very importantly, easily removable! Remember, this doesn’t mean that the film will simply “fall off”. This special adhesive, paired with the cast properties of the film ensures a long lasting graphic, that will remain dimensionally stable for years to come. The film we use even has special channels embedded into the adhesive to assist with air pocket removal – no more bubbles!!
Questions and Answers.
Question: Can’t you use a cheap vinyl? My need for the wrap is only short term?
Answer: Some might, but we don’t! Cheap materials give cheap results. Let’s rather work on changing the specs of your project in order to use high quality film while staying on budget. REMEMBER, a cheaper vinyl could actually damage you vehcile, even if it is only on the car for a few short weeks.
Question: Can you install at my premises?
Answer: That depends. We do offer site-install as an additionally charged option, but we prefer to do the application at our premises for a bunch of reasons. If you’re insistant, call us and let’s see how we can accomodate you.
Question: How long does it take?
Answer: That depends. Full wraps can take anything between 24 to 72 hours. CAD cut branding can take as little as 15-30min.
Question: Should I wash the vehicle prior to bringing it in?
Answer: Yes please, we would prefer the vehicle to be washed before you bring it in for the install. This way we can assure the wrap will be completed in the proper amount of time. Just wash – NO WAXING PLEASE! This also allows you to familiarise yourselve with the state of your car.
Question: Do you offer a warrantee on the graphics?
Answer: Yes, we do on full wraps on new vehicle. Each process has a different range of warrantee extensions and conditions, which will be clarified upon quoting
Question: Are window wraps legal?
Answer: Honestly – there’s no clear law that outlines the usage of the media, and is widely accepted for use in South Africa.
Before committing to rear-window wrapping, ensure that you are still able to comfortably see through the film as some people do not like the interaction of the film in their view. Also, check with your local area council, traffic department and insurance provider if it’s allowed. We’ll gladly supply large enough sample sections that can be applied and tested first.