“What’s a Cast Vinyl film… and what’s a calendared vinyl wrap?”
If you’re planning ahead for your DIY wrapping project (be it your car or your motorcycle), then you’re probably asking the same questions!
… And yes, we’re going to break that down in just a bit.
“But what’s the right type of vinyl film to use?”
Well, we’ll get into that shortly too!
First, let us discuss…
What’s A Vinyl Film Made Of?
If you’re DIY-ing and you’ve done a little bit of research you’ll understand that high-quality vinyl wrap is required for a full body vehicle wrap, and that a lower grade film is ideal for a 12 month promotional wrap. Now we’re going to uncover what’s a vinyl film made of and the 2 different process of manufacturing them.
PVC polymer (or more accurately, Polyvinyl chloride) – high quality plastic and is initially uncompromising.
Plasticizer – basically a solvent that reacts to synthetic resin to induce flexibility or plasticity. Polymeric plasticizer works well when producing pressure-sensitive adhesive vinyl films. But monomeric plasticizer is a cheaper option but you’ll have to deal with quality issues.
Pigment – allows you to add your desired colour or pattern.
Also included are additives either to promote certain qualities like UV radiation resistant, balancing the heat distribution and fillers, as well as additives to aid in the production. Additives contributes to the quality of the film produced – the higher its grade the more expensive it gets.
But what separates one vinyl film from another are the grade of plasticizer and the process involved in manufacturing the goods!
Basically, casting and calendaring are two different processes of manufacture a vinyl film. And cast vinyl wrap is far more superior to a calendared vinyl wrap in terms of durability and conformity.
What’s A Cast Vinyl Film?
In a nutshell the process involves mixing of the ingredients (formulation is the industry term) and metering it onto the casting sheets, thus the name suggests – cast vinyl film.
The process involves…
- First, the ingredients are mixed onto a mixing churn. The order of adding the raw ingredients, the speed at which it is mixed and the duration of mixing it altogether is predefined resulting in a steady mixture.
- This mixture is then called “organosol”, which is then casted on casting sheets that move towards the ovens.
- At this stage solvents are evaporated, leaving the film at its solid state.
- The final process involves layering the now vinyl film with adhesive.
This process promotes conformability and allows production of films that are 2mm thing – which is a very useful feature when wrapping curvature panels such as motorcycle and other vehicles.
What’s A Calendared Vinyl Film?
Calendared vinyl film has identical ingredients to that of the cast vinyl film. The difference, however, is the process which is, in this case, calendaring.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Following a pre-arranged sequence, all ingredients are then mixed through the process called “Paste mixing”.
- Next is the creating the “melt”. It is done by merging the dry blend (a mixture of fine powder) with the mixture.
- Now there’s the “mill” (2 rolls each rotating on the opposing sides). The melt then passes through the mill which results in the flattening of the melt, becoming what we call the strip.
- The calendar rolls is where the strip will pass through next. Up to 400 degree Fahrenheit of heat is applied in between the gaps, which results in the thinning and widening (this depends on the specifications) of the strip.
- Embossing is the last step into the process. This is where layers of gloss and patterns are applied.
The gloss level depends on the embossing roll and different settings of the calendar line. Once it’s done, it’s now time to cool the calendared vinyl film down to be ready for winding.
But Why Is A Cast Film Better Than A Calendared Film?
No, it is not. Although cast vinyl film is designed to last longer than calendared films, it is not an economical choice for short-term vehicle wrap promotion. Each type of vinyl film is unique to its own purpose of usage.
That said, we’ve listed 5 different types of DIY projects and suggestions for what type of film to use for each project.
Cast Vinyl film is preferable for this type of project since they can endure most of the UV radiation and could last for more than 3 years. Calendared film, on the other side, has the tendency to shrink and leaves cracks early on its life span.
#2 Vehicle Wraps
As you may have known cast vinyl wrap is the best one for the job. If you want to add more durability go for a cast film laminate. Although liquid laminate is a cheaper option, it’s not as durable as film laminate.
#3 6 – 12 month marketing promotion
Economically speaking, Calendared film is ideal for this job. But this totally depends on the surface you will apply the wrap on and whether or not there are more compound curves to cover. Calendared film has high tendency of shrinking back to its original form.
#4 Flat Surfaces
You won’t need conformity features for this project, so go with a calendared film! You may want to consider a film laminate for extra protection.
#5 Compound curves and surfaces
Because of its ability to conform and not shrink back a cast vinyl wrap is ideal for this type of wrapping especially with a full car body wrap or motorcycle wrap.