Posted by on 1/31/2020 to How To
There are many types of vinyl window graphics. There are simple small decals and parking permission stickers on one end of the spectrum and promotional wrappings for whole vehicles on the other end. The promotional wrappings, in particular, are a great way for you to advertise your business.
Technology is on Your Side
There was a time when it was pretty expensive to produce such vinyl graphics. The decal printer machine required alone was quite large and also quite expensive to obtain. Now, with technological advancements, there are lots of options that are compatible with your desktop computer.
It really all depends on what you intend to print and how large you would like to make it. However, you have plenty of options when it comes to a vinyl graphics printer, much of it is possible with the equipment you probably already have in your office.
Materials Needed to Make Printable Vinyl
The market for printable vinyl is vast and has options for just about everyone from the casual hobbyist to the massive enterprise and the well-known sign shop. The output materials you pick should be compatible with the printing device you already have, or you can buy a printing device that is compatible with the materials you would like to use. You can also pick your materials based on the application method you want to use to install your vinyl. For example, vinyl that goes on the inside of windows should be resistant to sun fading, which means it should have strong lightfast properties. As for vinyl that gets used outdoors, it should be resistant to all weather types.
Types of Vinyl
One way to categorize types of vinyl is according to the face film. There is calendared vinyl, cast vinyl, and specialty vinyl.
This type of vinyl has this particular name because of the way it is made. PVC is squeezed through a stack of calendars or rollers. The pressure and heat generated by the process will squeeze the bulky PVC into a thin sheet of a maximum of 3 millimeters thick. Because calendared vinyl is made using heat and pressure, it tends to be naturally unstable, which means the best kind of surface to use it on is a flat one. In case the surface is curved, it shouldn’t be more than a gentle curve. The outdoor durability of this type of vinyl can be as little as two years and as much as 6 years.
This type of vinyl is made by mixing plasticizers with PVC and pouring the liquid mixture on a moving web. The liquid will be taken through an oven, which will evaporate away from the moisture and leave a vinyl sheet of about 2-millimeter thickness behind. The film hasn’t been stressed in its creation, which means the dimensional stability of cast vinyl is superior to that of calendared vinyl. It also has a face film of about 0.002 inches on it that makes it perfect for application on complex curves. You can put this type of vinyl on fender benders, helmets, and so on. These are the best vinyl for vehicle wraps as well.
Another advantage of printable cast vinyl is that it comes with features like egress release liners and great white points, which make it ideal for high-resolution printing.
Specialty vinyl is a whole set of different types of vinyl that come with a variety of useful features and applications. There are many types of specialty vinyl, including perforated vinyl, high tack vinyl, and printable reflective vinyl.
Perforated vinyl is vinyl where the face film is perforated. In the original version of this type of vinyl, half of the surface area consisted of perforations. They’re one-way view because the image on the vinyl is visible on the printed side and the application makes the vinyl opaque. However, the vinyl looks like a window tint film from the opposite side. That makes the film translucent in effect.
High tack vinyl is excellent for application on surfaces that are not traditionally smooth and may even be perforated, such as stucco, concrete, and even coolers. They have a special adhesive with a very strong grip that makes them ideal for such surfaces. Reflective vinyl is great for emergency vehicles and police vehicles. They can also be used for custom vehicle wraps and other situations where the graphical elements need to have a high impact.
Types of Printers for Vinyl
There are a lot of different types of printers you can use for vinyl. The two most common for office purposes, however, are the Desktop Inkjet and the Large Format Inkjet
This is a great printer for when you have a small office project for something you want to use in your business. You can look for printable vinyl for inkjet printers that are compatible for use with a simple desktop inkjet printer, and that comes in letter-sized sheets for easier printing.
Such materials won’t require you to purchase special ink for the printing job. That means the costs will be minimal on your end. Additionally, you won’t have to wait too long for the print to dry as it will take just as long as the regular output from an inkjet.
While the ink will dry fairly quickly, you may need to let your printed vinyl set for an entire day before they can be considered to be fully water-resistant. Don’t worry about outdoor use, however, as no extra treatment for the surface or special fixatives for the substrate will be required after this.
Large Format Inkjet Printer
If you’re a professional sign maker, or you want to make a proper professional vinyl print, then the large format inkjet printer is your best bet. These printers are specially built to run on roll-fed media. Many of them come with LED lamps for the curing of the ink. No sooner does the output leave the printer than it is completely dry and ready for use. That makes for plenty of saved time.
Some large-format inkjet printers come with white ink, which allows you to build a kind of foundational canvas on which you can print graphics for transparent stock. When you use vinyl media with large format inkjet printers, make sure that you use a substrate which is compatible for use with the type of ink that you use on your printer. There are many such inks, including UV, pigment, and dye.
You can also consider using perforated vinyl, which allows you to make the most complex types of graphics that can be used on vehicle windows without compromising the visibility of the window.
Vinyl Graphics Considerations
The very best vinyl graphics are the kind that has been cut out in the free form. If your printer happens to work together with a vinyl cutter, then you should take some time before the print job to prepare your work so that it is compatible with the printer. The designs should ideally be vector-based. Rather than go for discrete shapes that have been stacked on top of each other or are partially masked, go for unified shapes.
If you have no idea whether or not your designs will be printed and cut in the right way, check with the manufacturer of your hardware or perform a simple test before the actual work to see what works and what doesn’t.