Do you ever wonder how some of your competition can offer ridiculously low prices on signs or decals and say it’s the same product as yours? Or why vendors have some calendered vinyls that are so inexpensive?
It is important to understand the manufacturing differences in vinyl sign films. Vinyl film is made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) with additives (plasticizers) to soften the PVC for Casting or Calendering. Most everyone understands that the Casting process produces the highest performing vinyl sign film.
Knowing the different types of calendered films and their use has to be taken into consideration when choosing a vinyl to fit the application. The difference is not in the actual manufacturing process but in the type of plasticizers used to soften the PVC for calendering (flattening) into vinyl film. Calendered film is categorized as either Monomeric or Polymeric. There is a definite market for both, however, it is paramount that you use the proper type for your specific job to avoid complications.
The basic difference between the two types of calendered vinyl is the characteristics of the plasticizers.
These plasticizers are inexpensive and few are required to make the PVC flexible. They are not very stable which means the plasticizers will break down with the expansion and contraction of the vinyl during fluctuating temperatures. The PVC will then become brittle, causing the vinyl to separate from the adhesive. This type of product is best used in “short term” applications. There is no reason to buy a 3-5 year vinyl for a 2 week promotion.
These are more stable, structured plasticizers that will withstand temperature fluctuations much better than the monomeric. Unfortunately, because of their structure, polymeric calendered vinyl requires a larger amount of these plasticizers to make the PVC flexible and is a lot more expensive than the monomeric. In short “You get what you pay for” and in this case you are paying for a longer lasting vinyl that should perform 3-5 years depending on the manufacturer.
Understanding the differences can help you become more profitable on “short term” signage, as well as, ensuring your product performs for the expected lifetime, using the correct type of film for your application.
Here is another article that outlines applications and expectations from the different types of vinyl films:
Cost Effective Calendered Polymeric Digital Print Film Available at IEC