The differences between vinyl sign media

Today I’m going to go over the difference between the normal sign media vinyls available. First of all there are two different segments of media, digital print and ready to apply. Digital media is a media that needs to be printed before it is applied to the substrate. Ready to apply vinyl means just that, once it is cut it can be applied to the substrate, no printing necessary. Okay so here we go… I’m going to go over the details of each product and what its uses are when it comes to your signs Vancouver WA!

Cut vinyl

There are two types of manufacturing of sign vinyl Calendared and Cast. Calendared vinyl film gets its name from the process and how it is made. Basically the vinyl is made like pie dough, it is mixed together in color is added, then it is poured out on a large surface and left to cool, once it reaches ideal temperature it is pressed between two big rollers giving it the uniform thickness. normal thickness for calendared media is 3 to 4 mils in thickness, with new production capabilities however it can go to 2 mils. The benefit to the thinner material is its more conformable.

The advantages of calendared films are: they can be produced faster which makes them less expensive, the way the vinyl is produced it has been increased resistance to abrasion. Average durability on a calendared product is 3 to 4 years. The main disadvantage to calendared film is it tends to shrink and grow as it gets hot or cold. Calendared vinyl also has difficulty on vertical surfaces if there and water gets behind it. Cast vinyl like it’s brother calendared still uses a PVC base however, instead of being created like a pie like calendared, it is created more like a cake all the materials are mixed into a giant bowl in a predetermined order at a specific mixing speed. Then it is precisely laid out onto a moving web known as a casting sheet then processed through a series of ovens which allows for evaporation of solvents.

Because the vinyl is cast on a sheet in a relaxed state, this material offers excellent dimensional stability, this product is not gets squeezed between two rollers, which allows it not to shrink, this is how it keeps its dimensional stability. Most cast films are 2 mil in thickness which helps in the confortability of this product. The advantages of cast films are: shrinkage of cast media is the lowest of all vinyl films, the durability of cast films is much higher than that of others due to the quality of materials that are used, cast films can also go over substrates such as rivets, corrugated, and complex curves. The way cast films are manufactured allows smaller runs which allows special colors to be made. Cast films are what Designs of all Kinds uses in almost every project due to the quality of the final product. Below is an example of a ready to apply cast films sign.

Salvation Army Sign

Digital vinyl

Digital vinyl is made very similar to the cut vinyl, however it is created with being printed in mind. We start by loading the vinyl into the printer, uploading the art into the rip software, and printing the vinyl with a solvent-based ink. After the ink is thoroughly dried we highly recommend using a cold laminate to apply over top of the print. This provides added protection from the sun and light scratches. Some of the new products that are available have an error release which allows the installer to apply without any air bubbles or pockets, producing a much nicer final product. Once again designs of all kinds highly recommends cast over calendared on longer-term applications. Vehicle wraps should be removed within four years of being applied to prevent a permanent bond with the vehicle making the uninstall process much more difficult. Below is a vehicle wrapped using a cast printable digital film.

Vehicle Wrap

I hope this helps in making a decision as to what material you use in your sign project. If you have any more questions or need a quote please give us a call. 360-892-5597 and asked to speak to one of our highly trained staff.


Thank You!

Mike Hertz CEO

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