Premium cast vinyl, also known as high-performance or premium film, is a type of vinyl used for complex surfaces with curves, rivets, and corrugations. It’s preferred for its quality and durability; it easily conforms to non-standard shapes and leaves a painted look.
The best cast vinyl brands for Summa equipment from premium sign supplies shops like AirMark average a lifetime of five to twelve years, making them a cost-effective choice for all types of media.
Cast Vinyl Versus Calendered Vinyl
When it comes to vinyl, the choice typically falls between two options: cast vinyl and calendered vinyl. Knowing the difference will help you choose the right one for your project and help you efficiently use your resources (and avoid a big headache!).
Cast and calendered vinyl begin as similar materials–they share polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polymer as their primary ingredient. This is just basic plastic, which is naturally rigid. But the way it’s processed in manufacturing, among other factors such as the raw materials additives used, produces different results.
Cast vinyl is produced by drying and curing liquid vinyl into a very flexible film, while calendered vinyl is made by using rollers to squeeze and heat plastic into a perfect sheet. Cast vinyl is of higher quality than calendered vinyl, and it’s designed to work on irregular surfaces with minimal shrinkage. Calendered vinyl is cheaper and less flexible, but it’s great for flat planes and short-term signages.
How Is Cast Vinyl Made?
To make cast vinyl, PVC polymer, plasticizer, pigment (or colorant), and other additives are turned into a paint by using a solvent. The liquid is then put onto a highly polished cast paper backing to produce thin vinyl. This is then dried and cured at high temperatures which bond the ingredients to form a very flexible film. Because it’s not formed by a lot of pressure, cast vinyl isn’t set. It doesn’t have ‘memory,’ which makes it more flexible than calendered vinyl; it can stretch into the recesses and curves.
When applied, cast vinyl is superheated–as opposed to using glue as you would with window tint application fluid–to set it on its surface and prevent it from shrinking or popping.
Benefits of Using Cast Vinyl
Cast vinyl is considered the industry premium–it’s the highest quality vinyl in the market, and it’s loved for its flexibility and durability. Here are some reasons why you should opt for cast vinyl for your media:
Cast vinyl is very thin (about two millimeters) and has no ‘memory,’ allowing it to conform to surfaces very easily. This makes it the ideal option for wrapping complex surfaces while leaving a paint-like finish. It’s mostly used for vehicle wrapping, but it’s also great for technology, architecture, decals, etc.
The performance of cast vinyl is much better than other types of vinyl (particularly calendered vinyl) due to the quality of plasticizers and raw materials used, plus the less intensive manufacturing process. They’re glossier and are less likely to scratch over time due to their more supple and less brittle material. They also exhibit minimum shrinkage and maintain properties (such as color) for much longer. The typical outdoor life expectancy of cast vinyl ranges from five to twelve years, with black and white vinyl lasting longer than colors and metallics.
Cast films come in a variety of colors. Plus, its manufacturing process makes way for a more cost-effective production run of special hues, which allows for a wider range of options to choose from for all types of media and purposes.
What Is Cast Vinyl Used For?
Cast vinyl is most well known for its use as vehicle wrapping, but its applications are virtually endless. You can use it for anything that needs long-lasting graphics, including tumblers and mugs. That said, the most common applications include high-durability signs and lettering, emergency vehicles, marine decals, architectural wraps, and technology (i.e. smartphone) wraps.
Choose the Right Cast Vinyl on AirMark
While you likely won’t go wrong with cast vinyl, choosing the best brand ensures that you’re getting the most out of your buck. AirMark’s cast vinyl options are some of the best in the market, backed by a brand that’s pioneered the industry for years. Whether you’re using it for large projects or small media, get in touch with AirMark to find the best cast vinyl for Summa equipment and other premium sign supplies for you.