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Question Cutting 3M - 3939 High Intensity Prismatic Reflective ??

Discussion in 'Vinyl' started by Barry Jenicek, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Barry Jenicek

    Barry Jenicek Member

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    About a year ago, I installed way-finding House Number signs for a subdivision using 24” x 6”, Flat Aluminum Street Name Blanks (Blades) from my supplier. The Blades came covered with 3M White High Intensity Prismatic Reflective Sheeting.

    Using HP Black opaque Vinyl, I simply cut the numbers, weeded out the numbers leaving the background, and applied to the Blade. At night, the numbers really Pop!

    I have another subdivision wanting the same thing except instead of the 24” x 6” Blades, they want something more decorative. I have designed a 25” x 30” decorative Blank.

    I will be using 6mm Black ACM, routed to a decorative shape and, 3M – 3930 series, High Intensity Prismatic Reflective Sheeting for the way-finding numbers. I have found that this material CAN be purchased in a 15” Roll, PUNCHED.

    The 3m sheeting is 17 mil and, rather than using my Envision Cutter, I plan on using my old standby, a Gerber 4b with a 30 degree blade to cut out the numbers and decorative scrolls. (That 4b does a great job on cutting Sandblast Stencil)

    After reading all of that, my real question is…

    Has anyone ever cut this type of material on their cutter ??? On some of the supply web sites, I have found that they say this material cannot be computer cut. Really?

    17mil or not, logically speaking, I think that if I load up my 4b with a bunch of weight, and slow it down, it should be able to cut the material. Yes, I know, Logic is not always correct, but seems do-able.

    So Have you?

    Thanks in advance

    Barry
     
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  2. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

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    We cut it all the time with our summa. Sorry I cant help with the Gerber but on our summa we either use a double sided 36 degree or a 60 degree blade.
     
  3. Barry Jenicek

    Barry Jenicek Member

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    Thanks 2CT, a least one person cuts this stuff. :)

    How about everyone else...Have you or Do you cut 3M White High Intensity Prismatic Reflective Sheeting? Because it is 17mil thick, have you experienced any problems in cutting? How about weeding and applying Transfer Tape???

    Barry
     
  4. Asuma01

    Asuma01 Member

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    Its a huge pain in the butt and we do everything we can to avoid having to do it.
     
  5. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    Reflective is harder than sand stencil. you need a special blade.. The beads dull regular blades pretty quick. I don't know if the gerber could cut it, You need a pretty strong cut force to get through the top layer.

    We cut it fine... Our issue is usually getting it to cut even and consistent. Because the top is a hard shell, dragknives tend to bend when doing curves / turns. Which leaves to an uneven cut where the blade is at an angle... Leaving a pain in the *** to weed.

    I believe the minimum recommended size is 4" for cutting. We have done smaller... But again, while it takes a minute to weed normal vinyl... You can spend 20 minutes weeding and cleaning up HIP/DG. So factor that in before pricing.

    Also... The Gerber has sprockets, so you might be ok in that area, but on our graphtec when cutting stuff with lots of curves the material starts skewing.

    It's not fun to do, we try to screen print or.digitay print everything now. We used to do almost a roll of day in cutting the stuff though... So it is possible.
     
  6. I have cut it on a Graphtec with a 60 degree blade; I was doing print/cuts and ran into tracking issues when doing more than a 3ft length of cutting at once.
     
  7. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

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    +1 for the pain in the rear. We test cut a couple of letters before taking on a tow truck that wanted the lettering down the side. Enough patience got us through it, but afterward I advised the salesman that I should have told him we couldn't do it.
    The real kicker is the customer signed off on art, and evidently made a verbal change that never got approved, so they wanted us to redo it. After picking at a letter I'd test stuck in my print room, I realized how impossible that adhesive is to remove. Customer actually grew to love how much his truck pops when he parks next to other tow truck with lower grade reflective.
     
  8. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    We did a bunch of huge semi tow trucks with yellow DG. The cuts were like 11ft... With black vinyl shadow on-top. Once the file came up to me.. I told them no, not even going to try can't track more than a few ft accurately. They panicked because they upsold the tow Truck on dg... A fleet of 12 trucks. This is why you always ask production before agreeing to contracts.

    We ended up changing the art a little... And cutting it in our cnc. Luckily it was a full cutout since it had black bg, so it worked. No way I'd attempt to cut 11ft on a graphtec.. It'd skew more than 10-12" while cutting.

    End result did look.good though. Customer loves it.
     
  9. letterman7

    letterman7 Very Active Member

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    I only mess with this stuff on emergency vehicles. It really isn't meant to be cut as cut letters/numbers. The few times I've had that request I've overlaid a non-reflective vinyl on the top, reverse weed. You could try feeding it in upside down, with the adhesive side up and cut in reverse. That's the way I cut this stuff to size - much, much easier than trying to score it through the top.
     
  10. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

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    we've cut plenty of it, its a pain, but you can make it work. for starters, 60degree blade or bust!

    I jcopy/paste my vectored shapes on top of itself before outputting... i forget if i did this a 3rd time, but the idea was that the blade would score the material on the first-pass and penetrate the vinyl completely on the second/third pass. Its still tricky, since the backing isn't your normal clear plastic or paper-backing...it was like a thin-skin, almost like packaging shrink wrap, that yields a fine line between cutting through the vinyl and all the way through the backing as well. so test-cut a LOT of times before committing to sending the whole file. I believe I also filet'd the corners of all shapes, something minimal like a ~.02", else it wanted to tear the material as it turned hard corners. also, be prepared to check your blade frequently as you go, as the adhesive will start to build-up on the blade and either smear on your vinyl or prevent the blade from cutting properly.

    otherwise, +1 to suggestions just laying a full sheet of the reflective and overlay with regular vinyl that has the copy cut-out.
    oooor paint-mask your copy on the full sheet of reflective and paint the background to match the sign.
     
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