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Digital prints not lasting after 1 year

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by what the, May 2, 2013.

  1. what the

    what the Owner/op

    Feb 16, 2010
    Help please!! I have been doing signs for 6 years and started to sub-out prints. I have two fleets of trucks out there along with free standing signs that have worn out the same way within a time of 1-2 years ago installed.
    I am being ambushed by these customers to fix this and they are unhappy!!!! Here's the killer, I know the supplier is using 3m intermediate/laminate. Now, These prints look like the laminate is taken by gravity (melted/bubbly). The vinyl around on the trucks look like it shrunk 1/4". About a month ago, I purchased my own printer and laminator...now I'm wondering is this the print world, does this happen to all laminate and shrinking vinyl? Staying competitive, I have to keep up on intermediate pricing, so what do I do- does this happen all the time? I thought 3m would not let me down? Please help as I have some big jobs coming!
  2. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

    Sep 11, 2003
    Olympia, WA
    It is the nature of intermediate calendared films that they have a shorter outdoor life and tend to shrink. If you want your work to last longer, pay the difference for high performance cast films and laminates and charge accordingly.
  3. what the

    what the Owner/op

    Feb 16, 2010
    Intermediate vinyl

    Thank you, I just thought that the material would last longer as intermediate calendar vinyl never did this to me..I know print/lam is thicke r and a new monster.
  4. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

    Sep 11, 2003
    Olympia, WA
    It really isn't about the thickness. It is about the way the film is created.

    Intermediate films are extruded into sheets and have the molecular memory of the lump they started out as. Therefore, they have no dimensional stability and tend to return to that lump as they age. Cast films are liquified and then cast or sprayed as a sheet. Once dry, they have the molecular memory of the sheet they dried or cured as and have very little tendency to shrink.

    It's a more expensive process to create cast vinyl ... so it costs more, but using it gives you a competitive advantage over those who use calendared films because your work is far more durable. When you explain the difference to your clients, they will, for the most part, be willing to pay a higher price to have their work produced in more durable materials.
  5. Custom_Grafx

    Custom_Grafx Very Active Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    A new monster? I thought it had been around for a little while now...

    Intermediate/polymeric has never been recommended for vehicles, and your supplier is crazy for suggesting/using it for anything that's supposed to last longer than it already has. Actually... consider yourself lucky it didn't fail only 3-6 months later!

    Question now is... you gotta fix it... how? If your supplier is willing... maybe split the bill.... that's if they were the ones who suggested polymeric to you.

    On the other hand... if they did suggest that you use cast... and you chose polymeric on purpose just for the price... well.. you just proved one of my favourite saying right... "the poor man pays twice... sometimes more".
  6. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    To add to this, if they're using 3M intermediate laminate, I assume that means 8508 or 8509 laminate, which is possibly the worse intermediate laminate ever made. We use a lot of 3M's intermediate IJ35C, which is excellent (assuming you use it for the right application), but we always use Oracal 210 laminate on it, which is significantly better.

    That said, if you're selling your customer on a long-term vehicle graphic, use cast/high-performance only, any calendered vinyl/laminate combination is going to fail before your customer expects.
  7. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

    Feb 3, 2010
    Racine, WI
    I also sometimes laminate the IJ35c-10 with a cast film like 8519 to give the vinyl a bit longer life expectancy.

    cheap is cheap. educate your clients on the difference between $X and $XX. They still might go with the cheaper option, but at least it was their own trigger-finger that shot themselves.
  8. what the

    what the Owner/op

    Feb 16, 2010
    Answer to failed material

    Thanks to all how have posted.. I did contact 3m support, The result: the smucks didn't use the right laminate to the material and they fight each other..I thought so myself but wasn't sure..
    3m said their material wouldn't do this even at an intermediate level. Of course it would shrink a little;


    Attached Files:

  9. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

    Oct 19, 2009
    Wow, never see a fail that bad, I little shrinking but nothing like that.
    You know you need to replace those, I would if I were you and want to keep the customers.
  10. anotherdog

    anotherdog Very Active Member

    Sep 6, 2008
    :thumb: I have trailers and van sides that have been driving round with Ij35 and 210 lam for over 5 years. I use it because it's a great pairing and lasts longer than any of the other "economy" solutions. If I need better quality I'll just up to 3M 180 vinyl.

    What brand of vinyl and lam are you using? and as important, how are you installing?
  11. d fleming

    d fleming Very Active Member

    Nov 28, 2007
    Middleburg, Florida
    Wrong combo is exactly what that looks like. Now that you have your own print and lam solution, redo this and replace immediately while explaining to your customer that you now have the capability in-house and this will not be a repeat problem. Take the guy to lunch and thank him for his continued business..
  12. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Not only does the shrinkage look bad, but it's playing havoc with your kerning. Those letters look really bad, now.

    We have calendared digital vinyl laminated and unlaminated out on vehicles, boards and other substrates. Never have I seen that kind of failure. Some of ours have been out over 5 years. Most of it is OraCal, but again..... if you only asked your vendor for cheap..... that's what you got.

    If I were the supplier of that, I would not stand behind someone dictating to me they want cheap. However, I will try to educate the customer, but if you insist..... it's your dime all the way.

    All of your posts are geared towards price and not proper tools or supplies. I think you have a big problem on your hands.
  13. HulkSmash

    HulkSmash Major Contributor

    Sep 10, 2010
    3m is a joke. Yes this would happen with 3m vinyl, and 3m lam intermediate combos. Of course they're pointing the blame.
    The real reason it's failing is because you didn't use the right vinyl period. You don't use intermediate vinyl on vehicles, end of story.
    the Wrong lam isn't going to cause the vinyl to channel like that, cheap vinyl is.

    I don't care what their stupid bulletin says, You. Do. Not. Use. Intermediate. Vinyl. On. Vehicles. Life lessons learned, use the right stuff, and don't cheap out.

    good luck getting it all repaired.
  14. asd

    asd Member

    Aug 13, 2007
    since you now are capable of getting this done in house, why don't you fix them and be done with it, if you charge the right price for your job, you should have no problem redoing this decals
    2 or 3 times before you loose any money, don't allow your customer to get mad at you for something so small, just fix it and keep your customers coming back
  15. ProWraps

    ProWraps Very Active Member

    Sep 30, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    calendared vinyl has a very poor dimensional stability.

    which is why you need to use cast. it sounds to me that you werent educated enough which is fine when you had a sub do the other prints for you.

    from here on out use a cast media and a cast lam and you will be fine.

    simple case of wrong material for the job.

    ps, are you in sacramento? cause i know that company.
  16. synergy_jim

    synergy_jim Very Active Member

    +1 on IJ35 and oracal 210 lam combo. Holds up very well. Removability with IJ35 is a PITA though so make sure its a permanent situation. I've had great luck with the oracal 3651 / 210 lam combo if I know they are going to take it off in a few years. The only bummer there is no air egress.

    Obviously if you want the best of all worlds, move up to cast / cast combo and its a win the whole way around. BTW, 3651 has the least shrinkage of andy intermediate cal I have ever seen.

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