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Printed vinyl durability

Discussion in 'Vinyl' started by jsmoritz2000, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. jsmoritz2000

    jsmoritz2000 Very Active Member

    I see a lot more printed vinyl graphics these days applied to aluminum composite panels as opposed to cut vinyl graphics. Now I'm fairly certain that cut vinyl graphics will still offer the best durability in these types of situations, however what kind of life can be expected from a full color digital print on vinyl media with an overlaminate, for example, 3M IJ 180 C? Are printed vinyl graphics becoming more of the standard now, having unlimited color and design options? If I were to try to sell my customer on printed signs over cut vinyl signs, what kind of durability can they realistically expect in comparison to a quality 7-10 year cast product?
  2. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Lotsa things come into play.... like location, kind of application, inks and so many other issues, but for down the middle..... about 3 to 5 years.
  3. bob

    bob Major Contributor

    Nov 4, 2005
    The answer is...who knows? There are many factors, so many that the longevity of any particular print in indeterminate.

    Here's a data point; about 9 years ago I put a contour cut print featuring a complete spectrum as a gradient as well as other solid features on the front of my aluminum goose-neck horse trailer. The print was on Oracal 3951 and coated with Clear Shield original formula. This trailer always has been out in the weather, never under cover, . When it's parked, where it spends the vast majority of its life, the front end faces due south. All in all the print looks as good today as the day I applied it. There is a small area, about 1/32" right at the bottom that shows some minor deterioration. You have to get right up on it to see it.

    For comparison, on the sides of the trailer there's some cut vinyl, Oracal 751 in red, black, and gold, that have been in place just as long and, trivially, aren't in as good a condition as the print on the front in that they show just a taste of oxidation.

    This is the longest lived print I've done that I can personally attest to. There are many others I've done, laminated or clear coated, just as old that, to date, no one has complained about. Your mileage may vary.

    As a rule of thumb, I'd be surprised if a properly protected and applied print didn't last five years and equally surprised if it lasted for ten.
  4. splizaat

    splizaat Very Active Member

    Sep 19, 2007
    Pac NW
    I like to say 5-6 years...it'll probably last 10, but it won't look very good by then.
  5. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

    Feb 3, 2010
    Racine, WI
    depending on sun exposure, the printed color will fade before the material fails.... noticeable after about 5years or so.
    unlaminated, no more than 2.
  6. jsmoritz2000

    jsmoritz2000 Very Active Member

    Thanks for the input, guys.

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