Not all vinyl decals are the same! Vinyl film can be manufactured using two completely different methods: Calendered and Cast. These methods are described below.
Calendered vinyl (such as Oracal 651) is an economy-grade film made by melting the raw materials that make up the vinyl (resins, plasticizers, stabilizers, and color pigments) and feeding it into a calendaring machine that consists of a series of rollers. The first group of rollers produces the rough gauge. The second group determines the gloss level, and the final group determines the thickness. Calendered vinyl is usually 3 mils (“Mil” means one-thousandth of an inch) thick. The adhesive can add another 1 to 2 mils. Continuous stress, heat, and pressure is put on the vinyl as it is “pulled” through the machine (think how salt water taffy is made). Because the film is stretched and pressured into its final form, it has little dimensional stability. This means then when exposed to extreme heat or cold (such as on a vehicle exterior), it will want to shrink back to its original size. This causes the adhesive to ooze around the edges, as well as cracking and peeling of the vinyl.
Cast vinyl (such as Oracal 751 and 951) is manufactured with virtually no stress, no stretching, and no pressure. The cast vinyl raw materials are mixed and then poured out, or cast on the caster roller. The mixture is then transferred though rollers to casting paper. Very little stress is applied because the cast liquid vinyl is supported by the casting paper once the liquid leaves the rollers. Unlike the calendering process, no heat or pressure is applied to the vinyl. This means that the higher quality cast vinyl films are suitable for outdoor use and extended exposure to extreme heat and cold. Because the film is not forced into a size that it wasn’t originally made for, shrinking and cracking is significantly reduced when compared to calendered vinyl.
Cast vinyl film will also resist bubbling, fading, and peeling due to long term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can cause eventual deterioration of the vinyl and the underlying adhesive. For automotive applications, 2 mil premium cast vinyl film is the best choice. It conforms well to virtually all exterior surfaces, is more flexible, and has a longer life expectancy when exposed to extreme weather conditions. The 2 mil vinyl’s adhesive quality usually matches the quality of the vinyl, which means that premium 2 mil performance cast vinyl film will adhere better, longer, and faster than calendered vinyl adhesive. Lower quality adhesives used on calendered vinyl are more easily affected by moisture, solvents, and sunlight, which may cause the vinyl to fade, crack, and curl much faster than cast vinyl.
The chart below summarizes the differences between the vinyl that we use vs the vinyl that most other decal vendors use.
When purchasing vinyl decals for your vehicle, it is very important to know what type of film you are buying. Many vinyl decal retailers sell cheaper calendered vinyl at relatively lower price points. These decals can be expected to last only up to 5 years and can begin to fail in as little as 2 years. At TVD Vinyl Decals we use only premium cast Oracal 951 and 751 performance vinyl. Our matte black vinyl is rated to last at least 10 years and our color vinyl 8 years. In fact, we back the manufacturer claims by providing a lifetime warranty on all of our decals against cracking, peeling, and shrinking for as long as you own your vehicle.
Coupled with our exceptional customer support, you can rest assured that you are getting the highest quality vinyl and service when your purchase from us! Check out our decals at TVDVinylDecals.com