Films that Protect, Defend and Display

Film Technology

Developments in film technology are continuing to provide a host of the new application options for shops. From opaque, translucent, transparent and reflective films in various materials, colors, textures and finishes, they can serve a vast multitude of uses. There are films to enhance the brightness in LCD displays while others block the sun from coming through windows. There are films that thwart graffiti and others to provide economical and timely options to painting vehicles.

These new film technologies are making printing, laminating and installations easier, customizable and more profitable. They provide new opportunities for shops to offer something different to their client base. New color wrap films can give clients a new way to customize their vehicles. These innovative films are also moving into the home interiors market as well.

Endless Wrapping Options

“Printers, inks and films are continuing to evolve to create clearer, crisper images with extensive color gamut. With advances in adhesives and air egress technology, almost anything can be wrapped and brand identities can be exactly color-matched,” says Joel Ross, senior marketing communications manager at Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, Cincinnati, Ohio.

3M’s Envision Print Wrap Film 480Cv3 and Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8548G are said to be ideal for applications that demand outstanding performance, including cars, trucks and textured walls. (Images courtesy of 3M Commercial Graphics)

He points out that graphics companies can provide extensive opportunities to brand and marketing managers to reach consumers out-of-home, where they are making purchasing decisions. “In addition, the options are endless in creating a retail environment with printed or opaque vinyl films,” Ross says. “High-end, upscale graphics can be created and installed on the walls, floors, countertops to create a custom environment. The right product exists for virtually any environment and at any length of time.”

Education is Important

“Everyone gets excited about new film technologies: it’s a key driver in our industry,” says Tim Boxeth, market development manager at 3M Commercial Graphics, St. Paul, Minn. “But the success a print provider or installer achieves with new products depends largely on the effort they put into gaining experience with the product before they sell it to a customer.”

He says with experience they can capitalize on the improved features of the film to make their work easier and more profitable. “Some of that experience is looking at and experimenting with unique, creative ways to use the products and then showing their customers how to leverage those clever options to meet and exceed their goals. Today there is a film that adheres to almost any type of substrate, so print providers need to help their customer see all surfaces as a potential way to promote their brand.”

As an example he says 3M brand Envision Wrap Film 480Cv3 can stretch 150 percent without primer or relief cuts, but the users must understand the correct technique for getting that much stretch without exceeding it.

“The same film can be applied to textured surfaces, but the correct tools, amount of heat and speed are all factors in successful installations,” Boxeth says.

Film Products Catching On

Craig Campbell, graphic products market manager at Orafol Americas, Black Creek, Ga., reports that many of their films have been available for a few years but it has taken this much time for some of them to catch on. A prime example of this would be solid color wrapping films such as our Oracal Series 970RA.

“We first introduced the initial version of this product back in 2006 and it really wasn’t until the matte black craze in the automotive restyling market began before it finally caught on for the whole industry,” Campbell says.

He points out that currently, this product is offering the consumer a high-impact graphic that meets their business needs and the graphic producer can provide this with less production time by way of not having to print solid colors in the design—they can simply choose a color as a base and overlay any necessary full color logos or graphics.

He adds that one product that that they just introduced last year has taken off relatively quickly.

“Our Orajet Series 3169RA is designed for the P.O.P./retail market where advertisements/displays can be created, installed and removed quite easily,” Campbell says. “It’s all due to the film having an exceptional printing surface offering RapidAir technology and a removable adhesive. This product allows a graphic producer to ship the graphics directly to a business owner to install if needed, then they can cleanly remove the graphic afterwards—this allows the shop to offer options to their clients where budgets might be the determining factor.”

Color-Change Wraps

Holly Curtis, director of marketing communications at Santa Ana, Calif.-based Arlon Graphics says that one of the big trends she is seeing is that color change vehicle wraps have become very popular in the U.S. over the past two years.

“There are two segments to the color change market; private and commercial,” Curtis says. “The private sector is focusing mostly on personal vehicle color changes, accent colors and textures as well as ‘at-the-dealer’ color change where car dealerships are changing the color of the previous years’ inventory in order to sell it easier. The commercial color-change wraps range between taxi and patrol car fleets, delivery van fleets and any other fleet that is usually painted a corporate color.”

She points out that in the past many fleets had accepted the closest OEM vehicle color to their corporate color as the color of their fleet. But now that color match commercial wrap products are available, the color of their vehicles can be true to their corporate image.

“If a fleet traditionally chose paint, they will find that a color change wrap will cost about the same,” Curtis says. “The real cost benefit is when the vehicle is sold, it is still really white, making it easier to sell. Other benefits are that the paint is fully protected against wear and tear as well as UV degradation, which helps the vehicle hold its value.”

For this market, Arlon recently launched Ultimate PremiumPlus, which is a 4-mil cast color-change film designed for complete color changes to personal vehicles. “This series has a color range that is very unique in the industry and a set of finishes that copies paint both in gloss levels and depth,” she says. “This series also has textured films such as carbon fiber and brushed metal for accents and other details.”

The Durst Rho 1012 (right) is a 12 picoliter printer that can print up to 5,000 square feet per hour while the fully automated Rho 1030 (30 picoliter drop size, above) can print up to 10,000 square feet per hour. (Images courtesy of Durst Imaging Technologies US)

Curtis adds that Arlon also offers PerformancePlus, which is a 3.2 mil cast color-change film designed for complete commercial color changes. “This series has a more generic color selection and can be easily color matched for corporate programs.”

Easier Installs

Ross explains that with developments in film technology, products are easier to install than ever before.

“Avery Dennison Easy Apply RS Technology includes superior air-egress performance, allowing air bubbles to escape while the RS technology provides maximum repositionability and slideability,” Ross says. “Films featuring Easy Apply RS Technology slide on the substrate and can be easily repositioned during the installation process, making them faster to apply.”

He says they will be introducing their Supreme Wrapping Film line this year. Supreme Wrapping Film is a dual-layer film that combines color and clear protective layers, providing a smooth, paint-like finish. The line doesn’t require an overlaminate and incorporates the Avery Dennison Easy Apply RS adhesive technology.

“We’ve also added new colors to our Conform Chrome line,” Ross says. “We’ll be highlighting our new gold, blue and black chrome colors. Our Conform Chrome line is perfect for creating affordable mirror-like accents on wrapped projects.”

Ross says using Avery Dennison Supreme Wrapping Films allows for a fast and easy vinyl application. “Paint wrapping is a quick and affordable alternative to repainting a fleet and can be less expensive than digitally printing a large section of color or the background for a wrap. Installing one color as the background and using digital or opaque overlays can be a time saver for the installer, print runs are much shorter and the time spent aligning graphics is generally reduced.”

Affordable Solution to Paint

Avery Dennison Supreme Wrapping Film was recently used to wrap a fire truck, an alternative that the Geneva, Ohio, Fire Department found to be cheaper and quicker than painting. An entire truck was wrapped in Supreme Wrapping Film Carmine Red and White and then overlays were used for the emblems and additional markings.

“Instead of a new paint job, which would cost between $25,000 and $30,000 and take the truck out of commission for four to six weeks, the wrap cost roughly $7,500 and only left the department without their ladder truck for only about two weeks,” Ross adds.

New Screen Print Films

Campbell says that Orafol Americas is promoting the Oracal Series 620, 640, 352 and 1640HT for screen printing uses.

“While we have serviced this market quite well in our European markets, we have not had as much traction here in the North America,” Campbell says. “Our Orajet brand is very strong in the digital arena and many of the large screen print producers who have already adopted digital technology and are using our Orajet products will find the same value in our screen print products. These pre-sheeted products are also ideal promotional posters, window graphics and decals for temporary or industrial applications—they are perfect for short-run UV flatbed production as well.”

He points out that they feel like they have a lot to offer the screen print market with their updated offering—taking their Series 352 Print Polyester into consideration. “It lends itself to very durable industrial and OEM decals and labels,” Campbell says. “In this same shop there will more than likely be a UV flatbed printer as well—these sheeted products allow a graphics producer to go from long or short run capabilities very well while maintaining product reliability and consistency.”

Flexibility, Reliability and Speed

3M’s Boxeth explains that for the sign shop and installers to be successful with these products, it is all about flexibility, reliability, speed of processing and satisfied customers. So they must choose the right combination of materials.

“3M’s product line includes 3M brand Wrap Film Series 1080, a line of 50 solid color films that have amazing color and texture built right into the film,” he says. “We have films that can be screen printed or inkjet printed and often do not require an overlaminate or clear coat. We have permanent and removable films. And we have the non-PVC 3M brand Envision Wrap Film that has astounding stretch and flexibility and yet stays put without using a primer, and it is removable. 3M also offers the Comply brand Adhesive on a wide variety of films. This adhesive technology offers the ultimate in air release for virtually bubble-free installations.”

He adds that the color portfolio for 3M brand Wrap Film Series 1080 will be expanding again. “Several rich, earthy new colors will be shown that offer even more ways for vehicle owners to express their individuality,” he says.

Bringing Wraps to the Home

In addition to vehicle wrap and retail environments, some of these films are finding a home in the interior markets.

“While the Hexis line up of wrap films are still very popular in the vehicle wrap and retail applications, they are growing rapidly in the interior decoration market as well,” says Melissa Cox, sales manager at Hexis USA in Corona, Calif.

She explains that their HX30000 films are said to be particularly suited for many decorative applications.

“The film is a multilayered cast PVC. Because of its extreme flexibility and high conformability, fast and risk-free transfers are practically guaranteed,” Cox says. “It is highly recommended for complex compound curved surfaces and long-term applications.”

Cox reports that some of their customers are targeting design firms and showing them all the things that they can wrap with different textured finishes such as carbon, alligator, sequin and leather. “It allows them to quickly and easily wrap walls, desks, chairs, coffee makers, pool tables, etc.,” she says. “Our HEXPress adhesive technology ensures a safe install without wrinkles and bubbles.”

Germ-Free Film

As for future products, Cox adds that they soon will have an antimicrobial film on the market in the U.S.

“We are still working on getting EPA and FDA approval in the U.S., but it is already being widely used throughout Europe,” Cox says. “It’s a clear laminate that’s antimicrobial. It’s being used in hospitals, schools, on shopping carts, basically on anything that that can carry bacteria. It has a certain chemical in it that’s embedded within the film that can stop microbes like MRSA and E. coli from producing. There are a number of potential uses in the health industry, in the transit market and in schools here.”