Category : Manufacturing


Cast or Calendered Film – What to use for a Vehicle Wrap

Before there was the question of which vinyl film to use on a vehicle wrap, paint was the only media of choice.  Fast-forward 70 years, factor in massive technological advances in adhesives and liners, we have today’s vehicle wrap films. With new technologies come new questions, such as do I need to use a Cast or Calendered product? And does a Cast film have the same service life as a Calendered film? If you ask yourself these questions before starting your vehicle wrap, you’re in the right place. We’re going to be answering these questions and more.

Vehicle Wrap Durability

Durability is the main driving factor when selecting a vehicle wrap film. Calendered film is designed with a short to mid-term range of durability (0-5 years); the film can also shrink up to 1/4”. Calendered film is an excellent option for short-term lettering, spot decals, or partial wraps. Full vehicle wraps require strategic paneling and seaming (piecing together) of the film over complex curves and bumpers.

Cast films are manufactured for long term use (5-11 years); when compared to Calendered, this vinyl will have immeasurable shrinkage. For long-term, full, seamless vehicle wraps, or long-term lettering, decals, and partial wraps Cast vinyl is a must.

How can you maintain the durability of a Cast or Calendered Film? When using an overlaminate, be sure to choose one of equal or better quality than the base film. Using a lower quality laminate will dramatically shorten the durability of the high-quality base film.

SLX Cast Wrap with Series 3270 Matte - Wrapped by Sign Biz WA
Vehcile Wrapped in a Cast film – SLX® Cast Wrap with Series 3270 Matte – Wrapped by Sign Biz WA

Cost Factor

Price can be the determining factor between bidding on or winning a job. When cost-driven opportunities are presented, and it’s short term, a Calendered film could be your vinyl of choice. If you select a Cast film over a Calendered for your vehicle wrap project, don’t be deterred by the cost. For the added durability, the increase is insignificant in mid to long term applications. The difference in price can also balance out in a few years when it is time for removal. Yes, removal.


Time is valuable, and using your time to remove a difficult vehicle wrap can be less than ideal. Why is the removal of Calendered film different than Cast? Calendered film can remove poorly due to the loss of essential polymers and plasticizers that give the film its durability. Also known as rot. Once this happens, the film is prone to come off in tiny pieces, leaving adhesive.

Choosing the right vehicle wrap film can make all the difference in the long-term profitability and workflow of your business.  Customers change, but the one thing that usually stays the same is the type of vehicle graphics. You now have the information you need to make an informed decision when selecting and purchasing a vehicle wrap film.   

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Cast or Calendered Vinyl Film – To Spec Or Not To Spec

In the branded world we know today, there are vinyl films for every substrate. Concrete, porta-potties, and trains are all examples of branding on substrates we see every day. But when you choose a vinyl film for your next job, how do you know you’re making the right choice to maximize your profit? Step one in selecting a vinyl film is deciding between Cast or Calendered. Below we will take a quick look at the difference between a Cast or Calendered vinyl and how choosing the right film will help you improve your film spec odds tremendously.

Cast and Calendered 101

The terms Cast and Calendered refer to the ingredients used and the manufacturing method of each vinyl. Cast begins as a paint-like substance, called organosol. Orgnisol poured over a sheet and run through a series of ovens cures the liquid into a solid film, creating what we know as a Cast vinyl. Calendered film starts as a dough-like substance called plastisol, run between a series of hot rollers to press the film to the desired thickness. The casting process produces stress-free film, that over its lifetime, will have minimal shrinkage. In contrast, the calendering process produces stressed film, that over its much shorter lifetime, can shrink noticeably.

Cast or Calendered for Flat Surfaces

If you are applying to a Flat (2D) surface, you can choose between the two types of film based on the desired durability, especially in outdoor applications. Now, for short term durability, a calendered film will be your ideal selection. For long term, a cast film will be the way to go. For an indoor application with no exposure, use a calendered film, but keep in mind that it will still have some shrinkage.

Arlon's DPF 510 GTR a 3.2-mil (80 micron) calendered film.
Arlon’s DPF 510 GTR a 3.2-mil (80 micron) calendered film.

Cast or Calendered for Curved Surfaces

When applying to a curved (3D) or compound curved surface application, a cast film is your go-to. Does that mean you cannot use a calendared product? No! 3D application is possible with calendered film, but with little to no long-term durability.

Arlon SLX® Cast Wrap & Series 3270 Matte - Wrapped by Scribbles & Drips - Photography by J Cole Photography
Arlon SLX® Cast Wrap & Series 3270 Matte – Wrapped by Scribbles & Drips – Photography by J Cole Photography

Maximizing Durability

Film type isn’t the only thing you need to take into consideration when choosing which product to use; a proper laminate pairing is also essential. To increase your graphic’s durability, use a laminate of equal or better quality. For example, using a calendered base film with cast overlaminate is a great way to extend graphic durability by having the laminate stabilize the base film. Using a cast base film with a calendered overlaminate will work oppositely, allowing the laminate to shrink and cause failure.

When we break it down, a cast film is the best option for long-term (4+ years), 3D application. While calendered is the best option for 2D, short to mid-term (2+ years) application. Want to learn more about vinyl? Check out our blog on Pre-Installation Steps for Wall Vinyl Applications

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Digital Printing Events Manufacturing Vehicle Applications

Arlon Provides an Interactive Experience at SGIA 2018

A huge thank you to all that visited our booth at SGIA 2018 Las Vegas, NV! This year the show had more than 25,000 registered attendees with a sold-out Expo floor. The aisles were filled continuously with attendees excited to see the latest sign and graphics technology.  Arlon had a very successful show, and in case you couldn’t make it here is what you missed.

Attendees flocked to the Arlon booth to get hands-on experience with the newest FLITE Technology™ products, SLX™ Cast Wrap and IllumiNITE Wrap™. During the show, the booth was busy with people participating and watching the Wrap Dash. Installers raced against the clock installing SLX Cast Wrap on a truck tailgate and with no surprise the ease of installation that FLITE Technology provides had participants wrapping at an average time of 6:45.

The fastest Wrap Dash time was set by Eric Peixoto of Incognito Wraps

Arlon’s Marketing Director of the Americas, Nicole Witt noted the wrap dash was a great success saying, “We wanted to create a competitive, yet exciting challenge that would attract talented installers of all levels to get hands-on with SLX Cast Wrap.” She went on to say, “We were thrilled with the engagement and buzz this created at the SGIA Show.”

Attendees gathering to watch the Wrap Dash Challenge

In addition to the Wrap Dash, attendees were lined up to get their chance to take a quick tour in the Dark Room Showcase. Visitors were able to experience the vibrant nighttime effects that IllumiNITE Wrap and R108 Conspicuity Tape can have together in adding impressions to corporate branding while keeping safety top of mind.

Other highlights included our wrap experts Matt Braswell and Louie Calma holding daily wrap demonstrations showcasing best practices for a successful installation using Arlon products. Arlon Sales Representatives we’re seen throughout the booth providing knowledge and details on all Arlon products.

Technical Sales team member Matt Braswell showing the benefits of IllumiNITE Wrap™

Overall, this show had fantastic energy. Arlon’s booth was a success in providing attendees with an interactive experience. From the Wrap Dash and the Dark Room Showcase to in-booth demonstrations, Arlon brought a fresh feel to the SGIA tradeshow.

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Digital Printing Manufacturing Vehicle Applications

Caring for Your Vehicle Wrap in Hot Weather

Hot weather wraps need extra care

Summer months are known for having the longest and hottest days of the year. During this time, the amount of UV exposure increases significantly. An extended amount of UV exposure is the greatest enemy to your vehicle wrap. In these hot weather months, your vehicle is going to be susceptible to damage caused by environmental factors. Protect your investment from damage by following the steps below:

What does Arlon do for Weather Testing?

When developing a product, Arlon tests products in extreme climates.  We test new products in hot weather climates like Florida, California, and Arizona. During the testing process, we are constantly checking for browning, shrinking, and cracking. This is done to ensure that when you use our film your application will withstand the high temperatures.

What can you do to Protect Your Vehicle Wrap?

  1. Keep Your vehicle Out of Direct Sunlight
  • After a period of time, the rays of the sun can take their toll on your vehicle. When you’re not driving your car, it’s best to keep it inside and away from harmful UV Rays. With this in mind, always try to park in a shaded area whenever available.
  1. Use A Recommended Protective Overlaminate
  • Protective overlaminates are formulated to provide your vehicle wrap with UV protection. Overlaminates act as an additional barrier from the sun. Read more about the importance of overlaminates HERE.
  1. Brush Off Dirt and Debris in Between Washes
  • In the summer months, dirt and airborne particles can be baked into the film, leaving a stain on the vehicle. This is most common in high volume traffic areas. The stain may appear as black dust or overspray but you will not be able to remove it from your vehicle. Always make sure to take a few minutes each day and brush off any particles that may have fallen on to your vehicle.
  1. Hand Wash Weekly
  • How often you need to wash your vehicle will vary based on your location. You’ll know it’s time to wash your vehicle when you start to see a build up that cannot be wiped off by hand. On hot days, we recommend hand washing with cold-water, preferably in a shaded area. Wash with automotive grade car wash soap and follow the recommended dilution.

When temperatures hit triple digits, your wraps need a little extra care. By following the steps listed above, you can keep your vehicle wrap looking brand new.

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Manufacturing Vehicle Applications

Tips for Handling Reflective Films

Reflective films are leading the wrap world in an exciting direction, and with no surprise, a product like this can sometimes bring about new challenges.

What is Reflective Film?

Reflective film is a type of film that is layered with an array of glass beads or prisms that reflects light back to the observer; the arrangement of these light-reflecting components has a direct effect on the film’s overall reflectivity. Our reflective films today are of the glass bead type and have the following cross section:

Reflective film technology


People are considering reflective films not only for additional brand awareness but for cut graphic lettering, decals, fleet markings, and vehicle and fleet wraps.

What is Bruising?

Reflective films have more delicate components in their construction. Keeping this in mind reflective products needs to be handled differently than other cast vinyl film. If a reflective film is mishandled it causes bruising. Bruising occurs when the uniformity of the reflective components is disturbed either by drastically stretching or creasing the film. Once bruising occurs, it can be very difficult to heal the film back to its original state.

IllumiNITE Wrap™ versus Leading Competitor Film

NOTE: The product on the top is Arlon IllumiNITE Wrap™. The product on the bottom is a leading competitive brand. Both products were subject to the same techniques to amplify bruising.

There are ongoing technological innovations that are proprietary to each vinyl manufacturer; Arlon’s latest innovation with FLITE Technology™ gives more power to the installer by providing ease of installation and efficiency.

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The Differences Between Monomeric and Polymeric Calendered Film

Are you unsure of what type of calendered film to use for different types of projects? Have you ever asked yourself, “which film should I use, monomeric or polymeric?”

If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, keep reading. By the end of this article you will have a clear understanding of calendered film. Additionally, you will also know when to use each type.

The Calendering Process

We make calendered films through a “melt” process. First, we melt PVC (Poly-Vinyl-Chloride) resin, plasticizer and colorant together. As they cool, we roll the molten PVC through calendering rollers. This creates the final width, thickness, and surface finish of the film. Finally, we wind up the calendered film for further processing.

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LEAN’ing Into The Future

Unlike the modern waistline these days LEAN as a business model is seriously trending. If you haven’t tried this excellent diet already you and your company are probably following an unconsciously sloppy lifestyle and leaving much cash on the table as a result. The money that is not going into your collective pocket is going either directly or indirectly into the pockets of your collective competition. Something to think about isn’t it?

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Digital Printing Manufacturing

Introducing the Arlon Blog: Arlon HUB

Nice To Connect With You!

Arlon is excited to announce the launch of the Arlon blog: Arlon HUB. Check it each month to read about the latest news, announcements and tips on some of Arlon’s most popular products and other industry topics. Feel free to comment or share our blog posts with your audience anywhere at anytime!

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