Outgassing of the vinyl is a crucial step during installation. But why is it so essential to outgas, and what are the proper criteria? There are many extensive factors.
The outgassing time depends on different factors such as the printer, ink load, environment temperature, humidity level, air circulation, product wetness, and drying method.
When printing with full-colour saturation, the maximum amount of solvent (as the ink carrier) is being applied along with the ink. This solvent penetrates the vinyl and adhesive during and shortly after the print process, where it lingers until several hours of drying take place. Latex print heaters will only dry the top layer of the print so it keeps its tack and will not smear upon rolling and unrolling.
Drying the ink, film, and adhesive adequately requires good positioning while outgassing. Often when rolled or on the ground, the airflow is insufficient, and the time for drying must be extended. Moreover, the temperature and humidity level of the environment are crucial factors regarding the outgassing time.
To determine how well-dried the product is, compare an unprinted white piece with a printed piece and check if the tack level and softness are the same when applied on a surface. The performance of printed vinyl must be the same as unprinted vinyl. Insufficient outgassing will make the film tackier, softer and will decrease the lifespan of the product. If the ink solvent remains strong or the film feels very soft, allow the film to continue drying. To improve and accelerate the drying time, use proper positioning by lying the vinyl flat on a table with air circulation or by hanging it. This gives the solvent opportunity to gas out on the entire surface of the film.
Solvents penetrate the vinyl and adhesive. Solvents in non-outgassed products weaken the bond between the vinyl and adhesive and make the film tackier and softer. When printing decals that are to be applied in deep channels, any stretch caused by installation non-outgassed films will not stabilize against shrinkage or glue to vinyl separation. Due to solvents weakening the bond between vinyl and adhesive, even a slight stretch in a deep recess section is enough for the wrap to pop out, leaving adhesive on the surface. When outgassing is done properly, it allows good repositionability of the film, no delamination and is guaranteed to stay in deep channels.
Compared to solvent printing, latex ink printing does not penetrate the vinyl and adhesive. Instead, the ink dries on top of the film which does not affect the tack and softness even immediately after the print process. Latex ink should be cured right out of the printer. In some cases, if the vinyl rests for a while before lamination, some oily spots may appear on the surface. This can prevent lamination to properly bond with the substrate. To obtain the highest print quality, using the appropriate Arlon ICC profiles (https://arlon.color-base.com/) ensures optimal match between printer and material.
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