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Cake or Taffy? - ie. Cast vinyl / Calendared Vinyl

Our first official topic! - and it was a hard one to decide on. As promised, I hope to provide you with knowledge to better understand what its like to be in the shop day to day. You can't spend even a day inside of a wrap shop or sign shop without understanding the difference between cast and calendared vinyl. Everything orbits around these 2 types of films, and how they're made. The process sets the tone for what will be used where.

Picture taffy- whatever flavor you choose, (cherry anyone?) Its a nice ball of goo, all warm and ready to be shaped. Now picture that taffy pushed through an extruder and then through a bunch of heated steel rollers until it's a thin sheet. This is how calendared film is made in the simplest of terms. The negatives of this process is that all film has a memory and it wants to go back to its original shape. Calendared vinyl has some slight shrink. Take a look around at the graphics/decals in your world and see if you can't see a glue line on the outer perimeter. It is very likely it is a calendared type of vinyl. You may ask- why even use it then if it shrinks? That's a great question- calendared vinyl tends to be a bit thicker, which makes for a bit easier handling, its got great longevity on flat and simple curves, and its a great economical price point. Some projects do not call for the top of the line type of film. Some uses for calendared vinyl could be kids sports decals, promotional graphics, some vehicle lettering and signage.

Alright, enough about taffy, lets move on to CAKE! Picture yourself making a delicious cake. You've mixed all the ingredients in a bowl, you've now poured it into your pan and you're sticking it in your oven, it cooks and dries to the perfect temp. This is your simplified version of how cast vinyl is made. Cast is the industry premium and is the highest quality. Again all vinyl has a memory but because this vinyl was cooked and not pushed/stretched it does not have the shrinkage issues that calendared vinyl has. (We can "kill" the memory on the film but ... another topic for another day). With this manufacturing process the films tend to be higher quality, easier to conform over complex curves, and are dominantly used for vehicle wraps. However this film can be used for a multitude of other projects, including the ones listed in calendared. This film is a higher price point however but you're paying for a premium product.

Pretty neat stuff right? Did you know that vinyl was so exciting?!


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