Calendered vs. Cast Vinyls: Learn the differences!

Calendered vs. Cast Vinyls: Learn the differences!

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Maybe you’ve heard this discussion before. When you’ve spent some time in this business, you can always listen to people discuss the advantages (or disadvantages) of the two types of vinyl I’ve referred to in the title.

Whether the cast vinyl is better for longer exposure times, or the calendered vinyl is more price-oriented, both of them hold together a great piece of the signage business.

Now, if you’re not familiar with the materials, you’ll probably be wondering what the differences between them are. I mean, they’re both vinyls, right? Surely they look and feel the same. Like one famous song once said: you’ve got another thing coming. Sure, they’re both vinyls, but those differences stand out depending on what you need.

Everything starts with the way they’re produced: the calendered film production is similar to mixing and rolling out pie dough. The ingredients (PVC resin, plasticizer, colorant, among others, are some examples and their use are based on the required formulation) are mixed and then flattened by calender rolls that heat it and gradually form it to the desired thickness. Hence the name “calendered vinyl”.

The advantages for this kind of vinyl are:

•    Today's calendered films are thinner, glossier, have better conformability and less shrinkage than calendered films made years ago.

•    Greater production yields less cost.

•    Stiffer/thicker film equals easier handling.

•    Excellent performance on flat, simple and moderate curves

•    Today's calendered films have a wider variety of colors as well as an extensive range of gloss levels.

•    Shrinkage of polymeric or high grade calendered films can be as low as 2-3%.

•    Formulation of the film increases resistance to abrasion.

As for the cast vinyl, it takes a little more technical method to be produced. In this case, a liquid form of PVC is mixed with several other raw materials similarly as you would make a cake. Once it’s done, the mixture, usually called “organosol”, is cast onto a moving web known as the casting sheet and then processed through a series of ovens which allow the evaporation of the used solvents. Once the solvents are completely evaporated, a flexible film is what you get, thanks to the massive amount of heat.

Some of its advantages are:

•    Shrinkage is not a problem since the film doesn’t have any stress applied during the manufacturing process. This ensures it won’t try to resume or shrink back to its original form.

•    The durability of cast films is higher than other vinyl films due to the manufacturing method and the raw materials used.

•    Cast films can be made very thin which produces a comfortable product that allows application over substrates with rivets, corrugations, and complex curves. Also, once applied, this low caliper makes the graphic less vulnerable to abrasive forces.

•    Cast films also maintain their color and other properties better than other vinyl films. This results in better performance of pigments and UV absorbers.

•    The manufacturing process of cast films makes it easy to run small productions with unique colors to match. It is relatively easy to change color during production, making color matching in small batches possible.

Now you know how they’re both made, and their advantages but what about their uses? Since the cast vinyl is a lot more flexible at the moment of its application, it’s usually used for wrapping any kind of vehicles with complex curves and other objects that are not flat. But it’s not just the easiness to apply it to non-flat objects, but also the durability it offers. Cast vinyls are set to last long exposure times under the sun without them cracking or losing color. Basically, they’re made to last from 5 to 12 years.

Meanwhile, the calendered vinyl is usually used in signage, flat applications, and vehicle wrapping as well. For example, buses, vans, and other vehicles that are square-shaped. This is very important. You can choose calendered for vehicle wraps as long as the car shape complies with the rule I just mentioned. It may not have a long-term durability as the cast, but it’s handy if you need to work with short-term applications. Think about it: would you use a kind of vinyl that lasts a decade on a POP stand which will be used for six months? See, it all gets down to what you need so that you can choose the best option.

You may be thinking the calendered is just a downsized kind of vinyl. If that’s the case, you’re massively wrong. That may have been true 20 years ago, but with today’s technology, the production of calendered vinyl have advanced and reached new highs, making it an excellent material that can withstand extreme temperatures for an awesome price. All you need, and I’m serious is to be detailed about what you need. The rest is just magic.

Why, you ask? Remember what I said about the formulation? That’s the secret. Depending on your price range, you can have a vinyl made exactly how you need it, without depleting your budget. One significant development is the bubble-free vinyl technology. Nowadays, vinyls can have “air drains” on the underside to help smooth out any air bubbles. Another important thing to mention is the color or ink. Depending on the kind and quality used, you may be having an excellent and durable vinyl, but if you don’t choose well, the impression might come off, damaging the work.

Here at DEV1150, we work with the most professional vinyl in the market. Proof of that is the fact that our vinyls are all bubble-free; thus, having a professional look. All of our vinyl works are delivered with the right lamination, ensuring the protection of the impressed vinyl and furthering its endurance. Laminated vinyls can last up to 6 years.

Bottom line is, make sure you work with professionals. At DEV1150, you can be sure your orders will be handled by professionals who will take care of everything you need and will deliver in less than 24 hours.