It would be futile having state of the art equipment and the highest quality material without understanding the vital importance of proper storage conditions.
At DEV1150, vinyl rolls are a fundamental part of our business, and the proper care and storage of our large high-quality inventory is encoded into our work philosophy. With that in mind, we would like to share a few general considerations and recommended practices we apply to keep our materials at their best, always ready to be used and produce the superior quality prints we are known for.
The optimal storage conditions for vinyl rolls depend greatly on three key factors: temperature, moisture level, and surface pressure. The transgression or disregard of these elements often translates into having to throw away an entire roll of vinyl, which as you can imagine, involves significant money losses and frustration.
Keeping vinyl rolls cozy.
The best way to store vinyl is within a controlled and ideal indoor atmosphere. We have heard stories about small print shops that due to limited space cannot keep their vinyl rolls protected against external temperatures, leaving them even in non-air-conditioned spaces or areas exposed to outdoor elements. It is not surprising that later when they are going to apply their vinyl, they find that the film was damaged due to inadequate environment storage conditions.
The most suitable room temperature to store vinyl is around 75o Fahrenheit. Above this temperature, the adhesive degradation accelerates thus reducing the bond of graphics and the material lifespan significantly; for products used for printing applications, the storage temperature can affect their integrity and make them unusable.
Just like Gremlins: vinyl must not get wet!
The recommended value of relative humidity to store vinyl is 50%. Excessive humidity or direct water contact can create waviness along the edges of the vinyl that will make the material tough to manage or have troubles going through a cutter or a printer. A dry environment is key to maintain the integrity of any vinyl roll. With that in mind, all direct contact with concrete floors or exterior walls must be avoided.
Side by side. Never on top of each other.
Stacking vinyl rolls horizontally is the easiest way to damage the material. It does not matter if the environmental conditions are perfect: mount the rolls on top of each other and the surface pressure from gravity will show after a while mottling on the bottom rolls; also, this could happen if a full roll is left resting on its side for long periods.
Vertical storage is especially important with glossy and dark colored vinyl since the pressure marks will be more visible in them. The best practice is to use portable roll racks to organize the materials in an ergonomic and easy to transport fashion; besides, a mobile roll storage stand prevents terrible “domino effect” accidents that could originate from having several vinyl rolls placed vertically side by side.
Proper inventory management is also important
As you can see, the general idea is to keep the vinyl rolls in a cool, dry place, protected from sunlight and other outdoor elements, and suspended or stood on roll stands as a safety and smart option for transport. However, there is one thing we would like to comment on before wrapping up this article, which concerns proper use and control of the feedstock material available.
Aged inventory can also be a problem, regardless of the efforts for keeping the vinyl rolls in optimal storage conditions. Most manufacturers do not recommend storing vinyl for periods longer than two years, and it is a good idea to keep an inventory system or record that can help use the material purchased earlier than the one obtained more recently.
For instance, labeling rolls with information regarding date of arrival and remaining length is vital to identify quickly the most appropriate vinyl roll for a particular application and get the best performance and result from the media. That is how we do it here at DEV1150, and it has worked wonderfully for us.