By Melissa Donovan
Some of the newest vinyl on the market is designed to adhere easily to rough, textured, and unsealed surfaces. Constructed to melt into the background, they provide an illusion of being painted on the intended surface. Point of purchase (POP) and décor are just some of the options for these applications.
Demand is high from marketers and their customers to create eye-catching, innovative messaging. To address this, print service providers (PSPs) look to vendors to create unique materials, such as vinyl that adheres well to brick, concrete, and stucco. These graphics typically perform well in environments like retail, outside venues such as stadiums and arenas, construction sites, and transit stations—mainly due to the nature of the wall in question. Rough or textured in surfaces are commonly found in these areas.
Material is specifically crafted with the surface in mind. Many of the substrates that fall into this specific niche feature high levels of stretchability to accommodate for curves, crevices, and nicks in the surface while still performing at high levels of adhesion.
Beyond the Norm
Demand for vinyl used on textured and rough surfaces derives from the need to stand out from the competition. A PSP adds this service to its existing portfolio to differentiate themselves from the crowd or a brand manager looks to segment itself from a leading competitor.
“Using vinyl for textured/rough surfaces opens up new avenues for attention-grabbing POP, advertising, artistic, and informative opportunities. Now you can transform an otherwise boring concrete, construction/motorsport speedway barrier, brick, or other unsealed textured surface into a revenue producing billboard,” explains Lisa Humrich, marketing manager, ORAFOL Americas.
With the onslaught of messaging crammed in front of us at all hours of the day—whether static or dynamic—there is an increasing need for graphics to utilize previously ignored space. “The demand is coming from customers that see this real estate as an exciting and new opportunity to create an environment or promote a message. Historically, this was not available,” admits Tim Boxeth, business and marketing manager, 3M Commercial Solutions.
Dennis Burnett, product manager – advertising, and Jodi Sawyer, market development specialist, FLEXcon, believe that because consumers are becoming more mobile, advertisers and end users need to utilize existing assets to take advantage of reaching a mass audience. “Promotional graphics are adhered to challenging application surfaces that they would not traditionally be adhered to; therefore, stretching the limitations of the film and adhesive system,” they continue.
The demand for this type of product often comes from a desired aesthetic. “We find customers seeking a wrap for exterior applications or seeking applications that offer a ‘paint-like’ finish. Wrapping a textured surface with a cast film allows the graphic to closely emulate a textured look and feel while the film itself is un-textured,” advises Nicole Shokralla, associate product manager, Arlon Graphics, LLC.
A Day in the Life
Vinyl fabricated for use with brick, concrete, and stucco are found in retail to transit stations. These environments include a type of wall classified as rough or textured in surface that is generally difficult to achieve great adhesion.
“Rough wall graphics are being used in locker rooms and gymnasiums for mascots and motivational messages. They’re also used for cool painted-on effects and logos in bars and restaurants. Stadiums and arenas are taking advantage of previously un-utilized square footage to promote many things too,” explains Jason Yard, marketing manager, Mactac Distributor Products.
Response is overwhelming. “People are not used to seeing graphics on the side of a textured wall or building, so they are amazed at the way the graphics conform to many different textures and surfaces. Stadiums, retail space, and music venues are just some of the common locations that have the surface real estate to do something inspiring and eye catching where consumers wouldn’t expect to see imagery,” says Boxeth.
Burnett and Sawyer list columns, walls and ceilings in train stations, eye beams on construction sites, construction barricades, building wraps between windows, waste containers, and solar kiosks as potential candidates for installation.
“Turning any size blank exterior or interior wall into a work of art or larger advertisement seems to have the most visual impact,” suggests Robert Rundle, viscom market manager, Ritrama Inc.
Stretch and Release
Products designed for rough and textured surfaces are not your traditional vinyl. Most are constructed with increased stretch and high adhesion to ensure a permanent bond on traditionally hard-to-stick surfaces.
Vendors take time to make sure these products perform well under all conditions. FLEXcon’s high-performance film and adhesive systems are engineered and tested specifically to the application surface to which they will be applied to.
A cast vinyl is ideal for these types of surfaces because it conforms well and takes the shape of the surface due to the nature of its construction, according to Shokralla. Although, she does refrain from making a blanket statement that all cast vinyl is a fit.
Rundle agrees, citing soft, conformable 2-mil cast vinyl and polyurethane as lending themselves well to textured surfaces, generally offering an elongation up to 150 percent with 2-mil polyurethane.
The film in question must be stretchable. At ORAFOL, to activate the unique stretching capabilities of its newest substrate, a combination of heat and pressure with a foam roller and/or rivet brush is required to successfully adhere the media into cracks and crevices.
Alan Miller, technical service manager, 3M, refers to this process as thermoforming. “The use of heat and a roller allows the film to soften and then conform to the textured substrate. Once the product has been conformed and stretched, it virtually has no memory left and will want to adhere to the surface and grout lines.”
3M’s products in this segment can stretch up to 150 percent and maintain lift resistance. For example, a ten-inch piece of film elongates up to 15 inches.
Adhesive is an essential component. “Only special adhesives will ensure good adhesion of these rough surfaces in outdoor conditions. They must be water proof, stable against changing temperatures, and still removable once the vinyl is taken away,” advises Hubertus von Henninges, marketing and sales director, ASLAN, Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG.
“One thing to note about vinyl is that since surfaces vary based on texture and paint, it is critical to always first test the compatibility of the film and the surface to ensure bond. Additives such as mildew resistance in paint can be detrimental to vinyl remaining on certain walls,” cautions Shokralla.
Rough and Tough Vinyl
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the leading vendors who offer vinyl designed for rough and textured surfaces. Each share their products, roll width availability, ink compatibility, intended life, and surface compatibility.
3M Envision Print Wrap Film LX480Cv3 and SV480Cv3 are available at 54 inches in width. Both are ideal for brick, cinderblock, stucco, and any textured surface that is not porous that has relief of 1/8″ or less. Life expectancy when applied to a textured surface is around three to six months, as a conservative guideline. However, in a moderate climate users can expect two to three years or more. 3M Envision Print Wrap Film LX480Cv3 is compatible with latex and UV; whereas 3M Envision Print Wrap Film SV480Cv3 is suited for solvent or UV ink.
Arlon offers a number of products that perform well on rough and textured surfaces. Its DPF 8000 is an industrial-grade film with a high-tack adhesive. Outdoor durability for vertical masonry surfaces is rated up to six months to one year. It is used for wall murals, ABS plastics, rough surfaces, brick, concrete, stucco walls, motorcycles, and motorbikes. DPF 6700 is a cast film with a clear permanent pressure-sensitive adhesive that is highly conformable. It is rated for outdoor durability for vertical masonry surfaces up to six months to one year. It’s used on unpainted brick, stucco, and concrete walls. Both products are available in 30-, 48-, 54-, and 60-inch by 50 yards and compatible with eco-solvent, solvent, latex, and UV ink.
ASLAN offers its WrapTheHouse ASLAN DFP 45 product, available in rolls of 1.37 meters. It is compatible with solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV-curable ink sets. Its lifespan is slated for three years on rough wall surfaces.
FLEXcon promotes its FLEXmark BILBRD BWV RTS product for use on rough-textured concrete, metal, powder-coated paint, lumber/wood, plastic, paint, polycarbonate, and foamboard. The product is available in roll widths of 54 and 60 inches and is compatible with UV, solvent, and latex inkjet printers. It carries a suggested lifespan of two years outdoor durability.
Mactac’s IMAGin RoughRAP WW100 is available in roll widths of 54 inches and used on concrete, brick, and cinderblock vertical walls. It features a strong adhesive, but its 2-mil conformable face allows it to melt into the textured surface. Slated for 18 months outdoors and four to five years indoors, the product is compatible with solvent, latex, and UV ink.
ORAFOL’s ORAJET 3954 Brick Stone Film is available in roll widths of 54 inches. It is compatible with latex, solvent, eco-solvent, and UV-curable ink. Its lifespan is rated at one year unprinted. The 2-mil film is ideal for unsealed textured surfaces including brick, concrete block, and poured concrete.
Ritrama offers its Ultimate Rough Wall, ideal for smooth, compound curves and rough/textured surfaces. It is slated for use up to seven years outdoors unprinted. Available in roll widths of 54 and 60 inches, the media is compatible with solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV inkjet printers.
Sticking to Sporting
Superior Signs and Graphics, of Buena Park, CA, began in November 2012. The company specializes in vehicle wraps, window and wall wraps, and trade show displays. With three employees and husband and wife co-owners, the business services mostly Orange and Los Angeles counties, but has done work for organizations across the country as well. The PSP works in 2,300 square feet of space and relies on printers from companies like Hewlett-Packard (HP).
Recently, Superior Signs and Graphics was asked to create a wall wrap for California State University (CSU). In August 2014, the company designed a large graphic that adhered to the back of a locker room that looked out onto the university’s soccer field. Arlon’s DPF 6700 was the media of choice.
“We looked for a very conformable cast media that would adhere to unpainted rough surfaces. That soccer wall was like a slag stone—about as rough as you will find—and the DPF 6700 stuck like glue and conformed to the deep crevasses,” explains Scott Hoffman, co-owner, Superior Signs and Graphics.
CSU was so impressed with the final result, it asked Hoffman to create another wall wrap for the exterior wall of a gym where fans buy tickets and concessions for sporting events. The school hoped to transform the wall from something dull and uninformative to a spirited, themed graphic that served the dual purpose of highlighting the ticket area and promoting more concession sales.
Similar to the soccer wall, the surface of the gym’s exterior was rough. Hoffman says it was a brick and mortar wall, unpainted, with deep channels for mortar joints. Turning to Arlon’s DPF 6700 again would be the right decision.
It printed all of the graphics on its HP Latex printer on Arlon DPF 6700. The total dimensions were 14×40 feet. The print was laminated with Arlon Series 3220 overlaminate. It took one day to complete printing and lamination.
Install occurred over two days with two installers. Hoffman says heat torches and rough surface application tools were used. While the team was familiar with the CSU grounds from the previous job, it did encounter a challenge. “Centering the roof lines correctly over the concessions and ticket windows,” admits Hoffman.
In all, the entire project continues to impress school personnel and sporting event attendees. The final wall wrap also serves as a great illustration of the work Superior Signs and Graphics is capable of. Because of this second job, CSU’s athletic department referred the PSP to two other departments on campus.
Speedily Sticking to Surfaces
The Decal Source (TDS), based in McLeansville, NC, was established in 1998 by founder Tony Johnson. 80 percent of the company’s work derives from motorsports, much of which has to do with its central location in NC, placing it in the major hub for NASCAR and other car racing events. Its geographical location dictates much of its regular work.
45 employees round out over 20,000 square feet of space, which consists of TDS West and TDS East, two buildings located on “campus” that hold commercial business/accounting and print production/sales, respectively. The company offers project management, design, printing, and installation. It employs eight full-time installers on staff and they travel the country to install various jobs printed by TDS.
TDS works with 3M media for rough and textured surfaces. To date, a recent project for Iowa Speedway was the largest request that relied on 3M Envision Print Wrap Film LX480Cv3. Slated for use on brick, concrete, and industrial stucco, around 2,000 square feet of media was printed on to wrap the walls of restrooms, ticket booths, and more.
The goal, according to Chris Cheney, sales manager, TDS, was to showcase the speedway’s partnership with 3M and brighten up the speedway, working with the 3M media to cover the “big, blank canvases” of large concrete walls. The artwork was printed on HP Latex printers—which it owns eight of—and then laminated with 3M Envision Luster Wrap Overlaminate 8549L.
Cheney is quick to note the importance of matching the 3M media to the recommended 3M laminate. “You need to make sure it applies well to the brick surface or it won’t work. We find better durability with recommended laminates.”
From the original request to install, turnaround time spanned ten days. The challenge was in juggling over 100 different graphics files and outputting them in such a short period of time. Logistics were also a factor. TDS installed the graphics over four days on site in IA and the team had to ensure that jobs were delivered in the right order for efficient install.
Iowa Speedway was so impressed, it continues to work with TDS. Cheney believes it utilizes the company’s services because of its high quality and project management. “What wowed them the most was our quality standards and project management. They gave us all of these different files and we produced and organized everything properly to get there on time for installation.”
Since the initial request, TDS has worked on two smaller jobs for the speedway. While the first order provided décor around the event space and will stay up long term, the next few projects were designed for specific races.
Offering rough and textured media like 3M Envision Print Wrap Film LX480Cv3 allowed TDS to get its foot in the door at Iowa Speedway and create unique applications that wowed the client. The result is repeat business.
Geared Up for the Hard Stuff
Rough and textured surfaces are everywhere, so it isn’t a surprise that brand messaging finds its way on these once undiscovered territories. To ensure these graphics maintain a high-quality finish, the newest media options must provide the correct amount of stretchability and proper adhesion. When these features are met, a graphic performs well into its intended lifespan and resembles the seamless look of paint on a wall.
Click here to view the Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive Media Chart – an all-inclusive information resource!
Oct2015, Digital Output