We are pleased that our customers feel free to reach out to us, especially when they feel they have a valid complaint. We are here to support you! In fact, we field call after call, chat after chat, and email after email from customers on a daily basis, so we have a good feel for the types of problems they are facing.
One of the more common reasons customer contact us is when they believe they have some defective vinyl. What leads them to that conclusion? Well, when the problem is diagnosed, it is usually one of the following three reasons:
- It's too difficult to weed, or
- It doesn't transfer well from the release liner or
- Doesn't transfer well to the substrate.
In these cases, we often bring the vinyl back and test it to determine the root of the problem. Sometimes the vinyl really is defective, but in most cases, it's not.
All of the vinyl we sell is made in the USA and comes from well-established manufacturers. It's extremely rare that we actually have a roll of defective product. So what's is usually the problem?
User Error Is Not Shameful
I know you probably don't want to hear this, but usually, it's user error. These kinds of errors are a drain on your productivity. While you're waiting for a verdict on your vinyl issue, work stops, jobs pile up, and business may go elsewhere. Obviously these are outcomes that we'd all like to avoid. If you think you have some defective vinyl, go through these helpful tips first.
Blade Problems Can Cause Weeding Issues
Cutting Too Deep: The most common mistake customers make that results in weeding problem is cutting the vinyl too deeply. The goal is to cut through the face film and adhesive and to barely score the release liner. If you cut too deeply, when you begin weeding your graphic, the release liner adheres to the back of the vinyl and begins to delaminate. This makes your graphic hard to weed. It can also cause the vinyl to stick to the liner instead of releasing with the transfer tape.
Wrong Transfer Tape Causes Transferring Problems
Transfer Tape with Too Low Tack: If you have the blade and the cutter's force set correctly and your test cuts are easy to weed, but the vinyl still won't transfer from the release liner, it may not be the vinyl's fault. It needs help from the transfer tape. Transfer tapes are not interchangeable. They have different characteristics including the tack level. If the tack level of your transfer tape is too low, it won't have enough adhesive force to pull the vinyl off the release liner. This is especially true of ORACAL vinyl and some metallized films. They tend to have stiffer face films and need a more aggressive transfer tape. Always try to use a transfer tape that matches your vinyl's release properties. To make sure you're using the best tape for your vinyl, please check out our Vinyl and Transfer Tape Application Guide.
Transferring Vinyl to Difficult Substrates: To apply Vinyl graphics to any substrate using transfer or application tape, the adhesive bond between the vinyl and the substrate must be stronger than the bond between the tape and vinyl.
Transferring vinyl graphics to rough, porous, or low energy surfaces is challenging because there may not be a sufficient bond between the vinyl and substrate to allow the tape to release the graphic. Some such applications can be finessed with some patience and a squeegee (Fig 2). Some simply won't work. To give yourself the best possible chance of success In these instances, try a medium or lower-tack tape. But if you're trying to decorate a low energy surface like polypropylene, you may need to switch to a specialty high tack vinyl.
Using Old Transfer Tape: If you have the right tape for your vinyl but it's older than 6 months, you may run into a transfer problem due to aged adhesive. All adhesive backed products have a shelf life. The general rule is two years, if stored in a climate-controlled environment. Don't store your vinyl and tape in a hot or cold garage. Extreme temperatures and age will affect the adhesive and complicate your transfers.
Different Color Vinyl Within the Same Family May Cut Entirely Different
This one's a little tricky. If you've done all of the above correctly, you may still run into trouble if you go from a roll of yellow vinyl to black without doing a test cut. That's because the pigment in the face film that gives black vinyl it's opacity and outdoor durability makes the film a little denser than the other colors. So you can't always switch rolls on the fly and get the same results. Sometimes cutting black vinyl requires more force than others.
There are three keys to getting good results when it's time to weed your vinyl graphics: test, test, test. Seriously, always cut and weed a test pattern before clicking Send on your vinyl graphics. That one step can save you a lot of time and frustration.
So the next time you begin thinking you have a defective roll of vinyl, stop and consider your materials and workflow. Make sure the defect isn't in your process, transfer tape choice, or intended substrate. If you're setting the correct blade depth, using a sharp blade, using the right transfer tape, applying vinyl to a compatible substrate and adjusting for differences in color, and it's still not working…then you may actually have a defective roll of vinyl. It's unlikely, but it is possible. If that's the case, give us a call or contact us on chat and our dedicated customer service professionals will make it right.