Vehicle graphics have been a popular choice for business advertising for many years. And for years, the most widely-used calendered vinyl for vehicle graphics was Oracal 651.* That is no longer the case.

Orafol 651 is still valuable when it is used for the right projects. It is a high-quality vinyl highly rated for outdoor signs, marketing, crafts, and decorations. It conveniently comes in both rolls and sheets, so you can purchase the right amount for each project.

Yes, calendered vinyl outperformed the competition of its time. However, even then it had its limitations, including conformability and durability. Today, many installers still prefer and use Orafol 651, but times have changed, and so have processes.

Cast vinyl is now the proven best choice for vehicle graphics. Why do we say that? First let's briefly explore the differences in the two types of vinyl.

Cast vs Calendered Applications

Of course, both cast and calendered vinyl have their unique assets, and they both have their unique differences. Each has a place in a signmaking business. Let's get a brief overview so you can choose the best vinyl for every project. This is especially important when it comes to vehicle graphics, which require a more lasting and conforming vinyl.

Cast vinyl is more resistant to weather elements such as sun, rain, and wind. Though it incurs a higher initial cost, it's worth it! This film's durability makes it more suitable than calendered film for long-term applications. That includes permanent signage and vehicle and fleet graphics.

Calendered vinyl has the tendency to shrink over time. This makes it less resistant to weather and outdoor elements. Calendered is less expensive than cast vinyl, which may be considered its main asset for some sign makers. There is a shrinkage factor, so calendered vinyl is more suitable for banners and short-term signage than it is for vehicle graphics.

What is the BEST Vinyl for Vehicle Graphics?

Some old pros might be shocked to learn calendered vinyl is no longer recommended for vehicles. But why the change? Calendered vinyl has limitations, and businesses offering vehicle wrapping are no longer happy with the long-term, and even short-term, results of calendered vinyl for their vehicle graphic projects.

Calendered vinyl (such as Orafol 651 and EnduraGLOSS or EnduraMATTE) typically lasts up to 6 years. Exposure to the elements can decrease that lifespan and cause fading, shrinking, or peeling. This can affect repeat business -- no customer is happy when their six-year graphic shows signs of age at a much earlier time.

There is an easy solution! Using cast vinyls like Orafol 751 and Orafol 951 provides the best choice for long-term graphic integrity. These cast vinyls are highly recommended for vehicle graphics due to their durability, dimensional stability, and conformability.


Calendered vinyl cracking and peeling on a vehicle graphicCalendered vinyl used for text on a vehicle showing cracking and peeling

Calendered vinyl used on a vehicle graphic that is inconsistently fading
 Inconsistent fading on a vehicle where calendered vinyl was used

Calendered vinyl on a vehicle windshield that is cracking and peelingA windshield graphic where calendar vinyl was used is showing premature aging and cracking

    Outdoor Durability

    Cast vinyl lettering on a small vehicle
    Cast vinyl used for lettering on a vehicle conforms to curves and the durability cannot be beat


    Cast vinyls have a longer outdoor durability than calendered vinyls. For example, consider the different in the durability of two of of Oracal's cast vinyls when compared to calendered vinyl.

    • Orafol 751 - rated for up to 8 years of outdoor durability.
    • Orafol 951 - rated for 10 years years of outdoor durability.

    In contrast, calendered vinyl like Orfafol 651 is only rated for up to 6 years of outdoor durability. Unlike Orafol cast vinyls, it is not recommended for use on vehicles.

    Dimensional Stability

    One asset of cast vinyls is that they do not tend to shrink or lose their shape like calendered vinyls. They also have excellent dimensional stability.

    Is that a big deal? Yes! That means the graphics you put on a vehicle will maintain their chosen shape and are very unlikely to shrink, crack, or peel. This increases the value of your vehicle wrap service, as it maintains the integrity of the graphics long after you have applied them.

    In contrast, calendered vinyl will shrink over time with heat and exposure to the elements. For example, black vehicles trap and amplify heat that essentially cooks the vinyl. Heat from the engine will do the same to hood decals.

    Cast viny used for lettering on a work vehicle
    Cast vinyl used for vehicle graphics makes a beautiful and lasting impression


    Conformability. One of the major advantages of cast vinyl over calendered vinyl when using it on vehicles is its conformability.

    • Cast vinyl - made to conform to compound curves. That makes it the perfect choice for use on vehicles with a lot of curves. And for those unusual signs outdoor signs that have angles and curves.
    • Calendered vinyl - does have the ability to conform to simple curves. However, it does not perform well or last when applied to compound curves that make up the surface of a vehicle.

    Learn more about why calendered vinyl's outdoor durability lifespan is cut in half when applied to an angled surface!

      You can find out even more about the differences in cast and calendered vinyl in this video from ORAFOL's This vs That series.

      Additional Advantages of Cast Vinyl

      As you have seen, there are many advantages of using cast over calendered vinyl when applying vehicle graphics. It's assets are also true when used for long-term outdoor signage.

      Cast vinyl keeps your vehicle graphics or wrap looking great from initial application to many years to come. Most importantly, it will leave your customers feeling more pleased with the results. This helps maintain your reputation as a professional, creates repeat business, and stimulates word-of-mouth recommendations.

      Conclusive Evidence

      In the vinyl competition for which is better for applying lasting vehicle graphics, cast vinyl comes out on top. To get beautiful vehicle graphics that will not fade or shrink, cast vinyl is the best option. 

      Cast vinyl lasts longer than calendered vinyls in harsh outdoor environments without fading, shrinking, or peeling. They outperform in conforming to all of the curves and angles of a vehicle.

      Calendared vinyl just cannot compete with cast vinyl for a stunning finished product your customers will enjoy for many years.

      Calendered vinyls have their place in sign making, but cast vinyls are the proven choice for vehicle graphics.

      *Oracal vinyls have changed their name to Orafol vinyls