Installation of Cast vinyl in cold weather

Reasons why cold temperature poses a challenge in installing cast vinyl and how to overcome them.

Why does cold weather make Cast vinyl difficult to install?
The winter months and colder temperatures create a multitude of problems for vinyl installers. Therefore it is important that we explain some of the physical characteristics of both the film and the substrate, that are affected by these colder temperatures.
So what are the most common obsticle's encountered during a cold temperature installation?
  1. The vinyl can feel ?stiff? and lose its ability to be easily conformed around curves and into recesses.
  2. The adhesive can lose a great deal of its ?tack? and won?t bond securely to the substrate surface.
  3. The ultimate bond level of the adhesive can take longer to be achieved.
  4. Condensation can form between the vinyl and the substrate, further impairing the bond level of the adhesive.

How can we overcome these effects of cold temperatures?
This is the eternal question that faces all manufacturers of Cast vinyl films. The simple answer is that only by increasing the ambient temperature of the environment, substrate and vinyl, will the film perform as we expect it to.
So how is this achieved?
  1. The ambient temperature of the installation area is recommended to be between 15-36 degrees. Temperatures below 15 degrees cause the film to become ?stiff? or ?brittle?. This is because colder temperatures result in the plasticisers in the film losing their elasticity. It is therefore imperative that the temperature of the environment is increased to the recommended levels. The vinyl will then regain its flexible characteristics. These temperature parameters also apply to the substrate. This may mean receiving the vehicle earlier in order to allow the surface temperature to assimilate with the environment. This will help prevent an occurrence of condensation, which will impair the adhesive bond, and can be achieved using IR heaters or gas heaters placed around the vehicle.
  2. Increasing the substrate temperature will also assist with the bond between vinyl and surface. When the adhesive is cold, it remains hard, therefore losing an amount of its initial tack. Subsequently the ?wetting out? process is unable to occur. (?Wetting out? refers to the effect of squeegee pressure and temperature, relative to the adhesive. Pressure softens the adhesive allowing it to flow, and then starts the process of bonding to a high level. Cold temperatures impair this process significantly, as the adhesive is not effectively activated). Increasing the ?normal? amount of squeegee pressure can also assist in this process during colder weather.
  3. Increasing the substrate, environment and vinyl temperature, will lessen the amount of time required before the film is firmly adhered to the vehicle. There is no shortcut to this process. But by increasing temperature levels as explained above, the vinyl will be soft enough to be manipulated around curves and recesses, and the adhesive will be able to ?wet out? effectively. Post heating the entire vehicle will undoubtedly add time to the installation, but it will also ensure that the vinyl is adhering correctly.