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  • An observation about 3M Wrap Vinyl.

    Posted by Simon Worrall on December 10, 2023 at 5:37 pm

    The thing I really like about 3M wrap vinyl is that even coming off the roll it will shrink with heat.

    I find other vinyls don’t do this. They have to be stretched first, THEN they will shrink back to where they started, but not any more than that.
    You can place 3M vinyl over an area, tack around the edges, hit it with heat, and chase out the wrinkles before starting to squeegee it down. This makes wrapping a breeze.
    Avery Supreme, or Arlon Slx, for example, will not do this. They just sit there, take the heat, and do not seem to budge.

    My two cents.

    Robert Lambie replied 4 months ago 2 Members · 1 Reply
  • 1 Reply
  • Robert Lambie

    December 10, 2023 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Simon

    I may be misunderstanding you with what you are meaning, but I think the characteristic of the vinyl you are describing is probably down to the glass beads…

    3M’s adhesive system is called Conctroltac which is a unique system made up of micro-channels in the adhesive that allow the air to be released, but it also has microscopic glass beads on the surface of the adhesive which levitate the adhesive and allows the vinyl to be slid around on the surface of the vehicle much easier until pressure has been applied by your squeegee. Hence, “Controltac”

    So, let’s say you lay a piece of 3M wrap on the bonnet of a car, sticky side down. Apply zero pressure, but hit it with some heat. it will shrink back a bit because there is little to no resistance from the adhesive because it hasn’t made proper contact with the paintwork.
    If you do the same thing with other wrap vinyl, the heat along with the adhesive making full contact with the paintwork will promote the adhesive and basically stick, as you have said.
    This isn’t because they are not shrinking in the same way as the 3M material, it is just the adhesive on the others that is preventing it from shrinking as much as the 3M.

    Please keep in mind that “unstretched vinyl shrinking” is NOT a good sign. But granted, all will shrink a certain amount.

    All vinyls have their pros and cons. Particularly when it comes to wrapping because the film comes under scrutiny when on wrapped vehicles. For instance…

    In the past, 3M wrap films had larger air-release channels in their adhesive system. This could be seen on the surface of the material after being fitted, granted, on close inspection. So they reduced the channel size to eliminate them being seen through the vinyl.
    Personally, I believe it was more about the lack of adhesive when stretched into a recess that the channels were reduced, to combat. Perhaps a bit of both!

    The glass beads used by 3M also created a similar surface issue when the wrap was applied in the cold or to a cool metal body of the vehicle.
    For the bead system to work the way it was intended the beads would sink into the soft adhesive when pressure was applied by the squeegee. however, if cold, the adhesive was stiffer than it should be and would not absorb the beads as easily. This results in raised dots on the surface of the vinyl, due to the beads below. An easy solution, apply it in the right room/surface temperature. But in the real world, that is not always possible. You are blessed with all year-round sun, so I doubt that would ever be an issue for you. 😎
    Also, you will probably have seen the attached 3M wheels. I have heard mixed reasons for their use, my opinion is that they are to compress the beads into the adhesive “within the recessed areas” of vehicles, where maximum adhesion is needed to prevent a failure.

    What I have said above probably reads a little negatively towards this adhesive system, but I do not mean it in that way at all.
    3M films are excellent to work with as well as having a great colour range. 👍
    It is my opinion that wrapping in general has crossed a “material surface quality” threshold that it shouldn’t. If up close under the spotlight surface perfection is expected of the customer, then they should pay for their car to be properly painted.

    Anyway, I am rambling on, as I often do 🤓 🤣

    Thanks for the material feedback post, Simon. It is always good to read each other’s views on things like this, mate. 👍

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