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  • Applying Digital Vinyl to MDF panels

    Posted by Dean Brabin 1979 on May 20, 2024 at 10:34 am

    Hi Sign People

    Just a little help is required in confirming…

    Can I apply my digital sign vinyl directly to MDF unpainted panels ??

    Are there any issues with doing so like the glue being absorbed by the panel and the digital vinyl becoming loose or unstuck after X time etc…

    Any help or guidance on this would be greatly appreciated



    Dean Brabin 1979 replied 3 weeks, 2 days ago 4 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • Colin Crabb

    May 20, 2024 at 7:37 pm

    Needs to be at least primed for a good bond, while its possible, I would not recommend it.

    • Dean Brabin 1979

      May 21, 2024 at 11:58 am

      Thanks Colin for the help – Ive sealed the panels before hand

  • RobertLambie

    May 20, 2024 at 10:19 pm

    Hi Dean

    Can it stick? yes.
    Will it last? is anyone’s guess.

    As @Colin-Crabb-1 has said, you would want it to be primed at the very least.
    then maybe a thin gloss coat if possible… even then, once you have it fitted, make sure you apply gradual heat over the surface while rubbing over it firmly with a soft cloth or felt squeegee. the heat and pressure will help promote the bond better.

    MDF is smooth and will allow things to adhere to it.
    But microscopically, it has a fluffy fibre surface. That’s what your vinyl is sticking to.

    The digital vinyl on the other hand, is it, monomeric, polymeric, or cast… then what series and brand of vinyl?
    there are many variables and each one will have different types of adhesive and percentage of shrinkage. Ultimately deciding on how successful the application would be.

    let’s say a polymeric with an air-release adhesive system. right there there is less adhesion to the surface due to the adhesive than one without air release.
    The adhesion is probably around 30% less of a bond and it has been fitted to that fluffy fibre surface, i would say it’s now lost at least another 20% of its optimal bond.
    Now take the shrinkage of the vinyl…
    Monomeric digital is the worst, Polymeric is the average and Cast with the least shrinkage.
    So the vinyl wants to curl/shrink/pull back, and all it has to help prevent this from happening is it’s 30% less grip adhesive trying to bond onto the fluffy fibre surface, so there is another 20% loss.
    Even if using a polymeric, there will be shrinkage of some kind. So I would say that there is at least a 60% more chance of a failure, over time than if it was applied to the likes of a composite board.

    I know you probably guessed most of this anyway, Dean, or you wouldn’t be asking for confirmation, mate. I am just trying to explain it a bit…

    Also, you may hear people say, “wrap it around the edge of the sheet onto the back of the composite” and it won’t shrink. it will still fail. it may take a bit longer to fail but it will. worse still, you would be wrapping around MDF and the edge fibres will prevent any real adhesion happening at all. so it will be touching, but not bonding to the edges.

    untreated MDF, dependent on its environment, will absorb moisture, from the back or sides.

    a similar thing I see occasionally is people wrapping newly filled and sanded vehicle body parts, or unpainted wings of a car or something. the same thing applies, can it be done, yes, should it be done, definitely no.

  • Jeff

    May 21, 2024 at 9:06 am

    i wouldn’t chance it for somthing that was to be on for any more than a month.

    • Dean Brabin 1979

      May 21, 2024 at 11:56 am

      Thanks for the help – Ive sealed the panels before hand

  • Dean Brabin 1979

    May 21, 2024 at 11:57 am

    Wow that’s great help many many thanks

    Thanks for the help – Ive sealed the panels before hand

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