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Keep your vinyl warm!

We have all seen wrinkled vinyl on our printers on a cold morning which is an obvious sign that the temperature has affected the roll but there are many more problems caused by temperature such banding, patchy prints, increased dry times and printer damage.

Why is there a problem?

First consider how a roll is packaged. The vinyl is wrapped around a cardboard core, sealed inside a polythene bag which is then placed inside a robust cardboard box to be stored ready for distribution.

Now consider the construction of vinyl. There’s a face film, adhesive layer and a backing sheet or release liner which is a silicon backed paper and as with all papers, once the temperature drops the moisture content of this liner can increase and the face film can become brittle.

The fact that the roll is so well packaged means that once the temperature has been reduced in storage and transit, the vinyl can take a considerable amount of time to acclimatise and reach a working temperature so if cold roll is to be used immediately then it’s very likely that issues will occur.

As soon as cold vinyl hits the warm printing platen it cockles causing peaks and troughs over the print surface. This produces blurring of the print and is a commonly reported issue that presents itself as a long, soft edged patch of print that runs laterally at right angles to the print direction in-line with the gaps in the pinch or friction rollers. Other issues are banding and colour shift over a print as the vinyl as it becomes acclimatised and in the case of the HP latex printer it can mean that a roll is very difficult to load.

As well as causing printing anomalies there is a very real danger of the print head striking the vinyl as it cockles which is likely to damage the head causing alignment issues and/or head failure resulting in a service call-out. Unfortunately damage to the printer caused this way voids the manufacturer’s warranty as this is considered as ‘user error’ and repair bills can easily be in access of £1000.

So what can we do?

Wherever possible always keep a roll in stock and store it without the packaging in the same working area as your printer. If possible keep the printing area warm at all times (manufacturers recommend a minimum of 22 degrees) including overnight and when an emergency does job arise, ensure the roll is unpacked immediately up on delivery and try and give it as much time as possible to acclimatise before printing.


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Time’s a Ticking - 20 July 2018
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