What's the Difference between Digital Vinyl and Opaque Vinyl?

Friday, January 22, 2016 9:09 am PST

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Molly Waters, Regional Technical Specialist, Avery Dennison, Graphic Solutions

Do you ever wonder why there are so many different types of vinyls?  If you go to the Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions website you will see that we have two specific lines of media.  One is the Digital line and the other is our Screen & Cut line which includes the Supreme Wrapping films and Conform Chrome series of films. Some of you may be wondering what the difference is, so in this blog post I will give a brief explanation of each and why you would use one over another.

The Screen & Cut line is our oldest product line and dates back to the time when films were only screen printed, thermal transfer printed, or plotter cut.  Within this line, we have our cast opaque, metallic, ultra-metallic and translucent films. We also have intermediate and economy calendered films as well as reflective products. In the last few years, we have added our very popular Supreme Wrapping Film 900 series (SW 900) which is a 3.2 mil cast film designed for color change wraps and the Conform Chrome films, which is a 5.7 mil chrome film material, designed primarily for vehicle accents and is frequently used for wraps.

Around 1996, Avery Dennison started introducing digitally printable films. These films are developed with digital printing in mind.  Our technical team performs extensive testing on these films for printability as well as durability before the films are launched into the commercial graphics industry. Over the years, we have had a few different product lines, including IPM, APM, IPMI and ETM.  Today, the digitally printable line is known as MPI (Multiple Purpose Inkjet) and it is compatible with nearly all of the printer technologies on the market today including solvent, eco solvent, mild solvent, UV/LED cured and most recently latex.  When you use MPI films, Avery Dennison offers a performance guarantee for the print quality of our films. If that performance is not met, you should contact your local Avery Dennison representative to help determine the cause of the issue.

The question often comes up as to whether or not the Screen & Cut line of products can be digitally printed. I think everyone in the industry has tried printing on at least one of these products at one time or another. There have been varying degrees of success on the various product lines. As a vinyl manufacturer, we can only stand behind the products that we have fully tested for digital printing because those films were developed, tested, and manufactured for consistent quality on the digital platforms. The products in the Screen & Cut line may share some attributes such as being a vinyl, which is inherently printable, however we cannot guarantee consistency.

I have seen some pretty creative prints out there and I do not want to discourage anyone’s creativity. I do want to share a word of caution as you approach new projects. Since we do not design these products for printing, we will not have any published guidelines or ICC profiles to help you achieve optimal quality. For this, I recommend you consult with friends or colleagues in the industry who are willing to share their experience and what worked for them. Please keep in mind that while we appreciate the creativity, we cannot guarantee consistency for print quality.

Below are a few examples of printing on some of the SW 900 series films as well as the Silver Conform Chrome by 360 Wraps, of Dallas, Texas.

To learn more about our Graphics Solutions, visit us at: graphics.averydennison.com.

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