Q&A: Why is this digital print peeling?

By signcraft

Posted on Sunday, July 2nd, 2023

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Readers want to know: “What’s the cause of this digital print peeling off the ACM panel after being outdoors for just over a year?

“When the customer called to say the sign was peeling, I thought he meant just a corner. I was surprised to see it pulling away badly across the top and sides. My supplier says he uses a quality vinyl. What causes this? Could the solid black print on the background be to blame?”

Find answers from readers below and add your own comments if you can help:

 

 

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Andrew Finn
Andrew Finn
3 months ago

Intermediate grade vinyl, laminate or both. Most likely the laminate

Clint Gerber
Clint Gerber
3 months ago

i would guess laminating too soon after printing. i like to let my prints outgas overnight before laminating.

thomas stade
thomas stade
3 months ago

We have been using Signs 365 for all of our digital prints. We have had several issues with the applications failing – and all within a much shorter window than the materials are lifespaned for. We have had “releases”(peeling) from vehicles, painted MDO Faces, ACM, etc. At first we thought we might have done something wrong in the application, but we do a very clean precise process every time. Then we contacted Signs 365, they said that the lifespan on the materials are an “up to” rating. So if the material says 5yr lifespan, it really means “up to” 5yrs. So, according to that 1yr is covered as legitimate life under their definition. We dont have time to deal with failures too much and hunt them down. But since, we have started implimenting some practices that help. Here are some of them:

1. We always use nitrile gloves when dealing with vinyl prep and application processes. This ensures no body oils are being transfered to the surface or adhesive side of the matrial, which may create a barrier, possibly preventing the vinyl from adhearing properly, or causing other failure points.

2. We try (if at all possible) to design prints in a way that their edges are not right at the material edge. We think it helps a lot to have atleast an 1/8″ inset, so that nature can’t work the edge of the prints up.

3. The other big thing we changed is we only use the highest quality print material they offer (Control Tac). We have had failures mostly on the ij-35c and the other one.

We have also experienced delaminations/peeling of the clear laminant they use over the print from the print its self.

Any way you look at it its a frustrating situation for sure. The suppliers seem to have their butts covered on matters like this. We end up eating the extra costs associated with replacement. Sometimes we can use the excuse that the materials dont always last in every situation, and that we’ve discussed these issues with the manufacturers, and that its not our fault. Sometimes we can get the customer to split the cost of replacement. But its definitly not good for business if we are having to play Russian Roulette with every Print Job.

All comments here may help us all.

Blessings,
Micah Stade
Owner
Moosehead Signs
Greenville, Maine

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Juergen Foerster
Juergen Foerster
3 months ago

Poor prep of the panel might be to blame, southern exposure(UV), heat or dirt build up on the print edge can creep under the vinyl ? Why did the print fail and not the striping ? I don’t think it’s the black color and is it really a “quality” vinyl ? Was the background painted with acrylic paint ? Just a few things that might have done the deed, for what it’s worth.

Tim Bauman
Tim Bauman
2 months ago

A couple factors to consider are whether your supplier laminated the print too quickly after printing and the cleanliness of the ACM. The masking on ACM leaves a residue that is hard to see but needs to be removed to improve adhesion. We use an automotive wax remover/degreaser followed by a good wipe with a lint free towel and 99% alcohol.

Cindy Ziese
Cindy Ziese
2 months ago

I would like to know the vinyl and the laminate that was used…if the laminate was not cast , pulling and rolling would happen. What side of building was it on?

Kathy Gernold
Kathy Gernold
2 months ago

My thought is the black. I also have had issues with it right to the edge peeling. But that was years ago and my vendor used an intermediate vinyl instead of HP. I am still leary of using printed black right to the edge.It’s so heavy with ink.

Brad Getter
Brad Getter
1 month ago

This type of curling is caused by the edge of the vinyl losing its grip on the signboard. It can be from many things, but here are some common ones –

  1. Isopropyl alcohol seeping under the edge of the vinyl at application time.
  2. Not allowing the eco-solvent print to dry (outgas) long enough.
  3. An incompatible clearcoat applied over the vinyl (like a hardened urethane clear over calendered vinyl).
  4. A dissimilar laminate over a different base media (usually calendered laminate over 2mil cast) on ecosol or latex prints
  5. Incomplete or improper curing on UV prints before lamination.

The physics are all the same – two surfaces dont shrink in the same way and the result is a curling force on the adhesive.

I’d put this to the most common issue – likely a calendared vinyl with a heavy hand on the ink limits – the total ink level for most digital work is around 220% of all colors combined. It’s common to see rips print an RGB conversion as 100/100/100/100 CMYK and that’s dumps too much expensive ink onto the media. that greatly increases the solvent load that has to dry out before lamination.

You can get a good black (known as wet black in litho print without this risk by using 40/40/40/100 CMYK or having your rips ink limits properly set. Remember that eco-solvent inks are dry to the touch in a few hours, but the solvents will take up to 21 days to evaporate (per MacTac).

It should be obvious that if you laminate a wet ink layer the solvents in the ink won’t have anywhere to go but into your laminate and base media adhesives. Remember that calendered film is always trying to go back to the big glob of vinyl it was before it was squashed and stretched into a flat roll.

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