If you spend any amount of time in print or wrap industries, you’ll hear about choosing between cast or calendered film. Vinyl film is typically casted or calendered for production — and both methods have their own unique benefits.
Cast films are generally considered the industry premium. For the casting process, vinyl ingredients are blended into a liquid (organosol) with the use of solvent and poured into a casting sheet — which produces a 1 to 2 millimeter thick vinyl layer. After being processed through a series of ovens, you’re left with a solid film.
This manufacturing process makes it easy to change color during production; cast films also maintain their color better than other vinyl films. And since the vinyl is cast without any tension, it has excellent dimensional stability and comes out especially thin. This makes it perfect for fleets, recreational vehicles and boats. It provides a “paint-like finish” and can be skillfully applied to almost any complex curves. It doesn’t shrink and has exceptional durability, generally lasting 5 to 12 years based on care and area conditions.
Calendered films are generally considered intermediate or short-term films. The mixture of ingredients is rolled with heated, steel calendering rolls. This process produces thicker films, 3 to 4 millimeters, which are generally less dimensionally stable and have a slight tendency to shrink when faced with heat.
Because there is no solvent cost, casting “mold” cost and energy cost, calendering is cheaper than other forms of vinyl production. However, durability lasts from one to seven years at most. Their heavier weight makes them more scratch resistant, easier to handle and more resistant to any abrasion. They form well on flat, simple curves and have an incredible variety of colors and gloss levels. They’re preferred for smaller displays that are used infrequently.
Ultimately, everything boils down to the right vinyl. A full vehicle wrap would probably demand cast film. Floor graphics, wall murals and partial wraps are probably more suited to calendered film. Our experts can help you figure out what would work best for you. Contact us here!