***We’ve changed the names of our permanent and removable products!!***
From here on out, what was previously known as “removable” is now “Premium” and the what was formerly “permanent” is now “Economy!” This is to hopefully clear up some of the confusion about the longevity of the Premium material.
The ultimate question when it comes to our products: “should I use Premium material or save a few bucks and go with the Economy?” Well today we’re going to get into the specifics of each material and what you need to know about your project and our products to help you make the best decision for your situation.
To start things off, it should be said that the terms “removable” and “permanent” may be a little misleading. Just because we call it “removable,” doesn’t mean that it’s any less “permanent” than the permanent material, which is admittedly a little confusing. The “removable” and “permanent” monikers are more applicable to the install process than the life expectancy or “permanence” of the products. Where the removable material can be positioned and repositioned time and time again, the permanent material is essentially stuck once the adhesive hits anything other than it’s backing paper. And that’s why we updated our terminology to “Premium” and “Economy!”
That said, let’s get into the specifics, shall we?
To be honest, the Premium material is more expensive for a reason. In the vinyl industry, our Premium is legitimately some of the best material for automotive wrap applications in the world. We seldom, if ever, recommend the Economy material (especially to first-timers in working with vinyl or to anybody wrapping a vehicle such as a car or truck) to our customers that call in looking for advice.
So what makes the Premium material so much better and worth the extra money? Lots of stuff actually, starting with the manufacturing process over at 3M. For our Premium material we use a cast vinyl from 3M. A cast vinyl is produced by pouring a liquid onto a casting sheet which processes the raw material through a series of ovens, evaporating some of the liquid and leaving behind a film that is cast vinyl. This process allows for much greater “dimensional stability” (basically flexibility or conformability around curves, over rivets or bumps, or into many crevices or corrugations) than our Economy material, which is known as calendered vinyl (more on that later).
But that’s not the end of the advantages of using Premium instead of Economy. Our Premium material features a patented 3M system called “Controltac with Comply Performance.” Microscopic glass beads along the surface of the adhesive prevent premature adhesion, creating a truly pressure activated bond so it doesn’t really grab on until you squeegee it down, pressing the beads into the adhesive and allowing the adhesive full contact with the install surface. This allows you to lightly tack down the vinyl for alignment purposes, and then reposition it in the event that maybe it’s not perfectly straight on the first shot. Once you’ve got it where you want it, you run the squeegee over and it’s stuck. In the event that you happen to get an air bubble behind the vinyl, it’s specially equipped with air-release channels that will allow you to push the bubbles out as you go.
On the other hand, Economy material has none of that, and is a completely different product altogether. The Economy material is what’s known as calendered vinyl. As opposed to cast vinyl which starts as a liquid, calendered vinyl basically starts out as a sort of dough that is passed through a series of rollers to flatten and stretch the material until it’s flat (similar to rolling out dough to make pasta). Because of this, the vinyl tends to have a sort of “memory” and will eventually try to return to its previous state. This feature makes it less than ideal for the complex curves associated with doing a vehicle install as the material, even if properly installed, will have a tendency to release or peel from areas where it has been stretched around corners or into cavities on the surface of your vehicle. (On a side note, many of our competitors use an obsolete, calendered version of the new cast vinyl that we use here at Camoclad; click here for more info on that)
On to the adhesive. Before, I outlined a number of features that make the Premium material so easy to work with. Economy material has none of those features. While the adhesive isn’t necessarily stronger than that of the Premium, it is basically a one shot and stuck kind of deal. When working with a sheet of Economy, you have to be careful to get it right the first time because once the adhesive hits the mounting surface, it is much more difficult to pull it back up without compromising the integrity of the adhesive. Furthermore, there are no air release channels to aid in eliminating air bubbles. You can hide any bubbles to an extent by poking a small hole with a needle at the base of the bubble and then slowly and carefully pushing the air out (you can do this with Premium as well, although the need is much less common), but that’s no substitute for the ease of air release channels in the Premium.
So what exactly do we recommend the Economy material for? Why do we even bother offering it as a product if the Premium is so much better? I like to look at it this way: a fork lift is great for moving stuff around, but you wouldn’t use one to put your dishes away right? Also, people like to have choices and at Camoclad, we understand that. If you have a jon-boat or maybe a deer stand, gun case, tool box or something similar where the camo is more for practical concealment than presentation, go with the Economy and save a few bucks. That trophy buck isn’t going to care if the camo on your deer stand has a bubble here and there, so if a perfect install isn’t on your priority list then go for the Economy. If you’re working with a surface that’s largely flat and unimpeded (such as your beer fridge or duck boat), go with the Economy. If you’re camo wrapping your truck, go with Premium!
Well I hope this has been helpful in making your decision on whether you need Premium or Economy material for your project. As a basic rule, we almost always recommend going with Premium in virtually any scenario. However, if you have questions that are specific to your project, as always feel free to give us a call! Our staff is here to help answer any questions you might have and our in-house install guy, John, is more than willing to give you any pointers or advice on getting our products installed.