Hi, I been in the sign writing industry for twenty years and by far the most often ask question regarding signwritng vinyls is: "What is the difference between Calendared, Cask, Monometric and polymeric vinyl?". Here is a simplified answer.
I won't get super technical or overly scientific about the different sign writing vinyls mainly because, I can't. I don't know enough about the subject, but I'll try and keep this as simple as I understand it because I believe most people when asking this question actually want to know "how do I get the cheapest good quality sign writing vinyl?". This should help.
Cast and Calendared sign writing vinyl: This is a difference between how the vinyl is made. Cast and Calendared refer to the process of manufacturing the vinyl Cast vinyl is made by luring the vinyl onto a flatbed and then rolling it. Because it hardens in it's final form, it has less memory and is less likely to shrink. Calendared vinyl is stretched to become flat. Because it is already a bit stretched, if you stretch it some more, it will want to go back. Polymetric and monopetric refer to the plasticisers. Look that word up if you want to know more, but all you really need to know is that they are different types of vinyls. Monoetric and poymetric vinyls can be manufactured using either the cast or the calendared process. So really we have four possibilities:
- Calendered Monometric
- Cast Monometric
- Calendared Polymetric
- Cast Polymetric
So what is the difference? The difference is quite simply quality. To make it simple:
- Cast is better quality than calendared
- Polymetric is better than Monometric.
So if you look at the list of the four main types of signwriting viny above, you can see that the vinyls are listed in order from worst to best quality. How do you choose the best sign writing vinyl? Cast polymeric is the best. It last longer and is more flexible with less shrinkage. It's also easier to weed and apply. My advice to anyone is BUY GOOD VINYL. the largest part of the cost in producing signs is the time spent cutting, weeding and applying the vinyl. The vinyl cost is relatively small even though a difference of 10$ per square meter between the best and the worst might seam like a lot, I recommend you buy the best (I like "10 year" vinyls) and you will benefit from returning happy customers and an easier to use product. In my experience, even if the quote is tight, a reduced margin on materials cost less in the end than a total redo in a couple years because the vinyl fails. One thing to remember is that the latest Calendered Polymetric vinyls are much closer to cast vinyls than they used to be. Many people are happy to use 5-7 year Calendared Polymetric as a standard. I prefer to pay a few bucks extra and know that you customer will always be happy.
Application should be a consideration.
Where you signwritning vinyl is goin to be applied should also be a consideration when chooseing between Cast or Calendared. If your application is almost always going to be on flat surfaces than there may not be much of a difference between cast and calendered. Cast vinyl shines as the better option stretching is needed, like on irruglar substrates (surfaces). The big exception is temporary usage (for exhibitions etc). You customer will be on a tight budget if he/she is going to be throwing out the sign after a trade show. In this case you should talk to you customer and match the vinyl precisely to the length of time they need it to be good for. A buget Calendered Monometric vinyl is almost always used for exhibition work because they rarely last more than a week.
Talkt to you signwriting viny supplier.
Talk to you vinyl supplier about this as there is no rule of thumb as to how long one Cast, Calendared, polymeric or mono metric vinyl will last. The only thing you can say for sure is:
Calendered Monometric is better than: Cast Monometric, which is better than: Calendared Polymetric, which is better than: Cast Polymetric.
When talking to your signwriting supplier is it usually better to concentrate on how long they expect the vinyl will last. Look for a ten year vinyl with minimal shrinkage/colour fade. I doubt anyone will have a calendered vinyl which will last that long, but if they do you might get a better margin on your product.
Hope that helps and if you have anything to add please make a comment: Oh and in answer to the question "how do I get the cheapest good quality sign writing vinyl?". A well made high end Calendared vinyl or a good priced cast vinyl, look specifically for technical specification which tell you about shrinkage, colour fade and longevity and try to get a good value vinyl that will last more than seven to ten years.