Adjust surface energy on vinyl wrap film accordingly

There are many factors to determine whether a vinyl wrap film install is successful. Most people tend to see only the subjective reasons, including things like improper wrapping skills. But sometimes, even objective factors can affect a lot, for example, surface energy on a material.


It is essential for installers to understand the surface energy on different types of vinyl wrap film, especially when they have to put a piece of material on top of a wrap film for decoration or when they have to create overlays.


If the surface energy is too high, there is a risk of tearing or breaking the vinyl wrap film when you pick it up. However, if the surface energy is too low, the film will not be able to stick well enough to the material underneath. So it is crucial for a wrapper to know the situation and adjust accordingly.


Here is an overview of the surface energy for different types of films and how you can raise or lower the energy when it needs:


Generally, gloss vinyl wrap film has the highest surface energy among most types of wrap film. Thus, if you need to put a piece of material on top of it, there is no need to raise or lower the surface energy. It will stick well there.


The material that is with the second-highest surface energy is satin. The third one is matte. Then, the material that has the lowest surface energy should be textured film, including brushed metallic and carbon.


For these films with low surface energy, you will need some preparations to raise the energy before you put material on top of them. Here are several ways you can do:


Apply alcohol

Put a bit of alcohol on a paper towel, wipe over the edge of the film that will be overlapped. The alcohol can help raise the surface energy on the area.


Use adhesive promoter

Put some masking tapes on the edge that is going to get overlapped. Then, add adhesive promoter to that edge. And you can apply the overlaying piece on top when the adhesive promoter is dry. This can help the material stick better on top.


Gloss the area (particularly for matte film)

Put masking tape to the area that will get overlapped, and apply heat (either heat gun or torch) to gloss that area, then put the material on top. This will help raise the surface energy as well.


However, it is risky and tricky whether you use adhesive promoter or heat because it leaves marks if you did not do it right and accidentally hit the area that is not overlapped. Thus, in comparison, alcohol might be the safest way to do it.


Flow the adhesive (particularly for a textured film)

It is not recommended to put material on top of a textured film because of its structure, where some parts are high, and some are low. It is easy to build up moisture and dirt inside if there is an overlap. And this will affect the performance of the film in the long term.


But in some cases, if you have to do it, wipe the area that will be overlapped with alcohol to raise the surface energy before the application. Then, heat the overlapping area to let the adhesive flow into the bottom layer, which helps the material stick better.


As for lowering the surface energy, it is best to put masking tape around the area. You will need it when you are wrapping around sections like window or carrying out an install on a cold day when the material tends to break easily.


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Adjust surface energy on vinyl wrap film accordingly