Special Tools for Textured Surface Stadium Wraps
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Special Tools for Rough Surface Stadium Wraps

3M has developed special application tools and methods for use with its 8624 film. The 3M Textured Surface Applicator TSA-1 for large surfaces is critical for achieving proper adhesion. Find out what else is new.

By Jennifer LeClaire

Not just any vinyl application tools will do when it comes to wrapping stadiums. Find out what tools you need in your box to make your stadium jobs a success.

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  • Many stadiums, arenas, restaurants and retail spaces have hundreds of square feet of potential display space that has historically been unusable because it consists of rough textured surfaces such as concrete block, brick, tile, poured concrete or stucco.

    New film from 3M opens the door to new opportunities, and new tools help you apply it.

    Indeed, 3M’s new 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film for Textured Surfaces 8624 with 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 8524 can open up all that unused but valuable real estate in stadiums and venues with similar surfaces.

    3M’s patent-pending conformable graphic solution can be molded to rough surfaces to create crisp, digitally-printed images that inform, promote or generate revenue. In addition to adding visual interest to most textured surfaces, the film permits unlimited images sizes and shapes.

    “We’ve installed thousands of square feet of this vinyl and my mouth still drops open every time I see it go on,” says Gary Lucke, owner of FastSigns in St. Petersburg, Fla. “I wish they had come out with this sooner. It makes stadium wraps so much easier.”

    Adheres to almost anything
    The film adhesive provides excellent adhesion to most indoor and outdoor painted block, brick, stucco, tile or similar surfaces when properly applied, according to 3M. Its colored adhesive also effectively hides the original wall color and may be removed with heat. In addition to this solvent film for inkjet printing, film 8624E is available for electrostatic printing.

    Lucke’s first experience with the film was during a project for a large wall mural. He was charged with covering a concrete wall on Titan Stadium with a 42-foot tall by 42-foot wide mural of quarterback Vince Young. Lucke printed it on 8624 and laminated it. He said lamination is the key.

    “Most vinyl itself isn’t the most amazing thing. The 8624 prints a lot like Controltac. But what’s amazing is the thermal setting laminate you marry with it,” Lucke says. “Have you ever seen plastic melt over something, and when it cools it just stays there? That’s the theory behind this laminate.”

    According to 3M, graphics created with films 8624 and overlaminate 8524 are easy to clean and can be produced in a wide-variety of image options from block color to full photographic reproduction.

    "This revolutionary new solution enables stadium, arena, retail and restaurant management to maximize display and promotional opportunities with consistent, eye-popping images without the limitations associated with paint. Wherever there is a rough wall or surface, there is an opportunity," says Tim Boxeth, 3M product marketing supervisor.

    A closer look at the 8264 series
    The 8264 series are 2-mil removable graphic films designed for either solvent-based piezo inkjet printing or electrostatic printing. When heated and applied with 3M’s application tools and techniques, these films conform to moderately textured surfaces on both flat and curved substrates.

    Films IJ8624 and 8624 ES are durable, high performance cast films with excellent imaging capability, 3M reports. To ensure that these films meet your specific needs, 3M recommends that graphic manufacturers test this film for satisfactory printing, cutting, adhesion and removal characteristics for the intended end uses.

    Expected Performance Life

    • For indoor use, this film lasts longer than two years in most applications.
    • For outdoor use, this film lasts three to six months -- if. That if translates this way: when the film is not used in the freezing and thawing cycles. As a general rule of thumb, graphics perform much longer in dry, temperate environments.

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    Key Factors That Influence Performance Life

    • Installation techniques can also influence the lifetime of the intsallation. Improper installation techniques may result in edge curling, lifting and/or poor adhesion.
    • Adhesion for outdoor graphics is another factor. When testing film adhesion, the film is unlikely to be durable in outdoor applications if it can be easily removed from a textured surface (using a force of <2 pound/lineal inch).
    • Outdoor graphics exposed to water from rain or irrigation systems will see a shorter lifespan. Water can be trapped behind graphics applied outdoors, leading to lifting as well as the creation of mold.
    • Surface temperature is also an important consideration. Textured substrates that reach temperatures in excess of 135 degrees F may exhibit lifting, especially in mortar joints.
    • Texture variation should be observed when calculating the lifetime of an installation. More than 1/8 inch variation in high and low spots of substrate texture and mortar joints, as well as square cut or undercut mortar joints, may exhibit lifting.
    • As mentioned above, freezing and thawing cycles play a key role. For a textured masonry wall that has both an indoor facing side and an outdoor facing side and no effective moisture barrier, moisture vapor transmission occurs naturally when the indoor surface has a room environment that is warmer and moister than the outdoor surface. When a graphic is applied to the outdoor wall and there are cycles of outdoor freezing and thawing, moisture can be trapped between the wall and result in graphic lifting, as well as in spalling both within the wall and on the outdoor facing wall. This kind of damage can be unsightly and costly to repair.
    • Removal is a special consideration as well. Unsound substrates, paint, texture-finished wallboard and textured wallpaper may be damaged when you remove the graphics.
    • Smooth surfaces are the final consideration. Use other appropriate films for adjacent smooth surfaces. This film is designed for rough surfaces.

    Special stadium wrapping application tools
    3M has also developed special application tools and methods for use with its 8624 film. The 3M Textured Surface Applicator TSA-1 for large surfaces is critical for achieving proper adhesion, according to 3M.

    Lucke is testing a new 3M product; a twin handle foam roller. It’s metal and it holds your heat gun for you as you roll the vinyl. It heats it up to about 1200 degrees while you install the graphics.

    You’ll also need tools to do a test before applying the vinyl. 3M testing shows that the following test, which uses a small piece of film, is adequate for judging good adhesion to and appearance on textured surfaces. One of the following applicator tools will be needed for this test.

    • 3M Power Grip Magic Pad Rivet Applicator CMP-1
    • 3M Textured Surface Applicator TSA-1
    • 3M Textured Surface Applicator TSA-3

    Note: Do not attempt this test using a standard squeegee. You will not be successful, 3M warns.
    • Industrial heat gun with an electronic readout, capable of achieving and sustaining 1000 degrees F (537 degrees C).
    • Heat and burn-resistant gloves
    • Film samples

    Piezo Inkjet Printing Only
    Approximately 1 square foot of film IJ8624. The marketing sheet you may have received from your sales representative is made from film IJ8624 and may be used. Five-yard rolls of film IJ8624 are also available.

    Electrostatic Printing Only
    At least a 1 square foot sample of 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film for Textured Surfaces 8624 ES or 3M Controltac Graphic Film 8620 ES.

    Stay tuned for additional articles that will help you wrap stadiums successfully.

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