Steaming Off Vinyl Graphics
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Supply 55 BannerPRO, EcoPRO continuous ink supply system, guardian laminators, quickmount


Steaming Off Vinyl Graphics

Fast, efficient and safe removal of applied graphics

By SignIndustry.com Staff

For a sign industry professional, any work with vinyl graphics is most profitable when it is fast, efficient, and safe. This is particularly true when removing applied graphics.

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  • Heat is the traditional method for removing vinyl graphics. Steam heat usually offers the best method. It is an efficient as well as clean source of heat. The person cleaning the vinyl sign is not exposed to toxic chemicals and does not have to use open flames.

    With a steamer and the proper attachments, all the worker needs is plain water, 115-volts of electricity, and a 15-amp circuit.

    The streamer should heat up for approximately 10 minutes. It should produce 94% dry vapor at about 300 degrees. When the vapor hides the work surface, its 200-degree steam softens the vinyl, the adhesive, and the vinyl bond.

    Remember that vinyl graphics are not all the same. Some are more difficult to remove than others. There are UV-resistant digitally-printed graphics, solvent-based graphics, thick films, and thinner films. Digitally-printed graphics put up more of a fight. Thinner films may crack before surrendering. But steam and patience offer the best weapons regardless of the type of vinyl graphics.

    It is best to know what kind of battle you are facing. Experiment with the steamer on a painted, out-of-sight area to get a feel for the coming work. If the steamer is working and the paint is not damaged, workers can fell confident as they attack the job.

    RENOLIT Calendered Vinyl - Top performance for various applications

    Apply the steam heat to the vinyl graphics. After short application (5-10 seconds) at a designated corner, secure a grip of the graphics with a plastic putty knife or other non-scratch tool to get lift. Work the steam, and keep tension on the graphics.

    Try not to rush the process. As the graphics comes loose, pull it slowly at an acute angle (less than 45 degrees). The slow, steady combination of steam and slight angle helps strip the adhesive. The more of the adhesive that comes with the graphics the less work will be needed to go back and remove it.

    Be patient. Slow and steady. The turtle beats the rabbit in graphics removal. Steady, continuous pressure increases the chances that the vinyl graphics will come off in one large piece or in a number of larger pieces.

    The larger the pieces the less time the job will take. It is best that the removal be done all at once.

    If residue remains-it happens to the best of us-you may have to apply a solvent. Again, experiment on a site out of sight before attacking the area where the vinyl graphics was. Let the solvent work for 60-120 seconds, wipe the area down with a squeegee, and clean it off with a clean, dry cloth.

    In no time flat and with no risk to even the most inexperienced sign worker, vinyl graphics can be removed easily. The surface is clean as a whistle and ready for new graphics.

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