Within the vinyl industry, cast film has long been associated with quality, whilst calendered film was a budget option – the choice for those who didn’t have much money to spend. However this view is rather short sighted, failing to take into account any of the other aspects about calendered and cast film. In many ways calendered film has been left with a reputation for poor quality; however what is the truth behind this assumption?
Part of this reputation that calendered film has for being of a lesser quality came from the fact that historically the sign making industry would use film on signs, and for this purpose at the time cast film was better. The cast film provided a high gloss finish, it was thinner and easier to handle meaning that was also less risk of shrinkage. Over time this amounts to good durability. The finish tended to be more satin or even matt, so for the purposes of making signs cast film was definitely the better choice.
However this view has become somewhat outdated.
So many advancements have taken place in the film and vinyl making industry, with new technologies changing entirely the way the film is made. Add to this the fact that developments have also occurred in the manufacturing process of self adhesives, and you will discover that there are no longer so many differences between cast and calendered film.
What many people don’t realize is that the terms ‘cast’ and ‘calendered’ are simply the process in which that film has not been made, however they do not have any relevance to the quality of the ingredients used, which can be similar for both processes, nor does it say anything about the skill of the manufacturer who made the plastic.
Today there are measures in place that limit the amount of shrinkage you can expect from calendered film, significantly reducing it and making it much more competitive with cast film. The ingredients used are specifically added with this in mind. Combine this with a better choice in the adhesive used and the way the film has been handled during production and you are looking at a very different set of results as pertains to the performance of the vinyl.
What this means is that the difference between the quality of cast and calendered film today is actually small, and in some cases calendered film can actually be of better quality than cast! Then of course there is a difference in quality between brands. This applies whether you are looking at cast or calendered film. The adhesive used really does make a big difference to the performance of the vinyl, with a good quality adhesive ensuring less shrinkage and offering a product that will last for longer.
So in today’s climate, considering the advanced methods of production, alongside the new ingredients used, and the developments in adhesives, cast and calendered can only be thought of as the way the film is made, rather than an indicator of quality. With calendered film now offering the same or better durability, finish and appearance as many cast films, the only remaining factor is the cost. Due to the outdated stigma still attached to calendered film, cast film is usually about twice the price. However, with higher quality calendered vinyl hitting the markets, more economical cast vinyl will become available. With this in mind an educated consumer can save a lot of money without sacrificing on quality.