Fast forward to fast food

Drytac explains how products imbued with antimicrobial technology can help fast food outlets protect surfaces from bacteria, fungi and mould in between cleaning.

Authored by Shaun Holdom, Global Product Manager, Drytac.

With the food, beverages and hospitality sectors having been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, Drytac has sounded out how its Protac AMP antimicrobial protection film can help restaurants reopen as the world begins to edge back towards normality.

Covid-19 restrictions meant many fast food restaurants and eateries were forced to close for large parts of 2020, costing them millions in lost income and resulting in many staff losing their jobs. However, with the pandemic now starting to subside, and vaccination roll-outs ongoing, restaurants are looking forward to welcoming visitors back through their doors.

While this reopening is fantastic news for restaurants and other catering venues, they will still face a number of strict social distancing and safety measures before they are allowed to get back to business.

Thankfully, there are products on the market that help businesses adhere to these strict requirements by protecting surfaces from bacteria, fungi and mould, in between cleaning.

One such solution is Drytac’s Protac AMP antimicrobial protection film. This flexible, self-adhesive product can be easily applied to a wide range of high-touch surfaces – including counters, door plates, touch screens and tables – helping to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and microbes.

Protac AMP features Microban® antimicrobial protection, meaning when harmful microbes meet Microban reservoirs in the film, the cell walls of the microbes are disrupted and they are unable to reproduce, which significantly reduces the risk of any spreading.

Aside from the stand-out benefits of helping cut the risk of bacteria on surfaces, Protac AMP film also ensures that they are protected from stains, odours and premature degradation caused by bacterial growth.

Such is the strength of Drytac Protac AMP with Microban technology that the film will help protect against other bacteria in the long-term, including those that cause the most issues for restaurants such as E. coli and Salmonella.

At a time when restaurants and other venues need all the help they can get to reopen without putting the health and safety of their staff and customers at risk, Drytac Protac AMP offers a cost-effective and highly reliable solution for hospitality businesses of all sizes.

For more information on Drytac Protac AMP antimicrobial protection film, please click here.

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Roland DGA: Types of inks for digital printing

Understanding how print media and ink technology work is key

The media that Drytac manufactures is part of a larger solution; before any graphics application can be delivered, it needs to be printed and finished.

Understanding how materials work with specific print and ink technologies is a key foundation of the company’s product development.

Drytac maintains a close relationship with hardware and ink manufacturers to ensure its products achieve the best results. As part of this close collaboration, Drytac has launched a series of ink blogs written by some of these leading businesses.

In the brief blog that follows, Lily Hunter (above) from Roland DGA explains a bit more about the types of inks for digital printing.

Types of inks for digital printing

Authored by Lily Hunter, Roland DGA Product Manager, Textiles, eCommerce and Supplies

My kids love visiting Roland DGA headquarters to see all the different types of printers and the cool things our inkjets can produce. They typically ask me to print on a variety of things, ranging from banners and stickers to clothing and backpacks. While they know that there are different printers for different types of print jobs, they’re still too young to understand the differences between an eco-solvent, UV or dye-sublimation model. In their minds, all I need to do is put an object into whichever printer I choose, and it will magically come out with their customised design printed on it! When I try to educate them, I get blank stares… followed by a request to custom print another item.

I’ve spoken to a variety of people at trade shows, and even friends, who are interested in learning more about digital printing. Whenever I do so, I break it down to the types of inks and what they’re used for. This helps match the application to the best print technology. For Roland DGA printers, here’s a quick breakdown of ink characteristics.

Eco-Solvent

Mild solvent is the carrier liquid for the pigments. During the printing process, the solvent ‘bites’ into the media and deposits the ink pigments. The heat from the printer platen evaporates the solvent, leaving the output vibrant and dry. These are extremely versatile inks that can be printed onto a variety of media, like decals, posters, signage, canvas and heat transfer paper, allowing for many different types of applications.

UV

Again, mild solvent is the carrier liquid for the pigments. The UV inks lie on the surface of the media or blank, before a UV lamp goes over the printed area to cure or dry the inks. You’re able to build up the ink layer and create a variety of textures on either rolled material or flat material. The output is dry and can have a glossy, satin or matte finish, depending upon the UV lamp and curing process. This printing technology is good for signage, promotional products and even fine art.

Dye Sublimation

Water is the carrier liquid for dyes in this process. You print onto a transfer paper, the output mirrored and looking dull and unimpressive at this stage. Sublimation takes place at the heat press, where the inks are transferred from the paper onto a polyester fabric or polyester-coated rigid substrate. At 400°F (204°C), the solid inks from the paper turn into gas and penetrate the polyester – this is when the colours bloom and become vibrant. Dye sublimation is ideal for textiles such as apparel or soft signage, but it’s also used for promotional items, décor and metal photo panels.

Pigment

This type of ink, where water is the carrier liquid for the pigments, is used in Roland DGA‘s compact direct-to-garment (DTG) printer, the VersaSTUDIO BT-12. Just like with UV, the inks lie on top of the surface of the fabric, typically cotton-based products. Colours are vibrant, but the inks still need to be cured, which is done on the heat press. Unlike dye sublimation, the inks do not penetrate the fibres, but are cured on the surface.

To learn more about Roland DGA inks, printers, and applications, visit https://www.rolanddga.com/

About the author: Lily Hunter currently serves as Product Manager, Textiles and Consumable Supplies for Irvine, California-based Roland DGA, where she manages Roland’s textile and dye-sublimation printer portfolio, as well as the company’s media product line. Prior to joining Roland DGA in 2013, Hunter held various sales support and product management positions over a 14-year period with Arlon Graphics.

About Drytac ICC Profiles:

Drytac understands that media profiling is key to the success of any of its products; having access to thousands of profiles for materials on a wide range of different printers is paramount. By working in tandem with hardware manufacturers, Drytac creates easy access to profiles.

Drytac also has the in-house capability to provide custom profiles as required for its customers for any specialist application, to maximise the colour output. More information can be found here.

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Fujifilm: How to formulate ink adhesion

Understanding how print media and ink technology work is key

The media that Drytac manufactures is part of a larger solution; before any graphics application can be delivered, it needs to be printed and finished.

Understanding how materials work with specific print and ink technologies is a key foundation of the company’s product development.

Drytac maintains a close relationship with hardware and ink manufactures to ensure its products achieve the best results. As part of this close collaboration, Drytac has launched a series of ink blogs written by some of these leading businesses.

In the brief blog that follows, Andrew Berritt (right) from Fujifilm explains a bit more about ink adhesion.

How to formulate ink adhesion

Authored by Andrew Berritt, Marketing Manager at Fujifilm.

To formulate ink adhesion, we should first look at surface tension and energy. The first step is the initial interaction between ink and media, which is driven by the ink’s surface tension and the surface energy of the media. In general terms, the ink needs to have a lower surface tension than the energy of the media to be able to ‘wet’ the substrate. Without this, the ink would reticulate and mottle – basically the effect you’d see with water on glass.

On the other side of the spectrum is if the surface tension is ‘too low’ versus the energy of the media, which would cause the ink to spread too greatly. In this case you would see a lot of bleed and lose definition. This balance is how you can maximise clarity and drop spread before curing the ink.

 

The second phase is adhesion. Now the ink is on the media, how it ‘sticks’ and can be designed to stick varies dependent on the media. If we take PVC, the media can be chemically altered by the ink to create swelling and penetration into the surface (how solvent inks always work).

This is your ideal form of adhesion as the ink film becomes an integral part of the media. This isn’t possible with inert surfaces such as polypropylene and polystyrene so other technologies need to be adopted. You can improve the surface wetting, reduce polymerisation shrinkage to maintain the touch points and also match up the polarity in the inks so they attract one another from a polar perspective.

About Drytac ICC Profiles:

Drytac understands that media profiling is key to the success of any of its products; having access to thousands of profiles for materials on a wide range of different printers is paramount. By working in tandem with hardware manufacturers, Drytac creates easy access to profiles.

Drytac also has the in-house capability to provide custom profiles as required for its customers for any specialist application, to maximise the colour output. More information can be found here.

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Not all antimicrobial coatings and products are created equal

The pandemic has led to a rise in the use of anti-bacterial and antimicrobial products. However, users need to choose carefully in order to achieve maximum protection.

Authored by Shaun Holdom, Global Product Manager at Drytac

The global pandemic has changed our world and society in significant ways. COVID-19 has drastically changed our perception of hygiene and cleanliness, spurring the development of films and coatings with antimicrobial performance.

Previously, these coatings and products struggled to find widespread adoption due to difficulties in qualifying their effectiveness on human health and justifying any additional costs. However, the pandemic has drawn attention to measures that can provide additional protection and reassurance to the general public and this has created a new need for antimicrobial surface protection.

It should be noted, however, not all antimicrobial coatings and products are created equal. Some are only effective against bacteria (antibacterial) while some are effective against a wider range of microbes – such as algae and fungus – offering antimicrobial protection. However, this performance does not necessarily protect against viruses, so users need to choose carefully.

When considering products for use as a preventative measure and increasing hygiene performance, it is important to understand the limitations of the three main antimicrobial technologies: zinc, silver and copper. All can provide protection against bacteria, but only some can offer antimicrobial protection.  As damage or cuts on the film can harbour bacteria, it is important for the additive to be imbued in the film rather than in a top-coating which can be easily scuffed, scratched and worn.

Perhaps most important when seeking out antimicrobial protection is to be extremely wary of some of the claims currently being made in the marketplace. New disinfectant and additives used within antimicrobial solutions MUST have ECHA (European Chemicals Agency), EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval to make valid effectiveness claims; all biocides and pesticides have to be registered.

All governments promote a test, test, test attitude when it comes to infection control and protection films are no different. Third-party testing needs to be done to determine any effectiveness on any microbial activity. This simply cannot be a one-off; these need to be part of the quality control and batch-to batch-testing of the product to ensure the desired performance for all locations.

Where products claim to have effectiveness against viruses they must be registered as a virucide. A simple ISO 21702 Coronavirus test on one viral strain such as FCoV (feline coronavirus) or 229E (Human Coronavirus) does not qualify something to be anti-viral or effective for other strains/diseases, like COVID-19.

In addition, the claims of the effectiveness and protection of the product cannot extend outside of the classification of the product itself. This means that any marketing information surrounding potential health benefits are a no-no: they can lead to Advertising Standards Authority investigations and create public confusion.

There is no doubt that there will be major growth over the coming years in the requirement for antimicrobial technologies within many market sectors including medical, healthcare and general public spaces. This means that marketing and product information needs to be clear, concise and most importantly factual.  

Drytac is the manufacturer of Protac AMP Film.

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Don’t stand still: floor graphics certifications explained

UL 410 is the slip rating used on many floor graphics products – but it’s basically a test for standing still. George Sotter, President of Safety Direct America, explains the alternatives.

Authored by George Sotter, President of Safety Direct America

When choosing floor graphics materials, it is essential they are suitable and safe for their intended environment. Products must adhere well to the floor surface for the desired duration of the project without curling at the edges and have a non-slip surface to prevent accidents. In the USA, UL 410 is the most commonly used certification for floor graphics products – but there are other tests and ratings that are more suitable for modern use.

UL 410

The UL 410 standard rates various materials and surfaces as ‘slip resistant’. They are tested for their static coefficient of friction (COF), which is the measure of how slippery a floor is when someone is standing still on it. This figure, therefore, is irrelevant for any occasion when a pedestrian is walking across it – which is, naturally, when slip resistance is most important.

The laboratory-only test method for UL 410 is also somewhat out of date. It was devised roughly 80 years ago to test the floor waxes of the day, which are no longer used, having since been replaced by plastic coatings or floor finishes. It is also seldom used to evaluate hard flooring such as ceramic tile or natural stone. Unfortunately, it has often been applied in this way, indicating that the floor complies with a safety standard when in fact it does not.

Should litigation occur requiring a test of a floor graphic, it would be impractical to use UL 410 because it requires a separate test piece that can be put in a laboratory machine. Passing UL 410 therefore might not help the property operator. Perhaps more importantly, relying on a UL 410 rating to assure users of slip resistance could pose an inadvertent injury risk.

ANSI A137.1/A326.3

ANSI ratings are an alternative to UL 410 and are increasingly used by floor graphics media manufacturers. The ANSI specifies a minimum dynamic COF, wet or dry, of 0.42 for safety. The test uses a hard rubber slider to simulate the heel of a dress shoe. However, in addition to meeting this threshold, the user must consider six other factors: “type of use, traffic, expected contaminants, expected maintenance, expected wear, and manufacturers’ guidelines and recommendations.”

ASTM E303

The ASTM E303 test uses the pendulum skid tester and a soft rubber slider that simulates soft-soled footwear such as athletic shoes and boat shoes as well as bare feet. Normally in the pendulum test, a standard hard rubber slider is used to simulate the bottoms of dress shoes, including high heels.

This test has been in use since 1971 and is now a national standard in at least 50 nations. In addition, it has safety standards for many different situations that have been in use since being established in 1999. These standards happen to be in the UK (BS 7976) and Europe (EN 13036), but they apply equally well in other countries.

A big thank you to George Sotter from Safety Direct America for providing an insight into various slip-ratings and how to choose the correct slip rated media for safe floor graphics.  To learn more about Safety Direct America, please visit: https://safetydirectamerica.com/.

Here at Drytac, we work to certify our products to make your life easier. The last thing anyone wants right now is to create a safety risk. Please see a list of products below that comply with the ANSI A137.1/A326.3 and ASTM E303 standards.

Drytac ANSI A137.1/A326.3 Slip-Rated Products

Drytac ASTM E303 Slip-Rated Products


Drytac is here to help.

We offer the correct ratings and insurance backed warranties to make your life easier. With hundreds of certifications on our print media and laminates we’d be happy to help you plan your next project.

Download the Drytac Floor Graphic Guides to help you select the proper floor material and navigate various environments.


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Protecting surfaces with antibacterial and antimicrobial technology

Drytac Antimicrobial Film

Drytac explains how new products imbued with antimicrobial technology can help protect surfaces from bacteria, fungi and mould in between cleaning.

Authored by Shaun Holdom, Global Product Manager, Drytac.

Keeping surfaces clean has never been more important. Doors, keypads, counters, tables – anywhere that people touch ­– must be cleaned regularly. Now there are some new products available that provide additional protection from within.

Microorganism-Fighting Technology

These products are imbued with microorganism-fighting technology during the manufacturing process, so it becomes part of the material’s physical structure and will not wash off or wear away. When bacteria contaminate the surface of the film – from human contact, environmental conditions or simply lack of cleaning – this technology helps inhibit bacterial growth. While not a replacement for regular cleaning, the treatment boosts the cleanliness of the surface in between cleanings.

Antibacterial vs Antimicrobial

There are two types of product to choose from: antibacterial and antimicrobial. Antibacterial films will protect only against bacteria, while antimicrobial films are effective against bacteria, plus fungi including mould, algae and mildew. The different effects depend on the chemistry – typically copper, silver or zinc.

Copper, Silver or Zinc Additives

The ions in copper prevent cell respiration and damage the bacterial cell membrane or viral coat to destroy it. Positively charged silver ions target and kill bacteria, fungi and certain viruses through several different means. Zinc-based additives, are broad spectrum antimicrobials, making them effective against many microorganisms including bacteria and fungi. The broader spectrum performance of antimicrobial substances makes them suitable for use in all environments.

Silver based technology can migrate out of the film and may become ineffective over 3-5 years.  Zinc based technology is designed to lock into the film and to protect the surface typically up to 15 years.

15 Years of Protection with Drytac Protac AMP Surface Protection Film

PRINTING United 2020 Product of the Year winner, Drytac Protac AMP Film is a 150μ (6 mil) textured polyester film incorporating Microban® technology, that provides antimicrobial surface protection. When microbes meet the Microban reservoirs in the film, the cell wall of the microbes is disrupted – resulting in 24/7 protection for up to 15 years, even if the film is cut. Protac AMP uses an organic zinc technology, providing the wide spectrum of protection most beneficial to sensitive environments. Every batch of Protac AMP is tested for antimicrobial performance providing the utmost confidence and peace of mind for any application. It also achieves up to 15 years’ adhesive durability indoors and 5 years’ outdoors and has so far been used on drinks machines, tray tables on aircraft, and in schools and healthcare facilities.

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One film does not fit all – Why specialist products can pay off

A multi-purpose graphics film could seem like a good deal, but you may end up spending more money and time than you bargained for. Jerry Hill from Drytac explains why.

Authored by Jerry Hill, Vice President of Sales, USA, Drytac

The term ‘multi-purpose’ sounds great. One product for different applications, helping your business keep costs low and stock keeping units (SKU) simple – what’s not to like? However, in reality, that smart multi-functional product will be better for some jobs than others, in terms of appearance, performance, cost efficiency and longevity. This might seem like an acceptable balance, but some products claiming to be effective across multiple applications might do well for some jobs but perform downright poorly for others.

This is especially important when choosing graphics media. The type of product, and particularly its adhesive element, should be dictated by the application’s environment and required longevity. A multi-use product might perform well for a few weeks but may cause problems if left in place for months, after which the adhesive will fail. In the case of floor graphics, curling edges would pose a safety risk aside from looking unsightly. Conversely, the product may be designed for long-term or permanent use when the application is short-term. If so, you will spend more time and money removing it than you expected.

Naturally, the cost to your business – in money and time – is the big factor. Nobody likes paying more or taking longer to get results. It’s therefore understandable to look at the price and ease of use of graphics media developed for indoor applications and hope it will work just as well for outdoor graphics, for example. However, in this case, the indoor product will lack the weatherproof adhesives specifically engineered for exterior use, meaning it may simply fail. A specialist outdoor product would cost more but will offer peace of mind that results will last. Again, the reverse can be true: one product could be priced correctly for floors and the specialist adhesive this application requires but overpriced for walls where this adhesive would be too aggressive.

Indeed, even for indoor applications, the product must be compatible with the intended surface. In addition to remaining safely in place, it should be cleanly and easily removed at the end of the project. Products that are designed for high-tack applications such as brick can also work on windows, but be aware: apply it to drywall or plasterboard and it may never come off without pulling the wall surface away with it.

Alongside its suitability to do a job, consider the aesthetics of the product. There is a fantastic variety of textures and finishes available for graphics – why restrict yourself to a matte finish when you could choose glossy, or even sand, linen, canvas or woodgrain effect?

If you’re still leaning towards a product marketed as multi-purpose, consider a loaf of sliced bread. Perfect for toast in the morning, but how about as a hot dog bun? You could use it, but why would you want to? It completely changes the experience. That sliced loaf might be ideal for the kids’ packed lunches, but would you serve it at a dinner party? What if you or your guests have a gluten intolerance, or you simply want to serve something more special with your soup? One product might seem to tick all the boxes, but in reality it needs more thought. For a graphics application, just like in a bakery, the best thing since sliced bread might be a lot more sophisticated.

Here at Drytac, we have solutions designed for specific applications. You can view our solutions here! Please reach out to a team member if you have any questions.

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Combat silvering to create gold-star work

Silvering can be a problem for photography and fine art, but one that can be solved. Drytac’s Gilbert Espinosa explains how to eliminate these silvery lines.

Authored by Gilbert Espinosa, Territory Manager for West Coast Region, Drytac

Silvering is a common issue that occurs when laminating a printed job. It’s caused by tiny bubbles of air getting trapped under the lamination, creating the appearance of hazy or silver reflective lines. It may go unseen on lighter media or light-colored printed areas, but can be far more obvious on darker colored or black images. In the photography and fine art sectors, silvering can be a problem – but one that can be solved.

First, it’s important to identify the cause of silvering. Not applying appropriate roller pressure, laminating too fast or using a media with an uneven surface – for instance paper with fibres or other media with a coarse or slightly coarse surface – may result in these silvery lines.

Silvering may also occur following wet out, the process of adhesives flowing out over the media and ink, which takes about twelve to 24 hours. Eco-solvent inks generally lay down smoothly on the surface of the media, so when the adhesive wets out it fills the area fairly evenly. UV inks, by comparison, lay down significantly less evenly, so when the adhesive flows out there are uneven areas or surfaces that are not covered with adhesive, potentially altering the graphic’s appearance.

If you are a user of UV inks, it is possible to avoid the issue of silvering by using an overlaminate product with a heavier than standard coat weight, as its adhesive can fill in the areas of uneven inks. This is especially true if the media is also uneven, such as a canvas or fibre-based product. Another factor can be the type of adhesive; softer adhesives flow out better and cover uneven areas better than harder adhesives.

Sometimes adhesion onto UV inks is an issue. Performing tests on UV inks for adhesion, peeling and silvering is recommended with a selection of different media and laminate products. It may well be possible to achieve an excellent finish by changing the combination of products rather than having to invest in another new type of ink chemistry.

If silvering is still an issue, one solution is using a matte overlaminate. The silvering is still there but is more difficult to see thanks to the matte finish; a glossy product would be more eye-catching. Drytac Protac Anti-Scratch Matte is a monomeric calendared PVC laminating film with an anti-scratch matte finish, which is coated on one side with a high-coat weight adhesive. It’s ideal for laminating over UV inks as well as eco-solvent and latex prints. Protac Anti-Scratch Matte is part of Drytac’s outstanding fine art and photography overlaminate range, which also includes Protac High Gloss and Protac High Gloss HD. In the UK and Europe, a line of high coat weight films are available, ideal for UV printed output. They include, Protac Glossy HCW UV, Protac Anti-Scratch Matte HCW UV and Protac Anti-Graffiti UV HCW. Drytac’s Interlam Pro Pressure Sensitive Overlaminating Films add depth and detail to a variety of flexible media substrates while simultaneously preventing the occurrence of silvering during lamination. There are many other options on the market that can add an incredible finish to graphics – take a look to see which is best for you.

Please reach out to one of our Drytac experts and we’d be happy to help you find the proper solution for your application.

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Why release liner quality is essential for great graphics

Drytac explains why high-quality release liners are crucial to easy printing and installation.

Authored by D’Arcy Lewis, Technical Sales Manager, at Drytac.

When installing self-adhesive graphics, the last thing you probably think about is the remnants you throw away. However, the quality of these remnants – better known as release liners – can make a significant difference to the printing and installation process of a graphic, and the end result.

Release liners are a critical feature of self-adhesive print media. They are a key component for the delivery of the product and the application performance, but as they are ultimately disposed of they are often perceived as being of low value. That couldn’t be further from the truth. By spending just a few more pence or cents on a graphics solution with a high-quality release liner you can save yourself a lot of hassle, time and – ultimately – money.

Typically paper-based (although they can be made of Polyester/Polypropylene), release liners are usually applied during the manufacturing process of print media, including films made from PVC, polyester, polypropylene and synthetic paper. Coated on one or both sides with a release agent, they are used to prevent the sticky surface of a substrate from adhering prematurely or to the wrong surface.

Reduce printer head strikes

There are a number of key aspects of release liners that can affect their compatibility for a job. For example, some printers use extreme heat which can shock cheaper liners, potentially causing cockling or head strikes. Using a higher-quality PE-coated liner will help the material lie flat during the printing cycle.

Stablise thin materials

A thicker release liner is also required to stabilise thin materials during printing. For instance, a 50-micron/2 mil polyester would normally be too delicate, but the correct release liner enables their use.

Help machines see optically clear materials

In addition, optically clear materials require an opaque or white liner so machines can see the materials and print on them.

Stability during cutting

A good liner will also add stability during cutting, especially on integrated printer/cutters where the material is gripped by pinch rollers. These machines truly whizz the material around, so the liner has to grip to give accurate cut lines.

Heavier release liners will help graphics lay flat and easier to install

The weight will also influence installation; a heavier release liner will help the graphics lay flat to ensure a much easier installation process. Air release liners have added technology to make materials easy to use: tiny channels which enable air to flow and not get trapped between the material and surface, which would otherwise create bubbles. Standard PVC is not porous so this release paper technology makes graphics materials, particularly those used in vehicle wrapping, more forgiving.

Moisture stable liners help media lay flat

Paper absorbs and disperses moisture from the air, always trying to achieve a balance. This constant change, due to the environment, can cause lay-flat challenges. Moisture stable release papers overcome this challenge. They are coated on both sides with polyethylene which inhibits the absorption of moisture and eliminates changes in the paper’s profile. The paper is then siliconized on the adhesive receptive side.

Eliminate tunnelling

All Drytac’s products with release liners are designed to tick every box for higher quality. Only dimensionally stable base papers are used, with two-sided PE coating for moisture stability. Silicone, adhesive and paper chemistries are specially formulated to eliminate tunnelling of the media and to work with Drytac’s adhesive solutions.

For something that is usually considered waste and is thrown away, a lot of technology goes into good-quality release liners. Spending a little more on a better product will prevent printer damage, reduce downtime and speed up the installation process, making the job easier and cheaper in the long run.

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Carpet graphics: getting installation right to get your point across

The attention-grabbing effect of floor graphics was demonstrated at the FESPA Global Print Expo in Munich in 2019, where around 70 directional floor graphics printed on Drytac media were in situ across the show floor. All were installed by Drytac staff before the halls opened on the first day.

Drytac offers advice on choosing floor graphics solutions for new carpets – a potentially tricky installation surface. 

Authored by Shaun Holdom, Global Product Manager; Drytac

Floor graphics are a great marketing medium and, increasingly, an essential communication tool thanks to their effectiveness in guiding people around a space. It’s crucial that floor decals or markers are installed correctly to avoid slips and trips and the graphics product itself is safe for its environment. Most materials and adhesives designed for floor graphics applications are compatible with all common flooring types, but carpets can present an issue.

Specifically, some users may find adhesion is difficult on new carpets – in fact the same type of graphic applied to an old carpet within the same location could suffer no adhesion issues while installation on a new carpet could prove almost impossible. The reason may be the material, the coating and even the design of the carpet.

Certain types of recycled, low-VOC or environmentally friendly carpets may be labelled as ‘stain resistant’ or ‘never stain’ and their properties also reduce adhesion. Often sold as carpet tiles, they are typically made from either durable and resilient nylon or polypropylene. Also known as olefin, polypropylene will not fade, will not absorb water and can contain anti-staining additives – which also repel adhesives.

In addition, polypropylene carpet will have a low surface energy (LSE) surface, which means it has a weak molecular attraction and is therefore more difficult to bond with other substances such as adhesive. Combine LSE with anti-staining additives and you get a surface that is very difficult to adhere to – very much like low-VOC latex/Teflon paint on walls. Normal removable adhesive will take 48 hours to properly wet out, but with this new type of carpet the adhesive does not wet into the surface.

Floor graphics products are generally rated for application to low-pile, industrial grade, smooth-surface carpet. Textured carpet – any design with ribbing, grooves or cut-outs – will not be compatible as the textured surface gives far less adhesion points for the glue to stick too.

To ensure a floor graphics product’s suitability for its intended location on any surface, an adhesion test is recommended before proceeding. No-one wants to spend time and money on a project that ends in failure and this is especially important with floor graphics; loss of adhesion can pose a serious safety hazard.

Drytac’s experts can provide more advice on floor graphics of all types; for more information, please contact us!

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