SELF ADHESIVE APPLICATION TAPES FOR BEGINNERS

Sign and print shops

Sign and print shops play an integral part in the world of visual communication.
This is where ideas, creativity and expertise are converted into eye catching signs.
In the world of vinyl graphics, vinyl and transfer tape go together like a hammer and a nail.
Vinyl brings the sign to life and transfer tape is essential to apply the cut vinyl on its final destination.

Self adhesive paper or film tape

Application tape, also know as transfer tape or premask tape, is a self adhesive paper or film tape that you need to transfer vinyl graphics or lettering onto a target surface. This target surface can be a bus, a shop window or even a coffee mug. These vinyl graphics are made out of self adhesive vinyl that is available in almost every colour. The self adhesive vinyl sheets are cut with a plotter and after being cut they are weeded and prepared for transfer.

The self adhesive side of vinyl is protected by a liner, also known as siliconized paper release liner. Now this is where the magic happens. The application tape is being applied onto the non adhesive side of the vinyl decal and picks it up from the liner. The application tape now does what it is made for. It ‘transfers’ the vinyl graphic onto the surface. Once applied on the surface, the transfer tape is removed and your project is done. Without application tape you would never be able to transfer vinyl lettering or vinyl graphics properly.

Sign maker applying application tape on cut vinyl lettering
  Sign maker applying application tape on cut vinyl lettering

Sign maker removing the application tape after transfer
  Sign maker removing the application tape after transfer

Professional sign makers or crafters at home have countless possibilities to create their vinyl graphics.
There are many kinds of self adhesive vinyl and different ways of creating a vinyl graphic.

CUT VINYL

Self adhesive vinyl sheets can be cut in different shapes with a plotter machine. These shapes are called vinyl decals.
Our transfer tapes just stick enough to pick up the vinyl decal and to transfer it safely onto any surface. Without a transfer tape it’s impossible to transfer cut vinyl properly.

PRINTED VINYL

Vinyl sheets can also be multi colour printed. In some cases after print, it’s also cut in certain shapes and sign makers make a composition of the different pieces so again you need a transfer tape to get the decals onto a surface.
Some sign makers still prefer to use an application tape to transfer a one piece printed vinyl graphic onto a surface.

BUBBLE-FREE VINYL

Bubble free vinyl or easy apply vinyl was created to reduce, guess what ‘bubbles’. The liner has a certain structure that creates tiny air tunnels in the adhesive layer of the vinyl. These air tunnels help to prevent bubbles during applications. A regular paper or film transfer tape doesn’t adhere well to these liners so for this application you need a special transfer tape, AirMask. This transfer film was specifically designed to adhere well to air egress liners.

Application tapes also come in different versions. Paper or film, High tack versus medium and low tack, thick paper or regular paper etc. How do you choose and what transfer tape is suitable for which application?

The general rule is, the smaller the lettering or vinyl decal, the higher the tack level of the application tape.
The bigger your decal or lettering, the lower the tack level of the application tape.

With a medium tack transfer paper like TransferRite 582U or film like TransferRite 1310 you can actually do most of your applications but keep the following rules in mind.

There are always special cases where custom advice is needed and we also see regional preferences. For example, in warmer countries sign makers tend to prefer high tack application tapes for general use instead of medium tack application tapes.
Sign maker using a low tack paper transfer tape to transfer large cut vinyl lettering
  Sign maker using a low tack paper transfer tape to transfer large cut vinyl lettering

LOW TACK

For a large decal of more than 1 m and lettering larger than 30 cm.
For example TransferRite 6560.

MEDIUM TACK

For a medium sized one-piece decal and lettering from 5 cm up to 30 cm. In most cases a medium tack transfer tape will perform well.
For example TransferRite 582U.

HIGH TACK

For a small sized one-piece decal and lettering smaller than 5 cm.
For example TransferRite 592U.

VERY HIGH TACK

For a very small sized one-piece decal and lettering smaller than 1 cm.
For example TransferRite 6798.

Paper or film?

This is more of a preference question. Both products perform well and do what they are made for, they ‘transfer’. Both are suitable for wet application but paper offers a breathable surface so the water can get away easier. A film application tape offers the advantage of being transparent which makes the application easier when it comes to positioning.
This makes clear transfer films the perfect match for multicolour alignments. A transfer film is also stronger than a paper version.

It’s 2022 so users might consider the ecological impact of a product. Paper transfer tapes are eco friendlier than film transfer tapes. Paper can be easily recycled.

Thick or regular paper application tape?

In most cases, a regular paper transfer tape like TransferRite 582U will be a good match for the application.
But premium thicker paper like TransferRite 782U is recommended for wet applications, for large one piece decals, for more stability during handling and for more strength.

Here we also see regional preferences. Sign makers in Scandinavia for example prefer thicker paper to do their transfers.

WHAT ABOUT THE FINISH OF VINYL?

Self adhesive vinyl can have a finish that demands a different application tape than what you have always been using as a standard. Always keep in mind that the application tape should stick enough to lift up the vinyl from the liner but it should stick less than the adhesive power of the vinyl on the target surface. If you remove the application tape after transfer, the self adhesive vinyl should stay on the surface.

There are matte and extra matte vinyls on the market where a standard medium tack transfer paper like TransferRite 582U could fail because the medium tack level will probably not lift up the matte vinyl from the liner. For matte vinyl it’s recommended to use a higher tack transfer tape like TransferRite 592U.

There are also UV screen printed decals that need special attention. The surface of the vinyl demands a special transfer tape like TransferRite 6882. This transfer paper was specifically designed to properly transfer this type of vinyl decals.

Some vinyl types have a rougher finish. They can imitate etched glass or have a frosty look.
Here it’s important to create enough lift so the application tape picks up the vinyl from the liner.
TransferRite 1310 and TransferRite 1320 were designed to lift up vinyls with a rougher finish.
Sign maker installing an etched glass vinyl decal with a high tack application tape
  Sign maker installing an etched glass vinyl decal with a high tack application tape

How to use an application tape?

  1. Place the vinyl graphic on a stable & flat surface (vinyl facing up).
  2. Apply the transfer tape on the vinyl graphic with the adhesive side facing the vinyl.
  3. Squeegee the transfer tape onto the graphic from the centre out.
  4. Turn the graphic upside down and peel the liner away from the graphic.
  5. Apply the graphic to its target surface with the vinyl facing the surface.
  6. Squeegee the graphic onto the target surface from the centre out to remove bubbles. Make sure the graphic adheres fully to the target surface.
  7. Remove the transfer tape from the applied graphic by peeling back at an angle of 45° and discard the transfer tape.

Questions? Get in touch with our product specialist directly!

Ken De Bruyne | Business Unit Manager | Industrial (protective), Graphical & Shoe products
phone +32 55 23 51 89 | mobile +32 472 54 44 38 | mail ken.debruyne@abitape.eu