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Cost saving measures with vinyl

By Denise Nathan

In tough economic times companies invariably look at ways to cut costs and save money. Businesses are forced to re-evaluate their processes and, in an ideal world, introduce practices that not only save money but do not negatively impact on business and long term growth and success.

So how can we save money with self adhesive films to try and increase our bottom line?

One reaction can be to buy cheaper films.

Certainly when producing a self adhesive campaign one of the first and most obvious costs is the film. Making savings on consumables immediately decreases expenditure and means you can be more competitive with pricing or increase profitability. While this strategy may bring initial savings, further investigation is recommended to determine whether cutting film costs will really represent a saving on the entire job. What may appear to be a gain at the start of production could turn out to cost much more somewhere else during printing, application, the duration of the campaign or on removal.

Choosing the wrong films can be a costly mistake

Self adhesive films only make up a very small part of the overall expense of any job yet their performance is a key component in the success of any job. Buying films based on price can be dangerous because the dollar value saved can be insignificant compared to the potential risk of using a lesser product.

Similarly buying products that are over specified for your intended application can give you the confidence in knowing you are using a superior product but you may be unnecessarily paying for  features or perceived features within that film that contribute nothing to the performance of the graphic and overall job.

Therefore the best buying tip for saving money on self adhesive films is to have a complete understanding of the application and performance requirements of the job and match it accurately to a self adhesive film by neither buying an underperforming film  nor purchasing an over specified product.

Some common buying pitfalls when making purchasing decisions can lead to the wrong selection being made.
On the face of it two films may look the same but looks are deceiving. Firstly products are not equal just because they share the same name. All cast products are not equal and all calendered products are not equal. The terms cast and calendered simply refer to the manufacturing process of the top sheet. It does not take into account the quality of the ingredients used, the expertise of the manufacturer in producing film, the adhesive or the backing paper. All these components add value to the product over and above how it was made and influence the print, application and performance aspects of a film. The same principle applies when we refer to polymeric and monomeric films. Polymeric and monomeric terminology simply refers to the type of plasticizer used. Plasticizers are additives that give hard PVC flexibility and durability. Generally, polymeric plasticizers are more stable and longer lasting that monomeric plasticizers and this is the only inference that can be made. It is not a measure of printability, application, adhesion, shrinkage, the exact level of performance or removal all of which are determined by a range of factors.

Some purchasing decisions and product comparisons are based on the manufacturer’s stated durability of a film. This can be misleading. If a film has a 5 year durability vs. an UP TO 5 year durability, they may seem to be offering the same performance characteristics when in fact they can be very different. “Up to” suggests the very maximum you can get is 5 years. If the film fails after 2, 3 or 4 years it is still in the “up to” 5 year guideline and so it is vital to check how far the manufacturer will go in giving a warranty and also how the  warranty will support you with any failure on the “up to” scale.

Durability is also affected by the angle of application, the greater the angle the faster the film (and print) will deteriorate. Some fleet films are not warranted for a horizontal application so if you are doing a full vehicle wrap what happens to the bonnet, the roof and any other vertical surface that exceeds the vertical -/+ 5 % recommendation?

The price differential between two films can simply be a difference in the qualities being offered as opposed to a value for money proposition and you are really not saving any money at all. It is far more cost effective to determine the performance aspects and warranty support prior to application then when a problem occurs.

With most vinyl applications the cost of any self adhesive product only represents a small percentage of the overall cost of the job. Saving 10%, 20% or even 50% on the cost of the film really has little impact on the overall cost of the job. If the job takes an hour or two longer to apply, if you need to call the supplier with regards to a problem, if the material takes longer to remove any price saving is quickly negated and could easily turn into an additional cost. If the print quality is not as good, if the graphic underperforms then you can also compromise your relationship with the client and future business opportunities.

The best opportunity to save money is to have a really good understanding of the products you use, to know the features of each product and the benefits they will bring to each application. The cost of a self adhesive film is not what you pay. It is determined by what the film can offer during production, application and the life of the graphic.

Denise Nathan is Marketing Manager - MACtac in Oceania
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