Laminating

The use of an overlaminate provides UV protection, moisture resistance, increased image life and an attractive finish. An overlaminate also prevents the film's holes from filling with water when it rains or when the window graphics are washed.

CLEAR FOCUS manufactures two optically clear, pressure-sensitive ("cold") overlaminates for use with its perforated window graphics films.

• ClearLam™, a 25u polyester overlaminate, is designed for use on flat surfaces only.

• CurvaLam™, a 42u cast PVC overlaminate, is designed for use on surfaces that are flat or have simple to moderate curves.

If you use another brand of overlaminate, be sure to test prior to actual production to confirm compatibility and to ensure adequate visibility through the film's perforations.

Application tips

• Allow at least 24 hours for the inks to dry and outgas before applying an overlaminate.
• The printed substrate must be cool less than about 25°C. Never apply ClearLam or CurvaLam with heat.
• After applying an overlaminate, let the graphics sit for at least 12 hours to allow the overlaminate's adhesive to bond adequately to the vinyl film.

• When using a cold laminator (recommended method), proper tension control is important to prevent wrinkles and tunneling from occurring. Do not stretch either the window graphics film or the overlaminate during lamination as this can result in tunneling and/or wrinkles.
• For graphics to be installed on a curved surface, use a liquid laminate or an overlaminate (such as CurvaLam) that conforms to simple-curved surfaces.
• Avoid stretching the laminated graphic during installation. The vinyl has a memory and, if stretched, may return to its original shape, causing the film to lift off the glass later.
• In cases where glass curvature is extreme (e.g., Beetle or PT Cruiser window), test the overlaminate on a piece of window graphics film prior to actual production/installation to ensure adequate conformance, or use a liquid laminate.
• If, after lamination, it is necessary to roll the graphics, be sure to roll them loosely with the printed/laminated side out.
• When shipping graphics, lay them flat between layers of cardboard or other protective material, or roll the graphics with the printed/laminated side out onto a core that is large enough in diameter to prevent the liner and overlaminate from wrinkling or tunneling. Use a shipping tube whose diameter is large enough to easily accommodate the loosely rolled graphics.
• To clean the graphics after laminating, spray a non-abrasive, non-solvent cleaner on a cloth, then wipe surface. Do not allow solvents to come in contact with vinyl, as they can adversely affect adhesion.

Tips on Laminating & Installing CLEAR FOCUS Perforated Window Films for Curved Surfaces

Laminating is as much an art as a science. Laminating and installing are challenging because streaks and marks caused by uneven hand or squeegee pressure can occur yet be difficult to see until after the graphic is installed. When using a laminator, make sure there is proper tension on the rollers so that neither the overlaminate nor the film is stretched during the lamination process. Ensure that there are no uneven areas on the laminator rollers (caused, e.g., by bowing of the nip rollers a common problem with hot laminators) or other problems that could cause streaks/marks. CLEAR FOCUS offers a pressure-sensitive (cold), conformable PVC overlaminating film called CurvaLam. This optically clear product is designed specifically for perforated window graphics that will be installed on surfaces that are flat or have simple to moderate curves. If using a non-CLEAR FOCUS finishing product, we recommend conducting a test to make sure the product in question is compatible with perforated window graphics film, maintains the film's one-way visibility, and is suited for the intended application.

Before installing graphics on window

• After printing graphics, allow at least 24 hours for the inks to dry and outgas prior to applying overlaminate.
• After applying an overlaminate, let the graphics sit for at least 12 hours. This allows the overlaminate's adhesive time to bond adequately to the vinyl film.

Curves ahead: Proceed with care!

• Start in the center of the window and install from the center outward to the edges of the glass.
• Peel back part of the release liner and make a V-shaped cut in it (from the top edge of the liner toward the center) to keep the liner out of the way during installation. Be careful not to cut the film!
• Avoid stretching the vinyl during installation. The vinyl has a memory and, if stretched, may return to its original shape, causing the film to lift off the glass later.
• If possible, avoid using an overlaminate on graphics to be installed on surfaces with compound curves. For such applications we recommend a clear coat, such as CLEAR FOCUS PerfxCoat, or a liquid laminate. Even a conformable overlaminate such as CurvaLam adds more thickness & rigidity, making it harder to install the graphics on windows with extreme curves.
• If you must laminate the graphics (e.g., to prevent the film's holes from filling with water when it rains or when the vehicle is washed), leave the outside edge approx. 0.7 cm around the graphics unlaminated. That way the center portion of the graphics will be laminated and the unlaminated edges will be more pliable and will conform more easily at the edges, where the curvature of the glass is more pronounced.
• If a heat gun is used to install graphics around curves, do not exceed 80°c and apply heat for only a few seconds at a time. Applying too much heat and tension during installation can stretch the vinyl out of shape and deform the holes, as well as negatively impact the film's adhesive properties.
• Use an edge sealer. If the edges of the film have been handled a lot or have been stretched both of which can adversely affect the film's adhesive an edge sealer will help prevent them from lifting.
• If all else fails, try using either CLEAR FOCUS PerfxCoat or an optically clear, conformable overlaminate that's thinner and more conformable than CurvaLam. Check with your distributor or local sign shop for the names of overlaminating films that are compatible with perforated window film and designed for compound-curved surfaces.
Questions? Call your distributor or contact us