Materials Explained


Commercial Vehicle graphics used to be painted on. However, with the advent of computer technology and plotters which could easily cut a traced image out of self adhesive vinyl, painted graphics were replaced by cut and even printed self adhesive vinyl graphics.

Cut vinyl graphics are cut from a roll of self adhesive vinyl (think of Contact Paper). The images are premasked to hold them into position while being placed onto your vehicle, guaranteeing perfect alignment of text and objects.

Digitally printed images came into their own during the 1990's, as this technology grew. Now, even the customer with one small vehicle can have full color printed images which remain durable and bright for five years or more. Again, this is done on self-adhesive vinyl.


There are two methods of manufacturing vinyl - which result in two quite different types of film, when judged on outdoor durability .

CALENDERED films are much less expensive, with thicker vinyl - usually 3.0 or thicker - and are generally known as INTERMEDIATE vinyl films. These films are not recommended for vehicle application because they are less conformable, and will tend to shrink, fade, crack and peel after a couple of years. These films are often those used in your corner sign shops. They are best used for short term or indoor signage.

To see what happens when a calendered film is used for vehicle graphics, click here!

CAST VINYL is a thinner, 2.0 mil vinyl, which is known as a PREMIUM vinyl because it will conform (fit snugly around rivets and curves without air pockets) and has excellent outdoor durability, usually 7 years or longer. At The Imagemakers Group, we use only Premium Cast Vinyl for our vehicle graphics.

For some examples of cut and printed vinyl graphics, please go to the following pages:

Cut Vinyl Vehicle Graphics

Digitally Printed Vinyl Graphics