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Ask the Expert: “What Are Some Tips for Applying Reflective Film?”

Joe Walton‚ 3M advanced technical service engineer
Joe Walton‚ 3M advanced technical service engineer

  • Reflective films are intended to be installed only on vertical surfaces. Beaded reflective films tend to burn out when applied in a horizontal position – that is‚ they blacken from the sun continually reflecting through the film.
  • When installing reflective films‚ use a dry application method. Using a wet application method is not recommended‚ as any liquid remaining under a graphic can prevent it from adhering properly.
  • While films such as 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Graphic Film 5100 (permanent) and 5100R (removable) are designed to have excellent cutting and weeding characteristics‚ reflective films can be harder to cut than other films. Because they typically are thicker than other films‚ and some reflective films have glass beads in them‚ the cutting blades may become dull quickly. Be mindful of this and sharpen or change blades more frequently when working with reflective films.
  • Install reflective films with as little stress on the film as possible – avoid excessive stretching and avoid heating the film (except‚ for example‚ around rivets). Reflective films are not intended for wraps or compound curves. Either stretching or heating can bruise the film‚ which is when the metal layer in the film is broken. This causes the film to lose its reflectivity in that spot and may give the appearance of a bruise in daylight.

Install reflective films with as little stress on the film as possible
Install reflective films with as little stress on the film as possible – avoid excessive stretching and avoid heating the film (except‚ for example‚ around rivets). Either stretching or heating can bruise the film.

Tune In to Learn More
To learn more about applying reflective film‚ check out this short video.

For more information on graphic materials‚ visit 3Mgraphics.com or locate a 3M distributor.