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“Ask the Expert” Offers Tips for Weeding Reflective Films

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Refer to Instruction Bulletin 4.1 for more details on cutting and weeding. For a demonstration‚ view the “Tips for Weeding 3M’s Premium Films” video.

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

“Ask the Expert” Andy Morris
Andy Morris‚ 3M Product Development Specialist

If you really want that phone number or website on your vehicle to grab attention‚ try reflective films for lettering. Some customers have asked for pointers on weeding cut letters on reflective films. While reflective films can be challenging to weed compared to standard vinyl films‚ with a little practice you should achieve successful results. Following are some general recommendations.

  • Keep all cutting tools sharp and clean to minimize the possibility of adhesive transfer or damage to the graphic. Reflective films and sheeting are abrasive and reduce the sharpness of the cutting tool at a faster rate than other films.
  • Round the inside corners of letters and symbols using the largest radius that produces an acceptable appearance. This reduces the possibility of stress cracking and tearing.

    Start weeding from the side where the graphic elements have the most open cuts.

  • Small or thin serif type styles and thin graphic lines are not suitable for fleet applications. The small surface contact of serifs and lines to the substrate may not provide enough adhesion in typical fleet environments.
  • If weeding large areas‚ add relief cuts in the weed area (as part of the graphic design‚ or manually before weeding)‚ so you can work with smaller sections of film.
  • For best results‚ weed the film within 24 hours of cutting it. Weed films with soft‚ aggressive adhesives as quickly after cutting as possible. These adhesives will flow and “heal over” the cut.
  • Inspect each element to determine that the film is cut completely before starting.
  • Whenever possible‚ weed into the open areas of letters or numbers‚ so you can pull the weed off the liner without tearing the film.
  • If the weed seems prone to breaking too easily‚ try weeding more slowly‚ and wiggle the weed back and forth when you come to sharp corners (for example‚ stars‚ and letters such as E‚ F‚ T‚ V and Y).
  • For best results‚ pull the weeded film away from the liner at about a 90-degree angle. Removing the weed at a higher peel angle increases the risk for losing some of the cut pieces or for lifting the edges of the film.

    90-degree weed180-degree weed
    For best results‚ pull the weeded film away from the liner at about a 90-degree angle. If you remove it at a higher peel angle‚ such as 180 degrees‚ it increases the risk for losing some of the cut pieces or for lifting the edges of the film.

  • Weed carefully‚ so you do not accidentally lift the graphic film off the liner. While this may not matter for some products‚ lifting the graphic film from the liner and then reapplying it to the liner can damage any special adhesive features‚ such as slideability or air release. Products with these adhesive features are meant only to be lifted off the liner once‚ just prior to final application.