"Ask the Expert" Offers Tips on Top Squeegee Techniques
Marcio Oliveira, 3M Senior Technical Service Engineer
We've been asked: How do I achieve a sleek, bubble-free graphic film application on smooth surfaces? The solution often comes down to using proper squeegee techniques. Many people initially struggle with the squeegee process because they move the squeegee all the way across the graphic in one direction, or back and forth on the same section of the graphic – motions that either trap or multiply air bubbles rather than releasing them.
The following squeegee techniques should be followed with wraps on vehicles of varying sizes, including car graphics, fleet graphics and graphics on flat-sided trailers with rivets. They should also be followed when installing window graphics and wall graphics (however, do not squeegee graphics on rough walls).
- Decide whether to use a dragging or plowing motion (pulling or pushing, respectively).
- Then, either dragging or plowing, use the squeegee at the 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock positions in order to not trap air (see photos).
- Hold the squeegee so that it seems as though you are almost laying it down on the graphic, so your knuckles are just above touching the surface.
- Start at the top, in the middle of the panel or graphic, and work your way out, alternating strokes from the middle to the right in a 2 o'clock position, and completely off the graphic, then from the middle to the left in a 10 o'clock position, and completely off the graphic. Don't use a straight up and down scraping motion, which applies too much pressure and can cause wrinkles.
- Use firm, overlapping strokes so air is not trapped. Overlap your strokes by about 50 percent while working your way down the graphic.
- Re-squeegee the entire graphic. It takes a little time and may not seem necessary, but the professional results are well worth it.
Proper Squeegee Techniques
If you need clarification on the steps described in this article, watch this 96-second video on proper squeegee techniques. Then practice so you can master this important element of the graphic film installation process.
For more information on graphic materials, visit 3Mgraphics.com or locate a 3M distributor.