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Primer & Production: The 3 kinds of primer & why using it properly is the key to a great product

The proper use of primer is the key to producing the best possible vinyl wrapped profile.

Photo: TAKA Adhesive Products (WPR/ Taka srl)

Primer is used to lower the surface tension of the PVC profile. Without it, your adhesive won’t stick the vinyl to the substrate for very long, if at all.

Photo: PVC Profiles (WPR/ Taka srl)

There are three kinds of primer used in profile wrapping.

Photo: TAKA Adhesive Products (WPR/ Taka srl)

Each kind of primer has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Which we're diving deeper into below:

Flammable Primer - This is commonly made from MEK or Acetone. Both solvents flash quickly and are relatively inexpensive. Because it is highly flammable, special equipment must be used to mitigate the chance of a fire. Most fire departments frown on its use and make it difficult to store.

Non-Flammable Primer - This is commonly made from Methylene Chloride. It is also the most commonly used primer in the US. It’s effective and flashes off very quickly. It is more expensive than flammable primers but is very easy to use and there are no flammability issues. And, while it is considered a HAP (hazardous air pollutant) it is normally exempt from VOC calculations required by the EPA. Unfortunately it is considered a carcinogen. It’s proper use requires specialized ventilation and personal protective equipment. Most companies who use it are either unaware or unwilling to address the complications that go along with its use. Additionally, OSHA commonly fines companies who use it without the proper safety measures.

Ecological Primer - A relatively new entry into the primer arena is what’s being touted as an “Ecological Primer”. This shouldn’t be confused with water based primers which have been proven to be complete failures. It is in a completely different class. It is non flammable and contains no VOCs or HAPs. At first blush it would appear to be considerably expensive compared to the solvent based primers. When comparing cost it is at least 4X the price per gallon that that of solvent based primer. However, it is applied at less than 1/6th the amount which actually makes it more cost effective. The downside of these primers is that they must be absolutely dry before the film is applied. If not, delamination is a certainty. This can be tricky but with proper training is not insurmountable. Attention must be paid to the amount being applied and often the length of the wrapping machine must be extended to allow extra drying time. As long as all parameters are adhered to it can be a highly effective and trouble free option.

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