We frequently get questions about preventing bubbles when installing vinyl on smooth flat surfaces. This can especially be a problem in installing reflective vinyl.
Since reflective vinyl is supposed to be installed dry, the removal of the tape stresses the connection between the newly applied vinyl and the substrate contributing to bubbling. The trick is getting the tape to release from the vinyl without putting so much stress on the vinyl that it weakens the newly formed bond between the adhesive and the substrate. To do this, you have to loosen the application tape’s grip on the vinyl.
Here are the tips:
First, transfer the graphic to the substrate dry. (Dry, in this case, means without using application fluid under the vinyl). Wet the application tape, preferably with SureGlide or RapidTac, before removing from the vinyl graphic. Apply the fluid liberally, then squeegee the fluid into the tape to weaken the tape’s adhesive. This trick doesn’t work as well with clear tapes because they have a plastic, not paper, face stock, so the fluid can’t penetrate the face stock and weaken the adhesive.
Next, remove the tape by peeling it back at a 180° angle (back against the surface) rather than pulling upward at a 90° angle. This further reduces stress on the connection between the vinyl’s adhesive and the substrate, reducing the likelihood of bubbles. The result is a bubble-free installation!
This technique is especially helpful when applying standard calendered vinyls to automotive glass or when applying reflective vinyl to vehicles (reflective vinyls are to be installed dry; no app fluid under the film).