ORACAL 651 Sign Vinyl

ORACAL 651 is the top-selling plotter film in America. That position is well-deserved. ORACAL 651 is the Wilt Chamberlain of sign vinyl. It was so good, it changed the rules of the game. When 651 came to market in 1996, calendared vinyl was considered suitable only for short-term graphics. ORAFOL’s ground-breaking entry introduced high gloss levels, exceptional weeding, and superior durability and versatility. It was so good, it displaced premium cast vinyl as the first choice for many professional sign makers. In doing so, 651 made long-term outdoor vinyl graphics more affordable, and made sign businesses more productive and profitable. How did they do all that with one product? Glad you asked.

ORAFOL Overview

Before we get to the how of what 651 did, we should take a step back and look at the who. ORACAL 651 is a product of ORAFOL, a German company that was the beneficiary of reinvestment in what had been East Germany. After the fall of the Berlin wall, Unification brought investment and new technologies to Oranienberg. ORAFOL partnered with an American master distributor and  introduced ORACAL to the US. As the product and company grew, ORAFOL invested in the US, with a state-of-the-art facility in Black Creek, GA.  Most ORACAL vinyl sold in America is now made in America.

ORAFOL also manufactures a complete line of plotter films including cast, calendared, translucent, reflective, and specialty vinyls. Like most modern vinyl manufacturers, ORAFOL also offers a complete line of digital print media and overlaminate films. But today’s topic is the one that shook the industry. Let’s get back to what makes ORACAL 651 a standout.

ORACAL 651 Features & Benefits

ORACAL 651 brought many of the features of cast vinyl to the calendared market. In so doing, they made higher-quality signage more affordable. This was especially helpful to smaller sign businesses and entrepreneurs. You might say ORAFOL made a hybrid product that bridged the wide gap between monomeric calendared vinyl and premium cast film. Here’s a short list of the features that still make 651 a favorite among sign-making professionals.

  • Its high-gloss face film gives 651 a premium look. It makes outdoor graphics more appealing, giving your designs more visual ‘pop’.
  • Most calendared vinyls are 3 mils thick. Most premium cast films have a 2-mil face film. ORACAL 651 splits the difference with a 2.5 mil face film. This makes it more flexible and more conformable than most calendared vinyls. This is one reason 651 is so versatile. It’s suitable for application on curved surfaces that challenge lesser calendared plotter films.
  • Part of this versatility is in its chemistry. 651 is a polymeric film. Most calendared vinyls are made from monomeric PVC. ORACAL’s polymeric face film is more complex and more dimensionally stable. This not only makes it more conformable, but more durable.  651 is warranted for up to six years outdoors. *
  • If this were a late-night infomercial, this is where we’d say, ‘but wait, there’s more!’ In addition to making it thinner and more flexible, ORACAL made the face film in 651 uniquely dense. It’s stiffer than most vinyls. This offers exceptional benefits in weeding. Ah yes, weeding, the bane of the sign maker’s existence! Because 651 is stiffer, it holds tightly to the release liner during weeding. This means you can weed your cut vinyl graphics more quickly, more aggressively, and more efficiently. It’s a great time-saver.
  • The final feature on this impressive list is ORACAL’s pressure-sensitive, solvent-based adhesive. When applied to a substrate, 651 doesn’t grab instantly. You can reposition it until pressure is applied. Pressure activates the adhesive. Once activated, the solvent-based adhesive bonds quickly, even to difficult substrates like brushed metal. And, since its’ a solvent-based adhesive, it performs well in wet applications with industry-approved application fluids like RapidTac and SureGlide.

ORACAL 651 Applications

That’s an impressive feature list. But the pragmatists among us might be asking, “Yeah, but what’s it good for?” Well, just about everything. The portfolio of supported ORACAL 651 applications is pretty big. The short summary includes banners, commercial window signage, retail POP graphics, commercial fleet graphics, custom vehicle graphics, novelty decals, drinkware decoration, laptops, automotive windows decals, and industrial labels.

Weeding & Release Techniques

By now you might think we’re about to tell you ORACAL 651 is the perfect sign vinyl. Nothing’s perfect. There is one downside to the excellent weeding performance. 651 is really easy to weed because the stiff face film holds tightly to the release liner. But after vinyl is weeded, it’s generally transferred from the liner with application tape. If 651 has a downside, this is it. The film still wants to hold fast to the liner, so transferring it requires higher tack tape – and maybe a little finesse.

Generally speaking, we recommend high or medium-high tack tapes for use with ORACAL 651. The best match is EnduraMASK High Tack, which was formulated specifically for use with 651. For more options, please refer to our Transfer Tape & Vinyl Application Guide. In addition to a high-tack tape, sometimes it helps to flip the vinyl over, liner side up, before weeding. This has become known as the ORACAL flip tip.

SIGNWarehouse ORACAL 651 Selection: Colors & Sizes

The final metric in which ORACAL 651 outdoes it competitors is in its generous color palette. Because of the manufacturing costs, most calendared vinyls offer a limited range of colors. Many upgrades to more-expensive cast films are necessitated simply because the customer needs a color that’s beyond the typical calendared vinyl palette. ORACAL 651 comes in over 60 glossy colors plus matte black and matte white. So with 651 in your sign shop, you’re less likely to have to resort to cast vinyl to match a color. This is one of the other things that makes it good for the bottom line.

As one of ORAFOL’s top distributors, SIGNWarehouse builds on that variety by offering 651 in roll widths ranging from eight to 30 inches and roll lengths from 10 to fifty yards. That’s just over 550 varieties of sizes and colors of ORACAL 651 to choose from. If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.

ORACAL 651 raised the bar. All sign vinyl today is better than it was 20 years ago because 651 came to market and made everyone else sit up and take notice. If you choose 651 for your signs and graphics, your customers and theirs will do the same. If you want to reduce time spent weeding, and make better-looking, longer-lasting vinyl graphics without breaking the bank, you can’t do better than ORACAL 651.


*In vertical applications. Please refer to ORACAL General Vinyl Warranty for details