Vinyls: Cast Vs. Calendered



Cast & Calendered are terms used to indicate how a vinyl is manufactured and therefore in turn for what applications each is best suited.  Cast film is for high-grade, durable use in comparison to Calendered which is more typically used for shorter time periods, however, this depends on the particular quality of the vinyls and in many cases in today’s market a high quality Calendered material will challenge the lifetime of a Cast film. 

All vinyls are made from a polyvinylchloride (PVC) polymer.  Solvents are added to make it flex, coloring is add to the desired spectrum, as well as other additives like UV resistance enhancers, heat resistance boosters, fillers and production modifiers.  

In general the production process and type of solvent (premium polymer vs. econo-mono) affect the flexibility and durability of the film.

For cast films, the ingredients are mixed together to create an organosol, which is in essence a colloidal PVC.  This mixture is then ‘cast’ onto a casting sheet (which determines the look and feel of the vinyl) that is in motion and carried through ovens which evaporate the solvents.  What then remains is a solid vinyl.  All that is thereafter needed adding is an adhesive backing. 

Since the vinyl is ‘cast’ on to the sheet, it winds up very thin (2mil) and very stable.  This gives cast vinyl it’s characteristic conformability and durability, allowing it to last 6-12 years.

Meanwhile, Calendered films are extruded out by rollers rather than cast.  The earliest known use of the word comes from late 15th century France (calendre (noun), calendrer (verb).  Any prior origin is unknown.

Calendered vinyl used to be strictly 3mil, however, due to improvements in technology, it is now possible to obtain a 2mil Calendered vinyl film.  As mentioned above, Calendered vinyl is typically mono polymer (3 years life expectancy), however, for a higher quality it can be made using a premium polymer (7 years).


Advantages of Cast:

Less Shrinkage

More Durable

More Conformable

More Stable Color

More UV Resistant

Advantages of Calendered:


Easier Handling

More Scratch-Resistant

(Today’s Calendered vinyls are far superior to old Calendered vinyls in regards to thinness, conformability, aesthetic and durability.)


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