Learn What “Non-PVC” Really Means at SWM
SWM (Booth 4216) is attracting attention with its dramatic graphic and intriguing message: “go beyond vinyl — demand polyurethane graphic print & overlaminate films for your toughest outdoor applications.” Just as interesting is what visitors are learning there about the term “non-PVC.” This expression is appearing in the descriptions of increasing numbers of graphics media products. But what does it mean?
At face value, non-PVC means there is no vinyl (polyvinylchloride) in the product. When SWM says that its graphic film products are non-PVC, non-halogen and non-phthalate, that’s the clear message: they contain none of those chemicals identified as harmful to the environment. But is there more to the term than that? Apparently so.
When one explores the web sites and corresponding technical data pages of most companies offering products claiming to be “non-PVC,” it is very difficult to ascertain what their products are actually made of, if not vinyl. SWM’s investigation of the subject reveals that the term “non-PVC” is being used in the graphic films marketplace to describe either of two basic levels of print media and overlaminate film that does not contain vinyl: premium or commodity. Or, as defined by their respective polymers: polyurethane or polyethylene.
Ultimately, the differences between polyurethane and polyethylene amount to both price and performance. PE is the most popular plastic in the world. It is a low-cost, commodity polymer that can be appropriate for graphic print media and overlaminate films when used in short-term, indoor applications where there is little or no exposure to ultraviolet radiation or physical abuse.
Polyurethane, on the other hand, is a premium polymer that contains no PVC or the plasticizers needed to keep it flexible. Films made from it are highly resistant to ultraviolet radiation, yellowing, abrasion and road chemicals, which is why the vast majority of automotive paint protection films (PPFs) are made from polyurethane. These characteristics also make it an ideal medium for printing and protecting vehicle wraps, exterior signage, fleet graphics and building wraps, as well as other rugged outdoor applications like durable decals and product labels.
SWM (formerly Argotec LLC) introduced the first graphic print and overlaminate films made from polyurethane at the 2013 SGIA Expo where they won Non-PVC Print Media Product-of-the-Year. Born from SWM’s highly successful ArgoGuard PPF, these premium graphic films are extremely durable, highly conformable, UV resistant, have exceptionally high gloss, are self healing and environmentally friendly, containing no PVC, plasticizers, halogens or phthalates. Sold to graphic film converters and coaters who add adhesive and then market the films to the graphics industry, they are printable via solvent, eco-solvent and latex ink systems. Appropriate for horizontal or vertical surfaces, SWM’s ArgoGraph-White print media and ArgoGraph-Clear overlaminate films are easy to install over a broader temperature range than vinyl, are highly conformable over smooth and rough surfaces alike, and are easier to remove than vinyl when it is time to change graphics or advertising messages.
To learn more about premium non-PVC polyurethane graphics film and overlaminates for the toughest applications, visit SWM at booth 4216.