vinyl history
The history of vinyl

We have been asked many times in the past about 'where does vinyl come from' or 'how is it made'?

What is vinyl?
Like all materials there has and still is continuous development over many years but it really was 'discovered' or developed in Europe by a research chemist and subsequently things were done to it over a long period to make it from being a hard plastic to something softer by adding polymers to it - and it became a new commercial product.

But making the material, which is PVC, is only one constituent part when we use this for vinyl lettering and graphics.



The development of vinyl

In the main there are 3 components to the vinyl we use:

  1. The actual thin PVC
  2. The adhesive on the back of this PVC
  3. The liner or backing paper

You can produce vinyl graphics by physically cutting these on a CAD plotter with a very sharp blade, you need to be able to take them of the liner, so you need a release paper or application paper, to lift the finished graphic off the liner.

Further development to vinyl films
During the 1960's and early 1970's computers became a part of the graphic design world albeit at a very early stage. Software was being developed in America and Germany for industrial purposes to give us vector outlines.





Around this time in America a company called Gerber, which produced dresses and other garments for the fashion trade, was cutting thick stacks of material using a blade guided by punched cards. In effect, this early computer was producing an outline to facilitate the cutting of the material.

Gerber soon realised the potential of their software and computer for the graphics industry and set up a division dedicated to making machinery and vinyls for the sign making industry. This was followed by other businesses such as 3M, Avery etc selling not necessarily the machinery but the consumables, the vinyl.

Early stages in the vinyl story were obviously slow with very limited colour palette, very few fonts and sizes for lettering. But an explosion happened with developments of new colours and progress in machinery, all driven by commercial interest.


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