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  1. #1
    Master of Arts
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    Homemade Application Fluid??

    Hey guys! I have been using ActionTac (by Clearstar) for the last 6 years and found it to be my favorite application fluid so far.

    We use it to clean the surface prior to install, and during wet installs.

    The only thing is, I'm tired of spending $25/gallon! SO my question is, how many of you make your own application fluid? what are u using (materials and ratio) AND do you use it to clean the surface AND install?

    Let me know...trying to cut costs just slightly.

    -Matt

  2. #2
    PhD Coloradosigns's Avatar
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    water and baby shampoo...

  3. #3
    PhD artbot's Avatar
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    i know nothing of application fluid. but reading the previous answer sounds like the goal it so mix water and surfactant. the best "household" surfactant is bissell hard floor cleaner. it's a non-sudsing soap. perfect from breaking the surface tension of water without making bubbles.

  4. #4
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    I remember an old Sign Craft back in the early 90s had a reader that mentioned windshield washer solvent, same stuff you use in your vehicle. Use it right out of the jug, don't dilute it.

    I have used it for almost 20 years with absolutely no problems. No failures, I do everything wet, even coroplast. Spray the application tape with the solvent to speed up the process and the tape just about falls off.

    I use it on glass if the vinyl is fairly large. I know some members here will disagree but it works for me.

    I was paying 99c a gallon, now it's gone up to almost $2 a gallon, still cheap. I wlll use soap and water in a pinch.

  5. #5
    Moderator Fred Weiss's Avatar
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    +1 for baby shampoo and water ... but only enough to break the surface tension of the water (about half a teaspoon to a quart). To clean glass before application, I first test the adhesive grab with some masking tape. If it's too little then I'll use a strong solvent like acetone. If normal then I use denatured alcohol. This I then follow with a soapy water spray and a window cleaning squeegee to insure there's no lingering solvent or rag lint.

    Been doing it that way for 28 years and never had a problem.
    Fred Weiss
    Allied Computer Graphics, Inc.
    Lake Worth, Florida

    Expert Gerber Edge printing for the trade.
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  6. #6
    Moderator Fred Weiss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by signguy 55 View Post
    I remember an old Sign Craft back in the early 90s had a reader that mentioned windshield washer solvent, same stuff you use in your vehicle. Use it right out of the jug, don't dilute it.

    I have used it for almost 20 years with absolutely no problems. No failures, I do everything wet, even coroplast. Spray the application tape with the solvent to speed up the process and the tape just about falls off.

    I use it on glass if the vinyl is fairly large. I know some members here will disagree but it works for me.

    I was paying 99c a gallon, now it's gone up to almost $2 a gallon, still cheap. I wlll use soap and water in a pinch.
    The problem with that is that some vinyl manufacturers warn about chemical reactions between ammonia and their adhesives that can cause premature failure. I never experienced it but I rarely if ever have used Windex or any other fluid containing ammonia to wet apply vinyl.
    Fred Weiss
    Allied Computer Graphics, Inc.
    Lake Worth, Florida

    Expert Gerber Edge printing for the trade.
    Prices Slashed 50% to 80%! Clip art and seamless texture tiles, collections and individual images, lowest prices ever at www.allcompu.com. Come have a look.
    Our Latest Collection! Plotter Art™ Seamless Texture Tiles Volume Three is now available.

    fred@allcompu.com
    www.allcompu.com

    Always Remember ... STICKY SIDE DOWN.

  7. #7
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    The labels I've read on windshield fluid state the main ingredient is like 98% methanol (Methyl Alcohol) I guess that's what makes it evaporate so quick.

    I will never use Windex or other glass cleaner. I may recommend it to a customer I don't care for but I won't use it!!!!!!!!!!

  8. #8
    Bachelor of Arts S'N'S's Avatar
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    I don't do very many wet installs (because I hate it), so I don't spend money on app fluids and make my own.
    I use about a dozen drops of Johnsons "no more tears" baby shampoo, 1 cap of Metho and 1 litre water. Metho helps with the evaporation.

    Another signwriter I know uses windex for all wet installs, I questioned him about it and he said he's never had a problem, but I don't think I'll try it.

  9. #9
    Master of Arts
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    Quote Originally Posted by signguy 55 View Post
    I remember an old Sign Craft back in the early 90s had a reader that mentioned windshield washer solvent, same stuff you use in your vehicle. Use it right out of the jug, don't dilute it.
    WOW the blue stuff from the gas station? any brand in particular -- or just the cheapest blue windshield washer fluid you can find??

    Also, people using baby soap, are you using this same fluid to clean surfaces before install?

  10. #10
    PhD Techman's Avatar
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    The blue stuff sux. It really sux...

    The time it takes to get the vinyl to stick is way too long. I had the pleasure to try a few of those home made concoctions. Some work and a few are just plain bad. The blues stuff is in the realm of bad.

  11. #11
    PhD weaselboogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'N'S View Post
    Metho helps with the evaporation.
    What's metho?

  12. #12
    PhD ucmj22's Avatar
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    We used to use dish soap and water when I started, now I use rapid tac 2. It use to take forever for a concoction of soap and water to evaporate enough to remove application tape. With the rapid tac you get about 30-60 seconds to make your moves, then it's down for good. I love it. If anyone knows of a homemade that does that I'd like o know too.

  13. #13
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    Where do you get rapid tac 2 from, local or online? I've seen crazy cold-weather glass installs using that stuff, but what's the price like? I go through a LOT of install/clean fluid and i'm happy with the stuff I'm using, I just don't want to spend the money for it anymore!

  14. #14
    PhD CheapVehicleWrap's Avatar
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    1/3 alcohol, 2/3 water, a couple drops of baby shampoo or clear dish washing liquid - just enough when you shake it there are some bubbles. That's how I read it 15+ years ago and never a problem. now how's THAT for cheap?
    Last edited by CheapVehicleWrap; 08-14-2011 at 12:13 AM.

  15. #15
    PhD ucmj22's Avatar
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    I honestly don't remember what I'm paying for that. It's probably at least $25. I get mine from Grimco.

  16. #16
    PhD ucmj22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CheapVehicleWrap View Post
    1/3 alcohol, 2/3 water, a couple drops of baby shampoo or clear dishing liquid - just enough when you shake it there are some bubbles. That's how I read it 15+ years ago and never a problem. now how's THAT for cheap?
    I'll have to give this a shot. Adding the alcohol might give the speed I was missing before.

  17. #17
    PhD Techman's Avatar
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    Nope. Nothing is as fast as a professional juice.

  18. #18
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    Water with a few drops of washing up liquid or cheap Blue window cleaner. If you're bothered about ammonia just buy the slightly more expensive brands which leave this ingredient out.

    As far as speed goes a lot depends on what kind of application tape you use. I've always used a low tack paper which you can remove very quickly simply by wetting over with your home made application juice. The water soaks into the paper turning it and the application tape adhesive into mush.... which peels off very easily.

  19. #19
    PhD Pat Whatley's Avatar
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    How much of the stuff are you really using? Even with as much vinyl as we're applying everyday a gallon of Rapid Tac will last us over a year, we do almost everything dry.

  20. #20
    College Senior boxerbay's Avatar
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    dang, people still do wet installs? i guess window tints.

  21. #21
    PhD TyrantDesigner's Avatar
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    I'm constantly layering graphics on vehicles and never pay for App liquid, like others have said, water, drop or two of soap (dawn works great) or baby shampoo and a little rubbing alcohol goes a long way. As for cleaning the surface ... I will use windex for most surfaces, if it's got wax buildup/grease/whatever I will first use a little acetone or mineral spirits, then denatured alcohol then windex and if it's just that much more that needs to be cleaned I will spray a little of my app liquid to remove the windex residue.

    I still have a bottle of App liquid ... but it's for a "just in case ..." need

    I will NEVER use windex to apply. Windex is just water, alcohol a cleaner and ammonia ... but the ammonia part and high alcohol content makes me shudder for applying where it will stay right between the vehicle and the adhesive. ... can you say stained enamel paint anyone?

  22. #22
    Preppie
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    Quote Originally Posted by CheapVehicleWrap View Post
    1/3 alcohol, 2/3 water, a couple drops of baby shampoo or clear dish washing liquid - just enough when you shake it there are some bubbles. That's how I read it 15+ years ago and never a problem. now how's THAT for cheap?
    Except for the shampoo it almost sounds like printer head cleaning solvent <g>

    Can I use denatured alcohol instead of rubbing/isopropyl?

    Tom

  23. #23
    PhD gabagoo's Avatar
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    just curious how different alcohol is from methyl hydrate? I can find methyl hydrate at any home building centre but where can you buy alcohol by the gallon? Never see it at Lowes or HD.

  24. #24
    PhD qmr55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabagoo View Post
    just curious how different alcohol is from methyl hydrate? I can find methyl hydrate at any home building centre but where can you buy alcohol by the gallon? Never see it at Lowes or HD.
    Methyl Hydrate is another word for Methanol.

    Denatured alcohol is just Ethanol that has been denatured.

    On a side note Methanol is toxic so be careful and don't breathe in too much of that stuff!

  25. #25
    PhD Coloradosigns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmr55 View Post
    Methyl Hydrate is another word for Methanol.

    Denatured alcohol is just Ethanol that has been denatured.

    On a side note Methanol is toxic so be careful and don't breathe in too much of that stuff!
    stop using Wikipedia

  26. #26
    Master of Arts Sign Works's Avatar
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    Started applying automotive decal kits back in the 70's, at that time they were all pretty much manufactured by 3M and came with an installation instruction sheet which instructed using a mixture of water and non-detergent dish washing liquid such as Joy. I used this for app fluid for many many years and still do on occasion, just not sure of the new anti-bacterial formulas and what they might contain and what effect they might have on vinyl adhesives. On the other hand who the hell actually knows just what is really in Rapid Tac? Water, soap and a hint of vanilla scent? Are we being provided a product that is truly compatible with vinyl adhesives or are we just providing Roger an extremely comfortable retirement for his scented bottled soapy water?

  27. #27
    College Senior Speedsterbeast's Avatar
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    I'm using Rapid Tac as well. Almost $30 /gallon, but it does work well.
    As for prep cleaning, I use wax and grease remover for heavy cleaning- like the other day I tried cutting some coroplast in a friends shear that I was doing some Alumet in, and the welding shop floor got grease all over the coroplast, so it worked well for that. It is like a prep wipe for automotive painting, but it is not quite as refined or pure, so it's cheap. (about $12 a gallon) I use Rapid Tac for light prep cleaning, but it's more for lack of having something else handy. I think I'll re-evaluate that choice and maybe save some money that way and start using mild soap and water.

  28. #28
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    "1/3 alcohol, 2/3 water, a couple drops of baby shampoo or clear dish washing liquid - just enough when you shake it there are some bubbles. That's how I read it 15+ years ago and never a problem. now how's THAT for cheap? "

    +10

    Been doing it this way for years and NEVER a problem.

    After a while you get to know how to adjust for a "slow" mix for large graphics so they don't grip as you want to slide around - by adding a little more handwash or shampoo

    or

    A "hot" mix for glass where you want the metho (methylated spirits) to evaporate the water sooner.

    Same principle for the seasons / air temp. Summer gets more shampoo, winter gets more metho.

    Good to go.

    Cheers - G

  29. #29
    PhD bob's Avatar
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    Just pop for Rapid-Tac or a similar product and leave your Jr. Science Guy chemistry set on the shelf.

    If you're using enough application fluid that it makes it a noteworthy expense, you're using too much. Perhaps you might perfect your dry technique which, if you do, is superior in all ways to the vast majority of wet applications.

    I use maybe a gallon of Rapid_Tac a year, maybe two years. I can't remember the last wet install I did. I use it mainly for a final cleaning of substrates, especially glass, before a dry, and proper, application. As a cleaner, it's terrific.

    Every now and then I might do a wet application of a some part of a drop shadow or the text being shadowed, usually piece by piece, merely because I can, usually, do a better job of precisely locating the pieces wet than a wholesale dry application of the entire thing regardless of any sort of registration scheme. The fact is when you cut two things from different rolls of vinyl that must precisely fit together, each cut image will be slightly different in some size aspect or another and parts of the finished image must be assembled piecemeal for proper registration.

    Bottom line is I spend more on paper clips, or most any other trivial office supply, than application fluid so why would I want to whomp up some homemade brew that may or may not function properly to save, basically, nothing?

  30. #30
    College Sophomore Sign-Man Signs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CheapVehicleWrap View Post
    1/3 alcohol, 2/3 water, a couple drops of baby shampoo or clear dish washing liquid - just enough when you shake it there are some bubbles. That's how I read it 15+ years ago and never a problem. now how's THAT for cheap?
    Ditto. Been using this formula for years.

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