I have a client with a harbor shuttle boat that wants vinyl lettering and a print-contour-cut decal. He is painting the boat and wants the lettering applied the day after it's painted. How long should paint cure before applying vinyl? This is an ocean craft.
72 hours MINIMUM for catalyzed urethanes is good. if you dont wait long enough and the paint is still releasing solvents, they will become trapped forming bubbles which; A) may not go away completely B) may attack the adhesive and cause failure. If it hasnt been baked or it is a not a two part paint- who knows. depends on the paint.
If the paint is not cured in a heat booth at LEAST 72+ hours. If it is heat dryed you
can letter as soon at it is cool enough, I have done some just hours after being sprayed and they are still running around looking good.
That's assuming he's using urethanes for painting. Not enough info here - what type of paint? If it is urethane, then yes, 72 hours is a good minimum, though I've lettered in far less time (and let the client know that's not recommended). If it isn't a urethane but possibly an epoxy, polyurethane (not catalyzed) or enamel based paint - 1 week at a minimum.
with your oil based paints and enamels I normally suggest 2 weeks if not heat set. within that time frame you can literally rip the paint from the surface with even transfer tape (had it happen with a van that the client who didn't want to wait the 2 weeks ... luckily i told him what could happen if he wanted to rush the drying.) if you are gentle ... 72 hours is a good amount of time ... gives it the chance for the solvents to dry up a little.
I would wait a month. I have never had good luck with anything fresher than that. I just removed some vinyl from a vehicle that I letter shortly after it had been painted. Vinyl has been on it for two years. In many places the vinly pulled the paint right off with it. The customer is the one that demanded it to be lettered that soon so he's the one that has to live with it.