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What plastic film material am I looking for?

Very often people use generic terms to describe specific types of plastic film. For example one of the most popular generic terms used to refer to film is “Acetate”. However, Acetate is specific type of cellulosic based polymer that is one of the oldest types of material used for making plastic film. This is why it is so commonly used to refer to plastic film. The meanings of these generic terms can vary from industry to industry. An example of this situation is use of the name “Mylar®”. Mylar® is the registered trademark owned by the E.I. Dupont Corporation for Bi-Axially Oriented Polyester Film. There are dozens of different types and grades of Mylar®, however, the term is generically used to describe a range of different films. For example people who work in the Architecture or Engineering business usually use the term Mylar® when discussing matte drafting film, which is a translucent base polyester film with a matte coating that can be drawn with a pen & ink. People who work on Graphic Arts, Printing, or Document Archiving areas tend to use the term Mylar® to refer to Clear Polyester Film. Emco Plastics stocks a wide variety of different kinds of plastic film products, in a variety of thicknesses and finishes.

In reference to thickness or gauge, is mils the same as millimeters or microns?

No, the gauge or thickness of plastic film is expressed in thousands of an inch, said as “mils”. For example, .005″ is said “5 mils”. These are all different forms of measurement. One millimeter = .039″ or “39 mils” thick.

About how thick is a mil?

For example, a piece of copier paper is about .004″ (4 mils) thick.

Typically, what thickness of film does Emco Plastics stock?

Each item is different and should be checked. However, Emco Plastics usually does not stock film thinner than .001″ (1 mil) or thicker than .060″ (60 mil). See the Equivalency Chart below.

Mils (Thousands of an inch) Microns Millimeters
.001″ 24 .0254
.002″ 50 .0508
.003″ 72 .0765
.004″ 96 .1016
.005″ 120 .127
.007″ 168 .1778
.010″ 40 .254
.015″ 360 .381
.020″ 480 .508

What is slitting?

If material needs to be supplied in narrower rolls than we have available, then we put the roll on a machine called a slitter. This “cuts” the rolls to the width needed. This is called slitting. The narrowest that we can slit is 1″ wide. We will not slit less than 100’ of material. Our slitter has a +/- 1/16″ tolerance. There is a converting fee for this custom manufacturing which becomes much more cost effective with larger quantities.

What is rewinding?

This is when you need a shorter length of material than normally available on the master roll. This allows us to supply the length you require for your application. There is converting fee for this service.


What is sheeting and square cutting?

Sheeted material is supplied from stock master rolls. We can also cut oversized non-square sheets from these master rolls. Then the sheets are subsequently square cut to the desired size. There is a +/- 1/16″ tolerance for these cut sheets. We can only square cut sheets.

What is acetate film and acetate sheet?

Many people use the term “acetate film” to generically refer to plastic film. However, acetate film is really a specific type of plastic material called cellulose acetate. It is made of a polymer that is made from wood-pulp and or cotton fibers. Cellulose Acetate comes in two derivatives, Di-Acetate and Tri-Acetate. Emco Plastics is one of the largest stocking converters of Cellulose Di-Acetate in North America. We also stock Tri-Acetate but in a lesser variety or quantity than Di-Acetate. Acetate film is produced by two mechanical methods: solvent casting or forced extrusion. Because of its superior clarity and surface quality, solvent cast or cast acetate is the type of acetate we stock at Emco Plastics. Because Acetate is made from wood-pulp, it has certain attributes that are sometimes desirable and sometimes something you want to avoid – all depending on your application. See the table of attributes below:

Attributes of Emco’s Cellulose Acetate Film:

  • Glass-like clarity
  • Very uniform optical properties and low birefringence
  • Good dimensional stability
  • Easily torn (low tear strength)
  • Easily die-cut
  • Printable with conventional screen and offset printing methods
  • Melting point of about 225 degrees F/100 degrees C
  • Approved world wide for indirect and direct food and medical applications
  • Available in Clear and Matte
  • Many custom production options: Colors, Finishes, Dies, etc.
  • Available in wide range of thickness .001″ – .020″

What is Mylar®?

Mylar® is often used to generically refer to plastic film, however, it is a registered trademark owned by Dupont Tejjin Films for specific types of plastic film products made from the resin Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). The true generic term for this material is Polyester Film. Polyester Film is manufactured in a range of different styles, finishes and thicknesses.

What is Vinyl (PVC) Film?

Vinyl, otherwise known as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is a thermoplastic material that can be reprocessed using heat. Because of this trait, there are a broad range of formats in which it can be manufactured. However, with respect to what we do, we refer to vinyl as a thin film that ranges in thickness from .003″ to 1/4″. Vinyl film is produced by two mechanical methods: calendaring or forced extrusion. Calendared PVC Film is the type of vinyl that Emco stocks, because of its superior clarity and surface. See the attributes below:

Attributes of Emco’s Rigid PVC Film:

  • High clarity
  • Good dimensional stability
  • Easily die-cut
  • Printable with conventional screen and offset printing methods
  • Melting point of about 158 degrees F /70 degrees C
  • Available in clear and matte
  • Many custom production options: colors, finishes, etc.
  • Available in wide range of thicknesses (.003″ – .030″)

Is rigid vinyl available in colors?

Yes, rigid vinyl is available in clear, white and several other standard colors.

Is rigid vinyl recommended for outdoor use?

Yes, the manufacturer recommends calendared UVI vinyl for extended outdoor use.

Can rigid vinyl be die cut?

Yes, both steel rule and Class A dies work very well for cutting rigid vinyl.

What is the best way to glue rigid vinyl?

Solvent cements and PVC cements work well with rigid vinyl, as do ultra high bond tapes which offer a non adhesive attachment option.

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