These days, if you walk past almost any commercial business with a storefront there are good odds you’ll see static cling attached to the windows. Static cling as it turns out, is a remarkable marketing tool for business’ who are looking to keep their messages fresh and relevant to the time of the year, or their business goals. Static cling achieves this through its easy sticking properties that allow the vinyl to be moved or replaced without any strenuous care required. But there’s a lot more behind static cling than you might imagine as I’ll go on to explain,
Taking Static out of Static Cling
You may be a bit put off by the thought, but Static Cling doesn’t actually employ static electricity to stick to surfaces and we can do some simple experiments to express how. Static electricity is generated when two surfaces touch one another and the electrons move from one object to the other. I’m sure most of us can remember from our childhood, rubbing balloons against our hair very quickly to produce static electricity. This frenzied motion causes the electrons to take on a positive and negative charge between the surfaces, which causes them to attract. We can quickly see the fault in this logic when applied to Static Cling Decals when we realize that the decals will attract to themselves. If static electricity were involved in this we expect this wouldn’t be the case, as the electrons would be positive on positive (these forces push away from each other). Not only this, but the decal itself would only attract itself to a surface as long as a static electricity charge could be held. Anyone who’s managed to place a balloon on themselves with the help of static electricity knows the effect wears off relatively quickly as the electrons return to their resting state.
Static Cling and Geckos
The real culprits that keep Static Cling working are air pressure and molecular bonding which work together to form a connection between the Static Cling and your smooth surface. So how does it work you may be asking? The Static Cling vinyl is inherently smoother than normal decal Vinyl. This is important as I stated previously, as the Static Cling and the surface you’re applying the vinyl to must be a polished (glossy) smooth surface for best results.
One of the most obvious factors at work is air pressure. When you apply a vinyl decal against a surface, you’re effectively removing the air between the vinyl and the surface; this creates an approximate vacuum in the same way a suction cup does. Which explains when you pull a vinyl decal from a surface, there is a slight resistance. This is most notable in rigid materials such as glass against glass. But comparing Static Cling to a sheet of microscopic suction cups is probably the best analogy for understanding the principles of Static Cling.
But these principles of molecular bonding and air pressure aren’t far off from another familiar creature. While not directly the same, you could draw comparisons to a Gecko and its ability to hold itself against extremely smooth surfaces by as little as a finger. While the Gecko employs some seriously amazing physics in the palms of its own hands, the Static Cling Material also retains the ability to cling to smooth surfaces using the natural attraction of molecules, this is partially why Static Cling Decals are made from an incredibly smooth material.
Exterior Threats to Static Cling Decals
While you can certainly use Static Cling Decals for exterior use, it’s important to remember that because the material has no adhesive it’s susceptible to being blown off by heavy gusts of wind. This is especially true if the surface wasn’t cleaned properly. Because Static Cling is so often used on glass, we would encourage applying the vinyl to the inside of glass windows- to avoid the harsher exterior elements from affecting your decal.
Time itself can hinder your vinyl too. While taking off and moving your decal should be no issue (in fact we encourage it from time to time), leaving static cling removed from a surface for extended periods will slowly but surely remove the “sticky” properties of the vinyl over an extended period of time.