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Face Films: 3 Commonly Used Materials

Face films can have chemical and physical surface treatments that enhance ink adhesion for digital, UV, thermal transfer, and other printing methods.  Face films can be used in other applications that don’t include printing as well.  They can carry adhesive, provide dimensional stability, and offer structural stability.   

Several different materials can be used as face films, and Ameri-Cal is experienced in helping customers select the correct one to fit their application.

From polyester to aluminum foil, different face films have unique benefits that work with the adhesive to deliver optimal, targeted performance. 


As one of the most common and relatively inexpensive films, polyester’s uses are nearly endless.

It is one of the most economical plastic film options.   It has excellent heat resistance, withstanding temperatures up to 302 degrees F before being damaged.  Polyester films are available in a clear version making it ideal for printable imagery on windows and other glass applications. It is available in a variety of other finishes (chrome, brushed, white, black) and thicknesses. 

Polyester is dimensional stable, tear-resistant and comes in a variety of thicknesses to serve multiple application needs.

Typical uses of polyester face film include outdoor or even under car hood applications because of its durability, heat, and chemical resistance.


Another popular film, vinyl is often selected when there is a need for conformability .  

It is excellent at molding to compound curves, whereas polyester tends to wrinkle under similar stresses.

White vinyl is ideal for printing because of its color, lacking any requirement for opacity.  Other methods for printing, including solvent and UV screen, don’t require additional top coats or treatments when working with vinyl. 

Aluminum Foil

The most significant benefits of using aluminum foil as a face film are its high-temperature resistances and its extreme conformability.  It is the go-to film in applications that are higher than 275-300F.

Examples of aluminum foil face film applications include engine cowlings, uses in outdoor power equipment, warning labels near vehicle exhaust, or instances when and conductive film is needed.

Less Common Face Films

While not ad mainstream, many other materials can be used as a face film.  Some less traditional examples include:

  • Acrylic: Some specialized applications that require a non-birefringent film such as LCD screens.
  • Polycarbonate: Popular for touch surfaces, easy to die cut and can be printed on.  Common for overlay applications in home appliances like dishwashers and blenders.
  • Polypropylene: Used most commonly for temporary applications like signage.  Is a low cost option to Polyester.
  • Acetate: Best for frangible, tamper evident applications that demand staying power.  Hard to peel or remove.

Whatever your application, Ameri-Cal can recommend the right solution for you. Contact us to learn more about our custom face film offerings.

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