3M vs Arlon: which is the best for vehicle wrapping?

By James Weber on May 3, 2023 5:04:38 PM

5 min read
3M vs Arlon Vinyl for Vehicle Wrapping

When it comes to vehicle wrapping, Arlon and 3M are two of the most respected brands around. They both offer premium vinyls, resulting in beautiful colours that are great for both commercial and individual use. But that can make it hard to choose between them.

This guide looks at 3M vs Arlon in detail, so you can get a better idea of which brand is best for you. 


Materials: Arlon or 3M?

As with most brands, 3M and Arlon vinyl is either ‘cast’ or ‘calendared’. Cast vinyl is a premium product that’s thinner and more flexible than cheaper options. This means it can bend or ‘conform’ to the contours of your vehicle more easily. Calendared vinyl is cheaper to manufacture, but that means it’s thicker and less malleable.  

Cast vinyl can last up to 7 years, while calendared maxes out at 5. Both Arlon and 3M have these products available, so you’ll ideally choose a cast vinyl over one that’s calendared if you’re after the best quality possible. 

Which has the best adhesive?

Arlon and 3M both use high-quality adhesives that make application easy, and they can easily be removed without leaving residue. 

3M uses Controltac films that hold their adhesives behind layers of interconnected beads. The more pressure you apply, the more adhesive is squeezed from behind the beaded layer. This lets the installer control how and when the adhesive is applied. 

Arlon uses a similar system called FLITE, which allows the installer to ‘float’ the wrap over the vehicle before installing it. As you might expect, both of these options make the application process easier to manage – and one isn’t significantly better than the other. 

3M and Arlon warranties, explained

Both manufacturers sell durable vinyl, but their warranties can differ based on the option you choose. They can also change their warranties based on your location, and these can be limited by where you live, e.g., your wrap may not be covered for long if you live in a mountainous region. 

In our experience, Arlon is often best for fleet wrapping because the company’s easy to contact and offers lots of support. You’re covered if the wrap fails quickly, but their warranty works on a ‘diminishing returns’ system. So, if you’re covered for 3 years but it fails a year down the line, you’ll only be paid for the remaining 2 years. You won’t get the whole amount. 

Arlon provides extended warranties to installers who achieve partner status. 3M has a similar partnership program, but these are rare, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find them. 

You can read about this in more detail in our vinyl manufacturer warranty guide. You can also see how 3M and Avery Dennison stack up against each other. 

Which makes installation easier?

Arlon’s products are some of the fastest on the market to install, and that makes them ideal for wrapping multiple vehicles at once. Their FLITE technology reduces the number of staff needed for major projects, and being able to place a wrap on the vehicle before installing it keeps things flexible. 

It’s worth noting that keen amateurs sometimes choose 3M products due to how user-friendly they are. And unlike Arlon, some 3M products have films that help protect them during the installation process. 

Both Arlon and 3M offer a range of overlaminates for extra finishes and protection against both UV and physical damage.

3M vs Arlon vinyl wrap installation

How Arlon and 3M compare in price

On average, Arlon is around 25% cheaper than 3M across their product ranges. This makes sense, however, as 3M is known to trade on its brand reputation for supplying unique, premium materials. A good wrap company should be able to show you various options and help you choose the best material to suit your budget. 

If you want to know more about what affects the price of a vehicle wrap, why not head over to our guide on how much a wrap costs? It explains what you can expect to pay based on your vehicle’s size and the amount of material used. 

You can also get an accurate quote for vehicle branding with our easy-to-use pricing calculator. It generates a quote instantly on screen, with no personal details needed! 

Which has the better colour options?

If you’re looking to change the colour of your personal vehicle, 3M has a vast range of unique colours and finishes available. These include brushed metal and carbon fibre finishes. However, Arlon continues to add beautiful new colours to its range, so one of their products may be perfect for you if you’re after a bespoke or colour change wrap. Some options from Arlon include matte, gloss, or satin finishes. 

See the colour options for yourself

Don’t just take our word for it! Visit the link below to learn about 3M and Arlon colour charts, and to see many of the colours available. You might just get inspiration for your next vehicle wrap! 

See Our Colour Chart Guide

James Weber

Written by James Weber

Content Manager