We were given the opportunity to try out a Roller Squeegee that we picked up at the UK Sign & Digital Exhibition in May. After a few months of trying it out, I have to say I do recommend it.
At £12.55 + VAT and postage for a pair they are not cheap, but I think they are good value. The question I have yet to answer is: are they going to outlast a normal squeegee? I think that they almost certainly will from my initial usage, although that said I think I don't seem to get through as many squeegees as the average sign maker. One of the benefits is you can buy replacement parts rather than replacing the whole unit, helping to make it more cost-effective.
The Roller Squeegee has been developed to apply media without scratching, because it rolls over the vinyl or application tape instead of being dragged. There is the option of a Silicone and rubber roller offering a different level of tack, which can be useful to have more of a rolling resistance when pressing hard. There is also a level of personal preference as to which works best, says Jay from Roller Squeegee. "The rubber roller is tough and durable it has been picked for everyday use in applying backing paper to your vinyls, and applying vinyls and for use with wet applications. The silicone roller is smoother and slightly tackier, giving a soft application on glass and other surfaces. It is also great for picking up tiny bits of dust and dirt before application."
Initially as with anything new it does feel unusual, but at 100mm wide and 6mm thick it sits in the hand nicely. Apart from the inflexibility caused by the metal rod going through the roller, it has a similar feel to that of standard squeegees. This does mean you have even pressure over the whole 100mm, which I think would be more useful on a larger squeegee, where I find the edges don't always have as much pressure on them. I quickly warmed to it and applying application tape is now faster for me, unless I am doing big graphics for which I sometimes use a larger squeegee. Jay has told me that a larger roller squeegee is being worked upon, and that they should be releasing this soon.
So far the roller squeegee is in almost perfect condition showing little signs of wear and tear. There is slight wear and tear on the body, where the bar of the roller has worn into the 'top hat nylon washers', which I think is due to these nylon washers being aligned slightly off in the first place.
As part of my destructive testing I disassembled and then re-assembled it. It is clear that these top hat nylon washers can get caught and crumpled which negates their ability to reduce wear and tear. These are really minor points, and the fact that they have these nylon washers at all shows to me that this is a well thought out design as a result of extensive testing. Jay informed me that they spent the last 3 years developing and improving the Roller Squeegee. They have been working in the Sign Industry for 15 years and have gone through hundreds of squeegees.
I've used it for a fair bit of wet application too, for which it works well. The metal bar did get a bit of rust on it, which was only apparent when I saw the brown marks of rust on the application tape, which didn't really have any negative affect anyway.
One thing you have to be careful of is dropping it. Despite being quite robust, the PVC body can break if dropped and I managed to do exactly that, but as long as you're careful it really isn't a problem. It can take plenty of force, but with all PVC, there is an element of brittleness. They have already addressed this issue and will be changing the body to ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic this month (September). ABS is known for it's hardwearing and durable properties. "We will also be introducing Baize as an option for the squeegee end, this is pool table material and lasts a lot longer with less fluff than you would get with the felt ends," explains Jay. He is hoping this will be available on their website at some point in September 2013.
Roller Squeegee manufactures and assembles these from their premises in Norfolk, ensuring a good quality-check process and helping them to provide a top quality product. I can only agree with that having used the product.
Visit www.rollersqueegee.com to learn more.
- Martin Hinchliffe