By Olivia Cahoon
While a large portion of vehicle wraps consist of pressure-sensitive vinyl, considering the vehicle’s window is also important. Window media provides added advertising space on the vehicle without fully blocking the windows or inhibiting the driver. Window graphics for vehicle wraps need to be vivid but also able to be seen out of. As a result, many times a perforated window media is used.
Above: Road Rage Design digitally printed the wrap for a Ram pickup truck with Avery Dennison MPI 1105 digital film and Avery Dennison MPI 2528 window perforation film.
Practical, Yet Impactful
A vehicle wrap can be completed with perforated window media, which includes a perforation pattern for the first surface graphic image and for seeing out of the second surface. The media enables UV protection and privacy, while also displaying an image that allows for viewing.
In some scenarios, traditional window graphics are used for vehicle advertisements but if the vehicle is wrapped, the design looks more completed on the windows rather than a separate graphic. “Another side benefit with perforated window media is it blocks most of the sunlight so that the car’s interior doesn’t heat up as much,” admits Louie Calma, technical specialist, Arlon Graphics, LLC.
Paired with a vehicle wrap, perforated window media completely covers the vehicle for a transformational impact. “The brand message seamlessly envelops the vehicle,” says Steve Tomas, director, product branding business team, FLEXcon. A larger advertising canvas increases flexibility of the brand’s message and offers added creative content.
Perforated window media is also available in reflective finishes for driving at night. According to Tomas, the reflectivity of the graphics in areas with low light provides better viewing of the graphics without minimizing visibility for drivers or passengers looking from the inside out.
Picking a Pattern
Standard perforation patterns consist of 50/50, 50/40, and 65/35 with the first number representing the print coverage and the second number the visual light transmission (VLT). VLT is the measurable amount of solar visible light that travels through a glazing system. A lower VLT window restricts how much light enters while a high VLT allows daylight to pass through.
Marcel Medved, business development director, Continental Grafix USA, Inc., believes passenger cars generally use 50/50 while buses use 50/50 and 60/40. Commercial delivery vans can use solid material or 80/20 depending if passengers want to see out. “This is based upon comfort for the passenger, the closer you are to the window, the harder it is to see out,” he offers.
“The pattern can be different when applying to commercial/transit vehicles. Consider a city bus, the windows on the sides can be covered with a 60/40 perforated film for greater graphic visibility for advertising—this is because the driver does not use those windows for visibility/safety reasons,” comments Craig Campbell, market manager – graphic innovations, ORAFOL Americas.
According to Jeff Stadelman, graphics marketing manager, Mactac Distributor Products, Mactac recommends the 50/50 pattern with a 1.5 millimeter hole for automotive window wraps. “This pattern allows for a more complete view through the graphic, especially on a slight to moderately curved surface without sacrificing too much of the image,” he explains.
If regulations allow and there is no need for the driver or passenger to see out a particular window, Tomas says a denser pattern can be used for better image quality. “Safety of the vehicle occupants takes precedence over any preference for better image quality. For windows where visibility is not needed at all, consider solid materials rather than perforated,” he adds.
Brenda Thomas, sign and graphics market specialist, Piedmont Plastics, agrees and says that a 50/50 view pattern for rearview windows is typically recommended while regulations for VLT required on vehicle windows vary by state.
“Most or all window perforated manufacturers will tell you that all states have different regulations when it comes to window graphics. The best practice is to consult your state’s Department of Transportation for regulations,” suggests Thomas.
According to Mark Elvester, senior technologist, 3M Commercial Solutions, the 50/50 pattern is required by law in most states and allows the driver to see through it. Additionally, an optically clear overlaminate is necessary to not further sight hindrance. “Laws regarding perforated window media for moving vehicles vary on what areas of a car can be covered and by how much,” he adds. Each country, state, and even city can have different laws for vehicle regulations. It is the print provider’s responsibility to ensure graphics comply with the location’s vehicle regulations.
Reigning in Suitable Graphics
Window graphics are used to draw attention and to achieve that goal, solid bright colors help the graphic pop. “However, when printing on perforated film, the graphic may look good off the printer but can appear washed or faded on the window,” advises Joshua Barnard, product manager, digital print media, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions.
Additionally, profiles may not be available for the printer, RIP, or media combination. Barnard recommends PSPs research to see if a profile is available for the media intended for the project. “Consult your media provider for available profiles. Also, check with your printer provider and RIP companies as they may also have profiles available for similar media,” he continues.
Calma also suggests PSPs use the correct profile when printing perforated window media. This entails double checking the alignment and placement of the graphic. “Always allow a couple of inches extra around the windows. Avoid a design with a horizontal line for the rear windows because instead of horizontal lines, the window’s curve will make them into an arc,” he explains.
By using an optically clear laminate with the perforated material, the media is easier to handle, scratches are preventable, and stretching and tearing is avoided. According to Barnard, an additional advantage of laminate is keeping the perforated holes clean and easy to see through during installation.
Perforated media intended for latex and UV printing contains holes extending through the original release liner to act as wells to catch ink. Tomas says a solid film or paper cap on the back of the release liner prevents the excess ink from contaminating the backing rollers in the printer.
Keeping Installation on Track
For installation, using an optically clear protective overlaminate helps prevent dirt from being trapped in the perforations. If dirt is trapped, it can drastically reduce the driver’s visibility. “Always cut about one-fourth-of-an-inch away from the edge and use a half-inch sealing lamination tape to prevent the edges from curling,” suggests Calma.
Using water during installation can affect the window media’s clarity. Elvester warns against using water because the perforation pattern forms an air release pattern. Water can be trapped in the perforations, making the graphic blurry and affecting the driver’s visibility.
Tomas agrees and says that wet installation is a poor choice, especially since laminates trap water. He believes lamination is necessary when the perforated media will be exposed to rain. Water collecting in individual holes can aid in lack of ability to see through the product clearly.
“In a moving vehicle, when water gets trapped in the holes, it moves, and this could cause passengers inside the vehicle looking out the window to feel motion sickness,” warns Tomas. It’s also important to consider the window sizes and select the optimal roll width available to reduce waste.
While using a squeegee, it’s important not to apply the squeegee too hard. According to Barnard, applying the squeegee too hard during installation can create a wet look or collapsed holes from the laminate. Instead, use light overlapping squeegee strokes.
“Avoid applying the perforated material over rubber gaskets, as the adhesive will not adhere,” advises Barnard. After trimming, the edges should also be re-squeegeed, and edges can be sealed with edge seal liquid or tape to ensure the graphics adhere for the expected lifespan.
Challenges to Perforation
Perforated window media allows for a certain ratio of printing area and open area. According to Calma, this means the text must be larger to be legible, and if accurate, the colors need to be more vivid to match the vehicle wrap’s color. It’s important that perforated window media complements the vehicle wrap’s design and style, otherwise the vehicle’s transformation won’t be as cohesive.
One of the main challenges of printing graphics on perforated window material is that 50 percent of the print area is missing. For the window graphic to match the rest of the vehicle wrap, Elvester suggests enhancing the color densities of the perforated material to compensate for the missing area.
During installation, curved windows generally require a certain approach to avoid overstretching the graphic. “If it is laminated, some may see squeegee marks, but this should go away over time,” advises Calma. Curved windows also pose risks for wrinkling or adhesion problems if not installed properly.
“If the window has any curve or shape in any way, it is important that a conformable laminate be used. If a polyester laminate is used on a curved surface, it will cause the graphic to tunnel from the edges of the window, thus causing a failure,” cautions Campbell.
Stadelman says that the holes on perforated window media are filled in with the intention to look through them. Installation for perforated window media is similar to normal vinyl graphics, however, he suggests starting the application in the middle of the window and working out towards the curves.
According to Tomas, removal is sometimes be more important than installation and presents its own challenges. “Selecting a perforated material with the correct strength minimizes the potential for breakup and tearing of the graphic on removal,” he says. This can minimize or eliminate adhesive residue on the windows during removal.
Perforated Window Media
Perforated window media is not only used on personal vehicles but also bus, train, and subway wraps, offering brands and marketers more space to make an impact on consumers. For a cohesive full vehicle wrap, perforated window media should blend into the wrap’s design with matching color and style. Before selecting a perforated media type, it’s important to consider the advertising and visibility regulations for moving vehicles based on location and if the perforated media pattern corresponds.
Mar2018, Digital Output