By Cassandra Balentine
Commercial vehicle graphics and wraps help businesses promote brands and events, while personal wraps offer a fresh look. The application is and has been popular for some time, and with its popularity comes requests for more unconventional projects.
Industrial wraps decorate functional equipment outside of traditional vehicles. From construction trucks to plows and Zambonis, motivated wrappers take on this equipment and contend with challenges such as size, unique shapes, and rugged environments.
Above: WrapItBoston employs wide format inkjet printers from HP and Mimaki and utilizes approved 3M latex and solvent inks and 3M vinyl.
Supporting a Good Cause
Visual Horizons Custom Signs is a print provider based in CA’s Central Valley. The shop employs a staff of three in addition to husband and wife owners, Charity and Gavin Jackson. “We work in an industrial area of town. Our shop is about 6,800 square feet and allows us to pull an entire city bus into our back shop for installs,” explain the Jacksons.
Visual Horizons does about three to five vehicle wraps a week, and this includes everything from partial to full wraps. The Jacksons estimate that they also letter about five to ten vehicles per week.
Because of its location in a large agricultural area of CA, the shop attracts a lot of customers with large equipment, truck mounted cranes, bobcats, semi-trucks, and tanker trucks. “Many of our vehicles are spot graphics or partial wraps, as opposed to full wraps,” they add.
The Jacksons recall a job completed for a long-time customer that owns a local propane company. The company has three divisions, Van Unen Miersma Propane, Sierra Propane, and Windmill Propane. “We’ve been lettering/partial wrapping its propane tank trucks for years. Recently it asked us to do a special version with a marine pattern camouflage for the Semper Fi Fund that it supports,” share the Jacksons.
The primary goal of the wraps for all of the propane trucks Visual Horizons letters is business recognition and consistency among their fleet. For the three trucks with the camouflage wrap, the main focus was to generate attention for the Semper Fi Fund, and business recognition second.
The shop was asked to keep the main company logos consistent with the client’s other tanker trucks, but the camouflage print and Semper Fi Fund logos needed to be displayed prominently.
The wraps were all printed using 3M Commercial Solutions’ 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive v3 IJ180Cv3-10 with 3M Envision Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8548G. Graphics were produced on a Roland DGA Corporation SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 printer/cutter with Eco-Sol MAX 2 inks. “Since we use premium wrap media, we offer a three year warranty, but the graphics are expected to last five years before there is noticeable fading, peeling, or lifting,” say the Jacksons.
The tanks are curved top to bottom in the center, so the shop did large center panels, squeegeeing top to bottom for the camouflage wrap section. The Jacksons explain that each end of the tanks curve top to bottom and left to right, so the compound curves were harder to wrap. Smaller sections were installed allowing them to overlap and follow the curves for minimal distortion and avoid overstretching.
The Jacksons say that many of the industrial equipment and vehicles they install graphics on have obstacles that regular vehicles may not. “We also notice large compound curves on the semi-trucks we’ve wrapped require extra time to wrap correctly,” they share.
Visual Horizons is dedicated to customer satisfaction. As long as vehicles and equipment need to be wrapped, it is happy to do it. “Since we’re in an agricultural area we’ll continue to see more of these types of vehicles,” predict the Jacksons.
Car Wrap City started in the early 2000s and now has two locations—in Sherman and Carrollton, TX—and more than 80,000 square feet of space. The shop employs certified installers from 3M and Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions.
The company’s sole focus is vehicle wraps, and it completes several a day. The team has wrapped everything from Aston Martins to Zambonis. “We are fully invested and very passionate about what we do,” explains David Badger, installer, Car Wrap City.
Car Wrap City doesn’t back away from wrapping industrial vehicles, like cranes, dump trucks, and tractors. “These are not your everyday wraps, so we tackle them as they come in,” admits Badger.
The company walks us through a recent industrial job, which involved a tow truck, a 2017 Peterbilt Century Rotator. The client, Ward’s Towing, is a repeat customer and knew Car Wrap City was up to the challenge. “This is the biggest vehicle of the client’s entire fleet. The mission was to make a design for a tow truck trade show he was showcasing the vehicle for,” says Tyson Summers, designer, Car Wrap City.
Summers wanted the design to reflect the size and industrial strength of this monster tow truck. “The truck looks like it could pick up and move a building, so everything was designed to reflect strength and style,” he continues. “It really is a huge machine. It may be the biggest tow truck I’ve designed. I also wanted to do something a little different than something you’d expect to see,” he offers. The design features stripes with a lot of metallic textures included, which would ordinarily be a solid color with an outline.
The vehicle already had a lime green crane, so Car Wrap City matched its printed green to that color. “It’s all about those details when you’re making a custom wrap. If we don’t color match, our printed green wouldn’t be as over the top as we wanted. We’re always shooting for perfection,” says Summers.
The design process was straight forward. “I created a few mockups and tweaked from there,” recalls Summers. “Being such a huge vehicle, a lot of work goes into just making an accurate template. Everything is based around measurements and a template you can trust,” he stresses.
For the Peterbilt Century Rotator wrap, the shop used Avery Dennison MPI 1105 Easy Apply RS media and laminated it with DOL 1360. The graphics were printed using the shop’s Mutoh America, Inc. printers and eco-solvent inks.
Depending on the surface and the car, the manufacturer’s warranty is about five years for the wrap.
Industrial machines, like the Ward’s tow truck, are case-by-case jobs. “They have more physical obstacles to account for,” explains Badger.
Summers admits that while it’s all pretty similar, one thing with industrial machines is that people tend to climb on them and things bang into them. “Most of it is making the client aware that just because you have a wrap now doesn’t mean that wear and tear will stop. Just be mindful as you climb your rig,” he suggests.
With industrial wraps, Summers suggests always making a custom template. “Getting access to working vehicles is hard just because they’re out in the field when you’re at the computer. The huge industrial vehicles are complicated to move. I give clients measurement diagrams to show them where to measure for me. You also need to check the surfaces to make sure they are in wrappable condition. Oil and old beaten up areas will need to be addressed before the install date,” cautions Summers.
Badger adds that finishing is an important aspect of industrial wrap installs. “These vehicles will be in the elements full time. All edges need to be sealed and post heated. Heavy-use edges—like doors and compartments—may also be sealed with a quarter-of-an-inch lamination tape for extra durability,” he advises.
While Car Wrap City is well versed at wrapping every type of vehicle, it welcomes work on industrial vehicles because it truly enjoys a challenge and the ability to show off its skills.
Artworks is a full-service interior and exterior graphics company based out of Irving, TX.
The company completes up to five vehicle wraps a week. In addition to standard vehicles, it has worked on brand mixers, excavators, pneumatic trailers, and various other industrial machines. The goal of these projects is typically to provide name recognition to the construction/demolition field.
The company recently wrapped a fleet of cement trucks for a regular client that was bought out and needed to rebrand.
“While working closely with the salesman at MHC and Martin Marietta representatives, a trust developed that we would get the job done no matter the time and resources it took to accomplish the finished product our clients desired,” says Joseph Price, president, Artworks.
The fleet involved multiple drum manufacturers and sizes, the process took a few weeks of trial and error. “The drums are egg shaped so the panels had to be distorted to fit together like puzzle pieces. Each logo is made up of four panels. Due to shipping out about ten of these kits a week, we also custom created an installation instruction sheet,” explains Price.
To wrap the cement trucks, the shop used ORAFOL Americas’ ORALITE 5650RA Fleet Engineer Grade media and ORAGUARD 290 performance laminate and HP, Inc. latex printers.
The wraps are expected to be in place for two to three years.
Price notes that the company is in year three of a three year branding phase for its client. “Next year we enter the maintenance phase, replacing mixer kits and logos as needed,” he offers.
Close Client Interaction
SignArt started 41 years ago as a sign lettering, design, and production company. Throughout the years, it created, manufactured, installed, and maintained thousands of signs throughout New England. About ten years ago, the company formed a subsidiary, WrapitBoston, when Ed Spinney, VP, SignArt, realized the significance of vehicle wraps. It is based in Malden, MA.
Today, the company has 18 employees, including three full-time designers, two full-time certified wrap installers with helpers, welders, fabricators, installers, and service people. Its 10,000 square feet facility features a drive-in bay capable of wrapping three vans at once, or one, 54-foot trainer.
According to Spinney, the shop has wrapped as many as three vehicles and lettered two trucks in one day, and the average is two vehicles per day.
It has wrapped almost everything—planes, buses, all types of construction equipment, hockey helmets, Zambonis, boats, motorcycles, spray booths, and interior and exterior walls.
More specifically, Spinney says the company wrapped several noteworthy local vehicles, including the MIT Hyperloop high-speed transportation pod; a snow blower for the town of Framingham, MA; a wrap for GJ Towing of an 80 ton Rotator Wrecker—one of the largest trucks in MA; most of the Boston Water Taxi boats; and a large excavator for McKay Constructions.
Spinney says in the beginning, about 60 percent of the company’s wrap jobs were from existing customers and the rest new. “Now we get new customers every week so it’s about 30 percent regular and 70 percent new.”
The company works very closely with its clients. “We are very concerned about the quality and final look of our products and their image,” he attests. To help envision a job, the design processes starts with an interview with the customer to help determine visions and expectations. From there, WrapitBoston has an internal design meeting to discuss the direction and get started. “The process can be from one proof to as many as the customer needs to get it the way they want it,” offers Spinney.
The shop employs wide format inkjet printers from HP and Mimaki USA, Inc. and utilizes approved 3M latex and solvent inks. “We use all 3M vinyl for our printing. We laminate a clear coating over each print in matte, satin, or gloss,” says Spinney. The wraps are expected to last five to eight years, depending on how well they are taken care of.
For industrial wraps, the shop finds the biggest challenge to be the different shapes of the machinery. However, it won’t shy away from the challenge. “We will wrap anything if we have the chance,” says Spinney.
He shares a special and unique wrap it recently finished. The task was to fabricate and wrap a rolling cart used by Boston Children’s Hospital for the One Mission program, which focuses on young cancer patients.
Spinney says the Boston Children’s Hospital cart started out as a phone conversation. From there it became a discussion of practical design, including the size, shape, and storage. It was approved after a few changes and more discussion on usage. Then the team moved into logistics of construction, materials, weight, hinges, and locks.
Once approved, the shop started construction on a cart with an aluminum welded frame, drawers, and shelves. During this process, SignArt began the actual design and color concepts of the wrap, which was modified and approved a few times before it was printed. Once printed, it was laminated with a high gloss and installed on the constructed cart.
Industrial Vehicle Wraps
While many print providers have mastered the coupes, sedans, SUVs, and pick-up trucks of the world, not all are willing tackle a big rig, garbage truck, concrete mixer. Those with the skills and confidence to wrap industrial-grade equipment further the opportunity for vehicle wraps.
Nov2017, Digital Output