By Elizabeth Quirk
Vehicle wraps evolve as more print service providers (PSP) offer them. On a consumer level, there is a lot of notoriety, especially in the case of color change films. Buyers can request distinct designs to make their vehicle wraps stand out from the crowd.
Color change films are ideal for full car wraps or as an accent on a vehicle’s hood, trunk, roof, or bumper. Imagination is the only limit when it comes to custom wraps. To keep pace, film manufacturers address the popularity by constantly updating the colors and finishes in their many media portfolios.
Above: In Fall 2018, APA America launched Silk Inferno Red into its Provocative Color Family.
Ideas for new wrap film colors, finishes, and textures come from everywhere. Whether it be new finishes and colors in architecture or even fashion—these factors most definitely contribute to potential influences for new products. Occasional focus groups also help with decisions on variations of specific colors and finishes.
“For a small company like us it is very important to always be on top with the latest trendy colors. Our team researches every day for new colors and effects. Our customers also play an important part in this process,” says Mattia Casarotto, marketing manager, APA America.
Josh Culverhouse, graphic innovations market manager, ORAFOL Americas, says his team constantly receives ideas from installers and designers across the world inspired by their daily encounters. “We’ve received requests to create colors that mimic or match anything from unique watch faces, animal or lizard skins, deserts, oceans, sunset, outer space, old Americana, and honey bees,” he adds.
This past Fall, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions announced five new color and finish options in its Supreme Wrapping Film portfolio—Matte Olive Green, Satin Dark Basalt, Gloss Rock Grey, Satin Safari Gold, and Sand Sparkle. These new colors are based on automotive color trend research and input from the Avery Dennison network of wrap installers.
“Listening to loyal customers and the vinyl wrap industry as a whole is our top priority,” says Jeff Losch, marketing director, Avery Dennison. “This new collection of colors is inspired by installers’ creativity and the need for vehicle customization options.”
It’s common for PSPs to keep an eye on new colors released by car manufacturers as well, including those on specialty concept and show vehicles. “We look for consumer trends in colors or effects that engage the auto enthusiast,” explains Janelle Pizzi, U.S. product marketer, 3M Commercial Solutions. “For example, colors such as psychedelic that shift/interact with the environmental conditions are in demand,” she continues.
3M works with partners and clients to identify new effects and textures to add to the 3M product roster. However, it is equally important to keep these new products in line with current durability and performance standards.
“Our focus is always on meeting market demand while providing a product that meets the high standards 3M is known for. As we begin to see even more creative installations and inventive products, it is imperative to consider the longstanding advancements in performance technology as well,” shares Pizzi.
3M meets on a regular basis with pigment companies to understand the direction of color trends. These colors are determined years in advance. Its customers are also part of the process, helping them get a better understanding of what is needed as well as expected in the market.
Depending on the PSP, manufacturer, colors, textures, and other surrounding circumstances, the production cycle for color changing films could be months or even years.
According to Ryan Scislowicz, manager of business development and marketing, KPMF USA, a color isn’t considered for release until it passes a series of durability and appearance tests, which can take a couple of months. Once approved, the manufacturing and launch process takes a few weeks for installers to have the film available to them.
New colors to the market may utilize pigments/raw materials that require durability and color stability testing. That said, new colors and finishes are typically released two to three times per year around the schedule of larger wrap-focused trade shows. The newest featured product on KPMF USA’s website is K88025 Hi Gloss Black. The PVC film is ideal for vehicle roof wraps.
3M validates that the proposed color meets its company standards, then targets its next product launch. Its recently launched new textures—Shadow Black, Shadow Military Green, and Matrix Black—are part of the 3M Wrap Film Series 1080, which boasts over 100 colors in a variety of textures and finishes. It is a 3.5-mil cast film available in 60-inch rolls.
APA America’s process is similar. “It depends on the pigments and finishes involved in making a specific color. If they are already tested we can have a new color in 20 days. If we need to test the pigment or a specific finish, we have to wait at least one year for the full test process,” explains Casarotto.
In the Fall of 2018, APA America launched Silk Inferno Red into its Provocative Color Family. The cast film offers a red base with a gold pearlescent silk finish. It is equipped with the RepoTack-AirFree Adhesive System for ease of application and repositioning.
For ORAFOL, the process is dependent on all parties involved as well as managing expectations with open communication. “With exceptional chemists, engineers, and technology we’re able to pivot pretty quickly to create and launch new colors and textures. If an influential wrap organization or corporation wanted to create a custom color or finish to represent their brand, it could take as little as six to ten weeks from start to finish to make this happen,” explains Culverhouse.
ORAFOL’s color change film portfolio includes 97 colors with gloss, matte, and metallic finishes. ORACAL 970RA Premium Wrapping Cast with RapidAir Technology is a 4.25-mil thick film available in 60-inch width rolls.
The production cycle at Avery Dennison begins with the conception; new colors are directed to their color scientists, who create the color to be unique and precise. After the color is created, samples are produced and sent out for quality and durability testing. The material is then recommended to test in the market.
“Avery Dennison qualifies material on several key components, if it does not meet or exceed the expectations the project is either cancelled or rerouted back through the process,” shares Ryan Allen, regional technical specialist, Avery Dennison.
Enhancements and Changes
There is much more to the film than its external appearance and there is always room for advancement. The colors and finishes are just part of the full product. Many other enhancements are involved, such as adhesive, material, thickness, and backing paper. These are just a few features a manufacturer will upgrade to keep the product always fresh for the market.
Installation and removal of films continue to be important characteristics. Constant research and development takes place to ensure products are evolving to meet the demands of installers. Adjustments to current formulations and trials of new ones help improve product performance in both application and durability.
Culverhouse argues that today’s color change films are far easier to apply than traditional colored plotter films that were once utilized for these same color change applications. “Today’s color change films offer repositionable adhesive along with air egress channels that allow an experienced installer to successfully install the material to mimic a paint job. If an installer were to utilize a more traditional plotter film, they wouldn’t necessarily have the air egress feature or repositionable adhesive to assist them,” he explains.
These films are typically 3- to 4-mil in thickness, which gives the material extra structure, whereas traditional plotter films are 2- to 3-mil in thickness and feel more flimsy and harder to control during the installation.
“Technology has advanced in the color change market and with our patented Easy Apply RS technology. Avery Dennison offers a product that is repositionable and slideable while maintaining its air release capabilities,” says Allen.
On the other hand, color change films are similar to digital print materials in application method. They can use the same adhesive and exhibit similar stretchability. According to Scislowicz, the difference is in the necessary finer details that may not be as crucial in digitally printed wraps. When wrapping a white vehicle to blue or a black vehicle to silver it’s important to wrap over all visible surfaces.
This means there is typically more vehicle disassembly during a complete color change versus a digitally printed wrap. All parts of the original vehicle color must be wrapped including more difficult pieces such as antennas, door handles, and bumpers—which can be designed around in digitally printed wraps.
Pizzi agrees that color change films are fairly equal to other graphics materials when considering handling characteristics and conformability. Many films exhibit slight nuances in installation techniques, but many times installers gain a comfort level in those nuances, which facilitates their support of one material over the other.
As color change film wraps continue to expand their reach into commercial and consumer markets, film manufacturers and print providers constantly update colors, textures, and finishes in their media portfolios and keep an eye on the competition to advance in the marketplace. New and unique solutions enable personalization and allow buyers to showcase their individuality through their vehicles, all while offering a quality product.
Mar2019, Digital Output