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Finishing the Job

Vehicle Graphic Media and Laminates

Part 4 of 4

By Gretchen A. Peck

A successful vehicle wrap is dependent upon many factors—a clear message, well designed graphics, correct ink settings, and careful installation.

Beyond all those variables, even more critical is the choice of media and finishing laminates used. These not only determine how the finished product looks but how it will install and wear and tear in the long run.

Media and finishing suppliers create materials and products to suit the unique needs of the vehicle graphics market.

On the Move
One aspect of media that determines ease of installation is postionability. "The single most important thing to impact vehicle graphics are the advancements made to application technology. Avery products are dissimilar from most competitive products in that it offers positionability, making it extremely friendly for a vehicle wrap installation. You can now take the liner off, lay it on the hood, and still move it around as you work it. Installers will tell you that’s the number one technological development from a substrate standpoint—ease of application," notes Tom Durner, manager of strategic alliances, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division.

Thin Is In
"In a very short time, we have seen the change from screenprinting to electric static transfer; to water-based, solvent-based, eco-solvent inkjet; and now the current trend toward UV inkjet, with additional new technologies on the near horizon," notes Jeffrey J. Stadelman, technical marketing manager, graphics, MACtac. "Each change is a challenge to the media suppliers to ensure the media and adhesive systems match the printing to work correctly and efficiently." Adding to this change are thinner laminating films, such as MACtac’s new IMAGin JT5529. Thinner films allow for more compatibility with a range of inks and media, as well as ease in installation.

Maintaining Control
Fast and easy installation is what all vehicle graphic suppliers strive for. Features like thinness, slideability, repositionability, and air release systems make for a worry-free vehicle wrap experience. "All of these features make installation easier and faster," explains Tim Boxeth, marketing manager, 3M.

"This enabled the market size to grow as more people became capable of wrapping—and doing it economically," says Boxeth. "And now new film technology provides better performance for lifting resistance once wrapped. This allows wrap shops the ability to not have to design around all of the difficult areas, and they don’t have to make relief cuts. The result is a better looking wrap, which encourages more end users to purchase a wrap."

"The other result," Boxeth adds, "is that wrap shops do not have to shy away from certain vehicles because they are too difficult to wrap successfully. This helps them expand their opportunity for sales."

Guarding Against Makegoods
"We’ve recently expanded our product line to provide vehicle wrap printers and installers with more choices," notes David Grant, VP marketing, Oracal USA.

"It’s important to note, however, that while we understand the need to make film applications easier and more economical, we won’t do this at the expense of long-term product performance," Grant adds. "We believe that any extra time required to wrap vehicles using films such as ours with more aggressive adhesives is easily offset by minimizing or eliminating expensive re-dos caused by film lifting or peeling down the road. In our experience, this professional approach to vehicle wraps ultimately leads to greater customer satisfaction and increased profits for the more forward-thinking sign shops and installers out."

These are just a few of the reasons why entering the vehicle wrap market can be a lucrative experience. Media manufacturers are making it easier than ever before to become involved in this popular application. Read more about vehicle wraps in a full feature article appearing in the November issue of Digital Output.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Cool Cars.
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Going Ape for Vehicle Graphics.
Click here to read Part 3 of this exclusive online series, The Wrap Revolution.

Oct2008, Digital Output

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