Various manufacturers and distributors provide media for vehicle wraps. Companies like 3M Graphics Market Center, Arlon Graphic Films, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division, FELLERS, Inc., MACtac, and Oracal USA work with their customers to create the best possible products for success.
Demand for vehicle wraps is booming. Tim Boxeth, marketing supervisor, 3M Graphics Market Center, believes it has to do with their ability to drive sales. "The vehicle wrap market is showing strong growth well into the double digits. More business owners are realizing the effectiveness of on-vehicle advertising."
This effectiveness is something that Bryan Lund of Lund Grafx Works in Salt Lake City, UT is noticing as well. 90 percent of his business is vehicle wraps. His customers are using their wrapped vehicles to connect with their customers. "People don’t remember phone numbers from a vehicle. What they need is a vivid image that they can connect with a storefront or tie in with a product and say ‘Hey, I’ve seen that before’."
3M Graphics Market Center
3M’s Controltac Graphic Films are no stranger to vehicle wrapping. Intro-duced years ago, Boxeth says that with Controltac Graphic Films 3M wanted to "allow companies to better advertise and communicate their brands with large format printed graphics on vehicles and in other applications." Combining their Controltac Graphic Films with 3M Comply Adhesive seven years ago further enabled even more customers to participate.
Two of their top selling products are 3M Controltac Graphic Film IJ180C with Comply Adhesive and IJ180Cv2 with Comply v2 Adhesive. With Controltac, the product is slideable, repositionable, removable, and provides reliable adhesion. With Comply Adhesive, the vinyl is easier to install thanks to a lack of bubbles and wrinkles reduced by air channels. New improvements to 3M’s offering created non-visible air release channels with film IJ180Cv2. In addition, the new 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518 is ideal for vehicle wraps to provide a wet paint-like appearance. 3M Scotchcal Perforated Window Graphic Film IJ8171 and 3M Scotchcal Optically Clear Overlaminate 8914 are used for the window graphics.
"3M strives to provide solutions that meet customers needs. This results in innovative solutions that allow customers to profit and grow," Boxeth explains. Helping customers to profit and grow is comforting when 3M’s warranty plan is behind you. With 3M’s Performance Guarantee, customers are provided with coverage for 3M components used with printers from Durst, EFI/VUTEk, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, MacDermid ColorSpan, Mimaki, Mutoh, Océ, and Roland. Another option is 3M’s MCS Warranty, which covers everything from manufacturing defects to an untimely failure of materials or inks.
Arlon Graphic Films
Arlon Graphic Films’ DPF 6000 gloss white vinyl paired with its 3220 series overlaminate is one of the more popular combinations for vehicle wraps. Like all of their products, the DPF 6000 holds ink well and is extremely soft. According to Gabriel Maxwell, director of print technology, Arlon, the soft factor becomes important when you want to stretch media around a vehicle. Arlon’s Total System Warranty covers the complete graphic, from material cost to ink, if anything goes wrong.
This past June, Arlon introduced its newest product, the 4560GTX with X-Scape Technology. It too can be paired with the 3220 overlaminate, but what makes it different from the DPS 6000 is that it is for partial wraps. Arlon hopes with this product that people will realize that you don’t have to do a full wrap for a successful outcome.
The 4560GTX was developed with small sign shops in mind. "We wanted to accommodate the mom and pop shops," says Maxwell. With a partial wrap, the more difficult parts of a vehicle are left out, allowing novice wrappers less margin for error.
Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division’s successful Easy Apply (EZ) technology recently launched an off shoot, Easy Apply RS technology. The R stands for repositionability and the S for slideability. Introduced this past February, the new technology is coupled with several of Avery’s current films. For example, its MPI 2003 EZ, a calendered digitally printed film improved with EZ RS technology. The change enables wraps to be easily installed with the repositionability and slideability features.
According to Lance Hutt, global digital products manager, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division, it is the EZ and EZ RS technologies that sets them apart from the rest. As does their open warranty systems. Avery offers three levels of warranty. The first level simply covers materials. The second two are a bit more in depth. Hutt explains them in detail, "With the Performance Guarantee we work with each OEM printer manufacturer to test our materials with their printer and ink system. We then put the printed media through true application tests to assure it works for the approved application." With their ICS Fleet Warranty shops can become certified to print and apply fleet graphics. "We guarantee success with the job through the certified shop or else we pay for material replacement, demark and remark of the new graphics," shares Hutt.
MACtac’s IMAGin JT5529BFD was introduced in 2006 and is predominately used by MACtac customers. It is a soft white gloss, laminated PVC film, designed for solvent-based inkjet printing. Its attraction, according to Rick Moore, director of marketing, graphic products, MACtac, is ease of application and printability that resembles paint when it is applied. 5529 is their brightest white product, and combines with Permacolor RAYZor, their highest gloss cast overlaminate, to create a conformable wrap system.
Currently MACtac is working on creating accessory products around their JT5529BFD vinyl. At SGIA a new window perf and an enhancer product were introduced and in November a 60-inch film will launch for those looking for a seamless application by installing vertically.
The window perf is targeted toward short-term wraps. Kristi Young, product manager, MACtac, explains that the window perf evolved from customer suggestions. "Customers had been asking for a more cost effective window perf. Typically they will change out their windows several times because they are prone to wear and tear," she says.
Really a digital print overlaminate, the enhancer product will be available in three versions—crystal glass shard, metallic flake silver, and metallic flake multicolor. This clear, cast film gives any digital print, screen print, vinyl, or printed surface a subtle, sparkling affect.
Moore believes that these new products are one of the key components to MACtac’s success and hopes customers will use the accessory products to differentiate themselves from competitors.
Another component is MACtac’s Open Image Warranty, introduced at ISA ‘07. Under the warranty, MACtac will work with the customer to create a system they want. The best part—not all of the products have to be MACtac. "We are literally wrapping our arms around the customer in standing by what is best for them," Moore explains. "We want to be the partner they need and most times that is going to take flexibility along side product and service."
Oracal’s RapidAir air-release technology helped spur the popularity of its ORAJET wrapping films thanks to ease of use. David Grant, VP of marketing, Oracal, shares that they are "embraced by less experienced installers who are just learning the finer points of vehicle wraps, as well as veteran installers looking to increase productivity."
Recently Oracal began offering a RapidAir version of its ORAJET 3951RA. This 2-mil cast film, according to Grant, is ideal for wrapping the most challenging surfaces. Another new product is the ORACAL Series 5600 Fleet Engineering Reflective Film, a highly flexible film that comes in a range of colors as well as white for solvent inkjet printing. The film was created in response to the rising popularity of printable reflective films in the fleet, transit, and traffic/safety markets. "As opposed to most reflective films, this one overcomes the traditional issues users have been accustomed to," explains Grant, such as "inconsistent printing, poor conformability, and removal problems."
Oracal’s warranty program also helps to solve the customer’s problems. "We work hard to ensure that customers who choose our products will achieve success with them, both during application and afterwards," Grant states. He continues, "We do whatever it takes to make customers feel like we are their partner in success, not just a materials manufacturer or supplier."
Their basic warranty guarantee is that all of their products are free of defects. If something happens to the product then Oracal will work with the customer to determine what went wrong and replace or refund the defective material. An extensive option is the ORALIFE Component System (OCS) Warranty, which includes coverage for not only the media, but also the entire printed graphic.
Serving Up Variety
FELLERS, Inc. is a distributor of 3M Commercial Graphics, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division, and Oracal USA media. Their most popular wrap products include 3M’s IJ180C with an 8519 overlaminate; Avery’s 1005 EZ RS with a Dol 1000 overlaminate; and Oracal’s 3951 with a 290g overlaminate.
Honoring the manufacturer’s warranties, FELLERS, Inc. informs customers of the benefits of each product. However, as Sergio DeSoto, VP of marketing, FELLERS, Inc. points out, after the benefits are presented it is up to the customer to make the final decision.
"Ultimately, the customer makes the decision on which brand they use, based on personal trial and preference. All we have to do is sell the customer on the benefits of buying from FELLERS, which is the fun part. With 46 shipping locations nationwide, and stocking the leading brands, we can get the customer what they need, when they need it, and at a fair price," DeSoto remarks.
On Land, In the Air, and By Sea
Sign shops are finding new and innovative ways to utilize their wrap expertise—even on windmills. MACtac’s Moore has a client in Europe that used MACtac’s IMAGin JT5529BFD on windmills for European Wind Day. Huge cranes installed the graphics this past Spring. Each 80-foot decal represented a member of 27 European Union countries.
Lund Grafx Works recently wrapped two houseboats using MACtac vinyl. Out of everything Bryan Lund has wrapped, this is the biggest, and Lund has wrapped an odd array of vehicles, including garbage trucks. However, in the two years the company has been in business they have truly found success in wrapping regular sized vehicles.
For example, Tuff Country, one of Lund’s clients, wanted a wrap for their Jeep to look good, but not too showy. The wrap was a bit of a challenge because the main color was gray, and as Lund points out, gray is a hard color to print. It is very easy for it turn into a bluish gray or black during the printing process.
With the gray as their back color, Tuff Country requested that their name standout from the background. In previous wraps, Lund and his crew had used diamond plating but with this wrap they used brush metal.
The finishing process was the most difficult part. Cutting the vinyl just right while making sure to not scratch the vehicle underneath is a huge priority. Lund says that they fine line everything, especially because they receive a lot of repeat business and don’t want customers to bring in a wrapped vehicle, look at the wrap coming off, and notice cuts in the paint underneath.
Orlando, FL-based Media 1 wrapped its first vehicle in 1997 and is still going strong—so strong in fact, the owners created a second business. Wrap This, Inc., located in Melbourne, FL, is entirely devoted to vehicle wraps and fleet graphics.
Media 1 and Wrap This are both familiar with marine wraps. Before wrapping boats became popular, Media 1 did full custom airbrushed paint jobs on off-shore race boats. Dale Salamacha, president, Wrap This, explains that when "wrap technology advanced to a point of being feasible for this application, we jumped on it! Fishing boats, race boats, and bass boats are all wrap candidates for us."
This past year three installers from Wrap This flew to Minnetoka, MN to the Rapala Headquarters to install a 3/4 wrap on a GMC Yukon and a full wrap on a 21-foot Ranger bass boat. The catch: they had two and a half days to complete the project.
Rapala, the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing lures, wanted to make both the Yukon and Ranger bass boat resemble oversized lures. Damon Coppola, VP, Media 1 and Wrap This, says that Wrap This designers worked closely with Rapala’s lead designer, Derek Farsund to achieve this look. Ultimately, according to Coppola, the entire team wanted to "display the unique style that Rapala lures portray."
The project designs were created in Adobe Photoshop and printed on two of the company’s Mutoh Toucan LT printers. Both the Yukon and Ranger bass boat were wrapped with 3M Controltac Graphic Film IJ180Cv2 with 8518 High Gloss Lamination.
Despite the surge in unique wraps, DeSoto believes people are just barely scratching the surface. Five years ago it was hard to imagine how media could improve and the companies mentioned here have gone above and beyond those expectations. According to Tim Greene, director of wide format, InfoTrends, the retail value of vehicle wraps in 2007 was 860 million dollars. Even more astounding, that number is projected to rise to 1.20 billion by 2011. Repositionable, slideable, removable, partial wrap media are helping to create an easier, more profitable vehicle wrap. It’s a wonder what they will think of next.