Media That Zooms
Popular Media for Vehicle Wraps
by Melissa Tetreault
1 of a 4 Part Series
Media manufacturers and distributors are working hard to satisfy the increased demand for wraps. Companies like 3M Graphics Market Center, Arlon Graphic Films, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division, FELLERS, Inc., MACtac, and Oracal USA continue to add products and shape warranty terms to meet the customers’ need.
Tried and True
3M’s Controltac Graphic Films coupled with their Comply Adhesive are well known. Many characteristics make them attractive. Tim Boxeth, marketing supervisor, 3M Graphics Market Center, points out that, "Controltac films are slideable and repositionable, making graphic installation easier, faster, and with fewer mistakes." 3M’s Comply Adhesive has air release channels to help reduce bubbles and wrinkles. One of their most popular product lines is the 180C family of Controltac Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive. Recently, they streamlined the system so that the air release channels are close to invisible in film IJ180Cv2. Boxeth also mentions that 3M finds their customers continuously using 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518 and 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 8519 with their media.
Selling a film that is soft enough to wrap easily around a vehicle is important in vehicle wrapping. Gabe Maxwell, director of print technology, Arlon Graphic Films, believes Arlon’s media does just that. Their DPF 6000 gloss white vinyl when paired with their 3220 overlaminate garners some of the best results when working with vehicle wraps. This past June, Arlon launched their newest product, 4560 GTX with X-Scape Technology. The product is targeted toward small sign shops looking to do a partial vehicle wrap. "You don’t have to do a full wrap to make a vehicle look really good," says Maxwell. The 4560 GTX allows you to cover up 80 percent of the vehicle—Arlon does not suggest covering the bumper with this product.
Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division’s Easy Apply (EZ) product line recently got a makeover. In February 2007 they created Avery Graphic Easy Apply RS (EZ RS). The R stands for repositionability and the S for slideability. Both the EZ and EZ RS lines are offered in opaque, solid-color cast films. Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division also launched several new products for the vehicle wrap market including the EZ RS wrap films, MPI 1800 EZ boat wrap vinyl, and a calendered digitally printable film, the MPI 2003 EZ RS. The MPI 1800 EZ is a glossy cast vinyl film that goes down on gelcoat and fiberglass surfaces creating an end result that resembles paint. With the EZ RS technology added to the MPI 2003 calendered film installers have an easier time wrapping their vehicles with the repositionability and slideability features.
MACtac’s most popular product is part of their IMAGin series JT5000 line. Their JT5529BFD, an extension of their JT5929BFD for flat products, is a soft white gloss film for solvent-based inkjet printing. Introduced in the middle of last year, Rick Moore, MACtac’s director of marketing graphic products, believes it places them in a unique position. "It is repositionable up front, allowing installers to work with the material at the most critical stage of application. If you place it on a hood and need to fix it, it can be pulled back off and laid back down again." Their Permacolor RAYZor LF3648, introduced last year, is their most sought after gloss laminate, combining to make the thinnest wrap system on the market, according to Moore. To enhance MACtac’s vehicle wrap line, and more specifically the products mentioned above, MACtac is introducing accessory products at SGIA 2007 in October. One such product is a clear, cast film that comes in three versions—a crystal glass shard, metallic flake silver, and a metallic flake multicolor. Kristi Young, product manager, MACtac, says that this digital print overlaminate gives any surface a sparkling affect. "It is subtle, yet it glistens in the sun."
Oracal caters to all levels of vehicle wrappers. Their ORAJET wrapping films with RapidAir air-release technology are great for the less experienced installer. Those looking for a more polished finish use all films, even those without the air-release technology. However, more and more of Oracal’s ORAJET films are being offered in a RapidAir version, such as their ORAJET 3951RA, a 2-mil cast film. Oracal also just came out with ORACAL Series 5600 Fleet Engineering Reflective film. David Grant, VP of marketing, Oracal, explains its attraction. "This product overcomes all the traditional issues users have been accustomed to with reflective films such as inconsistent printing, poor conformability, and removal nightmares." This series is offered in widths of 48, 54, and 60 inches.
Warranties that Work
3M offers both a 3M Performance Guarantee and the 3M MCS Warranty. The 3M Performance Guarantee assures customers that replacement costs for any 3M components will be taken care of under a certain span of time if something goes wrong. This guarantee is currently offered with printers and inks from Durst, EFI/VUTEk, Epson, HP, MacDermid ColorSpan, Mimaki, Mutoh, Océ, and Roland. Their warranty protects the graphic and each individual 3M component. The other warranty offered is the 3M MCS Warranty. Boxeth elaborates a little more, "It covers manufacturing defects, premature failure of materials or inks, excessive dimensional change, and loss of adhesion. 3M will replace all 3M materials used and, for certain products and applications provide labor coverage for removal, remanufacture, and reapplication."
Arlon’s Total System Warranty covers a complete graphic, from the material cost to the ink. It virtually ensures that all Arlon films and laminates will perform at the highest expected level when used with the approved printers and OEM ink systems. Approved printers include EFI/VUTEk, Hewlett Packard, MacDermid ColorSpan, Mimaki, Mutoh, Nur, Roland, and Seiko among others.
Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division offers three levels of warranty. Their first one is simply for their materials only. The second, their ICS Performance Guarantee, covers applications. Their ICS Fleet Warranty goes a step further by certifying a shop to print and apply fleet graphics. Lance Hutt, global digital products manager, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division, elaborates on the ICS Fleet Warranty, "We guarantee success with the job through the certified shop or else we pay for material replacement, demark and remark of the new graphics."
At ISA 2007 MACtac debuted their new warranty system. Entitled the Open Image Warranty, Moore defines it as MACtac literally wrapping their arms around their customers. Like the name states, MACtac is open to covering all products, even non-MACtac. "A lot of components go into making a vehicle wrap—ink, equipment, overlaminate, vinyl, software—and are then pulled together to create a project. We work with the customer to get the system they want. We are open to customer warranties even if it is not 100 percent MACtac."
Oracal also has warranty levels. Their basic warranty simply guarantees that their product is free of defect and is something should go wrong Oracal would work with the customer to figure out the problem as well as replace the material or refund the customer. An advanced system option is their ORALIFE Component System (OCS) warranty. Grant outlines the difference between this warranty and the basic, "This warranty provides coverage for the entire printed graphic—not just the media—when approved combinations of ORAJET media and ORAGUARD laminates are utilized."
Distributors are also experiencing success with vehicle wrap media. FELLERS, Inc. offers products from 3M Commercial Graphics, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division, and Oracal USA. With so many choices, their philosophy is to let the customer decide which brand is right for them. Sergio DeSoto, VP of marketing, FELLERS, Inc. explains, "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, we can get the customer what they need, when they need it, and at a fair price."
Over the years DeSoto has noticed that most customers lean toward 180c family from 3M with their 8518 overlaminate, from Avery they generally choose the 1500 EZ-RS with their Dol 1000 overlaminate, and Oracal’s 3951 with their 290g overlaminate is a favorite. On the subject of warranties, FELLERS, Inc. honors the manufacturers’ terms, as long as the product is used under manufacturer guidelines.
Familiarity is Key
With all of the media options offered from each company it could be a challenge to figure out what is best for you. Most installers agree—the best method is hands on. Once they find a product that works for their shop they typically stay with it. Perhaps the easiest way to figure this out is to attend a wrap seminar, held by all of the above companies. Read part two next week to learn more.