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Watch the Warranty

Boat Wraps Stay Afloat

Part 1 of 2

By Thomas Franklin

Vehicle wraps for water—fresh- or salt-based—are a whole other animal to contend with. Nevermind the install tactics—which you can read more about in the April issue of Digital Output—what about warranties? Most boat graphics are only intended to last a few months—especially for promotional purposes like bass fishing events, but that’s not always the case. In any event, understanding the warranty parameters of marine graphics is an important element of customer service.

Some vendors will not offer a warranty for products used in the water. Others will offer specialized conditions on the normal warranty—including the universal rule that the graphics be placed above the waterline. None of the media vendors we spoke with required a special certification in marine installation to claim a warranty. Also of note, the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association’s Professional Decal Application Alliance (PDAA) does not offer marine certifications as a part of its installer certification.

Robert Messenger, owner, Phoenix Graphics, Inc., based in Little Rock, AR, is a PDAA-certified master installer. He says such certifications are useful for the knowledge they impart and the confidence they provide for customers. "We sit down with all the media vendors and learn best practices and are constantly updated on the latest techniques, which we apply to our business," he shares. Meetings provide an opportunity to "rub shoulders" with peers in the industry and share knowledge through personal networking, he adds.

Although most vendors agree that properly installed and laminated media can be submerged for long stretches without harm, the warranty will be voided if graphics are deliberately applied to an area of the boat that permanently below water. Be sure to check with your supplier and media vendor before embarking on a project to verify you have the coverage you need. "The normal warranties do not apply for marine applications basically because it is impossible to control the precise exposure conditions," cautions Martin Kugler, corporate communications manager, Hexis USA.

As a general rule of thumb, media vendors warranty products provided they’re installed to their guidelines. The duration of warranty protection varies, but two years is common. "The standard MACtac warranty for boat wraps is two years on graphics installed above the water line," explains Jason Yard, application specialist, MACtac Graphic Products.

Likewise, 3M Graphics Market Center certifies a product for two years installed above the waterline using a company-approved ink and media combination and edge sealer, notes Tim Boxeth, marketing manager, 3M.

Next week read about a print service provider who started out wrapping land vehicles and initially tried marine graphics with less than desirable results.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Feb2010, Digital Output

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