By Olivia Cahoon
Marketers request vehicle and fleet wraps for branding and advertising, while individual customers desire wraps for personal décor. Either way, vehicle wraps present an opportunity for print service providers (PSPs). Growing awareness means more customers, repeat clients requesting new designs, and the opportunity to wrap more than cars and expand into boats and ATVs.
Above: A majority of Knightworks Design’s vehicle wraps are requested by the service industry like this wrap completed for County Estate Kennels.
Canadian Print Provider
Established in 1983, Knightworks Design Ltd. is based in Newmarket, ON, Canada. The print shop started with one employee in 1,000 square feet of space, offering sign painting, truck lettering, pin striping, airbrush signs, gold leaf lettering, and illustrated designs.
“I was self taught in the art of sign lettering before I was old enough to drive,” says Don Edwards, owner/designer, Knightworks Design. At the age of 21, Edwards started working at a Toronto, ON sign shop and after three years he decided to start his own company.
Today, Edwards—alongside his wife and an additional employee—run the print shop’s daily operations. Knightworks Design offers full and partial vehicle wraps, truck lettering, digitally printed signage, screen printing, and embroidered apparel and graphic design. It primarily serves the Newmarket and greater Toronto areas, operating in a 2,700 square foot workspace.
In 1998, Knightworks Design entered the digital printing market with an EDGE thermal printer from Gerber Technology LLC equipped with foil cartridges. “We invested in digital printers as soon as it became affordable,” offers Edwards. However, the device was expensive to operate and own, with only a 12-inch print width. “The cost of the printer, plotter, and software was about $36,000.”
Less than ten years later, the shop purchased its first inkjet device, a 54-inch Roland DGA Corporation printer. “We first started using Roland because of its reputation for superior quality and the fact that most other shops I knew were buying it—this later became helpful if you had a problem or just needed to borrow a cartridge,” says Edwards.
The original Roland printer was replaced with the PSP’s current workhorse, a Roland TrueVIS VG-540 printer/cutter. The shop pairs its press with Roland TrueVIS ink, which according to Edwards, cures at a fast rate and allows for a shorter time between printing and laminating.
Knightworks Design’s output is 60 percent digitally printed. Two years after investing in digital technology, the company started printing and installing vehicle wraps in 2000. “The materials are better now but there is a lot of online competition,” admits Edwards.
The shop installs 95 percent of its wraps in house for quality control. The other five percent is installed by an independent contractor that handles the vehicles incapable of getting to the shop.
A majority of the PSP’s vehicle wraps are requested by the service industry including plumbers, HVAC, construction, and roofing. “They tend to see the value in vehicle wraps more than retail clients,” comments Edwards. However, its wraps are not limited to corporate vehicles. Knightworks Design also completes wraps on snowmobiles, ATVs, off road buggies, and boats. “Just about anything can be done thanks to vinyl wrap technology and material advancements,” he adds.
When it comes to vehicle wrap media, Knightworks Design’s theory is find one you like and stay with it. “It is easier to have a representative help you through a warranty issue if you can show you constantly use their product,” explains Edwards. “Materials have changed a lot over the last few years, air egress adhesives are now popular at all quality levels.” The shop uses Arlon Graphics, LLC’s SLX Cast Wrap with Series 3270 overlaminate. “It shows superior low initial tac and higher post-heat adhesion,” he offers.
Knightworks Design creates graphics in Corel Corporation CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. For a RIP software, it relies on Roland VersaWorks Dual RIP, included with the TrueVIS VG-540. V
For customers not looking for full vehicle wraps, the shop also offers vehicle lettering in full-color blends, gradients, shadows, and other textures. “We often incorporate digitally printed logos and designs into our customers’ vehicles that are not looking for full vehicle wraps,” says Edwards. For the custom car enthusiast, Knightworks Design offers full services for street and race graphics including race stripes, graphic designs, and pin striping.
King Cole Duck
Every three years, Knightworks Design handles a vehicle wrap project for long-time client King Cole Duck. According to the company, King Cole Duck is the only fully vertically integrated duck farm of its kind in North America. Its duck products are sold fresh and local to its community as well as across North America to restaurants, resorts, hotels, and cruise lines.
The client approached Knightworks Design for a vehicle wrap to display at various trade shows and requested a fresh, new look. For its latest project, the client’s goal was to compliment its brochures, which featured a barn board background. “But, they didn’t want the car to look like an old wagon,” adds Edwards.
Designs were created with CorelDRAW, which took eight hours to complete due to a variety of revisions. The final design met the client’s exact needs including lettering and a silverware patterned roof.
For its vehicle wraps, King Cole Duck also likes to include a lot of food product shots, which it supplies. “They need to be perfect in color and not look like just a cheesy menu board as this vehicle is used in a lot of trade shows,” explains Edwards.
Knightworks Design selected Arlon SLX Cast Wrap with Series 3270 overlaminate for the client’s vehicle wrap. “It offers a great low initial tac, which allows areas like the roof and hood to be applied by one person,” says Edwards.
The wrap was printed on the Roland TrueVIS VG-540, totaling 125 square feet. As a seven-color printer, Edwards believes the TrueVIS VG-540 produces excellent life-like food images and a dense, dark black, which was ideal for King Cole Duck’s vehicle wrap.
During the job, the PSP experienced challenges in design and installation, due to the fact that the vehicle wrap featured images running in two directions, such as the wood boards. To keep the images looking flawless, Edwards used the vehicle’s fenders as an area where the images met and blended into a neutral color.
From job submittal to installation, it took Knightworks Design 24 hours—spread out over two days—to complete the wrap. According to Edwards, the client was nervous about this project as in the past, the cars were bright in color, and the shop sold them on the dark look.
Vehicle wraps are the ultimate corporate advertising tool, allowing companies to transform vehicles into any design. Used as mobile marketing devices and representations of personalized style, vehicle wraps are in steady demand.
Sep2018, Digital Output