By Dana Hatic
Companies and advertisers lean on pressure-sensitive media to emblazon objects, most commonly vehicles, with on brand graphics. As technology improves and the world becomes more mobile, producers of vinyl and film media must meet a larger demand for products while simultaneously developing new technologies and expanding the available options to suit customers’ needs.
Opaque vinyl and film are one of these options. The opaque properties effectively cover up existing graphics on an object by changing—or shifting—the color. If a vehicle was previously painted or textured, for example, a wrap using this type of substrate provides an easy way to mask the previous use or appearance of a vehicle, no matter its make and model.
Wraps can cover entire objects, like buses, or small areas, like car doors, fenders, or bumpers. Installation offers a level of ease and efficiency that outshines traditional techniques like standard custom paint jobs. With the variety of color options available from substrate providers, the possibilities are endless for the design-savvy end user hoping for a unique vehicle.
History of Demand
Traditional wraps—where media is printed on directly—remain a large percentage of the market. However, the use of color change film and vinyl is finding a place in the industry as well. It began with basic black, white, and gray and has transitioned to matte, texture, and opaque options.
“As many in the North American vehicle wrap market know, the industry started in Europe,” says Ryan Scislowicz, manager of business development and marketing, KPMF USA. Years later, the use of vinyl and film wraps on everything from cars to buses, trucks, and even trash cans is universal worldwide.
“Solid color change wraps have grown throughout Western Europe for the past five to seven years. Automotive customization is taken to the next level with the introduction of color change wraps. People who wouldn’t have the resources or want to spend over $5,000 for a respray are happy to spend money on a changeable wrap,” continues Scislowicz.
While solid color change film and vinyl is prevalent, opaque is a newer product gaining traction. “There has always been a strong demand for opaque vinyl in out- of-home advertising applications such as transit advertising where buses, trains, subways, and street furniture become the canvas for captivating graphics,” explains Jodi Sawyer, market development specialist, FLEXcon.
With a surplus of customizable color options, there are prime opportunities for non-advertising uses as well. According to Craig Campbell, market manager – graphic products, Orafol Americas, consumer demand is primarily responsible for the dramatic increase in this growth.
“There is a growing interest among individuals looking to wrap their own personal vehicles, as a way to set them apart. Recent demand can also be accounted for as the opaque film product lines grow and advance, including expanded color options that allow for more creative uses,” adds Paul Amos, marketing manager, 3M Commercial Solutions.
Josh Zaller, product manager, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, agrees, citing how people want to be unique and this manifests itself in the aftermarket automotive world.
Opaque substrates are used to cover everything from walls to windows and vehicles. Vinyl and film are available in different thicknesses and textures, which make the media suitable for multiple purposes.
Sawyer says that removable adhesives and calendared opaque vinyl, which starts in molten form and is fed through calendar rolls to produce a somewhat thicker final film at three to four millimeters, “provide the ideal combination for promotional graphics/wraps that are changed over frequently,” offering a balance between performance and cost, since calendared products are less expensive and often easier to remove than cast vinyl, which is thinner. Yet cast vinyl has its advantages as well. The product is flexible, at one to two millimeters thick, and it can cover complex surfaces.
Opaque products handle differently than traditional wrapping film, depending on the thickness and how prone it is to wrinkling. “Keeping the product as flat as possible during processing can help or laminating multiple films together to provide more body for installation is another possible solution depending on the application,” continues Sawyer.
“The conformability of the films makes it possible to wrap any number of objects and surfaces,” shares Zeller.
Assorted appliances, cabinets, and counters can accommodate wraps, along with other vehicles like bicycles and boats, according to Scislowicz.
Jason Yard, marketing manager, Mactac Distributor Products, points to objects like appliances, game consoles, and other furniture-type applications as popular options to consider.
“There are cases where it has been used on doors and other nontraditional surfaces. Large retail facilities have integrated these products into their branding and signage because of the stress- free installation and removal of the films and vinyls makes them easy to update, unlike paint,” says Amos.
Colors and Cost
Media manufacturers hurry to meet demand and introduce new colors on a frequent basis. These hues vary based on trends, the calendar year, and more.
“In short, the more dramatic and unique the colors are, the more attractive and appealing they are to the consumer. Because vehicle customization is the main driver of growth, the consumer wants anything that can’t be achieved or perceived as stock from the manufacturer,” continues Campbell.
For KPMF, popular products feature exotic colors, and “matte and satin finishes continue to remain at the top because they’re unique and less expensive than the paint alternative. Chrome films are also popular, but they have a more limited customer base due to their cost. Outside of full color changes, vinyl has been used extensively for chrome deletes, roof blackouts, and accent graphics,” says Scislowicz.
The diversity of products allows customers to find the exact wrap to suit their needs. Amos says 3M colors like cinder spark red, ice blue, and white gold sparkle have been well received since their introduction.
“Cast vinyl manufacturers continue to create new colors based on color trends and customers’ wants and needs,” agrees Robert Rundle, viscom market manager, Ritrama. The company provides custom color matching for corporate colors. Rundle says red wraps are always in demand.
Meanwhile, at FLEXcon, “silver, gold, reflective, and specialty films with shimmery effects are popular with advertisers because they give the ad dimension and movement that draws attention,” says Sawyer.
Avery Dennison constantly evaluates color trend reports, according to Zaller. He’s noticed that bright colors tend to emerge on a seasonal basis.
The cost to use a solid color change substrate versus something more specialized like an opaque varies depending on the manufacturer. For example, straight shade colors from KPMF retail for around $1.25 per square foot, but metallic colors as well as chameleon and textured films can go for as much as $4 per square foot.
The options available to brands, advertisers, and consumers who want to use vinyl and film color change wraps continue to evolve and expand as the industry strives to perfect materials. The cost benefits and increasing color options make them a leading material for businesses and individuals alike.
Sep2016, Digital Output