By Olivia Cahoon
While vehicle wraps are generally used as marketing tools to promote businesses and their brands, it’s also a popular application for personal décor. Clients that demand customized vehicle wraps for personal use request unique designs with exceptional quality. Digital print technology allows print providers to meet client expectations for one-of-a-kind wraps that impress.
Above: PG NOLA of Gretna, LA wrapped a Lamborghini Huracan for David Mahler to use during goldRush Rally 7.
Founded in April 2004 under the original name Professa Grafix LLC, PG NOLA specializes in color change graphics for vehicle wrapping in Gretna, LA. With one employee, the shop began by utilizing free space in a residential home and custom audio shop with its primary focus on paper-printed items like brochures, business cards, and club flyers.
Today, PG NOLA serves customers worldwide from a 5,000 square foot facility. It has one employee and is currently hiring.
Core applications include banners, coroplast, mesh, and vinyl graphics. The shop’s specialty, color change wraps, are produced with custom colors and designs. PG NOLA’s wrapping capabilities go beyond the vehicle market into counter tops, drums, guns, helmets, laptops, pirogue boats, prosthetic limbs, shoes, and wakeboards. “We do a steady amount of commercial vehicles and wraps, like wall murals, too,” shares Kevin Kempf, master installer/lead designer, PG NOLA.
It’s common for the shop to receive wrap orders from clients who ship vehicles to PG NOLA from out of state. “I’ve flown around the world and out of state to do wraps,” says Kempf. The company holds several certifications for graphics, tape, and wrap installations from 3M Commercial Solutions, Arlon Graphics, LLC, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, Fellers, and Hexis.
90 percent of PG NOLA’s work is wraps with 70 percent of that being color change projects and 30 percent commercial or digitally printed applications. For color change and premium substrates, the shop exclusively uses Avery Dennison. “It is my go-to for color change wrap media, then KPMF USA, and then 3M upon request,” explains Kempf. For digital print material and intermediate films, he works with 3M and Orafol Americas depending on the job requirements.
The shop prints on an HP Latex 360 printer from HP, Inc. and recently purchased an HP Latex 365. The HP Latex 365 prints up to 64 inches with high-efficiency curing, six colors, and 1,200 dpi. It includes simplified color management with a pre-installed generic and HP substrate profile library.
PG NOLA became involved with wraps after the demand rose for personal vehicle wraps in the New Orleans area. But that’s not the only reason why the shop provides vehicle wraps. Kempf says he enjoys vehicle wrapping because it offers customers an appealing and effective marketing tool. “It’s nice to see a design that I may have spent hours on driving down the road,” he shares.
It’s integral for PG NOLA to be conscious about timing for wrap projects. Customers are eager to receive their custom vehicle orders and while some are willing to wait, others are not. “With a majority of wraps being color change, it takes time. We do wild designs that we make happen with color change material—mixing gloss films with satin, matte, metallic, or chrome,” explains Kempf. The shop generally books three to four weeks for wrap designs and installations.
While timing can be challenging, Kempf believes the hardest thing to overcome is pushing the limits on each custom designed wrap. “It’s a personal challenge to make custom color combinations to give my clients a one-of-a-kind look.”
King of the Wrap World
In 2015, first-time customer David Mahler approached PG NOLA for a wild and unique vehicle wrap for goldRush Rally 7, an international automotive lifestyle rally where drivers travel through the U.S. Participation in the rally costs $20,000 and includes scenic routes, five star accommodations, and VIP entertainment while showcasing luxury vehicles.
Mahler approached Kempf with a car render of bright colors, but no designs, for his Lamborghini Huracán. The client wanted an original piece that would stand out among the other luxury vehicles at the event. Kempf took Mahler’s render and designed a custom color change wrap.
PG NOLA used Avery Dennison’s Conform Chrome Specialty Film in silver and KPMF Starlight gloss overlaminate in pacific blue. Avery Dennison Conform Chrome is a long-term wrapping film that’s durable for up to three years. It’s recommended for full vehicle and truck wraps.
KPMF Starlight is a permanent adhesive with double-sided PE liner. It produces a sparkle and glitter effect suitable for all exterior and interior applications. Conformable, it is ideal for use on smooth and contoured surfaces and protects printed media.
The graphics were printed on the HP Latex 360 using Onyx Graphics, Inc. RIP software. The HP Latex 360 prints up to 64 inches with outdoor prints lasting up to five years laminated and three years unlaminated. The rated print speed is up to 334 square feet per hour for high-speed outdoor quality.
Rather than working solely based off templates, Kempf designed the vehicle wrap with the actual vehicle in the shop. “Most templates are one dimensional and flat, so you can’t accommodate for bodylines, bend, or twist. Having the car there allowed me to measure and adjust the design accordingly,” he explains.
Despite making the design process easier by having the vehicle on site, there were challenges. Specific parts of the wrap must seamlessly piece together over the entire car. If the alignment doesn’t match, the wrap won’t look as effortless and cohesive as it should. The shop had to reprint several pieces after the car was wrapped to adjust the design and make several panels blend smoother.
While the overall wrap application was a fast process, Kempf says adding the extra details took several days. From job submittal to installation, the Lamborghini Huracán project took three weeks to complete with three installers.
According to Kempf, Mahler was speechless when presented with the finished vehicle wrap. As it was showcased at goldRush Rally 7, the car went viral on the internet and became a sensation around the world. “It was a very special moment, something none of us expected,” shares Kempf.
PG NOLA won Best Wrap and Hottest Whip of goldRush Rally 7 and the Lamborghini Huracán wrap remains popular on social media. Kempf even recently noticed it in a video game at a local arcade. Since goldRush Rally 7, PG NOLA has created two additional wraps for Mahler.
Watch Me Wrap
The goldRush Rally 7 Lamborghini Huracán wrap is considered PG NOLA’s most prominent wrap and according to Kempf, the world’s most famous Lamborghini Huracán.
Used as mobile marketing devices and representations of personalized style, vehicle wraps are in steady demand. To deliver flawless graphics, print providers must overcome challenges in the design process like overlapping panels and vehicle measurements. PG NOLA continues to push limits and deliver unique wraps on helmets and shoes to other luxury vehicles.
Sep2017, Digital Output