By Olivia Cahoon
Vehicle wraps present a great sales opportunity, but there is significant competition. Today’s print service providers (PSPs) invest in the latest digital technology to improve profitability and provide image quality that meets customer demand. To stand out, vehicle wrap installers need to exhibit a level mastery that inspires confidence.
PSPs can enhance their skill level by using media portfolios optimized for vehicle graphic application. This is further supplemented by attending classes and seminars focused on vehicle wrapping techniques, designing for vehicle wraps, and even the business of selling vehicle wraps.
Above: Avery Dennison’s Supreme Wrapping Film portfolio is design to allow for extreme conformability, faster positioning, and bubble-free application.
Wrap Media Portfolios
Vehicle wrap media is designed with installation in mind. It offers superior performance in regards to both efficiency and precision, and depending on an installer’s level of expertise—removability.
Molly Waters, senior technical specialist, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, believes wrap media is optimized for speed and accuracy for easy installation. For example, Avery Dennison offers the Supreme Wrapping Film line that allows for high-conformability to aid in faster positioning and bubble-free application.
Short-term wraps are gaining in popularity and this is in part due to the features of the media used. “A calendared vinyl with a slideable, repositionable, and removable adhesive aids in quick and easy installation. The ultimate adhesion for longer term is removable, not permanent. Short-term wraps on buses, shuttles, and paratransits for trade shows, events, and entertainment are trending,” explains Jodi Sawyer, market development manager, FLEXcon.
Other features that aid in speed and accuracy for vehicle wrap installations include air escape liner, low initial tack, and high slideability. According to Bruno Vanoppen, marketing, Grafityp Selfadhesive Products NV, Grafiprint AE38C vehicle wrapping film exhibits all of these qualities.
Grafiprint AE38C is a soft, seamless, polymeric cast, white glossy PVC film for use on solvent, latex, and UV printers. It features an adhesive protected by a high-quality structure silicone paper that gives the film an air escape effect to facilitate installation.
ORAFOL Americas Inc.’s ORAJET ProSlide is also designed for high slideability as well as repositionability. ProSlide is developed for faster and easier high-quality wrapping with a new, slideable adhesive technology. Josh Culverhouse, graphic innovations market manager, ORAFOL, shares, “installers gain speed and accuracy paired with our premium face films, which are known to be extremely durable.”
Aside from media optimized for ease in installation, PSPs offering vehicle wraps can attend classes, seminars, meetings, webinars, and open houses to enhance their knowledge.
Continuing to build on knowledge is important to improving wrapping skills. Wrap installation resources are not only for new installers but also seasoned veterans. During a class, individuals receive a significant amount of hands-on experience with professionals. “These classes are intended to provide a foundation and tips on installation. This is the best way to enhance knowledge and skills on wrapping,” recommends Waters.
For example, 3M Commercial Solutions’ 3M Advanced Installer Training is a three day course designed to enhance and build installers’ skills. The class works with installers at any and all levels to increase overall expertise and knowledge. Class ratios are typically one to six.
“Our teachers deliberately will not jump in until the students let them know they’ve gone as far as they could on their own and need further assistance,” explains Marcio Oliveira, global expertise delivery manager, 3M Commercial Solutions. The class is offered at five different 3M Graphics Authorized Training and Testing facilities throughout the U.S.
To take skills to the next level, Oliveira suggests shops encourage designers to attend and participate in wrap installation training courses. “This offers the ability to learn how important the manipulation of film is as well as how it can be affected simply by the design of their artwork.”
The wrap installation process really begins in the design phase, which can make a job simple or challenging based on the designer’s knowledge. By participating in wrap installation courses, Oliveira believes designers will learn to utilize designs that do not focus on potentially difficult areas, such as bumpers with critical alignment to vehicle hood fenders.
One resource targeted toward designers is Wrapmate. It serves as an online platform where business owners visualize their brand on a vehicle by using the business’ website address. Wrapmate uses the URL to scan the website for branded visuals like logos and imagery. Within seconds a vehicle wrap design is created—helping business owners understand how a vehicle wrap looks in a 3D environment.
3M recently collaborated with Wrapmate to take the online platform to the next level. Wrapmate works directly with professionals in the 3M network to complete the job. 3M Certified Graphics Installation Companies and 3M Preferred Graphics Installers in the Wrapmate Pro network execute the print-ready jobs—saving time for business owners and graphic professionals.
Aside from installation and design classes, attending business-based courses help individuals learn about wrapping. According to Waters, in the Avery Dennison Business Bootcamp for Wrap Processionals, participants learn about running a profitable business and how to incorporate vehicle wrap design into their business model.
ORAFOL increasingly receives requests from wrap companies and general sign companies to not only offer more installation training, but business and project management training. “It’s really great to see companies within the wrap industry that want to be the very best, and offer the very best to their customers,” shares Culverhouse. “If everyone keeps this mindset, the wrap industry will only continue to grow and develop each year.”
While all vehicles have the potential to be wrapped, luxury vehicles, semi-trucks, and sedans are most commonly completed. Other non-traditional vehicles include buses, splinter vans, and commercial trucks all the way to tractors and motorbikes. There are full and partial wraps, or cut vinyl decals that may be letters or logos. Wraps are generally divided into two categories—advertising and personalization.
Vehicle type dictates how easily a wrap is installed. For example, Vanoppen says trucks and buses usually have fairly flat surfaces that are wrapped easily, even by beginners. On the other hand, luxury vehicles feature more indents and specialty designs that require extra attention.
Installers use different techniques to wrap vehicles based on the vehicle model and structure. Before beginning the application process installers should consider every component of the project. According to Culverhouse, the vehicle surface conditions need to be addressed to determine if the surface is rough, smooth, or features low energy and if there is a technology available that caters to that surface.
The type of wrap—full, partial, or a color change—is important. For example, Oliveira says print providers installing film for full wrap advertising on a semi-truck versus a color change on a high-end luxury vehicle will ultimately face different challenges. In the case of color changes, the vehicle’s lights, bumpers, door handles, body trim, and antenna are dismantled to ensure a more professional installation and a higher end result.
“For a color change, the installer will try to make the wrap as seamless as possible,” agrees Waters. “It can be as extreme as removing bumpers and even doors to cover up all visible paint on the vehicle.” Installers also tend to charge a premium for in-depth color changes.
For advertising wraps, installers don’t take as many parts off a vehicle. It includes more seams and relief cuts. “These are not as visible in a print wrap and the cost for a print wrap is typically lower,” says Waters.
The personalization category includes personal and luxury vehicles and most commonly entails color changes. According to Oliveira, color changes offer a choice of over a hundred colors and textures.
While media manufacturers are more than willing to offer insight to wrap installers, there are resources available to exchange information in a non-biased forum. These include the Professional Decal Application Alliance (PDAA), The Wrap Institute, and The Wrap Society.
Hosted by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA), PDAA is an installation community open to members and non-members. “We do testing with a number of vinyl manufacturers and the techniques we certify are applicable across manufacturers,” shares Ray Weiss, director of digital print programs, SGIA.
PDAA became part of the SGIA family in 2008 and currently has 140 Master Certified Installers across the country. It serves as a community where information can be exchanged on the PrinterLink site. The program’s main goal is to provide training and certification that is vinyl agnostic.
The organization improves the industry by providing non-biased training and certification. “The PDAA installer community is a robust group working to improve the industry and help those that are looking to grow their business,” explains Weiss.
PDAA members experience guidance from the PDAA steering committee, which is made of installers and several manufacturers.
Participating in PrinterLink on the installation community page is free to all installers. Installers that want to be listed on SGIA’s Find an Installer directory need to be a corporate member of SGIA, pass the online assessment and hands-on testing, show liability insurance, and pay a Master Certified Installer renewal fee.
Becoming a member of a wrap installation organization like PDAA presents several benefits to print shops and installers. According to Weiss, certifications let customers know that installers are capable of doing an excellent job and it provides peace of mind.
Other communities are predominantly online-based, such as The Wrap Institute and The Wrap Society. Members of The Wrap Institute have access to industry resources, a dedicated community of wrappers, and instructional videos taught by wrap experts around the world. Membership is available for a fee.
The Wrap Society is a free industry-based group that operates from Facebook and its homepage. It is exclusive to professional wrap installers. The community undertakes a variety of projects, talks to industry professionals, discusses trends, and spreads vehicle wrap creativity.
A vehicle wrap is at its best when properly installed. Professional vehicle wrap installers rely on specific media optimized for the job at hand. They can further improve their wrap knowledge by attending classes or becoming a member of a wrap community.
Nov2019, Digital Output