Have you ever thought of applying a vehicle wrap? It is an art in itself and it needs a lot of care and attention to do it. David Newman, technical marketing representative, Avery Dennison – Graphics Division Aus & NZ, discusses the method of successfully wrapping vehicles with digital prints.
Vehicle wrapping and conforming applications are the most demanding applications for graphics. It is extremely important that correct procedures are properly followed. Taking short cuts and avoiding the necessary steps, will drastically increase chances of failure. Applying full vehicle wraps may not be for everyone, but is definitely a skill worth having. It requires a lot of patience, time, practice and skill. Vehicle wraps are used in place of expensive custom paint jobs, and can be removed when the advertising campaign ends or the vehicle lease plan concludes. Carefully think before designing how accurate panel registration will be. Partial wraps can often be just as, if not more effective, than full wraps and will put less demand on the film especially commercial vans with deep window recesses. Try and avoid stretching into window recesses, as these are common areas where film intends to lift.
The use of right material and tools makes all the difference; one must use a cast vinyl film as it is ideal for conforming to convex, concave and compound curves found on vehicles. There is no shrinkage (when processed correctly), which reduces chances of “popping” from recesses. The longer durability, as well as greater heat and chemical makes it an ideal material for vehicle wrap. Cast film digitally printed with a cast over laminate has got better durability of up to five years.
If a person is planning to try his/her hands in it, certain tools are required like, tape measure and masking tape for positioning, spray bottle with detergent and water, isopropyl alcohol and lint free rags for cleaning, felt or felt tipped plastic squeegee, applicator glove and air release tool for application, and heat gun to assist application and especially for post heating.
So after having it all, the person is all set to experiment with his/her own imagination. Before starting one must take care of the following :
1) Solvent digital prints must be dried and cured from all solvents before trimming, profile cutting, over laminating and application. They must be dried immediately after printing by hanging or loosely winding prints vertically for at least 48 hours for solvents to “fall” out of media. Drying/curing time will vary depending on location and conditions. If a strong solvent scent is present, or the film is softer than usual, the drying process is not complete. This will help avoid edge curl and lifting from areas the film is stretched, which are often the biggest cause of failures.
2) Have a thorough planning as how you are going to protect the graphics. In the past, standard cast and especially calendared over laminates, were unable to conform to concave curves because of tension and thickness in the films together. The only options in the past were clear coats or liquid laminates applied to the graphics after they were applied to the vehicle. Now there are thinner, more conformable cast over laminates available and with these films anyone can now over laminate the graphics even before applying.
3) Ensure application is done in a clean, dry and enclosed location, free from dust and other possible causes for contamination. Monitor the ambient and substrate temperature. Generally, there is a minimum application temperature of 10°C, but between 18°C and 25°C is ideal.
4) As is always said, good start is half done; starting with an appropriate surface one can get extraordinary results. So, firstly the surface of vehicle (must be OEM painted surface) must be cleaned thoroughly from all dirt, grime, oil, wax and other contaminates. Before using any solvents, remove all dirt and grime with a commercial detergent and water solutions. For this, use a spray bottle or allow plenty of time for the car to completely dry if you use a hose. Afterwards remove grease, oil and wax by scrubbing with a rag soaked in solvent. Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) is also recommended.
5) Now, when one is ready with clean and smooth surface, the next step is post cleaning. The substrate should be wiped with an IPA soaked rag, and cleaned off with a dry clean rag before the IPA has time to evaporate. Special care must be taken with recesses, returns of panels (e.g. inside edge of door) and any areas hard to reach.
This was the fruitful information for all our readers, be it media professionals or amateurs to master the skill properly. Following are the certain tips that one should keep in mind, before wrapping up one’s vehicle in style:
1) Must be applied dry. Do not use water when applying with the latest advanced ‘repositionable’ adhesives.
2) Use firm overlapping strokes with the squeegee.
3) Try and keep stretching to an absolute minimum, and remember not to over heat the film, as this will trigger the material to stretch.
4) Remove all bubbles using an Air Release Tool or a straight pin. This must be done before post heating (to avoid air bubbles popping).
5) Apply good pressure all over the graphic to achieve strong contact and full adhesion strength. Take special care on all edges around doors and panels.
6) Trim excess vinyl, and avoid cutting the paint. It is good idea to trim flush with the panel, as wrapping around the edge could pose an adhesive obstacle and be a potential failure point. Wherever there is a joint in two panels of the vehicle, the film must be cut. Do not put film over rubber and unpainted plastic mouldings.
7) Make sure your knife’s blade is constantly sharp.
8) Allow 20-30 minutes for adhesive to build.
9) Post heat all areas, which have been stretched, to 80-90ºC to allow film to “keep its memory”. Edges should also be post heated.
Most importantly, preparation is the key! Make sure you have carefully thought out the design, prepared the prints properly and have a completely clean vehicle. Ensure to take the time to complete the job professionally. Failures occur when shortcuts are taken, and involve more work down the track. If you think you’ve finished, do examine the vehicle to make sure you haven’t missed anything.