Wraping from Earth to Space

Wrapping objects is more than just fun


Funny things happen when working in the sign graphics industry.

Last time I was on a conference somebody asked me if it was possible to wrap an item with a nice print or textile fabric.
Interested in the question and knowing diverse answer it would be, I asked him what he wanted to wrap. 
Instead of explaining the object he wished to wrap, he told me that he did not know, but wanted to know all the possibilities. 
This was quite an elaborate question because there are so many possibilities and ways to wrap things. Ranging from shrink wrapped bottles all the way up to wrapping airplanes and watersport boats.  So, I had to confess that I had to tell the gentleman a full and complete answer would be more than one sentence and that I would need to refocus on all the possibilities.

After the design is make we are ready to print but on what substrate. There are many vendors offering vinyl’s for this use, 3M, Avery, Hexis, Orafoil ect.
The question becomes more, will it be for inside or outside? do you need to protect it from scratches? how long will it be outside? If it’s used outside we need to laminate it to protect the ink from the evil of weather and sunlight. Remember that most of the vinyl used for wrapping will be cast film and this film is a bit thin. Laminating also gives you a bit more body to work with.  

Anyways if you want to use the image for more then a few months you would need to laminate the substrate.  This will protect the image both against scratches and the weather. We still need to know what media to choose, is it a monomeric vinyl or do I use a more expensive cast film that can be stretched better but is more expensive.  Let’s take the easy way and use a Cast vinyl. The glue on the back side of the vinyl is also an important choice to make, permanent, means it’s there to stay and removing it will give you a headache. Again, remember that most cars are leased and will go back to the lessor and they don’t want to have anything on the car when you return them.

"So semi-permanent or removable are the two options we can choose from."

So semi-permanent or removable are the two options we can choose from. Now we know that we will use a solvent ink on a cast film with semi-permanent glue and we will laminate it for protection. There is also a new technology available on the glue side of the substrate, its called bubble free or easy apply, this technology is based on having small channels of air on the glue side so that air can be pushed out in an even way. The glue will spread out over a few hours and close all the channels so you will have less  or even no bubbles. Great we are on our way. But we still need to apply it, and this is again not easy.  Have you ever tried to put a 160x120cm sticker on an object without folds’ bubbles or wrinkles? Well the first time you will not be able to do it, trust me, I already have problems putting a A4 size sticker on a car. 
If you were lucky enough to see me try to wrap a small car at the Fespa tradeshow (see pictures below), it was a disaster.
But there is a trick, use an application fluid, this is like a soapy fluid that will help you do the correct placement or use the easy apply glue technology vinyl’s. Please use some strong magnets to position the media while you are applying the wrap. The magnets become your extra hands and you will need these extra hands to do your wrap.

Only if you are the Hindu God Lord Vishnu, you don't need magnets.

So, wrapping is not as easy as it seems, apart from the printing part I would recommend you to play first or get professional help. Luckily many of the substrate suppliers are giving wrapping and application classes how to wrap your object. So even though I could not give the correct and direct answer to the customer on the conference.

"I learned that wrapping is not as easy as people think:

Take the wrapping of airplanes, this requires special skills and special vinyl’s that can resist temperatures from -60 Celsius to plus 50 Celsius so again this is not easy. Did you know a plane shrinks and expands over 5cm per flight so you will need to have some really suitable vinyl’s and ink’s?  Many manufacturers have been deeply involved in these kind of aircraft wraps and together with the substrate suppliers and flexible UV-LED inks vendors.

Today, it’s possible to supply the right solution to the aviation industry for this purpose.  Going up even higher brings you to space craft, they have lots of stickers and these applications need to last, just think of the International Space station, there are hundreds of stickers on that object and they have to stay on. Bringing it all back to earth, you can always decorate your home appliances, kitchen cabinets, home doors and even the garage door.  

So before starting a project please analyze and ask questions first.