Wrapping objects is more than just fun
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.
in the question and knowing diverse answer it would be, I asked him what he wanted to
Instead of explaining the object
he wished to wrap, he told me that he did not know, but wanted to know all the
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
investigating the subject, a bit further, I found out that the knowledge of many
of the graphics print service providers, knew as little as I did about wrapping.
So now I
was the expert? Well no, but I do know more about the subject of wrapping
than I thought. Many years ago, I did do some vinyl applications of text
objects and small graphics but always on a flat surface. No stretching, no
heating of the media just spraying some application fluid (Soap water) and off
today is totally different than in my younger days. It’s the new and fashionable way to put advertising
on an object. As the old school of painting things or painting signs by hand is
pretty much gone, we needed something better and easier to deal with. Digital
technologies allow us now to print those signs and put them on cars, airplanes
and virtually any other objects. Even point of sale objects can be wrapped
saving cost and the need to make new one’s every time, example take a look at
the commercial soda fridge’s around the world, they are wrapped and when
exchanged a new vinyl is applied making it look like new again.
So how does it work, well it’s not as easy as
one might think, cars for example are not flat but are really 3d objects, so
making a nice image in Photoshop or Corel Draw is not going to help much as it
will not look the same as the object and it would not fit.
You would need to
have and use some kind of template that can guide you through the design
process. These templates and applications are readily available on the internet
and they can make your job a lot easier.
Next you need to know the printing
technology you want to use. Remember you will be stretching the media a bit so
not all ink types will work well with this condition.
We need a flexible ink,
like UV-LED or the trusted solvent or Latex ink technology. For the
argument let’s take solvent ink as the example that we are going to use for our
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The new wrap it looks great and made the change!
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.
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
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.
it all back to earth, you can always decorate your home appliances, kitchen
cabinets, home doors and even the garage door.
starting a project please analyze and ask questions first.