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What are Vehicle Wraps?

Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett

Vehicle wraps are printed graphics that are applied to the body of a vehicle temporarily. A wrap usually does not damage the vehicle in any way when applied properly. Almost any graphic design can be printed and applied to a vehicle, including advertising and decorative work.

Wraps are usually available in different coverage areas, so that a consumer can either partially or fully wrap a vehicle. While this service is often used by advertisers or for company cars and trucks, it is useful for anyone who needs to change the surface appearance of a vehicle without giving it a new coat of paint.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

There are many techniques and materials used to make vehicle wraps. A wide variety of printers are used to produce the graphics, which are printed flat on large sheets of vinyl. Different types of vinyl can also be used, though cast film is considered a high-quality material for this application. The qualities of the materials and technology, as well as the talent of the staff, make a big difference in the appearance of the finished wrap.

When a client orders a vehicle wrap, the company will usually inquire into the specifications of the car and go over the intended design with the client. Sometimes the graphic will need editing in order to print at a large size, particularly if it includes photos. The design is then refined and printed flat on a large printer.

Wrapping typically takes place indoors to minimize wind and dust exposure, as well as regulate temperature. Before the wrap can be applied, the car must first be cleaned and dried. The wrap is then loosely fitted over the car and aligned appropriately. This may be done in panels to make attaching the wrap easier.

Vehicle wraps usually make use of an adhesive backing, rubbing, and regulation of heat in order to smoothly adhere to the surface of the car. First the liner is removed, either in sections or all at once, and the vinyl is applied to the car. Then, a squeegee is used to smooth the vinyl against the car, avoiding air bubbles and wrinkles. In areas with complicated curves, extra heat may be applied to the vinyl in order to bend it to the vehicle and remove wrinkles. When an area or panel of the vehicle has been covered, it is neatly cut at the edges and that section is complete.

When made by an expert and applied properly, vehicle wraps can last up to five years, although three is a more conservative estimate. The cost of a wrap is highly variable, depending on the size of the vehicle, the complexity of the application, and the colors used in the design. Most companies offering this service also offer quotes, so it is easy to find out how much the procedure will cost for a specific car and design. The techniques used for vehicle wraps can also be applied to other surfaces, so almost any kind of temporary applied graphics needs can be fulfilled using similar procedures.

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