SpongeBob Gets ‘Tanked’

Acrylic Tank Manufacturing and Identity Brand create and wrap a Toyota Highlander SUV into a SpongeBob-themed fish tank.

Big Picture

The Clients: Toyota, Nickelodeon

The Players: Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM, www.acrylicaquariums.com), Identity Brand (www.identitybrand.net)

Tools & Supplies: Roland VersaCamm VS-640, Roland inks, 3M 1080 Series wrap film, 3M finishing kit, Seal laminator

The Job: You might already be familiar with Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) from the hit TV show on Animal Planet, “Tanked.” The company, owned by Wayde King and Brett Raymer, specializes in the design, manufacture, and installation of custom aquarium systems – and it often finds itself creating elaborate fish tanks for sometimes even more elaborate clients, such as Vegas chapels and a megachurch in Dallas.

For the massive 2013 SEMA automotive-aftermarket expo in Las Vegas, Toyota and Nickelodeon asked ATM as well as print shop Identity Brand to create a SpongeBob Squarepants-themed, 800-gallon saltwater tank – and then install it inside a brand new, wrapped Toyota Highlander SUV that would appear on the show floor.

Production: Once ATM had completed most of the renovation to allow for the fish-tank installation, the SUV went to Identity for the wrap. Identity president and owner Phillip Dominguez and his team first executed the fiberglass work around all the viewing panels “to create a flowing surface for us to adhere to,” and then proceeded to produce the wrap.

They had just a single day to create and print the wrap and install the graphics. In addition, “Everything had to be signed off on numerous times [by Toyota and Nickelodeoon],” says King. “They had a specific way they wanted it to look and have a certain feel, so there was a lot of back and forth.” The design had to be exact, and making sure that color specs were met was another major challenge during the project for the high-profile clients, say King and Dominguez.

The Identity crew, using the shop’s Roland VersaCamm VS-640 printer with Roland metallic inks, printed approximately 400 square feet of 3M 1080 Series wrap film for the Highlander’s exterior (including doors and door jams as well as the bottom of the hatch) plus some interior pieces. “Toyota and Nickelodeon wanted everything seamless,” says Dominguez. “But [because] it was last-minute, we only had access to 54-inch material. So we printed it in one section on the driver and passenger sides, and we were able to stretch the film to get that extra 8- to 9-percent that we needed.”

Two installers from Identity completed the installation, and the Highlander was transported to the SEMA show. There, it was then filled with water, ATM’s handcrafted SpongeBob characters, and even real-life sea creatures.

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