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Becoming a Pace Setter

(April 2013) posted on Mon Mar 25, 2013

Panther Graphics has used its racing connection to find wrap success.

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By Mike Antoniak

A new season
During the years Cross and Kendricks had been working with Panther Racing, they’d perfected the wraps for the Panther cars. But the car chassis was redesigned for the 2012 season, requiring them to rethink and redesign the wraps. That challenge presented itself when Panther Graphics was preparing for its launch in early 2012 – just as the racing team was ramping up for the new season.

“Last January and February, there was a lot of demand for our services to meet the needs of the racing team,” adds Baumann.

The Panther Racing work represents the kind of guaranteed workload most print shops would welcome. In addition to wrapping three full race chassis for 2012, Panther Graphics also wrapped the four trailers used by the team to haul cars and equipment, golf carts used to get around the track, and just about anything wrappable in the pit area, right down to the tool boxes.

The race cars involve several steps and some special handling. Before the car bodies are wrapped, they pass through Panther Racing’s paint department. There, a coating of PPG sealer is applied to prep the car to be receptive to the vinyl adhesive.

“The race car basically consists of six to eight large printed sections, depending on the paint scheme,” says Cross. “We don’t have a template for the car because you run into a lot of 2D and 3D discrepancies going from a flat 2D drawing of logos to the actual curved surface of the car body.”

Print resolution can vary, depending on the desired effect, from a worn and distressed look to areas requiring fine detail and absolute clarity. “We have the ability to accurately reproduce art files that remain very crisp, even at smaller sizes,” asserts Cross. As an example, he notes: “We print a carbon-fiber pattern on the ‘black’ section of our car that has a very small weave pattern.” This mimics the appearance of the underlying carbon fiber body where it would show through the graphics.

In addition to wrapping the car sections, identical replacement panels are also covered with the graphics. These replacement panels travel with the team for swapping out, should that area of the car be damaged in a race.