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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.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Mike Antoniak

Whether the team is working on an actual car or these body sections, most of the installation is pretty straightforward. Occasionally, though, the installers rely on self-igniting torches or digital heat guns to stretch the vinyl for a precise fit to some of the racer’s more challenging contours.

Once the wrap is complete, the cars head back to the paint shop for final finishing. “We use a standard rubber-seal clear coat, just like any paint shop shoots as a final coat to protect the finished surface,” says Baumann.

Competitors take notice
Wrapping the cars is proving a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to painting. “It took us three or four days to paint a car, and the car had to be apart,” Baumann points out. “We can do a wrap in about one-and-a-half days, and while they’re installing the vinyl we can be working on other parts of the car.”

He estimates it actually costs about $1000 more to wrap each car, but “the durability is so much better,” he says. That translates into savings. To maintain the quality look so critical to a successful team’s image, a car might need to be wrapped four times over the course of a season, compared with the need to repaint it as many as six times.

Printing on vinyl also allows the team to easily update a car with new graphics, or outfit it with an entirely new look for special events or appearances. “We’ve done all our pit equipment now, and anything around the shop which can be wrapped,” adds Kendricks.

Competitors are taking notice, inquiring about the process, exploring the possibilities with small jobs. “We’ve seen some other teams do partial wraps of their cars, but no one else is using wraps to the extent we do, or doing it in house,” Baumann boasts. “This is new territory for our industry.”

No compromises
As the pioneer of full-wrap graphics for the racetrack, the goal now is to bring that same level of service to anyone requiring a proven mix of high performance, quality, and durability in fleet and vehicle graphics. The same skills that transform racers can just as easily be applied to planes and boats – anywhere an ordinary wrap from an ordinary company just won’t do. Its portfolio already includes sports cars, race trucks, vans, and buses.

“We like doing things that are just out of the ordinary,” says Baumann. “Even the company’s break-room refrigerator has been given the wrap treatment, with a new look of polished steel printed on Oracal 975 textured vinyl.”

Its first-year clients have proven just as willing to explore the possibilities. “We’ve wrapped baseball bats, a guitar, football helmets, ATMs,” he reports. “We’ve made a list of things we’ve never wrapped just to give us more ideas.

Although it’s the racing connection that may initially catch the customer’s attention, Panther Graphics is positioning itself as a one-stop shop for all its clients’ digital graphics. The goal is to grow at a pace which allows no room for compromise on the quality and performance it has demonstrated at the track. “We’ve wrapped race cars at a level we’re proud of, and we are committed to bring that same level of service to the public,” avows Baumann.

For those customers who require it, the company now offers a menu of multi-tiered design services for vehicle wraps, signage, or entire marketing campaigns. It’s also promoting the full range of capabilities of its printers for producing everything from decals and wall wraps to window shades and floor graphics.

“We just continue to be amazed at the quality and versatile of printing on vinyl,” Baumann sums up. “There’s just so much we can do with it.”