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Taking the Paint-Wrap Plunge

(August 2012) posted on Tue Jul 31, 2012

Igniting an explosion of new possibilities when it comes to vehicle wraps.

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By Jared Smith

• Most of these colored films are typically only 3.5-mil thick (versus a traditional wrap film and laminate at 6-mil); these thin films can easily outstretch and conform in ways traditional vinyls cannot. This comes in handy when trying to emulate the look of a paint job, because you’ll be required to wrap in places you would not otherwise need to worry about, specifically in and around fog lights, grills and other hard-to-reach insets. The extra conformability of these thin films is key to accomplishing this.

• The film’s being thin is a plus, but it also brings me to an install tip from Mike Tovar, bluemedia's install manager (and two-time international second-place finisher in the SGIA wrap competition): "Using a heat gun instead of a torch will help keep you out of trouble on paint-wrap films. The heat gun will allow a much more even heat distribution and that leads to less chance for damage on films this thin."

• And, says Tovar, there is a distinct difference in the feel of a paint-wrap film and traditional printed and laminated vinyl. This means you will need to try a few different squeegee covers to see what works best for you and on which film. There are many options – from Velcro and suede to felt and microfiber, to name a few. One might work best on matte-finish films whereas others might work best on textured films like carbon fiber. Do some quick tests to see which performs best for you and keep a list for future reference.

Pushing the wrap envelope
Finally, keep in mind that, the buyers of these wraps generally have a different motivation from your average client. They typically aren’t looking to increase their brand awareness or get any kind of message out to the public. Instead, they’re simply looking to customize their personal ride. You’ll quickly learn that working on a personal vehicle for someone who just wants to improve the look lends itself to closer final inspections. That detail work I mentioned earlier? It had better be very clean and well done, or you’re sure to hear about it.

Paint wraps can be real work, but they can be real fun, too. These types of projects can bring exotics to your shop. I still remember the day we put carbon fiber on a silver Lamborghini – very cool stuff and this kind of job is very worthy of promoting via posting to your shop’s blog or website. And don’t hesitate to push the wrap envelope by trying the bright pink, the matte green, the silver metallic, the white carbon fiber, etc.

Just remember the buyer is as different as the tools and planning required when doing paint wraps. Good luck, go slow, plan ahead, and add this capability to your offerings and portfolio. Prospective customers love this stuff.