Diversifying into vehicle wrapping can be a lucrative decision for growing print businesses, no matter where you’re at in your large format journey. Recent advances in print technology have made wrapping easier than ever before. With durable water-based inks, intelligent media and, more precise large-format printers all available, there’s never been a better time to get involved.
Vehicle wrapping is seeing an especially sharp rise, with the automotive wrap film market expected to grow 22.4% from 2021 to 2028. The broader signage industry also remains resilient, as it’s a cost-effective solution for almost any business sector.
This is all thanks to wider growth in the online and delivery sectors: Ecommerce is expected to grow by 16% in 2022, and this means more demand for branded vehicles on the road.
With 69% of customers finding out-of-home advertising more trustworthy than digital advertising, it’s time to take advantage of these new opportunities–and get results.
To get you up to speed with the basics–including materials, technologies, and practical applications we’ve pulled together some of the most useful hints and tips into our short, handy guide.
Tip 1: Select the right media for the job
We’re going to focus on wrapping films in this section, as it’s a durable solution for vehicle wraps, but these principles apply to all media types.
Cast vinyl are likely your go-to substrate for car wraps: they’re easy to contour, stretch, and cut, but this flexibility comes at a higher cost. If you’re printing to flatter signage surfaces and want to save some money, calendared vinyl is the way to go.
When there are so many options, you need a versatile print solution that can keep up. HP Latex is fully compatible with substrates from leading brands such as 3M and Avery Dennison. With HP, you can find a solution that fits your application needs and current equipment. These can all be found on HP Media Solutions Locator, giving you access to perfect media for your printer or application.
Don’t forget to consider warranties for peace of mind. HP Latex printers are eligible for six-year 3M MCS and Avery ICS warranties for vehicle graphics–helping you print with confidence.
Tip 2: Measure and measure again
A top tip for ensuring a successful sign or vehicle wrap, is ensuring that you have the measurements, images, and specifics of the surface, item, building, or vehicle you are designing for.
For vehicles, especially for full wraps, you’ll need the latest vehicle templates, which you can find online. This will ensure your design fits properly, without distortion or slicing the image into pieces.
Tip 3: Design with the end-installation in mind
Less is sometimes more. The human eye can take in seven items at a time, so when designing it’s important not to try and pack in too much information. Equally, color and font can help get your message across–but don’t use too many.
For signage, perspective and distance is key. Choose your lettering size carefully to optimize visibility according to the reading distance. As a rule of thumb, for every 3 meters of viewing distance away from your sign, you should increase the letter height by 2.5 centimeters.
HP Latex helps you print sharp images and text for easier eligibility. With a resolution of up to 1,200 DPI, you can print clear text all the way down to 4-point font sizes.
Tip 4: Choose white ink–for prints that pop!
Printing with white ink can drive up your gross margins by up to 30% by adding depth and vibrance to your images–especially on transparent and colored substrates. It can also make previously challenging (or even impossible) projects easier, saving time on additional processes and materials.
HP Latex White Ink gives you all the benefits of white without the complexity. HP Latex printers with white ink, such as the HP Latex 700 W, 800 W, or HP Latex R-series, feature automatic recirculation to prevent clogging. Additionally, they’re built with an offline rotation chamber for white printhead storage, to minimize waste between white ink jobs.
Tip 5: Select the right print profile
Let’s say you have the design ready, and you’ve chosen the ideal material for the task. Next, it’s important to deliver a sharp, high-quality image for your sign or vehicle wrap.
HP offers a wide range of tested, approved and certified ICC print profiles for HP Latex printers.
These profiles give your machine specific instructions on how much ink to lay down for the optimum result. This ensures images are not subject to color shifts, over-saturation, insufficient ink coverage, edge curling or drying problems.
A lot of print shops don’t follow this important step and use one generic profile for all their media, resulting in images that appear dull or just not quite right. So, by making sure to select the right print profile, you’ll definitely win on quality.
Since you’ll most likely laminate your vehicle wrapping prints, remember to disable the overcoat when selecting your profile.
Don’t forget–the latest generation of HP Latex also gives you a 10% higher color gamut, giving you vibrant and accurate colors on any substrate.
Tip 6: Move into lamination
As your vinyl or film will be exposed to the elements, you need to select one that’s suitable for lamination to prevent scratches or water from dislodging it from the surface.
Tip 7: Eliminate the need to de-gas
By choosing HP Latex technology, you can remove the need to de-gas your vinyl prints before you install them. HP Latex prints are dry straight from the printer, ready to be laminated or installed immediately after leaving the print tray.
This cuts out an entire step from your vinyl printing workflow, saving you time, and freeing up your resources for other tasks. A great way to boost your productivity and improve your bottom line.
Tip 8: Start your installation squeaky clean
The most time-consuming part of most signage or vehicle wrap installations is the preparation stage.
For new signage installations, this may involve removing old graphics and adhesive, then washing with water and detergent to ensure a grease-free dry surface.
When preparing for a vehicle wrap it’s essential to clean every inch of the surface as well as under trims and cracks to make sure they are 100% dirt-free. You should use a suitable solution to remove any wax, before wiping the vehicle with alcohol to remove any residue. All cleaning must be completed the day before to ensure the vehicle is completely dry before installation.
Understandably this is often the least preferred part of wrapping a car and is sometimes neglected, but this is at the peril of long-term wrap durability as the slightest dirt left behind could result in the vinyl’s adhesive failing. So, to be sure of success, make sure your vehicle is always squeaky clean.
Tip 9: Apply graphics with ease
The installation of a car wrap undoubtedly requires skill and practice. But the real key to success is post-heating.
After the wrap is installed, you should apply a heat gun to the vinyl at 85-95 degrees Celsius, especially where there are deep recesses or contours. This will ensure that the vinyl will retain its memory and remove the risk of it ‘popping’ out.
If you are wrapping in colder weather, keep the car inside until the next day. This will allow the vehicle and vinyl to cool down gradually to minimize the risk of lifting.
With the HP Latex 700 and 800 printers, you can achieve 30% better adhesion to laminate, 10 making it easier than ever to get smooth, long-lasting fits. What’s more, HP Latex Inks are very flexible.
Discover ink elongations up to 30% without losing quality.
What are you waiting for?
Signage and car wrapping undoubtedly offer a range of exciting possibilities for entrepreneurial print businesses to explore. There are certainly some tricks of the trade to learn upfront, but once proficient, you’ll be able to offer a wide portfolio of services that will ensure your customers will never need to go elsewhere.
Remember, you’re not alone on the journey. Printer manufacturers and media vendors are always on hand to help, and you’ll find online tutorials and videos to help with any questions along the way.
1.- Grand View Research, Automotive Wrap Films Market Size Report 2021-2028, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/automotive-wrap-film-market
2.- Insider Intelligence, Ecommerce Industry Statistics, https://www.insiderintelligence.com/insights/ecommerce-industry-statistics/
3.- Statista, 2016 https://www.statista.com/topics/5771/out-of-home-advertising-uk/#topicHeader__wrapper
4.- Warranty coverage varies by region, please see graphics.averydennison.com and 3Mgraphics.com for information about what is offered in your country. Some warranty limitations may apply.
5.- Simply Psychology, Short-Term Memory: Facts, Types, Duration, and Capacity,
6.- Signs.com, Signage 101 – Letter Height Visibility, https://www.signs.com/blog/signage-101-letterheight-visibility/ https://www.signs.com/blog/signage-101-letter-height-visibility/ – :~:text=Generally%20speaking%2C%20for%20every%2010,at%20least%2015%20inches%20tall.
7.- HP Latex 800 print resolution: up to 1,200 DPI. See the spec sheet for more info:
8.- Based on research conducted by Keypoint Intelligence July 2020 and commissioned by HP, across over 100 print service providers across the U.S., Europe, and India
9.- On HP Latex 700 and 800 printers, when compared with same ink density in HP Latex 365/5×0 printers.
HP Latex 700/800 printers provide lower color distance to some Pantone* (average visual color distance 1.99 dE vs 3.34dE): Blue (Pantone 289C): 1.3dE vs 3dE, Red (Pantone 201C): 0.49dE vs 3.8dE, Orange (Pantone 153C): 1.6dE vs 3dE. *Measured Xrite i1Pro 2, dE calculated based on the CIEDE2000 standard L500 (10p: 151 sqft/h 110% saturation) vs. L700/800 (8p: 183-215 sqft/h 120% saturation)
10.- Compared to HP Latex 365/5×0 series printers.
11.- HP Latex 365/5×0 and 700/800 Printers inks show similar ink flexibility performance. We can support ink elongations up to 30% (2dE criteria). In case of HP Latex 700/800 printers, white ink has similar flexibility as the other colors.