Southern California Sign Blog

Signs Los Angeles | Outline On The Vehicle Wrap Industry

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 @ 07:03 AM

Is the World of Vehicle Wraps complicated?  Is this something you want to get into or would you rather  hire an experienced professional Sign Company to do your vehicle advertising for you?



• Full and partial vehicle wraps have become a cost-effective means of advertising. Vehicle wraps can be a creative business endeavor with a Vehicle Wraps Summary.


• Vehicle wraps can be a creative business endeavor with a reasonable potential for profit.


• Establishing a wraps business requires investments in equipment, supplies, shop space, education and time.


• Wraps production process involves design, print and installation.


• The learning curve is significantly less with a background in graphic arts, web design, wide-format printing or advertising.


• Specific wraps training is available at various locations and industry trade shows, as well as from equipment and vinyl manufacturers and experienced professionals. Training involves design and layout, basic procedures and various methods and approaches of the installation process, followed by practice and individual experimentation.


• Equipment:

• Computer

• Suitable graphics software

• Inkjet printer

• Laminator

• Squeegee and miscellaneous hand tools


• Supplies

• Media (predominantly vinyl, but advances are being made in other materials)

• Laminate

• Ink


• Popular installed digital inkjet printing equipment:

• Roland VP-540 54"

• Mimaki JV33-160 64"

• Mutoh ValueJet 64"

• HP 9000s 64"

• Roland SP-540V

• Mimaki JV3 54"


• Laminator Choices

• Laminator should be at least the same size as the printer to completely laminate the vinyl.

• Laminator manufacturers:


• Neschen/Seal




• Ink Choices

• Solvent inks

• Mild solvent inks

• UV-curable inks


• Vinyl Choices

• Specialized products are manufactured for wrap applications

• Evaluate consistency, quality, durability, performance, cost, compatibility and removability.

• Check reports and reviews about issues with bubbling, printing and cracking.

• Evaluate vinyl manufacturer’s warranty

• Avoid calendared vinyl

• Experiment with matte or reflective vinyl.

• Manufacturers of vinyl wrap media:

• 3M

• Arlon

• Avery

• LG Hausys

• Mactac

• Oracal


• Pricing Guidelines

• Costs of equipment and materials as well as rent, labor, taxes and insurance expenses must be factored into the overall pricing method.

• Other pricing factors: square footage of material; design and production time; installation time; customer’s budget.

• Price wraps to be competitive, yet profitable.

• Market pricing largely dictates prices

• Key is to run the operation efficiently.

• Consider overhead costs.

• The design setup is a separate charge.

• Print setup may be a separate charge.

• Installation may be a separate charge.

• Pricing software helps automate estimating, but it’s important to account for vehicle square footage, material type and other variables.


• Educate customers and potential customers regarding:

• What is the wrap going to advertise?

• Investment cost per month and comparative value to billboard or Yellow Pages

• Work within a realistic customer budget.

• Consider partial wrap alternatives for smaller budgets.

• Inform customer about the expected life of the media and your company's policies about the wrap media warranty. 

• Present your customer with a wrap “care sheet”


• Wrap Production Workflows:

• Evaluate the vehicle

• Inspect the paint

• Assess body contours and accessories

• Photograph and measure the vehicle

• Take direct shots (not at angles) to help accurately scale the graphics

• Photograph each side, hood, rear, roof and bumpers

• Measure exact height and width of sides, hood, rear, roof and bumpers

• Determine installation requirements. Consider extreme curves, rivets, door handles and other protruding parts that impact the amount of materials involved in printing and installation time.

• Design around extreme areas to save time on installation.

• Secure signed approval and deposit before printing and installation.

• Quality of printing and lamination is critical.

• Install without noticeable seams, bubbles or other imperfections.

• Many available wrap media products can be repositioned for best visual alignment and to help remove bubbles during installation.


• An attractive wrap is also an advertisement for your business.


• Establishing a wraps business requires investments in equipment, supplies, shop space, education and time.


• Wraps production process involves design, print and installation.


• The learning curve is significantly less with a background in graphic arts, web design, wide-format printing or advertising.



If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at
Wrap Pictures resized 600

Topics: Vehicle Wraps, Vehicle Graphics, Advertising

Los Angeles Signs | Durability of Vinyl Vehicle Graphics and Wraps

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 @ 07:02 AM


Durability of vehicle graphics is often a grey area. Some seem to last forever, others deteriorate quickly. Clients spending big money on a vehicle wrap are often concerned about this issue. The big question always is, how tough are your vehicle graphics? What is the warranty?

There are four factors that determine the durability of vehicle graphics:
• The quality of the mounting surface.
• The quality of the graphic products used.
• The installation methods used.
• Maintenance of the graphic during its lifetime.

The type of surface that the graphics will be mounted to has a major, but often overlooked, role when it comes to the long-term durability of vehicle graphics. For example, if the vehicle no longer has its factory paintjob, the quality of the repaint has a major effect on the adhesion of the graphics. The graphics might stick well to the paint, but if the paint doesn't stick to the vehicle, all is lost. Some unpainted vehicle surfaces, such as aluminum truck boxes, stainless steel tanker bodies or fiberglass box walls, may interfere with proper adhesion as well. Some graphic films specifically void any warranties on such substrates, others recommend various surface preparation techniques before application. Check with the manufacturer and proceed with caution. Preparation of the mounting surface prior to installation can have a huge effect on any graphic's durability. Not only must the vehicle's surface be squeaky clean, but all surface waxes and/or remnants of polish compounds should be removed as well. This can be done using a clean soft cloth and rubbing alcohol. A poorly prepared mounting surface will virtually guarantee early failure of an otherwise perfect wrap.

The single largest factor in graphic durability has to be the graphic itself. This is a complex mix of print media, ink and overlaminate. All three items have to be carefully matched for maximum compatibility. Fortunately, manufacturers and sign professionals usually offer recommendations on which combinations work the best for their products and installations. Those with warranties only offer the maximum guarantees on specific tried and tested product combinations. Warranties on products range from one to seven years depending on the inks and overlaminates that are used. Recommended products are Avery Denninson, 3M, MACtac, Oracal and Arlon. All products offer different warranties so make sure you ask your Sign Professional what products they use.

Installation techniques are another critical aspect that effect long-term durability. Manufacturers' directions for each type of graphic material give specific instructions for installation that should be carefully followed. Special care must be taken when conforming the graphic film around complex surface shapes. These are the most likely areas to fail later. The more complex the surface, the more chances there are for tenting. The more cuts that have to be made in the graphic panel in order to make it fit the shapes, the more chances of edge failure. The more stretching that has to be done over convex shapes, the more chance of film cracking in the future. Anyway, you get the idea. Anything that you have to do to the graphic to alter its factory shape will affect long-term durability.

Maintenance after installation is the most overlooked aspect of durability for vehicle graphics. The client who might never consider missing an oil change might not help his wrap continue looking its best simply because they don't understand how to keep it safe. Keeping the vehicle clean and free from dirt, grease, salt, acid and drew build-up will help tremendously to extend the life of the wrap. The non-vertical or horizontal areas of a vehicle graphic can be the most challenging areas in which to maintain durability.

Here are some post-installation precautions that can improve long-term performance:
• Cleaning the vehicle should be done with a liquid, nonabrasive cleaner that has a ph value between 3 and 11 and no strong solvents in it.
• If using a pressure washer, make sure it has less than 2,000 psi of pressure; and hold the nozzle more than 12" from the graphic surface.
• Special care has to be taken around exposed graphic edges as well. Wash the vehicle with a soft cloth or sponge, not a hard brush, and avoid excessive scrubbing.
• Checking the graphic regularly can also help to prolong its life. Loose edges should be promptly repaired using an edge seal product.

Vehicle graphics can last a long time, or a short time. Either option may be required on any particular project. The short-term graphic is easy, but the long-term graphic requires planning, expertise and maintenance. It involves a delicate partnership between manufacturer, producer and client, but can produce amazing results when all of the stars are aligned.


Key to success:
- Prior to installation, not only must the vehicle's surface be squeaky clean, but all surface waxes and/or remnants of polish compounds should be removed as well.
- Maintaining a wrap's good looks involves some effort from the client, such as using non-abrasive cleaners, avoiding stiff-bristle cleaning brushes, and checking frequently for loose edges.
- The quality of the installation will also affect a graphic's chances at long term durability. Careful attention to detail, making sure not to over-stretch the vinyl over curved surfaces and using a minimum of cuts and pinholes all add up to a more durable graphic.
- Failures generally happen first along areas where the vinyl was stretched to conform to dramatic surface features.

If you have any questions or need further information, please give The Sign Studio a call at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at


Vehicle Wrap Pictures

Topics: Vehicle Wraps, Vehicle Grapics, Car Wraps, Vinyl Graphics

Los Angeles Signs | Fair Pricing On Quality Wraps Are Worth It!

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Mon, Jan 17, 2011 @ 07:01 AM

Fair & Reasonable Pricing On Quality Wraps Are Worth It!

So often we look to economize, especially in light of the current economy. However, the old adage, "you get what you pay for," really does hold true, particularly when it comes to vehicle wraps. Here are some of the signs you should look for in evaluating the quality of a vehicle wrap:

• Check the bumpers. These are difficult to wrap given that there are lots of curves, nooks, and crannies. Make sure that premium wrap materials (cast vs. calendared) were used and that the material is not lifting, especially on the underside. This is sometimes an area were trimming, tucking and priming is sometimes overlooked.

• Are the grills and fenders wrapped? This is important if the grill and fender color of the original paint job does not match the new wrap colors. They should be wrapped to match!

• Make sure the door handles are wrapped with the same photorealistic image as the rest of the vehicle.

There's nothing worse than the original color door handles poking out from the image. I saw an example recently of a white door handle showing through on a matte black wrap!

• Make sure that seams are kept to a minimum, especially on the sides. It's possible to pay a little more to have full sheets printed so that there is less seaming necessary. Also, be sure to check the top and bottom of the vehicle to make sure that the original paint is not showing through. (Keep in mind that some people opt not to wrap the top of the vehicle because this area may not be visible or non-essential. This is more a matter of personal preference).

• Pay attention to placement and layout of the graphics, especially if the image includes faces. A face in the middle of a door handle may not be what you had in mind. Make sure that the designer tells you about any design glitches before the installation.

As you can probably tell from the discussion above, there may be reasons for that cheap price that you have been quoted. Don't settle for a "wrap gone wrong!" Have it redone. After all it's your image, branding and reputation that are at stake.

Vehicle Wraps & Graphics  

Call us at The Sign Studio (818) 843-9200 to make sure you get the quality vehicle wrap that you deserve. Or send us an e-mail with your questions or request at


Topics: Vehicle Wraps, Vehicle Graphics, Fleet Graphics, 3M Vinyl, Vehicle Design