Beyond the Car: Vehicle Wraps Encompass so Much More
When you hear the term “vehicle wrap” the first thing that probably comes to mind is a car or truck, perhaps a fleet van. But the world of transportation is quite larger, with shops that think outside of a car-shaped box opening themselves up for a great deal of very profitable opportunities.
From buses to trains, to airplanes, to boats, and even golf carts, everywhere you turn there is a vehicle of some kind that would benefit from a great wrap, and a brand willing to try something new to catch the eye of potential consumers.
Overcoming the Challenges
Rob Stone, Contra Vision’s operations director, notes that one of the single biggest challenges to keep in mind when wrapping some of these more unusual vehicles is temperature. “Many self-adhesive vinyls, including perforated window film, have a minimum application temperature. Trying to apply the material in too low temperatures can result in adhesive becoming hard and the material failing to bond effectively to the surface,” he notes.
That is especially true for larger vehicles that can’t fit into the bay of a shop, for example, a train, an airplane, or a boat will all likely be wrapped in place. This adds complexity and a wide number of factors that simply can’t be controlled the way they can in a shop.
“Check the minimum application temperatures of the materials that you are using and note that it’s the surface temperature as much as the air temperature, so a vehicle may have to sit in a warm environment for a while for the application surface to reach the minimum temperature,” Stone says. “Most perforated window films, for example, have a minimum application temperature of 50°F.”
He continues, “Quick tip: Don’t store your graphics overnight in a cold vehicle — and apply your graphics in the afternoon when surfaces have had a chance to warm up.”
Another challenge to keep in mind, notes Jesus Velarde, owner of AzTex Graphics, is that, unlike a car that can be pulled aside for the project, many of these larger and more complex projects have to be done around a very tight schedule.
“The transportation vehicles are a challenge most of the time since they are money-making vehicles, and it is hard to ‘stop’ them during regular business hours. Therefore, you will be sacrificing weekends and some holidays,” Velarde notes.
Finally, consider the surface of the vehicle itself and the environmental factors it will need to withstand. The pressures of a wrap on an airplane won’t be the same as a golf cart, for example. And while all wraps should be able to withstand rain and snow, a boat wrap will need additional waterproof considerations. Ensuring the right materials for the job is a critical component of whether the wrap will be considered a success.
“Finally,” Stone says, “no matter what type of vehicle or transportation device you are wrapping, the installer should cut back the window graphics from vulnerable edges to ensure the application doesn’t begin to peel at the edges prematurely.”
With all of that in mind, here are a few great examples of some creative transportation wrap projects. None of these are out of skillset of a talented vehicle wrap team, making them excellent inspiration on ways to grow and add new revenue streams without needing to add additional equipment or staff.
The GO Transit Bus Wrap
Done in November 2020, Metrolinx in Ontario, Canada, wanted its buses wrapped with graphics that would make them “see-through” for a “clean from the inside out” marketing campaign highlighting safety during the COVID-19 era. The project was produced by Get Wrapped, a vehicle and building wrap company, that chose a 40% transparent film that looked good from a distance and up close, but also allowed passengers to easily see out the windows.
The Kraken, Octopus Boat Wrap
Based in Queensland, Australia, Fish Wreck is a company that specializes in custom
boat wraps. Owner and boat wrapping specialist Paul Shaw has built a reputation for creating exclusive wraps for the local fishing community, also providing durable, above-the-water-line hull protection. The company will wrap boats up to 40 ft. in length and can wrap them on the trailers, making it easier to complete the projects. One of the things that set Fish Wreck apart from competitors is that all the artwork is hand-drawn by a roster of professional artists throughout Australia, the United States, Canada, South Africa, and Denmark.
FedEx Panda Airplane Wrap
When you go to the airport, the last thing you’re likely thinking about is the graphics on the airplanes, but Florida-based AdGraphics has built a reputation on being able to wrap just about anything — including airplanes, a market President Rich Thompson admits the shop got into by accident. “In the beginning of wrapping people come to you and say, ‘Can you wrap this?’ ... One of those things was airplanes. So we had to figure out how to do it,” he says. There are a lot of special considerations given the far more extreme environmental pressures an airplane experiences versus most other kinds of vehicles, with very specific materials required, and certifications needed just to be able to start the project.
G Fuel Train Wrap
Trains present a very different kind of challenge when it comes to vehicle wraps, as they can’t just come into a shop, and most of the time the operator isn’t inclined to pull the train out of service for the work. That means this type of project is going to be done on-site, and likely on nights and weekends when the schedule is slower and the train can be down for a few hours. With a host of moving parts, needing to worry about factors like temperature and weather, and often unique and challenging angles, train projects will certainly be among the most challenging of wrap projects a team could face, but it could also be some of the most highly visible.
Purple Paisley Golf Cart Wrap
The Franklin, Tennessee, shop 12-Point Signworks had a customer with a unique Christmas gift for his wife: a custom wrapped golf cart. The shop worked with the customer to find the right pattern and adjust the color to the perfect shade of purple. It was printed on a performance vinyl, and the shop applied an overlaminate to ensure both scratch and UV protection to keep it looking great for a long time. And the best part? The customer reported back that his wife was thrilled with the final result and was enjoying driving it all around the couple’s property.