Vehicle wraps are printed on sheets of cast or calendered vinyl. The primary difference between the two vinyl wraps is durability. Cast vinyl is better for long-term use of 1-5 years; calendar vinyl is appropriate for short-term wraps lasting just 3-12 months
Cast vinyl is a premium material that stretches easily to best conform to the vehicle’s surface. When brushed over with a clear laminate, cast vinyl provides a paint-like finish on cars, buses, and even boats.
In addition to increased flexibility, vendors prefer cast vinyl because the sheets don’t shrink much during manufacturing, and also because they maintain colors better during printing. However, cast vinyl wraps are considerably more expensive then calendered material and isn’t recommended if you need a vehicle wrap for less then a year.
Calendered vinyl has strong “memory” – it snaps back to its original form after being stretched. This means it doesn’t conform as well to vehicles. It’s also difficult to match color. But calendered vinyl is much cheaper then cast material, and it can be produced in greater quantities. This makes it an acceptable solution for vinyl wraps lasting only a few months – especially if used on flat surfaces such as the side of a box truck – but not for long-term advertising.
3 types of vehicle graphics
Vendors offer different methods for wrapping your vehicle, depending on how much surface area you wish to cover.
Full wraps – Covers the entire surface of the vehicle. Includes perforated window film (known as “ window perfs”) that cover glass surfaces without impacting the driver’s visibility.
Partial wraps – Covers half the sides of the vehicle and extends around the back. Partial wraps sometimes include a logo on the hood.
Vinyl lettering/spot graphics only – A simple inexpensive solution that may include 1 to 2 colors, a company logo, and /or a call to action on the side of the vehicle.
If you’re unsure which wrap method works best for your vehicle, an experienced vendor can help.
Starting a vehicle wrap project
Your vehicle wrap provider needs as much information as possible about your vehicle before work can begin on the design.
Start by providing the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Wrap providers use special software that grabs precise measurements of most vehicles and pulls them into a design template. Make sure to not specifics about the vehicle, such as whether it’s a convertible or whether you’ve made aftermarket modifications that won’t appear in most databases. If your wrapping a leased vehicle, you may need to provide documentation that the wrap won’t violate your leasing agreement.
Next, determine the look and feel of the design. Start with a general idea of what you want the wrap to display: sales messages, photographs, splashy designs, or calls to action. Experienced vendors will have suggestions for what works best for businesses like yours, but you input is necessary to create a finished product you’ll be happy with.
Most vendors will create a designs for you from scratch. If you supply some of your own artwork, makes sure It’s high-resolution – at least 300 dots per inch (DPI) – and send in a file format that the dealer can work with. Never send logos or images taken from your web site- they offer poor resolution and quality.
If you don’t know how to create artwork in the appropriate file formats, contact the company that prints your business cards or letterhead. They may be able to provide you with electronic files to send to a vehicle wrap vendor.
Wrapping vehicles windows
If you design covers the vehicle’s windows, the vendor will print the design on window perfs, which allow you to see through the covered windows while driving. You’ll have to decide if you want the window perf laminated or not.
Laminate protects the materials from blemishes, harsh weather, and chemical damage, but the added thickness can make visibility hazy unless a optically clear laminate is used. Non-laminated window perfs provide a clearer view most of the time, but can greatly impair visibility during inclement weather and fade faster without lamination.
If you live in areas with frequent snow or ice, it’s best to avoid window perfs altogether. Using a ice scraper to remove ice from window perf could scratch, stretch, and even possibly tear the material.