Vehicle Fitout
Technology in vehicle graphics

In part two of our corporate identity feature, Robert Barry summarises the latest digital technology available to fleet users and how it is best utilised on vehicles.
Traditionally vehicle graphics consisted of cut vinyl lettering or pictures in solid colours layered upon each other to give a design, along with pin-striping or hand-painted flourishes for trucks, says NZ Sign Solutions director Karen Browne.
Now she says the options start with magnetic signs for the side doors through to digital print vinyl, and to totally wrapping a car and using materials that imitate architectural substrates such as carbon fibre, brushed metal, ultra chrome, matte and fluoro - offering an authentic look at minimal cost.
The material used is always an important aspect of a vehicle wrap, and film must be able to conform into and around the various channels and corrugations on different types of vehicles. The film essentially becomes part of the vehicle itself. The 3M 1080, Arlon and Orajet 3951RA are highly developed conformable cast vinyl in both solid graphics and digital media, to enable them to become a part of the vehicle’s skin. Both types of films can be incorporated into a wrap design.
Cast films are a premium product with excellent durability and conformability characteristics. The term “cast” refers to the manufacturing process of this type of vinyl. When wrapping with a cast film, NZ Sign Solutions can guarantee that the graphics will not only conform to the vehicle but also stay there, which is the problem with using non-cast material.
Using a process called post heating, NZ Sign Solutions can erase the “memory” of a cast vinyl product and reset it to the shape of the vehicle.  It is transformed into a new state that is locked into place, whereas cheaper vinyls will shrink and pull back. Cast vinyl will not, and will look better for longer.
Rapid Air (RA) technology, which allows air to easily escape from under the wrap, makes the job quicker, easier and more cost effective, giving a bubble-free finish every time. Included in the RA technology is also a pressure-sensitive adhesive that allows the applicator to lay the wrap on a vehicle and make sure the alignment is perfect before wrapping to give a perfect finish.
New technology has also increased the ease of removal. With leased vehicles being swapped over every few years, it’s important that vehicle wraps can be removed easily without damaging the vehicle.
This means when the wrap needs to be removed, it will come off with ease and leave little glue residue behind, so as long as it is within the material requirements of three to five years depending on material.
Each manufacturer has different technology with regards to how well the material stretches and holds, depending on vehicle difficulty. With 3M, the film is removable for up to five years with heat, and solid graphics can last up to seven years. The Orajet range of vinyls with RA are specially designed to make this process easy.
When it comes to wrapping a vehicle in a cool colour to help it stand out from the crowd, here’s a brief lowdown to the latest on-trend:
Matte – For a while Matte has been the colour of choice, but it is about to be knocked from its perch with an array of amazing new effect vinyls just landed.
Ford New Zealand revealed its new limited edition AB35 Ford Fiesta which has been designed by the All Blacks to celebrate Ford’s 17 year sponsorship of the team. The Fiestas are custom wrapped in 3M Series 1080 Matte Black film, which was voted “coolest new product” at this year’s International Sign Association expo in Nevada.  
The latest Matte colours were released by 3M in September; a Matte version of its Metallic Blue, a Matte Orange, and in contrast a Satin Black.
Carbon Fibre - It’s not a printed carbon pattern, as the film is a physical weave and has an embossed finish resembling true carbon fibre, which reflects light and changes the highlights of the pattern depending on the viewing angle.
It is popular in New Zealand with car enthusiasts, and with people who want a carbon fibre look without the price tag. The multilayer casted PVC film has been particularly developed for surface refinement in car design with highest requirements for durability and solidity.
Colours range from black to greys to silver to white, and the latest is transparent. Wrap a car in a lime green colour, add transparent carbon to it, and the result is lime green carbon fibre. Or print out a vehicle wrap, laminate it with transparent carbon, and now it becomes a carbon fibre digital print.
NZ Sign Solutions director Keith Browne has incorporated the carbon fibre on his fleet vehicles and since then has had many enquiries about its application. Installed on bonnets, boots, spoilers, side view mirrors, and interior plastic, Carbon Fibre provides that sporty aftermarket look to any car.
Brushed Metal - Brushed coloured vinyls add the custom brushed steel look to a vehicle and are available in a variety of great colours including steel, graphite, tin and silver grey.
Ultraleaf Chrome - This durable, five-year cast film is a cost-effective alternative to 24-carat gold or silver leaf film. Oracal 383 features a smooth, printable surface and a three-dimensional visual texture. The durable dimensional stability of this film makes it ideal for lettering, marking and decoration of vehicles, windows and signs requiring longer-term outdoor durability.
Fluoro – Another innovative technology is fluorescent vinyl used by the ambulance service and police, but these eye-catching graphics have gone mainstream being incorporated into logos to make them stand out. These are also particularly useful for those fleets who operate 24 hour services such as transport and deliveries and require high impact visibility at night and in daylight too.
 Metallic - 3M leads the way with a metallic red which is sure to be a head-turner when used as a full wrap. Red is the epitome of fast, expensive and elite. All of these films have excellent resistance to water, dirt, impacts, wear, abrasion and mould. It is amongst the technologically most advanced and prestigious products offered by 3M.
Chameleon - The colour-changing vinyl which has a rainbow effect transforming from purple to blue to green to red and yellow as people walk past, notice it and absorb the effect. A word of warning, pricewise it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Crocodile - This pattern is awesome for detailing a vehicle then wrapping an office, bar, or an entire theme wall.  With a great texture and feel to it some absolutely amazing things can be done with Crocodile.
Honeycomb and Dune - The newest arrivals and unique to the Oracal range are two very striking patterns that are hard to explain but look great and will really add an extra element to signage. HoneyComb 975 with its embossed small honeycomb pattern and Dune 975 which features a self embossed zebra-like pattern for an ultra cool look. Both are available in Black.
More companies are turning to customisation to have head-turning vehicles – just featuring the wheels or wheel arches in a contrast texture is often all it takes says NZ Sign Solutions. 

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