When approaching the task of a vehicle wrap, the application, design, and shape and/or size of the vehicle impacts the plan of attack on vehicle prep and installation of the vinyl. We try and approach each wrap the same way; we begin by finalizing artwork with the client(if it's a digitally printed wrap) then laying out the design files. This is generally part of the initial design activity that we offer for custom designed vehicle wraps. Each panel has to be set up by one of our designers in order to be printed, laminated, and trimmed to fit your vehicle. Once the panels are manufactured, the vehicle is prepped for application.
When prepping the vehicle for installation, especially for color change vehicle wraps, we find that removal of as many hardware and external pieces is imperative for the best quality outcome of the installation. After discussions with master installers and our own highly trained and accomplished installers we found that the fewer obstacles there are in their way, the easier it is to wrap. Although this is an obvious principle, it isn't always easily achievable in practice. Removal of badges, logos, tail and head lights, side view mirrors, and miscellaneous trim can prove tedious, and if not done correctly, could prove costly as well.
With the vehicle torn down as best we can, we then wipe the vehicle down with cleaners and then isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface of any unwanted oils, dirt and grime that may hinder the application of the material. As a standard practice, we ask that the car come clean, but not detailed; no waxes, no tire shine, nada. These waxes and such get everywhere and can create significant issues for the wrap vinyl's adhesive - so bring us a shiny, clean vehicle, and we'll get to work on it!
With all the parts and accessories off the car, we are able to tuck and apply the vinyl into the seams for a more full look. This also helps prevent the need for cuts taking place on the vehicle directly, thus minimizing the chances of scratching or gouging the paint. In areas that do need contour trimming, we use a knife-less tape application, which is a special tool of the trade in the wrap industry. Whether it's a full digital wrap, or a solid color gloss or matte color change wrap, the better the initial prep work, the better the application. We recommend that you, as the owner, remove as much of these trim items as you are comfortable with. This will save you money as the client and will make the wrap process that much faster and cleaner.
We've written before regarding the need for proper surface preparation for vehicle wraps and fleet graphics, and we'd recommend this as additional reading material to familiarize yourself with the overall prep process.
Ready to wrap? Let's do it!