Color Change Wrapping and their Level of Detail

While IDWraps.com is well known for our vibrant vehicle wrap advertising projects, we are also busy with another emerging segment in the wrap business:  Custom car wraps and restyling.   Color change wrapping is quickly becoming a very popular way to show one’s personality on a vehicle.  With various colors and finishes, a vehicle owner or lessee, may significantly change the look of their vehicle.

New film technologies allow anyone to fully or partially wrap their vehicle in a color of their choice and finish.  Yes that’s right- many colors are available in a variety of finish levels.  The most popular choices are gloss, satin, or matte finishes.  These options allow for further personalization.  Best of all, is the ability to cleanly remove the wrap upon resale or lease return of the vehicle.

Here is a closeup detail shot of a Minicooper wrap:

Minicooper Custom car wraps photo
Close up image of Custom car wraps bumper area.

Sweating the installation related details is not an option when it comes to quality color change wrapping. 

If we really think about it, a vinyl wrap may be viewed as a substitute for paint work.  With this mindset, comes the need for a high level of detail when it comes to the installation.  When IDWraps began doing restyling custom car wraps years ago, the prevailing thought was that these would be an easy application. After all, we don’t have to line up advertising text right?  To our surprise, we found a new installation technique requirements to truly deliver a paint like finish.  On advertising wraps, it’s quite normal to see a little original paint color on deep recess areas.  The function of an advertising wrap surely has a different function, as it is essentially a billboard on wheels.   On the contrary, when we’re wrapping someone’s “baby” (we love our cars, correct?) then it is imperative to take some aspects to the next level.

No Wrinkles Allowed!

Wrinkles are the mantra of the novice installer.  There’s surely nothing worse than to pick up your newly wrapped vehicle, only to be disappointed by an array of wrinkles throughout the installation.  Vehicle wrap wrinkles are the result of poorly distributed excess vinyl during the installation process. When not applied correctly, the film may bunch up on corners.  This nasty type of blemish is avoidable when skilled and experienced hands are at work.  Yes, it takes years for an installer to correctly apply color change wrapping.  Wrinkles are also prone to failure, as they are often under pressure.  In essence, a wrap wrinkle is material that was compressed.  This compression often expands and lets loose over time, making the eye sore even worse.

Imperative Vehicle Surface Preparation

Some installers prefer to allocate a limited amount of time for their restyling custom car wraps installations (often due to discounted pricing.) This skimping on time spent on the job very often be attributed to surface preparation.  Dirt, tar, and many other types of surface contaminates can result in bumps and blemishes that project through the wrap.  You see, wrap films are very thin and typically show every little bump and anything that physically lies on the paint surfaces.  These contaminants also affect the durability of the installation.  IDWraps begins every installation with a thorough vehicle wash with an industrial grade automotive detergent.  Concentrated spot detergents are used to clean any areas with any significant build up of dirt or surface contamination.  After the general cleaning, it is on to the mild solvent preparation.  In this step, all residue is then removed with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution.  This ensures that the vehicle is completely free from all contaminants, including leftover soap, etc.  Only now is the vehicle ready to receive a vinyl wrap application.

Meticulous Trimming and Tucking

Loose hanging vinyl and jagged trim cuts are never welcome on any vehicle wrap.  Precise and smooth cuts are an integral part of a quality restyling custom car wrap.  If your wrap looks like it was trimmed with a chainsaw, it will undoubtedly be difficult to impress your friends.  Many of these demons can surface months after the initial application.  Loose vinyl that is sloppily tucked to dirty and contaminated inner surfaces are almost guaranteed to pop out over time.  For consumers, this is the unfortunate side with many low cost restyling custom car wraps installations.  These folks will not realize they got a bad install until potentially weeks or months later (after the project has been paid in full.)  At unscrupulous wrap providers, there may be resistance when there is no financial leverage, like a balance to be paid.

Don’t Cut My Paint!

Custom car wraps cut paint example
Example of cut paint on Custom car wraps done by competitor

Yes, restyling custom car wraps installers use very sharp knives to trim vehicle wrap materials.  Some of this has to be done on the car (no other way.)  With experienced and properly trained techniques, these films can be trimmed on the vehicle without harm to the paint.  These types of cuts require a ton of practice and the absolute perfect amount of knife pressure.  There is a very small difference in pressure between cleanly trimming vinyl and going right through to cut the paint.  This perfect balance is not done by someone whom has done a handful of wraps.  At IdWraps.com, this procedure is forbidden from installers with less than 100 vehicle install experience.  They are also required to pass extensive testing on company owned vehicles and painted sheet metal.  One nick in the paint, and you fail.  We do not want to nick anyone’s paint. ever.   Another advent in our industry has been the use of Knifeless Tape.  This filament based trimming invention has drastically reduced our need to use knives on vehicles.  It also comes in very useful for hand laid striping and restyle projects.  In the end, we want to treat your vehicle as if it was our own.

Overstretching is Your Enemy

Installing a vehicle wrap is like covering a bowling ball with saran wrap, and expecting no folds or wrinkles.  Surely there are a great deal of techniques that get this accomplished.  To wrap over compound curves (convex and concave alike,) the material must stretch.  All restyling custom car wraps manufacturers have published stretch specifications which exhibit the mechanical limits of their materials. Most allow for an average of 130% stretch. This means that a 10″ piece of film may be stretched out to 13″.  Many installers are tempted to speed up installs by heating up the vinyl films and pull the film hard around corners and curves.  This action almost always results in overstretching of the films.  Remember that all materials like this have dimensional “memory.”  This memory means that that formerly mentioned 10″ of vinyl always wants to return back to it’s original dimension after it has been stretched.  Nonetheless, areas of wrap installation where the film has been stretched are under considerable stress.  Consider this tension to return to original dimensions a battle of stretched vinyl vs adhesive strength.  This battle of tension is only won with careful installations.

Check out the latest 3M custom car wraps colors here:  3M Color Chart