Do you own a digital printer? A vinyl cutter? Lettering brushes? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you have the potential to produce one of the most demanded products in the sign industry – to the above, simply add magnetic media to produce magnetic vehicle and sign graphics.
No doubt, many of your neighbors and millions of others run businesses out of their homes and magnetic vehicle signs are the perfect way to advertise their business while not permanently applying graphics to their vehicles. Your entry into this field is through digital printing, cut adhesive-back vinyl or, yes, hand lettering.
Although it seems obvious, we remind you that before a sale, make sure that magnetic media will stick to the vehicle. For example, if your client drives a fiberglass-bodied Corvette, you’re out of luck. But you may also encounter other non-magnetic materials in the various panels of modern cars and trucks. Your safest bet is to slide a magnetic media sample over the proposed install area. Be sure to scan all areas because you may encounter some filled with polyester resin “Bondo” – a post-accident patching material.
The thickness of the media can also be a factor. Generally, thicker media will have a stronger magnetic field and stronger hold, but the extra thickness may not easily adhere to uneven surfaces. Most suppliers offer thicknesses that range from 0.008 to 0.030 in. and we recommend a thickness of 0.020 in. for most applications. Roll widths vary from 15 to 48 in., and are available in 10- to 100-ft. rolls in different colors.
We also suggest you round the magnetic media corners during the final finishing. This eliminates sharp corners (that are inclined to raise in windy conditions). This treatment also provides a more finished look.
Before the sale, provide your customer with an ad sheet that includes general maintenance instructions for magnetic signs, so they know about the particulars ahead of time. Your media supplier can provide exact recommendations, but the general guidelines are to install them on a clean surface, wipe dust from the back side and keep them flat when stored.
Applying adhesive-back vinyl graphics on magnetic media is a piece of cake; just treat it like a standard sign surface. We recommend 2-mil cast vinyl, to ensure durability and longevity. You can also directly digital print on properly prepared magnetic media, but talk to the media supplier for types and printing recommendations. Ask them about specific print profiles for your print machine. One print-processing “gotcha” is the magnetic material binding to steel or iron-based surfaces in the media path, which could cause a feed jam, so run a careful flow-through test first. The good news is most machine builders favor aluminum, so there shouldn’t be an issue.
And, check your digital printhead height. If a head strike is possible and your print machine printhead height isn’t adjustable, the work-around is to print on adhesive vinyl and apply it to the magnetic sheet. Depending on the scratch resistance of your ink, you may also want to laminate the image to protect it from road debris and extend the UV longevity. Again, ask your media supplier for recommendations.
Magnetic signs are extremely popular and offer an inexpensive way for small and home businesses to advertise. They’re also an excellent profit source for signshops. Explore, also, other magnetic-media business possibilities – refrigerator magnets, tradeshow graphics and changeable wall graphics for placement on magnetically surfaced walls. If you’re not offering magnetic signs now, consider the positively charged benefits.
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