Follow the Curve
Manufacturers have been busy in 2018. They’ve broadened the types, colors and textures of wrap vinyl and made it easier to apply, position or store than ever before. More specialized tools have also been introduced to speed installation.
A number of notable wrap film products launched in 2018, many featuring low-tack application, additional colors and longer shelf lives. For examples and expert commentary, see the recent "Vehicles + Vinyl" columns referenced here.
NEW WRAP VINYL
3M debuted its Print Wrap Film IJ175Cv3 (see ST, July 2018, page 30). The 2-mil cast-vinyl film is repositionable, with low initial tack and pressure-activated Comply v3 Adhesive. 3M’s Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8418G is engineered to conform to compound curves and is excellent for vehicle and boat wraps, the company says. And 3M added eight new colors to its popular IJ180Cv3 line.
Arlon’s IllumiNITE Wrap (see ST, June 2018, page 28) is a premium, digitally printable reflective film with FLITE Technology, which allows for easy repositioning and installation when wrapping gentle and complex corners, as well as preventing bruising or chatter lines, according to the company.
Avery Dennison added to its Automotive Window Film line with three new series: Non-Reflective, Infrared and High-Performance. All three films lend to vehicle restyling, safety enhancements and heat/glare rejection. The company added two new colors to its existing Conform Chrome Series Wrapping Films as well as a new color to its Supreme Wrapping Film ColorFlow Series (see ST, June 2018, page 28).
And ORAFOL’s ORACAL 970RA UNIQUE Colors by Will Castro Designs now feature four new choices (see ST, July 2018 page 30). It’s fair to say that wrap vinyl film has never been available in so many styles and colors, has never been easier to handle and install, and lasts longer than ever both on a vehicle and on the shelf.
I put out a call to dozens of shops asking which new and cool wrap installation tools they are using, and the responses abounded. One tool was so new, it’s still in prototype, but look for it soon: the Squeegee Knife from inventor Dustin Reush. Michael Dmytrow, owner, Surf City Graphics (Huntington Beach, CA) called it a combination of a squeegee and knife that is built into the actual squeegee. Every wrap installer will have this in their tool pouch or box, he predicted. It “cuts graphics accurately with only one hand, every time,” he said.
Dmytrow also favors The Mighty Micro Squeegee from Geek Wraps (Ft. Lauderdale, FL). “It works really efficiently with tucking edges and wrapping around tight corners on doors, jambs and other areas that may be difficult to reach with a regular squeegee,” he said. This ‘3M Approved Installation Tool’ also has a cutting feature integrated into the squeegee to save an installer from having to switch out tools. “Simply place the blade of your razor knife into one of the two slits (one for an eighth-inch cut and one for a quarter-inch cut),” Dmytrow continued. “[You] slide the 90° edge around the window while the blade trims the vinyl.”
Another recently-released tool is the Top Sheet Cutter (TS-1) from OLFA Corp. (Japan). Chris Kmit, owner of Incognito Wraps (Las Vegas) calls it “pretty amazing. It only cuts the backing paper so, when we do the chrome delete on the Tesla trunk plate, for example, we are able to cut in the center, right behind the ‘S’ and begin there while keeping the rest of the vinyl covered with the backing paper on either side until we land all the letters where they need to be.” Other tools will do a similar thing, Kmit said, “But they rely on Teflon to slide against the adhesive and it often gets stuck.”
Jennifer Arrington, co-owner, Longwood Signworks (Rocky Mount, VA), likes the new Vinyl Car Wrapping Flexible Micro Squeegee Curves Slot Tint Tool Set from FOSHIO (China), available on Amazon.com. “We have found that the new Foshio Micro Squeegees work great… in small recesses and window trim that can’t be removed,” Arrington said.
One last new tool worth mentioning is the 60-in. Bumper Pole from Auto Skins LLC (Weston, WI) recommended by John Duever, president, Vinyl Images & Design (Fenton, MO) who said that it allows for installers to do hoods and large panels by themselves.
OTHER COOL TOOLS
Yellotools (Stanton, CA) received a lot of love from respondents. “I think our favorite addition to the wrap utility belt would be the LacyTips from Yellotools,” Kmit said. “These tools allow us to get into tiny areas on brake calipers or chrome deletes which is a large part of our business.” Brent Luther, owner, Creative Color Studio (Minneapolis) said, “I talked to my lead installer … and he loves his BodyGuard Knife [from Yellotools]. It works amazing on cutting the back panel off on any full panel wraps.” Chris Sessa, owner of obSessave Graphics (New Port Richey, FL) also digs this backing splitter.
Yellotools’ “WrapStick kit … [is] useful for fine-detail work around moldings, hard to reach edges, etc.,” said Katherine Becher, owner/creative director, Wicked Wraps (Mukilteo, WA). Matt Henkel, graphic designer, Elite Tinting & Graphics (Duluth, MN) also likes it. And Matt Newcome, owner, Nukem Graphics (Lebanon, KY) is a proponent of Yellotools’ YelloMini “Hang-Loose” Squeegee, which is great, he said, “…. for hard to reach spots and lifting some rubber moldings.”
Luther’s installers also rock the RollePro PSV Application Tool from GForce Products (Greensboro, NC), a hand-held burnishing tool for rivets on box trucks and semi-trailers.
“I am a fan of three different knives: the NT PRO A-1P Red Dot Knife, OLFA and NT Cutter multi-cartridge knife,” Duever said. “The Red Dot and OLFA are pretty similar and the NT Cutter is nice because it holds up to five blades at a time, which saves valuable seconds when needing to change a blade out.” Both Duever and Kmit are also avid supporters of Avery Dennison’s FleXtreme Micro Squeegees for picking and tight spots.
“There is quite a heated race in the application-glove department between the ‘original’ WrapGlove [from ImageOne Impact (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)] and a new heavy hitter, PROGLOVE from PID Pro Series,” Duever said. “Both gloves are similar in the quality of application. The WrapGlove lasts longer but is a little more expensive and the PID Pro Series glove allows you to use your touch-screen devices and the price point is slightly more affordable.”
Also from ImageOne Impact are XtremeMagz installer’s magnets. Newcome said, “We had a set of magnets we have had for a while that were good enough to use, but these just hold so much better.” And finally, ImageOne also carries the P. O. D. Steamer System. Becher said, “It makes post-heating a breeze and helps minimize any visible squeegee lines.”
Henkel spoke highly of the M18 Cordless Heat Gun by Milwaukee tools. To hold the gun, there’s the MagStrapz (Mokena, IL) heat-gun and torch holder. Newcome said, “[It] holds a heat gun on the vehicle so you can keep in reach and [prevent] burning of body parts.”
Finally, a couple of respondents shouted out their love of “Knifeless Tape [from 3M] – which we live by,” Luther said. Henkel heartily concurred.
And if you need to learn wrapping skills, all the wrap-vinyl manufacturers mentioned earlier offer training or certification.
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