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Elements of a practical vehicle wrap installation guide

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It is common sense that a team that communicates well works more efficiently and with fewer mistakes. In the end, these basic elements are contributing factors to what makes any business profitable while also meeting customer expectations. Many graphic providers use either in house or subcontracted installers for their vehicle wrap applications. In either scenario, an effective system of communication must be established.

At IDWraps, we install both our own printed projects, as well as for many outside shops in need of local 3M, UASG or PDAA Master certified installation in our region. When it comes to installing for outside printers, I’ve personally witnessed both what I believe to be the best and the worst in communication efforts. One common thread for the latter examples is the printers that provide the least amount of documentation and guidance for the installer. This makes workflow exponentially more difficult for all parties involved. The more precise instructions you offer, the more accurate the install. It’s that simple.

Enter the Installation Guide

Accompanying this article are some typical examples from our vehicle wrap installation guide. They offer comprehensive details regarding the positioning, panel placement, and any special instructions. The panel map offers an accurate overview of the locations of each printed section and their respective overlap sizes. We do like to eliminate seams when possible, so we’ll overprint large overlaps in body line areas. This strategy may be easily seen on the illustration. Skipping such critical written instructions may result in extra seams or incorrect graphic positioning. Ultimately, if the installer is not guessing, there is a much higher probability that the expectations of the designer and client alike will be met.

Another advantage to the panel map is if offers an inventory reference for not only the installers, but the production staff as well. It’s always a bad day when an installer drives two hours and arrives at a job site, only to find they’re missing a panel or two. Worse could be a set of prints you’ve sent to a job that happens to be two states away where the subcontracted installers now need to cancel their project for the day due to an inventory issue. Checkable boxes throughout the guide along with sign off areas are a means for production staff to ensure nothing is missing and also take ownership of quality control responsibilities.      

Other helpful content that may be included in the guide could be bleed specifications, prespaced graphic element position measurements, and material/laminate identification. Yes, “adhesive-backed vinyl” is not descriptive enough. For subcontracted installs, we expand our guide to include reminders about not skipping important steps, such as “Lay All Panels Out on Vehicle Prior to Application.” Some installers choose productivity over quality, and I’m not interested in offering my clients poorly registered applications. We try to delineate all expectations just short of “Don’t Wrap Over Dirt.” Wrapping over dirt would be silly. Who would do that? You’d certainly be surprised. 

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Malcolm Gieske

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