Wrap Autobahn

Get up to speed with education, the latest materials and equipment, cutting edge tools, and clear processes

In 2007, I moved to Amsterdam from New York City because my lovely wife wanted to raise our daughter close to her family in the Netherlands. Living in a new country, and continent for that matter, was filled with a ton of new experiences in food, culture, and even driving, especially the Autobahn. No speed limits!
As an American, this was a dream come true. At first, I thought no speed limits would mean lots of crashes and chaos, yet it’s quite the opposite. The Autobahn is a perfect mix of well-manufactured roads, educated drivers who follow the rules, and quality cars. This allows you to drive from point A to B in a very short amount of time while being incredibly fun and exhilarating. It’s the ultimate driving experience.
In many ways, the wrap industry can be comparable to the Autobahn in terms of how it works. In fact, I have always had this Wrap Autobahn mindset and, more and more, I see installers, wrap shops, manufacturers and distributors getting it too and then some!
Yet, I also see a lot of people drive in the wrap industry like it’s a highway with speed limits, bad drivers and lots of potholes. It certainly doesn’t have to be this way.
Instead, build a Wrap Autobahn so you can go from point A to B with high profits and maximum efficiency. And, what is especially cool, unlike the real Autobahn, which is only in Germany, the Wrap Autobahn can happen anywhere in the world.
The key building blocks for a Wrap Autobahn are: solid education about the materials/equipment, cutting-edge tools, clear processes, and a Never Stop Learning attitude, especially about techniques and trends.

Education on the Autobahn

In the past five years, there has been a dramatic increase in wrap-related education, both in person and online. More and more manufacturers and even distributors offer in-person workshops. I have seen the Avery Dennison hands-on workshop program go from eight workshops back in 2010 to over 120 workshops in 2023.

What this means is more installers have a much better understanding of the materials they are working with. This includes knowing the limits, which helps avoid durability issues as well as working faster as they can dial in the unique properties from that brand.
In line with materials, the manufacturers are upping their game lately from color change, commercial, and PPF. One particular standout is the new ORAJET 3971RA with ProSlide. It is a digital print film and the industry’s first cast PU film. It has a huge jump from PVC film in terms of durability, the conformability and long-term hold, plus the self-healing properties are all very interesting.
For equipment, when I visit wrap shops while teaching workshops across the world, the shops that are flying along the Wrap Autobahn are crystal clear. CL Visual in New York is a good example. Every time I am there, Chris and Leigh have rearranged their space yet again to fit new equipment that, even though the last equipment worked fine, the newest model is worth the education dive and purchase to ensure higher profits and continued growth.
Online education has exploded as well, and what is especially interesting is that this online education helps customers as well. They have a better understanding of wraps and trends, which can help everyone focus better on sales and workflow.
So, taking it back to the Autobahn analogy, when the drivers on the real Autobahn are educated and know the rules, they can drive fast while being safe. On the Wrap Autobahn, educated installers and customers can wrap with high volume and better durability.

Tools for the Autobahn

Just like cars are getting better each year along with the driving apps like Waze, so are wrap tools, especially in the past several years.
Yellotools does a great job innovating both with technology and being open to input from their customers and partners. Two specific tools that came out recently that are true Wrap Autobahn tools are: Triple S and the Wrap Axe.

Triple S is the industry’s first all-in-one solution for wrapping commercial, color change, and PPF. For prep, it can be applied on the surface of the vehicle, which helps high tack films slip, avoid sanding/adhesive lines, and stop silvering when picking up PPF. For installation, it goes on the squeegee to speed up the process dramatically and for post-install, Triple S can be used on top of the wrap as a six-month aftercare solution.
The Wrap Axe is on the same Wrap Autobahn level. This is a tool that TWI sells in partnership with Tadashi and Yuki from Design Labs in Japan. It helps lower cutting times on car wraps by over 50% and avoids any possible damage to the vehicle that a knife normally poses. Plus, it’s a great tucking tool so an installer can cut and seal all with the same tool.
The final focus on tools is part of what I call the Great Crossover that has been happening for the past few years. PPF, tint, detailing, and the wrap world are crossing over quickly these days. This means building blocks from those industries are finding a home in the wrap world, especially in the detailing world.
Prepping a vehicle has never been easier thanks to better clay bar scrubbers, quality microfiber towels, and cleaners like rinse-less wash from companies like The Rag Company. For aftercare, cutting-edge ceramic coatings that are truly made for wraps are speeding the Wrap Autobahn into higher profits than ever.
One of the biggest Wrap Autobahn building blocks is protocol systems for wrap shops and coaching. Trello, Monday, and Google Docs are well-established. Newcomers like Torq and other CRMs are really gaining traction in the wrap industry as well. The shops investing time and money into them are able to scale and adapt much quicker than shops that don’t.
In addition, as the wrap industry has grown and matured, understanding business is more important than ever. I have been teaching the Avery Dennison Business Boot Camp with John Duever for years now, and the classes are always packed.
In addition, John has his own podcast and coaching program called WrapIQ that is very popular and worth checking out. Simply put, if the business side of the wrap world feels like it has a lot of speed limits and traffic, it’s time to adjust and find that fun Autobahn feel.
The final Wrap Autobahn building block is having a Never Stop Learning attitude, especially with techniques. Back in 2021, The Wrap Institute launched the Wrap Matrix and Zero Stretch. The few people that are truly catching on to this are giving us amazing feedback: lower install times, wrapping easier than ever, and stress-free finishes that hold for the long term.
I can honestly say the wrapping process has completely transformed for me the past two years and materials that I thought would never work on a certain shape or vehicle are a breeze to install.
In the end, anyone can pick up a squeegee and a knife and start on the wrap road. The art is putting all the building blocks together in order to cruise on the Wrap Autobahn in the right way which is the perfect balance between quality, durability, and efficiency… that feeling you get when driving down the real Autobahn in a super car at 300 km an hour is the same one you feel when you hit that perfect profit point on the Wrap Autobahn. It’s all about putting it all together, and I hope you do!

Justin Patenew

Justin Pate

Justin Pate is a graphic installer/instructor with over 18 years of experience working both in the U.S. and Europe. Justin teaches workshops across the world most notably for Avery Dennison and Mutoh in North America. In 2014, he launched The Wrap Institute (www.wrapinstitute.com). Currently, The Wrap Institute is comprised of hundreds of HD streaming videos that cover all aspects of graphic installations. For more information on Justin check out @justinpatewrapper on Instagram.

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