3M South Africa hosted for the first time in South Africa the International Knifeless Master Training Workshops from 14-17 November 2016 on their premises in Rivonia where eight advanced graphic installers attended two workshops.
Vaughn Repsold from the Wrap academy was the South African Knifeless endorser and together with 3M Technical Service Supervisor in Commercial Solutions Division and 3M International Knifeless Training Workshop Endorser, Marcio Oliveira they took the participants through these workshops and assessed their skills and abilities.
Repsold and Oliveira gave five basic vehicle wrapping tips:
1. Preparation – cleaning the surface ensuring that the surface is 100% clean.
2. Primer – drying the surface before applying any media.
3. Laying or positioning of the vinyl and finishing of the application (using knifeless tape) to ensure that there is no damage to the surface or paint.
4. Post-heating process in order to lock down all edges.
5. Managing the customers expectations – let the customer know if there will be any cuts and patches needed to reduce the amount of stress on the film.
The Wrap Academy’s goal is to strengthen the vehicle wrapping industry by sharing knowledge with those wanting to become professional vehicle wrap installers. There is a certain standard of how things should be done, and there are standard techniques used to make the process happen, but to obtain the most professional vehicle wrap installation, they will teach you what the ‘book’ doesn’t, tips and tricks used by professional wrap installers from around the world.
Repsold on vehicle wrapping as a whole, ‘I started Kacoon Vehicle Branding and went on to create what he calls ‘my dream’, a vehicle branding company running at the highest level possible. Running a business like that is however not my strong point, but teaching my staff was. I then went further and did more and more training and research ending up being trained my some of the best in the world. I am now authorised to train and test installers in both the 3M preferred programme as well as the Knifeless accredited installer programme. I have extensive knowledge to share, and what way better that at my own academy.
‘Although Kacoon does not operate anymore, everything that made it tick does! Being outside of a wrapping company gives me much more vision on how to make it operate correctly, the complete process from beginning to end, and all the techniques and tricks learned over the years. The most important tool in the vehicle branding business is the applicator, and that’s who I will concentrate on to increase his or her knowledge, and in the end strengthen the wrapping industry. I hope to make a huge dent in the industry when it comes to wrapping vehicles and the amount of talent we can draw out of our South African installers,’ concluded Repsold.
More tips regarding vehicle wrapping
Using the wrong film – not all films are created equal
We all know that is the first rule of vinyl of any sort. Though they may look the same, films are manufactured with different features and benefits to suit a large variety of applications. This is especially true for vehicle wrapping films, which need to conform to complex curves and stand up to all types of weather, from extreme cold to intense heat. That’s why one of the most common vehicle wrap mistakes, is selecting the wrong film for the job.
Not only can this make application much more difficult, time consuming and painful for the installer, it can also lead to the worst failures – poor adhesion to the vehicle surface, bubbling of the vinyl, severe wrinkles in the film and the need to overstretch the film for it to conform. It is also important to remember, that these failures are not likely to appear, one or two years after the installation, they’ll appear within the first few months, so you may have an angry customer on your hands sooner than you expect.
How to avoid it – Understand the length of time your customer wants their wrap to last, as well as the scope of the project. Is it a full vehicle wrap, or cut lettering? Once you understand this, all of the top manufacturers sell vehicle wrapping films of varying qualities and prices to meet those expectations. They have tested these materials extensively, giving you much more peace of mind, knowing that your customer won’t be back with warranty claims. The best way to ensure that you’re getting the right film, is to speak to your supplier. They are likely to sell an entire range of these films and are familiar with all of their slight differences.
Improper surface prep – preparation is EVERYTHING
Even if you do everything correctly, a wrap installation without proper surface prep is extremely likely to fail. All of the oil and dirt that accumulates on cars is your wrap’s worst enemy. Proper surface prep does not begin and end after you have run the car through the car wash, although this is a good first step. Even miniscule amounts of oil and dirt can make a difference and must be completely removed. Any lingering particles of dirt will be visible through the film and any oil residue is likely to prevent proper vinyl adhesion and cause bubbling.
How to avoid it – Don’t let trace amounts of dirt and oil ruin your wrap. After the initial car wash, go over the entire vehicle with 99% isopropyl alcohol and a shop towel to make sure that every bit of oil and dirt are removed. Pay special attention to any curves such as the mirror or the hood, as well as channels and edges, where failure is most likely to occur. Spending the extra time to make sure that the vehicle is sparkling clean will save you headaches in the long run. Before applying your film to the surface, using an edge primer along all of the edges is another excellent way to promote adhesion and avoid lifting where failures often appear.
Overstretching the film – Don’t let film memory defeat you
The vinyl used for vehicle wraps is a form of PVC. One of the properties of PVC is that it has a memory, and once stretched, tends to pull back to return to it’s original state, especially with the presence of heat.
When installing vehicle wraps, it is very important not to overstretch the material, since this creates high tension areas in the film which, once the wrap is finished, will have a tendency to pull back and cause peeling and bubbles. This is especially important to consider, since vehicles are often out in the sun, which acts as a heat source that can restore memory to the film very quickly.
How to Avoid It – The key to a successful wrap is to stretch or pull the material as little as possible during installation. Instead, use proper squeegee techniques to apply as much of the vinyl as possible without heat, and then use a heat gun or torch for problem areas. Use heat to warm up the film which will remove memory and relax it before you continue to smooth it out using your squeegee.
Not considering temperature – make sure the temp is just right
Temperature plays an important role in how vinyl sticks to a substrate, so it’s important to consider both the temperature of the space in which you’re wrapping your vehicle, as well as the surface temperature of the vehicle itself.
Heat and cold affect many of the features of the films, which are meant to help with installation. High temperature tends to make the adhesive more aggressive, which can cause the film to adhere to the surface prematurely, and can increase stretching when trying to reposition the film. Lower temperature, on the other hand, makes the film more rigid and reduces the tack of the adhesive.
How to Avoid It – As much as possible, only wrap vehicles indoors in a controlled environment at room temperature. Wrapping temperatures outdoors can expose the vinyl to the high temperatures caused by the sun which affect adhesive, and also presents challenges such as wind, and contaminants. It is also important to let the vehicle acclimatise for 4 hours in the shop before beginning your installation. This gives the vehicle time to either heat up or cool down to room temperature.
3M will communicate the training dates via the Wrap Academy, 3M Graphics Facebook Page and on the Sign Africa website and Facebook page, like those pages in order to stay updated.