By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Print service providers (PSPs) rely on robust machinery to cost-effectively yield the best finished application for their customers. For vehicle wraps, all the necessary tools from a reliable printer to trusted media and finishing devices drive a successful end result.
The Shop Workhorses
Palmer Signs Inc., based out of Roseville, CA, employs 15 people to help serve its customers throughout Northern CA. Three buildings offer over 9,000 square feet of space, which allows it to offer everything from vehicle wraps, banners, and signs to windows and wall wraps. Wide format digital printing is approximately 50 percent of the business, with the other half consisting of screenprinting, embroidered apparel, promotional products, and business collateral.
40 percent of its wide format digital printing work is vehicle wraps. This includes partial and full wraps as well as decals, color change films, and fleet wraps. “Wide format is ideal because of the speed, cost, and diversity you can create the graphics with,” shares Tony Palmer, CEO, Palmer Signs.
Wrap graphics are printed on two HP Inc. Latex 570 printers, which have been in the shop for two years. Prior to these devices, the company ran HP Latex 360 printers. While both models are workhorses, Palmer says the switch was made primarily for cost reasons.
“The HP Latex 570 uses a bulk ink system. We are able to save $10,000 per printer, per year on ink costs. The HP Latex 570 printers run seven to ten hours a day, five days a week. The bulk of the use is vehicle wraps,” adds Palmer.
The 64-inch HP Latex 570 runs at maximum print speed of 980 square feet per hour at 1,200×1,200 dpi. It is a popular choice for vehicle wrapping professionals.
Any vehicle wrap that involves graphics is printed using 3M Commercial Graphics popular cast vinyl film designed for fleet graphics and car wraps—3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3. It releases air similar to IJ180C along with a smoother and glossier appearance for vehicle graphics.
Palmer admits his team has had zero issues printing to the material and its consistency is why it remains the preferred substrate in the shop. And that is just the way he likes it, as it means less fiddling with material pre- and post-press leads and more time actually wrapping a vehicle.
With such a range in vehicle wrap offerings Palmer Signs stays in the know of the latest trends. Two in particular stood out to Palmer over the past year. The first involved color change film, he’s specifically seen a 20 percent increase in matte or satin wraps and notes that when this request is made it usually leads to an upgraded ceramic coating. The second trend is in partial wraps, which are quick and more profitable.
A Need for Speed
A recent job for Palmer Signs involved wrapping a Mazda Spec Miata. According to Palmer, the owner provided initial guidelines that the car “needed to look as fast as it is” and besides that the Palmer Signs team took it from there.
Palmer personally handled the design. “We knew early on it would need to be a mixed medium project to achieve the desired look.” As such, he created a logo “Z50” and printed that portion on 3M IJ180Cv3. The rest of the car was wrapped in 3M Wrap Film Series 1080 matte charcoal metallic. To bring a little texture into the design, Palmer added a hexagonal pattern in blue.
The printed parts of the wrap were completed on one of the HP Latex 570 printers. Media was protected using a Graphic Finishing Partners laminator. While the layout of the panels was a challenge, time was spent in the design process to ensure they would match up perfectly during the installation—thus expediting the wrapping portion.
Another element that made the wrap process faster is that Palmer Signs’ four installers work in teams. “We have four installers. Their attention to detail is unparalleled. They work as teams. We find when we do that, the work goes faster. It seems there is always a friendly air of competition going on.”
The customer was thrilled with the final result. “He was beyond happy. I feel stunned would be a better phrase,” notes Palmer.
Meeting Head On
Palmer Signs offers its customers a range of options when it comes to vehicle wrapping and design services. The company is equipped with the correct tools to ensure it can meet whatever wrap request comes through its doors.
Nov2020, Digital Output