By Janet Preus
Leave it to the military and the companies with whom they do business to turn “pretty” into “practical.” Snazzy vehicle wraps have found a new purpose: to make the vehicle disappear.
We are all familiar with camouflage. One has only to walk through the hunting aisles of any sporting goods store to grasp the variety of printed fabric necessary to dress for success. And vehicle wraps are not that new to the graphics industry, so what took the military so long to join the march to a digital environment?
The reason, says Military Wraps president, Trevor Kräcker, is the military’s requirements. For military applications, the stakes are higher and performance expectations more demanding. Using the vehicle wrap concept, Military Wraps Inc. (militarywraps.com), Lumberton, N.C., has a proprietary camouflage technology that it developed specifically for military use. Called Photo-Stealth and Photo-Real, the digitally printed camouflage can match terrain so accurately that vehicles, weapons, equipment and engineered structures seem to disappear into the surrounding battlefield—a vast improvement over the traditional painted-on concealment.
And more innovations are on the way. “Everything is developed by our R&D department,” Kräcker says. “They are constantly looking and developing new products.”
PIRATE™ Systems (an acronym for Photo-Immersive Realistic Aides for Training Environments) was developed by Military Wraps to accurately recreate situational realism with site-specific, high-megapixel photographic images that are computer-edited for proper scale and perspective, then large-format printed onto special vinyls. The images produced are applied to interiors or exteriors at training sites, providing a real-life setting for training exercises, and a more site-specific environment to address a variety of potential crisis situations. “With PIRATE, the military can create a room, building, street or convoy route that covers whole city blocks,” Kräcker says. “What soldiers will see when they train is an exact re-creation of what they are likely to see in combat, providing a far more realistic environment.”
The advanced technology required by the military may be more than the average bird watcher or duck hunter would be willing to pay for, but the concept is clearly a logical extension of the more generic camouflage products available now to the average consumer. With digital printing and on-line services, why can’t site-specific, customized products be available to anybody?