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Wrap it black: automobile wrap involves science and fanfare

Graphics | March 1, 2012 | By:

The project. Scion needed a promo car to display at its Scionify Southwest event, which brought together musicians, visual artists, designers, event producers and artists.

The companies. The car brand turned to the California-based Flavor Group to design the overlay artwork that would appear on the car. Next, Scion drafted Soapoint out of Denver, Colo., for the printing and install. The company specializes in design, printing, custom fabrication and installation of graphics.

The task. Soapoint had to tackle the toughest of wrap color changes—taking a white car and making it appear black. The wrap needed to be high enough quality to rival a paint job.

The challenge. In addition to the dramatic color change, the artwork also posed a challenge. The design involved a stripe of gloss overlays that needed to flow uninterrupted onto the rear of the car. “It was a bit intimidating to try and accomplish this with one large piece of vinyl,” said owner and 3M preferred installer, Mike Hornbeck.

The solution. The team at Soapoint used its knowledge of stripping a car down to components in order to wrap each piece individually. This included removing all lights, mirrors, antennae and door handles, as well as laying vinyl inside the door jambs to cover any visible white. The materials for the job included 3M 1080 Series film in matte black and 3M IJ 180 CV3 film with 8528 laminate for gloss overlays. The graphics were printed on a Seiko W Series solvent printer running GX W Series inks. For the continuous stripe, Soapoint printed an 18-by-4-foot piece of vinyl, which was heated for installation. “We did not cut it anywhere and successfully brought the stripe around the corner and all the way to the passenger side tail lights,” Hornbeck said.

The result. Scion was ecstatic with the car and spectators at the event had a tough time determining if the vehicle was painted. “That is the ultimate goal and the greatest compliment when someone asks how you did that kind of paint job,” Hornbeck said. “We then tell them it is all giant stickers, and most people are amazed.”

Mara Whitten is a freelance writer from Eagan, Minn.

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