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Vehicle wrapping – success when testing in extreme temperatures

Apr 24 2023
By Rob Fletcher
Category Feature
With many vehicle wraps and graphics exposed to extreme temperatures and weather conditions, we take a look at how you can ensure success in even the most testing and challenging environments.

It is probably fair to say that of all the different application types in the print, graphics and display sectors, vehicle wraps are faced with the toughest conditions. As well as having to stand firm during period of extremely high speeds, wraps are also subject to constant wear and tear while the vehicle is out on the road, waters or even in the air.
There is of course another factor to consider – temperature. Will the wrap remain in place while being exposed to extreme cold? Will the graphics retain their initial bright colours after hours out in the hot sun? Can you even apply the wrap in your working environment if it is too hot or too cold?
Extreme temperature highs and lows can play havoc with a wrap, and it is critical wrappers keep this in mind when selecting the materials and machinery they will use to produce the piece.
Here, we speak with both a materials supplier and printer manufacturer about some of the steps that wrappers can take to make sure the wrap stands the test of time in even the toughest of conditions.

Preparation is the key

Metamark offers a wide range of vehicle wrapping materials to customers around the world. The supplier warned that while designed with various performance goals in mind, modern films and adhesives behave differently in extreme temperatures, and wrappers should be aware of this when applying wraps and graphics.
“With that in mind, preparation, always important with wrapping applications, becomes even more so if environmental complications such as low temperatures and other such factors are present,” Metamark said. “We suggest performance specifications and data-sheets available for any quality wrapping film are taken very seriously if the extreme of the application envelope are close.
“In very cold conditions, every effort should be made to move the subject vehicle, and the materials that will be used to wrap it, to a comfortable working environment and that wrappers should recognise that the mass of the vehicle will take time to adjust to the environment around it.
“Materials, should be similarly given time to adjust and achieve equilibrium with their surrounding rather than taken from stock and expected to work well if they’re deeply chilled.”
When it comes to the actual wrapping process, Metamark said additional precautions will be required if temperature measures such as space heaters are used. While these systems are capable of raising temperature to working levels and ensuring that air circulates well, the supplier warned that they move a lot of air and otherwise stable debris with them.
Also, when it comes to liquid cleaning materials that may function well in normal temperatures, Metamark said that this may not be the case when the thermometer dips. For that reason, Metamark recommends products from its accessories and application tools catalogue are used for surface cleaning and application measures.
“Other sensible precautions include a detailed and thorough post-heating process,” Metamark said. “This intervention is routinely used but is particularly important when letting a wrap out into the wild when it’s very cold. A little more care taken will help prevent failures due to a missed detail.”
In terms of detail, Metamark said it is worth ensuring no fluid is trapped under the applied wrap. The supplier said this applies particularly to dry applied materials when, thanks to thawing matter lurking in corners and other concealed spaces, water can emerge post application to complicate matters.
“Metamark’s position in summary suggests that wrappers observe abundant caution when wrapping in challenging environments and allow a little extra time to stabilise conditions before proceeding,” the supplier said. “Modern wrapping materials are remarkably tolerant but their limits can be exceeded if not understood. Work well and there’s no reason why application challenges can’t be beaten.”

Plan for print

Also offering guidance is Rob Goleniowski, head of sales in the UK and Ireland at Roland DG, which works with a number of wrappers on jobs that require some form of printing.
When it comes to printing a design or graphics onto materials, Goleniowski said that doing so in the extreme cold could how the vinyl accepts the ink and, as a result, the print quality. As such, he said that wrappers should be careful if they are forced to work in these sorts of conditions.

Caption: Roland DG says hot or cold conditions can also impact print quality
“These issues can occur if the temperature of the print room gets very low, for example, when printing overnight in a building that is not heated,” Goleniowski said.
He went on to say that wrappers should also consider where and how they store materials in cold weather as this can also have an effect on the print quality, especially if the materials are not allowed to acclimatise. If wrappers were to go on to use materials that have been exposed to extreme cold, then this could risk the quality of the final project.
Goleniowski then swung back to printing, saying wrappers should be aware that printing at different times of the year could impact the way the final piece looks. Planning properly for this will help to avoid such issues.
“It is also important to be aware that printing in the winter and printing in the summer could give slightly different results and colours if you don’t plan for this,” Goleniowski said. “This will be down to temperature and humidity changes, which can affect the vinyl. This is especially important for fleet work or reprints or crash repairs where colour consistency is vital.”
The simple message from our two experts here is to plan; while this might be a rather simple statement, given the amount of planning that goes into any wrap job, it is crucial to include considerations for weather and temperature in your plan. Get this wrong and the whole job could be in jeopardy.

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