Responding to a series of questions posed by Aftermarket Business World, Tim J. Boxeth, marketing manager at 3M Commercial Solutions, recently discussed some of the application intricacies and training opportunities available for industry professionals interested in offering vehicle wrapping services to their clientele:
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Q: Are wraps mainly applied to commercial vehicles? Do customers also use them for decorative purposes?
A: Vehicle wraps are mostly applied to commercial vehicles, but the personal vehicle wraps are emerging in a significant way. There’s a personalization megatrend happening in the world and print wrap film fits right into that.
Design options are infinite, due to the wide range of films and laminates available, so you can have a unique vehicle that doesn’t look like anything else on the road.
Q: Is a vehicle wrap a permanent installation?
A: A design can also be changed anytime, and you can remove a wrap without damaging the vehicle.
Q: What are the training requirements for a professional installer?
A: It definitely requires some training and a lot of practice to become skilled at wrapping. 3M offers classes for beginners, as well as those skilled installers looking to fine-tune their skills and knowledge.
One-day classes are offered through 3M’s Mobile Training Vehicle, which travels throughout the country. 3M also offers a three-day training course that dives deeper and provides more time for hands-on learning.
The three-day training is offered at 3M’s regional Authorized Training Facilities located in Florida, Minnesota, Kansas, Texas and California. Also, 3M does host training sessions in Canada and Mexico. Visit 3M.com/InstallationPrograms for more details on the three-day training, as well as titles you can earn to help communicate your skills and promote your services.
Q: What are the differences between the Advanced, Certified, Preferred and Knifeless levels of instruction?
A: The Advanced Training simply refers to the three-day training. The others are titles that can be earned by passing hands-on and written tests. Generally, one needs some experience and some training to be able to pass these tests.
Q: How long does the training typically take to become accomplished at installing?
A: The formal training ranges from one to three days, as discussed. However, it can take many months to become skilled enough to wrap a full vehicle efficiently. Beginners can usually wrap a hood or a flatter surface after some training and practice. Learning to wrap a full vehicle, however, especially the compound curves and deep channels, can take months or sometimes years, depending on your natural abilities. We would love to see you at our trainings to help you develop those skills!
Q: Do automotive businesses host local training sessions for industry colleagues?
A: I am not aware of that, but 3M would be interested in assisting in that endeavor potentially. Graphic manufacturers and installers will host trainings at their locations from time to time.
Q: In marketing wraps to vehicle owners, how are the graphics designed for individual customers? Is this something that the installer learns, or does the designing come through 3M?
A: The designs are created by the graphic manufacturer and/or installers, with input from the vehicle owner.
Q: How is customer (end-user) pricing established?
A: Installers and graphic manufacturers know – or find out – what the market price is in their geographic regions. The good ones will also consider their unique value proposition (e.g., high quality, quick turn-around, location, customer service, excellent design, special warranty, branding/marketing partner, vertical market expertise, etc) relative to competition, volume, and look at their cost structure to arrive at a price.
Q: When an automotive business receives instruction on vehicle wraps, do many of them also branch out into interior and exterior building wraps and signage? Or are these mainly separate endeavors?
A: Generally, the automotive businesses remain in the vehicle wrap market. The applications are quite similar, but the market and customers are quite different. It certainly is an option for them, though.
Q: Do you have additional advice to offer professional installers?
A: Make sure to select wrap films that will make installation easier. 3M invented several features for its adhesives that do this.
First, our wrap films contain microscopic posts that enable the film to slide around until you get it in position. The adhesives offer an initial tack that allow you to snap-up the film if you realize that you have to reposition it, but also provide enough initial adhesion to remain adhered where you want it to.
We provide an air release system called Comply Adhesive Technology which allows air to escape, eliminating bubbles.
Cast vinyl film or a high performance non-PVC film for wrapping is critical. These films are conformable and offer excellent film lifting resistance.
Calendared vinyl films will lift in the compound curves and deeps channels over time. These 3M films are the most popular for creating vehicle wraps in the industry:
- Wrap Film Series 1080 – comes in many different colors, finishes (e.g. gloss, matte) and textures (e.g. carbon fiber, brushed)
- Wrap Film Series 1080 Flip Films
- Print Wrap Film IJ180mC-10
- Print Wrap Film IJ175Cv3
- Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3
- Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518
- Scotchcal Ultra-Matte Overlaminate 8915
- Wrap Overlaminate 8900
Q: What are the options available for an automotive business interested in using interior and exterior wraps for signage and overall appearance improvements for their building/windows?
A: There are some great options here, too. 3M provides a comprehensive line of translucent films and flexible substrates for creating on-premise signage that pops day and night. Visit 3M.com/Graphics for more information on this.
And if one really wants to draw attention to a building/windows, consider having the building/windows wrapped with 3M’s printable wrap films. If you’re looking for a graphic manufacturer to do this, and looking to learn more about branding, visit 3M.com/BrandYou, and then select Find a Graphics Professional.
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