Teach us about vinyl wraps

Lots of you have done trailers and cars with a vinyl wrap.

Teach us about how you did that …
– What to wrap (cars, trucks, freshmen roboteers)
– How to size it
– Installation
– Vendors that you’ve used and liked (and hated?)
– How to make the graphics work
---- Pictures, URLs for team, etc.
– Huge errors in graphics (your fails, happy to learn from them)
– How long do they last
– Care (washing, storage)
– Costs

Was it worth it?

We had the sides of our trailer done at Wrap-Ads in Pasadena, CA. We’re going on 4 years now and it still looks pretty good. We designed the graphic in Photoshop, and then they recreated it in Illustrator as all vector, or super-high resolution rasters, if vector was not available. I’m not aware of what it cost, since another sponsor generously paid for it. One thing I do know, is I would not attempt doing it yourself, especially if it’s a large and/or non-flat surface. Too easy to mess up. Leave it to the pros.

It has helped spark a huge transformation of our entire team and program, and serves as an excellent rolling billboard and backdrop for anywhere we go.

We wash it perhaps once per year at most. The vertical sides don’t collect dirt too bad.

We’ve since added more sponsors to it, as vinyl cut and applied on top of the printed vinyl, and you would hardly ever know that they weren’t printed as part of the main graphic to begin with.

1676 had their trailer wrapped, and I work in a car company that uses wraps for special purposes.
Wraps are best for hard painted surfaces; Freshmen won’t do, but trailers, trucks and cars work great.
This is not really a task for an amateur. It may look easy, but it gets farkled real easy, so i very strongly recommend you let the wrap installer install it - it’ll come out right, they handle size/installation/material/etc. Just provide them with an image (highest resolution you can get) and let them do their thing.

They last several years, longer if you keep them from sun. Wash by hand to avoid wearing off the ink, but I don’t think 1676 ever washed the trailer (they got it maybe 10 years ago, still looks great).

Costs are determined by size. It may cost more if the installation is particularly complex, or a little less for a very cubical trailer. As a point of reference, a large SUV (complex installation) with complete custom graphics runs about $4k. A quantity of plain (unprinted) wrap material of the same size costs about $1k, not installed. YMMV

Mistakes: Don’t make them. Triple-check and have many eyes verify the design. There is no excuse for that. You pay twice for a mistake, so don’t.

Is it worth it? Yes.

We had our trailer wrapped in the weeks just before CMP 2015. We had a team-internal “call for designs”, but had a professional outfit (who happened to live next door to a team family) execute it. It looks great! We keep it in the great outdoors, in the subtropical sun and rain of southeast Louisiana, and after a year and a half, it still looks like new. The plastic does not attract a whole lot of dirt, and our fairly frequent heavy showers are usually enough to keep it from getting very dirty, though I know we washed it at least once (this June or July) after a few weeks of dry weather. Not only does it look great going down the road, but it’s a permanent recruiting billboard - nearly every student is at least aware that we have a robotics team. Definitely worth it - if you have a team trailer or vehicle, wrap it!

Apart from the Ingersoll Rand logo (and they paid for the trailer, so though we’re obligated to advertise for three years, we’ll leave it at least as long as the wrap lasts) and NASA (who we were confident would take us as a “house team,” though they hadn’t at that point), we put all of the sponsor logos on the much smaller front faces of the trailer. We added stickers for a couple of new sponsors, and plan to replace these faces in early 2017 when we have a better list of current sponsors. Based on conversations with some local business owners who have wrapped, we expect to do a complete re-wrap in another two to five more years (4-7 total) when the current wrap is no longer as nice looking as it is now. I fully expect that the durability of a wrap is dependent on local weather patterns.

– What to wrap (cars, trucks, freshmen roboteers)
Trailers, car magnets, robot panels, and much more

– How to size it
Depends on what you are doing. If you are doing it for a vendor or home, i would add a thick border for when cutting out your image is still perfect on the edges.

– Installation
Not too hard when working small, when large will take patients and some skill.

– Vendors that you’ve used and liked (and hated?)
I have supplied a few teams with a lot of graphics and two team with wraps for their trailers. All have come with great quality and extremely happy customers.

– How to make the graphics work
Provide your vendor ample high quality images or thoughts on what you would like to be done.

**---- Pictures, URLs for team, etc. **
Have done anything from simple text, to huge team logos and numbers for trailers.

– Huge errors in graphics (your fails, happy to learn from them)
Of course, there could be issues. But my customer will never see that. :slight_smile:

– How long do they last
Your typical vinyl decal or wrap will last 5-7 years if taken care of and out of direct sunlight 24/7. That is if you go with the high end material. You easily get what you pay for.

– Care (washing, storage)
IF going for car magnets, recommend to take it off every few weeks to clean behind the magnet. Will also keep your paint fresh too. As for vinyl wraps, just wash like you normally would a vehicle.

– Costs
All depends on how crazy or small you want. Give me a shout and I could provide some better pricing and all for ya.


Just some samples of work.

We chose to do large decals instead of a wrap.

We provided the individual logos and graphics to the company, and made our layout in Inventor.

The graphics company created the larger size decals and installed them to our layout. If we need to make a major change or an addition, we can easily do that.

We used TKO Graphics in Indianapolis. They do commercial vehicles, competition vehicles, etc. Excellent work.

They did our first trailer and when we traded it after 8 years it still looked great. The current trailer is 2 years old and shows no signs of wear. We store it outside so it sees rain, snow, ice, cold, humidity and heat.