Graphic Installation

Category Archives — Graphic Installation

Choosing Between Vehicle Lettering, Partial Wraps, and Full Wraps

There are plenty of reasons to consider adding advertising to your car, truck, trailer, or even your bus, boat, motorcycle, or aircraft!


According to a study by 3M, fleet graphics are the most cost-effective outdoor advertising medium available, delivering greater value on a cost-per-thousand impressions basis than television, magazines, newspapers, prime-time television, radio, and outdoor billboards!

Another study found that vehicle lettering, car wraps, and similar graphics are as effective as they are economical. Their research showed that:

97% of survey respondents recalled the vehicle graphic on the truck.
98% thought the vehicle ads created a positive image of the advertiser.
96% believed fleet graphics had more impact than billboards.
One of the attractive features of vehicle graphics is their flexibility. They allow you to choose from a range of options depending on your business needs and marketing budget. Consider the following three primary vehicle graphic options: 

  • Vehicle Lettering: This is the simplest and most economical choice. Vinyl letters and numerals can be applied to your vehicle. Use this option if your vehicles are not the primary promotional medium for your business but complement other advertising methods well. Most marketers use vehicle lettering to spell out their company name, slogan, phone number, address, and web address. These letters can be designed, fabricated, and installed quickly. They are often placed over side and rear windows for good contrast and excellent readability.
  • Partial Vehicle Wraps: These wraps cover part of your vehicle with a promotional message. They offer a higher visual impact than vehicle lettering but are less expensive than full wraps. They are a great option if your vehicles are extensively used for sales, service, or delivery calls.
  • Full Vehicle Wraps: These wraps deliver maximum visual impact by covering all four sides of your vehicle, and may even extend to the roof and bumpers. They are more expensive but are still less costly than a custom paint job. Full wraps are often used by businesses whose vehicles are their main option for promotions, such as carpet cleaning, HVAC, and florist vans. They can also provide a protective layer to your vehicle’s finish. Full vehicle wraps are also readily removable, making them suitable for leased vehicles or promotional purposes during events. Some companies even extend their designs to side and rear windows using perforated window graphics for additional visibility.

In conclusion, vehicle graphics offer a cost-effective and impactful way to promote your business, with options to suit various budgets and marketing needs.

Colored adhesives, how to maintain accuracy and quality

There are numerous reasons why you might look for colored adhesive when creating an application. Whether it’s for brand recognition or product identification requirements, colored adhesive tapes are incredibly useful.

The most common method for obtaining custom colored tape is by sourcing colored face material and then coating the adhesive on the carrier to create a colored double-sided or single-sided tape product.

While this approach can achieve the desired color and effect, it can also present some challenges. These may include the unavailability of the desired face material color and the high minimum order quantities required to produce tapes using this method.

However, Drytac offers a much easier and more efficient alternative thanks to its unique adhesive science. Drytac takes a clear carrier film such as PET, PVC, or LDPE and tints the adhesive to the desired color or shade.

This results in a colored tape that can be created in virtually any color. To further simplify the process for customers, the minimum order quantity for these custom adhesives is just one master roll, which is much more manageable than the alternative method.

Drytac’s production flexibility allows customers to provide an existing colored tape for matching or choose from Drytac’s extensive range of color swatches to select a color that best suits their application.

In conclusion, with Drytac’s adhesives, the possibilities for creativity and color are endless.

Just Make it Go Away!

Did you know Installed Graphics removes vinyl from vehicles and trailers, as well as installs?  Here are some tips for easy removal:

  1. Your vinyl will remove easier if you use a high quality laminate.  Although a liquid laminate will save you money up front, you may spend hundreds of dollars more per vehicle on removal later on.  Be sure to know the life of your wrap when making this decision.
  2. Certain vinyls, particularly 3M, remove easier than off-brand competitors.  Since removal is almost always billed by the hour, quicker removal means a lot of money saved.
  3. Remember, removal takes time, and time means your vehicle is not on the road making you money.

Installed Graphics, Inc. has specialized equipment to speed the removal process, so you can get your fleet back on the road.

Think about your removal when ordering your installation – you won’t regret it!

Common Errors in Wrapping and How to Prevent Them

Few things are as frustrating and costly in the wrapping industry as having a $5,000 project returned to the shop due to failures. You’ve invested significant time, energy, and resources into creating the wrap, only to deal with an unhappy customer complaining about curling edges or pulling recesses. Unfortunately, failure may have been ingrained into your wrap from the start if you didn’t consider the entire process thoroughly.

ISSUE: Inaccurate or poorly-considered design

  1. Incorrect sizing can force installers to stretch or manipulate the film excessively. Have you considered compound curves or transitions from sides? Have you allowed for extra printing around the perimeter of each side to give installers flexibility? Have you anticipated that hard lines may not align well running up, over, and around corners? Have you provided enough film for the installers to work with?
  2. Avoid saving bits of film and ink to save costs, as this may ruin the project by putting installers in difficult situations.
  3. Relying solely on digital vehicle templates can lead to unforeseen issues. While modern vehicle templating is generally accurate, slight changes to body styles, hardware add-ons, sports packages, etc., can significantly impact your wrap design. It’s a good practice to obtain straight-on images combined with detailed and accurate measurements of the vehicle to double-check the template.

SOLUTION: Make sure your designers are communicating with your installers and vice- versa. A little discussion about real-world scenarios might just save you from future headaches.


ISSUE: Chemistry and all its glory

  1. All commonly used wrap printing technologies require curing or “outgassing.” Even latex inks come with a disclaimer warning printers to allow some time for the inks to cure before laminating. Solvent and eco-solvent inks are the biggest culprits of improper outgassing problems. The printing process uses solvent-based ink, which often requires 24 to 48 hours to cure, especially for highly saturated colors like Rich Black, which needs a lot of ink, resulting in a lot of solvent being dropped onto the film. Rushing the lamination time will trap these solvents. You cannot trick physics, so the trapped solvents will be forced to move through the path of least resistance, which unfortunately is right through the vinyl and into the adhesive. This causes the solvents to break down the glue, collapse the air-egress channels, and damage the repositionability properties of most modern wrapping films. Additionally, the solvents will break down the chemical properties of the adhesive and often create a tacky, more aggressive initial bond.
  2. Improper curing will create an unpleasant situation that experienced installers should immediately reject. An experienced subcontracted installer, upon being hit in the face with solvent fumes as they open the box, will immediately report the situation and abstain from beginning the project.

In short, the warranty has already been compromised, the glue has been damaged, and installers will have no desire to be blamed for a faulty product that is out of their control.

SOLUTION: Follow the film manufacturer’s guidelines for proper curing time before laminating. Plan your printing schedule accordingly. For example, if you need to ship prints by the end of the day on Friday, ensure that printing is completed by Tuesday. This allows for the curing period on Wednesday and Thursday, with lamination, trimming, and boxing done on Friday. Proper, unrushed planning will help you avoid this pitfall.


ISSUE: Contaminated surfaces

  1. Improper cleaning of wrapped surfaces is a recipe for failure. A new vehicle often has surface contaminants from the factory that help preserve the paint. These must be removed using a cleaner like Xylene or PrepSol, following proper health and safety guidelines.
  2. An older vehicle accumulates road grime, salt, dust, and dirt over time. Most shops require clients to wash their vehicles thoroughly without waxes, sealers, or clear coats. Even a freshly washed vehicle needs thorough cleaning, including a final hand-wiping with 70% isopropyl alcohol. The wet/dry method is effective, where a wet rag loosens surface contaminants and a dry rag removes them. Simply using a wet or sprayed alcohol approach can swirl contaminants and leave issues behind.
  3. Attention to detail is crucial. Dirt can collect in cracks, crevices, alongside panels, under seals, etc. It’s essential to clean these areas thoroughly for proper adhesion.

SOLUTION: To prevent wrap failures, it is absolutely essential to thoroughly and correctly clean surfaces.


ISSUE: Failure to dry fit the project

  1. Inexperienced installers often make the mistake of skipping the dry-fitting step and proceeding directly to laying the new wrap. However, this can lead to wrapping failures. Without double-checking the sizes and positions of the graphic elements, installers risk creating issues. For example, aligning a panel too far to the rear may require overstretching an element farther forward to compensate.

SOLUTION: Organizing and dry-fitting all wrap elements allows you to anticipate and address potential issues before they become irreparable.


ISSUE: Oh so much overstretching!

  1. Many installers tend to overestimate the stretchability of vinyl films when faced with challenging areas. While some stretch is possible, it is wiser to use proper installation techniques that minimize stretching. Heating the film excessively to pull it around curves or into recessed areas may seem effective initially, but it often leads to overstretching and subsequent failures. This can manifest as curled edges, wrinkles, and areas popping back out within days.
  2. Consider this: a vinyl wrap consists of two primary layers, the film itself and the underlying adhesive. Stretching the film also stretches the adhesive, causing both layers to thin out. A 50% thinner adhesive layer means 50% less glue, reducing its bonding ability. Combining physical stress on the film with less adhesive to hold it in place creates conditions ripe for failure.

SOLUTION: Instead of relying on heat as a quick fix, reserve its use for the final finishing touches. Learn and practice “zero stretch” techniques.


ISSUE: Failure to post-heat

  1. Post-heating involves applying the correct amount of additional heat to a completed installation, as specified by the manufacturer. This process achieves several important goals:
    • It helps the film set into its final position.
    • It can remove minor micro-scratches from the surface and restore the film’s gloss.
    • During the installation and trimming of a wrap, the adhesive layer may slightly retract from the edges, leaving a small lip with no glue. Post-heating encourages the glue to flow back to the edges for a proper bond.

SOLUTION: Using a heat gun with adjustable heat or a propane torch, bring all surfaces up to the manufacturer’s specified temperature to set the film. A handheld infrared temperature reader/gun is very useful for identifying and controlling temperatures precisely. Consider this as giving your wrap a finishing touch.

Paying attention to these aspects of a wrap project will help predict and avoid most wrap failures. Preventing wrap failures contributes to keeping your clients happy, maintaining high morale among your designers and installers, and improving your bottom line.

Tesla’s Color Wraps Could Rescue the Cybertruck from Its Unconventional Design

When Elon Musk’s polarizing pickup hit the market, Tesla’s new side business might offer a solution for its unconventional appearance.

Tesla aimed to make its stainless-steel Cybertruck stand out by eliminating the need for paint, a challenging task. The only other company to come close was DeLorean, which sold just 9,000 cars before filing for bankruptcy in 1982.

However, when Tesla begins Cybertruck deliveries, it might have found a workaround that DeLorean couldn’t: color wraps. These are decorative films applied to the vehicle’s exterior, a potentially lucrative upsell Tesla has been experimenting with in California. This approach could help soften the truck’s sharp edges, making it more appealing to mainstream buyers.

“It looks a lot more attractive with these wraps on it,” says Jessica Caldwell, head of insights for Edmunds, while viewing images of Cybertruck test vehicles adorned with custom prints. She notes a trend in the auto industry towards boxier, more “masculine” designs, contrasting with the bubble-shaped SUVs that have long been dominant. Caldwell suggests Tesla may have pushed the envelope a bit too far with the Cybertruck.

Starting with seven

Wrapping vehicles in colorful coatings is not new. Wraps can turn a Ferrari into a chrome-plated bullet or a plain work van into a vibrant billboard. While some liken the Cybertruck to a refrigerator on wheels, others see it as a blank canvas.

Tesla quietly started offering in-house wraps for the Model 3 and Model Y in October, possibly as a trial run before Cybertruck deliveries begin. It’s unclear if wraps will be available for the Cybertruck, but Musk mentioned in 2020 that the truck could be wrapped in any color or pattern.

Car wraps come in two types: form-fitted vinyl wraps and color-infused paint protection film (PPF). Vinyl wraps are cheaper, typically costing between $3,000 and $5,000, and offer more customization options. PPF is more durable and protective but almost twice as expensive.

Tesla’s initial selection of wraps for the Model 3 and Model Y consists of high-end film designed to resist grime and self-heal after minor scratches. The company charges $7,500 to $8,000 for these wraps, offering seven subtle colors from “Satin Rose Gold” to “Stealth Black.”

While Tesla has not confirmed customization options, several Cybertrucks have been spotted with detailed patterns and logos that would typically only be possible with vinyl wraps. These include neon Cybertruck logos spray-painted across the doors, Cybertrucks designed to look like a Ford F-150 and a Toyota Tundra, and various unconventional camouflage patterns.

The concept of in-house Cybertruck wraps, or “Cyberwraps,” may have been part of Tesla’s plan from the beginning. When designing the Cybertruck, Tesla was recovering from a challenging production ramp-up for the Model 3, which Musk said nearly bankrupted the company. Many issues stemmed from the paint shop, where automotive paint can be expensive, finicky, and environmentally harmful.

In-house wraps could be highly profitable, as most of the cost is associated with labor rather than materials. The film must be meticulously applied around every headlight, door handle, logo, and trim piece. The Cybertruck’s flat panels could make this process easier.

Profit from wraps, along with the $12,000 price tag on Tesla’s FSD driver-assistance features, could help keep the Cybertruck’s base price lower for budget-conscious buyers. To reach its sales target of 250,000 trucks a year, Tesla will need to appeal to multiple segments of the truck market.

Even if Tesla does not offer wraps initially, third-party wrap installers have been preparing for the Cybertruck’s release since 2019. Wrapmate, a vinyl-wrap company based in Colorado, offers to custom wrap a Cybertruck for $4,163, including design assistance, materials, and installation by partner garages across the US.

“For businesses, I think this is a great idea,” says Caldwell from Edmunds. “Obviously, the Cybertruck is very noticeable on the road and will draw attention when you wrap it with your business logo.”

Tesla will likely use its launch event to showcase the Cybertruck’s toughness, with demonstrations of its durability and strength. However, Caldwell suggests that the biggest challenge will be whether customers feel comfortable driving such an attention-grabbing vehicle, especially given Musk’s controversial public persona.

“People wanted to be part of his movement, and it really helped Tesla sell vehicles,” Caldwell says. “Now, they are launching this vehicle when his popularity is very different. People will be a lot less forgiving.”

Infuse a burst of freshness into your workspace this spring

Spring offers an ideal opportunity to concentrate on the signage and displays within your retail space. Custom wall graphics can transform virtually any surface, helping you craft the desired atmosphere at an affordable cost. Regardless of your industry, there’s a way to express gratitude to your partners through distinctive wall signage.

Celebrate donors by featuring their contributions with dedicated plaques within your workplace. Chronicle your business’s journey with graphics illustrating its progress over time. Elevate motivation and inspiration among your staff with murals designed to enhance productivity.

Think beyond two dimensions – by blending custom printed graphics with stand-off acrylic panels, you can achieve a unique 3D appearance that complements your aesthetic.

Working with low-VOC Paint

How can I make sure that films will stick to walls that are painted with low-VOC paint?

According to the UASG

Many installers are grappling with a common question regarding the changing chemistry of paint, specifically the reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) by paint manufacturers. This alteration in paint composition has significantly impacted the ability of graphic films to adhere to these newer paints. However, there’s no need to lose hope. True to 3M’s commitment to innovation, we’ve thoroughly examined this issue and devised a solution that is both simple and cost-effective. The key lies in the preparation of the surface and dedicating a few extra minutes to test the adhesion of the chosen films. Follow our best practices to ensure a smooth and successful application of almost any wall film on nearly any painted surface.

Preparing the Surface

Start with the 3M™ Enhanced Adhesion Cleaning Method. This method, which involves an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and water solution and two cleaning steps, will greatly increase a film’s adhesion to a low-VOC paint.

Prepare a cleaning solution with 70 percent IPA and 30 percent water (essentially rubbing alcohol) in a spray bottle.

  • Soak a clean, lint-free cloth with the cleaning solution until it is dripping wet.
  • Clean the test (or application) area with overlapping strokes. Especially in the first cleaning, you may notice some migrated paint particles on the cloth (see photo at right).
  • Thoroughly soak another clean, lint-free cloth with the cleaning solution and wash the wall again. Researchers at 3M have found that cleaning the wall TWICE with a mixture of 70 percent IPA and 30 percent water can significantly boost adhesion for nearly any wall film applied to a painted substrate.
  • Touch the wall immediately. It will feel cooler to the touch than an unwashed area, due to the alcohol in the cleaning solution. When it no longer feels cool, it is dry and you can proceed with the film adhesion test or, if you are ready, with the film installation.
Testing Film Adhesion
  • Now prepare three strips of the same film for each of the films you plan to use for a given job. You’ll need all three so you can average the results of your test.
    • Cut three 1-inch by 10-inch strips of the graphic film(s).
    • Remove about 2 inches of liner, fold down one inch, and then punch a hole in the tab you’ve created
      (see photo at right).

NOTE: It’s important to test each wall where graphics will be installed. Because paints can easily be color matched, you may not be able to tell if one wall of a room has been painted with a different formula than the others.

  • Remove the liner and apply the test strips to the cleaned surface so the punched hole is at the top. Use the 3M™ Rivet Brush RBA-1 to go over the strips three times to ensure good adhesion.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the test strips by pulling with a spring scale attached to the film strip tab. Try to pull at a rate of 1 inch every 5 seconds and observe both the value on the scale and the smoothness with which the film releases from the wall
    (see photo below).

Here is how to assess your test results:

  • Unacceptable adhesion: The film measures less than 300 grams/inch on the scale and releases with little or no resistance.
  • Acceptable adhesion: The film measures 300-1000 grams/inch on the scale and releases smoothly and consistently with some resistance. May be removable with heat/chemicals but may cause wall damage.
  • Excellent adhesion: The film measures greater than 1000 grams/inch on the scale and releases smoothly and consistently with substantial resistance. Will cause wall damage if removed.

A film that pulls inconsistently or jerkily indicates that the adhesive is not making full contact with the substrate, even if it measures in the acceptable to excellent range. We do not recommend using a film that exhibits jerky removal.

Feed Your Advertising!

The rise of the food truck industry is happening at a frantic pace. Branding and re-branding has become a major business for Installed Graphics, Inc. Here are several things that have contributed to it:

Affordability: Food trucks offer freshly prepared food at lower prices than traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants. This affordability makes them attractive to a broad range of customers.

Flexibility: Food trucks can quickly adapt to changing trends and consumer preferences. They can be wrapped and re-wrapped to fit today’s trends.

Accessibility: Food trucks can go to where the customers are, and with auxilary signage, can make their presence known immediately.

Social Media and Technology: The advent of social media has played a significant role in the success of food trucks. Many trucks use platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to announce their locations, share daily specials, and engage with their customers. That’s why a freshly wrapped food truck has such social media appeal!

Low Overheads: Operating a food truck typically involves lower overhead costs than running a traditional restaurant. Also, it is a traveling adverstisement. There’s no need for expensive real estate, dining space, or extensive staffing. This allows food truck owners to invest more in quality ingredients and maintain competitive pricing, while presenting a professionally wrapped vehicle that advertises itself.

Popularity at Events: Food trucks are often invited to participate in events, festivals, and markets, further increasing their visibility and customer reach.

The rise of the food truck industry is a testament to the evolving preferences of consumers, and the entrereneurial spirt of their owners. Installed Graphics, Inc. is excited to be involved with this industry at such a dynamic time.

What are the differences between the Industry standard 3M IJ180 and the new 3M IJ280?

3M™ IJ180 vs 3M™ IJ280 Vinyl

Installed Graphics compares the two for you in one simple page.

  • 3M™ IJ180: Is a durable, cast vinyl film designed for long-term outdoor use. It has a lifespan of up to 10 years and is known for its resistance to UV radiation and tough weather conditions. It's has been a reliable choice for vehicle wraps and outdoor graphics for many years.
  • 3M™ IJ280: IJ280 is another cast vinyl film from 3M, but it is generally considered to be less durable compared to IJ180. It's designed for medium-term applications and typically has a lifespan of around 5-7 years. While it's still a good choice for outdoor use, it may not be as long-lasting as IJ180.
  • 3M™ IJ180: Is known for its excellent conformability, making it a preferred choice for wrapping vehicles and applying graphics to complex curves and contours. It can stretch and conform to irregular surfaces with ease.
  • 3M™ IJ280: Offers good conformability, it may not be as flexible as IJ180. It's more suitable for flat or slightly curved surfaces.  IJ280 tends to conform better at room temperature.
  • Both films come with 3M's proprietary Controltac™ and Comply™ adhesive technologies, which help with ease of application and bubble-free installation. They allow for repositioning during application, which is especially important for large-scale graphics.
Finish Options:
  • Both IJ180 and IJ280 are available in a variety of finishes, including gloss, matte, and satin, to suit different design preferences.
  • Both vinyl films are compatible with solvent, latex, and UV-curable ink systems, making them versatile choices for various printing methods.
  • 3M IJ180 is generally considered a premium product, and it tends to be more expensive than IJ280. The choice between the two may depend on your specific project requirements and budget constraints.

5 Undeniable Reasons to Love Hotel Signs & Displays

Hotel signs and displays, created by hospitality printing services, are loved by guests as well as the hotel staff for a variety of reasons. Here are five undeniable reasons these graphics are loved by all:

  • Hotel displays offer branding opportunities such as placing the name of the hotel front and center, spotlighting the slogan of the hotel and even making subtle use of the hotel business colors to make the hotel top of mind to guests.
  • Hotel signs allow the business to share important guest information in easy to find locations.
  • Hotel signage can be functional and share hotel business info or be artistic designs that enhance the atmosphere of the building.
  • Hotel signs can have the same information over a long period of time or they can be updated on a regular basis with new information.
  • Custom hotel signs come in different shapes and sizes which means they can be installed and displayed in multiple areas of the hotel. Need a large sign or banner graphic installed?

Benefits Of Hotel Displays & Signs

Some of the most common benefits of hotel displays and signs include:

  • Hotel displays & signs allow the hotel to make a good first impression on guests by being accessible and easy to view when the hotel signs are first viewed by guests entering the building.
  • Hotel displays can highlight the amenities that the hotel offers including such areas as the business center, the pool area and a luxury spa area.
  • Hotel signs can help upsell guests by informing them of the location of the hotel restaurant and bar as well as happy hour specials and food and beverage deals related to different meals throughout the day.

Read more about our retail graphic installation services.

Hospitality Printing & Design

The experienced hospitality printing and design services team at Installed Graphics partners with you to take advantage of the undeniable reasons these hotel graphics are loved by guests and the hotel staff. We meet with you to discuss your goals for the hotel displays and to get a clear idea of the design ideas you have in mind. Once the final design is approved, we turn your ideas into a reality while making sure you maintain quality control during every step of the process. If you love the final result then your guests will love the results as well.

Take the first step towards having hotel signs and displays that everyone loves by giving us a call today.

Call Us for More Information at 314-872-3100


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