How are vehicle wraps made?

Andy Dewhurst

Vehicle wrapping is one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise your business. Using large sheets of printed vinyl, you can transform your vehicle fleet from something that merely helps you deliver goods and services, to something that also actively promotes your business.

When you’re driving on the motorway or simply walking around town, you may have noticed the same companies’ vehicles over and over. This is probably because these companies have adorned their vehicles with bold designs that reinforce their branding, so people notice them more.

If you’re looking to upgrade your business fleet in the same way, or even just pimp up your own car, you may be interested in how vehicle wraps are made.

What are vehicle wraps made of?

We could just say vehicle wraps are made of vinyl, but that would be a gross oversimplification. The first ingredient that is also needed is a good quality adhesive backing that will keep the vinyl in place on the vehicle for years.

When it comes to the vinyl itself, poly vinyl chloride (PVC) is used as the basis. Some additives are also required; for example, plasticizers will probably be added to give a desired amount of flexibility, and pigmentation may also be added if a clear film is not wanted. What’s more, to ensure durability once the wrap is fitted to a vehicles shape and contours, even in intense sunlight, a good-quality vinyl wrap needs heat stabilisers and UV absorbers.

An alternative all-in-one manufacturing method is cast vinyl, where ingredients are mixed and then baked on a casting sheet to achieve an extremely thin, flexible, and shrink-resistant sheet. You should be wary of other products where the vinyl is rolled and stretched rather than baked, however, because they can often be prone to shrinking. At Lettering Direct, we use only top quality vinyl made in the UK for our products.

What next?

Once a customer specifies his or her requirements, a vehicle wrap can be digitally printed to include anything from text, to graphical designs, to photographs, and then applied to vehicles.

Another popular technique is to cut vinyl shapes (e.g. strips, arrows, waves, etc.) from solid-colour sheets. While this may seem limited in comparison to digitally printed wraps, you can still achieve some striking results, especially if you combine differently coloured vinyl. A major advantage, though, is that cut vinyl tends to last much longer than printed wraps.

What about custom vinyl lettering?

This follows on from the idea behind cut vinyl. With a printed vehicle wrap, you can of course easily include text in the printed design. With cut vinyl, in contrast, there is no complex printing, although effects like reliefs and shadows may be added. This means you need to apply individually cut pieces of vinyl to represent the lettering.

You may think this sounds daunting, but it really isn’t. At Lettering Direct, we provide custom vehicle lettering that is pre-spaced on transfer media. We also give simple installation instructions, so any customer can easily apply their vehicle lettering quickly and easily.

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