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Customising Vehicles with Digital Print

So, You Want to Print Graphics for Vehicles?

Whether a business needs more exposure, or your customers have grand designs for their own vehicle, from cut vinyl to magnetic panels to full or partial vehicle wraps, there are lots of ways you can customise a vehicle with printed graphics.

Most vehicles are monochromatic and standing out gets harder by the day. But that doesn’t have to be the case. The company van could double as a customisable mobile billboard, or your customers could put their personality on full display with custom car livery.

In this article, we’ll show you how you can help your customers by printing vehicle graphics.

Poppy wrap for Remembrance Sunday by Mission Motorsport
Poppy wrap for Remembrance Sunday by Mission Motorsport

Why Add Graphics to a Vehicle?

Vehicle graphics can come in any shape or size, fit any vehicle, transform any look. In other words, they do whatever you need them to do.

Digital print gives us the ability to use the entire CMYK colour gamut and some machines give the option to expand your ink configuration to open up an even wider range of colours. Graphics tend to be printed onto a self-adhesive vinyl, the quality of which would depend on the application (more on that later) and transferred onto the vehicle.

Here are the top reasons your customers choose to add graphics to a vehicle:

  1. Brand it up
    Adding graphics to a vehicle is an excellent way to increase your customers’ business’s exposure. It’s customisable, it’s mobile and it will be seen by many potential customers in the very places they operate. From cut vinyl to magnetic panels to full or partial vehicle wraps, even when the vehicle is stationary, their branding, details and personality are clear for all to see. It’s a non-invasive marketing technique and it’s their own advertising space to do what they like with.
  2. Keep it protected 
    Vehicles are often wrapped to help protect paintwork and keep them looking newer for longer, as well as being a more cost-effective alternative to a respray. The vinyl provides protection from all sorts of everyday tests that your customers’ vehicle can come up against, from stones and chips to bugs and bird droppings. By keeping the original paintwork pristine, you ensure that it will always look its best and even help them maintain a higher resale value.
  3. Make it unique
    When it comes to branding, you’re a lot more likely to match your customers’ brand colours with printed vinyl. You can refresh the paintjob or simply try something new like a matte finish or a unique design. Using coloured vinyl is another way to change the look of your customers’ vehicles completely. It’s also replaceable, so when the wrap starts to look tired, it can be easily replaced.

Virtually any vehicle can benefit from graphics. With the right wrapping skills and a machine to print them with, you can create powerful, high-quality graphics. Printing vinyl on Roland machines

Printing vinyl on Roland machines
Printing vinyl on Roland machines

  • Full or partial vehicle graphic wrap – As mentioned above, completely covering the vehicle can help to protect it, dramatically alter its look, or give it a refresh back to its former glory. Similarly, a partial wrap can alter the look and give the vehicle its own personality, really highlighting the details.
  • Car decals and stickers – Whether it’s a novelty bumper sticker or a business web address, stickers and decals are a popular addition to many cars.
  • Window tinting – Window tinting film offers something a little different. Not only do tinted windows look great, but they can provide UV protection and a little added security too.
  • Commercial vehicle or fleet branding – Whether it’s just one or a whole fleet of vehicles, brand colours, logos and graphics can be seen every time your customers are on the road.
  • Public transport (trains, buses, coaches, etc.) graphics –Public transport often offers advertising space that companies can take advantage of. In many instances, you can add graphics to more than the vehicle’s body and some windows can be dressed using perforated films.
  • Other – Plant and machinery or promotional and PR vehicle branding and graphics are all popular applications. Even boats can enjoy a facelift with vinyl.

We’ve been talking almost exclusively about vinyl applications and as with anything, the quality of vinyl will depend on the application itself. For example, a simple monomeric adhesive vinyl is ideal for a logo on the side panel of a van, whereas the vinyl for a full vehicle wrap that completely transforms the look of a car will need to be much more malleable, so a premium cast vinyl would be used. You can find out more about the types of vinyl in our article on print media here.

Wrapping a vehicle takes time, skill and training to do well
Wrapping a vehicle takes time, skill and training to do well

While these are described as permanent graphics, nothing is forever. Even the highest quality vinyl has a shelf life. How long it will last really depends on the conditions it is subjected to, so it’s best to talk to your media supplier to find the right one for the job. For something a bit more temporary though, you could look at printing onto vinyl then applying it to magnetic sheets which can be easily replaced or removed as and when is needed.

Designing Your Graphics

Designing vehicle wraps and graphics will vary in complexity. A van or a lorry is a large canvas, so the level of expertise needed to create the design depends on how much of it you want to cover and how intricate the design will be. But in all cases, we would always recommend that an experienced graphic designer produce your graphics.

Fitting your branding to your vehicle can be a challenge because the different makes and models of vehicles are just different enough that what works on one vehicle is unlikely to work on another, especially for full vehicle wraps.

Vehicle templates
Vehicle templates

Before you think of designing, you should find an accurate template of your exact vehicle so that your designs are to scale and will deliver the desired results once applied.

Something to Bear in Mind

Obviously, vehicles aren’t cheap. If someone wants graphics added to theirs, chances are they want it to look its best, whether that’s protecting the original paintwork or making it stand out. So how do you ensure a professional result?

Remember, it’s easy to do it badly. Installing vehicle graphics is a trade the requires some training to master. It can be a complicated process, so it’s worthwhile taking the time to learn properly using the Roland Academy or other industry training courses. As well as being unsightly, if not applied properly, you could run the risk of having to repeat jobs and could gain a bad reputation.

That’s a Wrap

Being able to offer vehicle graphics can be so valuable to your business. They are affordable, customisable and very adaptable, so whatever your customer needs to make their vehicle tell a story, they can do it with graphics. To read more on vehicle wraps, what material to use and the best machines for the job, click here.

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