A Crowning Achievement

Incognito Wraps mixes materials and tweaks techniques to regal effects.
Vehicles + Vinyl: Incognito Wraps mixes materials and tweaks techniques to regal effects.

Hey now, listen here: You want to “wrap like a king?” You best not miss – this column. Chris Kmit owns Incognito Wraps (Las Vegas), one of the leading wrap shops in the world, evidenced by the repeated trust of ORAFOL to demo that manufacturer’s products at tradeshows. Recently, he shared several outstanding photos and the amazing tale of Incognito’s upcoming entry to Avery Dennison’s “2019 Wrap Like a King” challenge, which will culminate at the SEMA Show in Vegas this November.

PRINTED OVERLAMINATE?

Chris didn’t want to “tip our hand” too early about Incognito’s contest entry, but he was clearly proud to show and tell about a customer who came in with a very particular idea for his street rod. “Initially, he wanted a black background around flames, but we suggested a pure chrome wrap and he was very interested in seeing what that would look like,” Chris said. 

Incognito Wraps uses Photoshop and Illustrator for most designs; this project became a quarter-year-long collaboration between designers, Shawn Belleque and Hector Galindez, as well as Chris. They went back and forth on the design with the client for three months before nailing it down, then they had the vehicle in their shop for 30 days.

Why another month? “We went through a good deal of testing to make sure this [design] was going to land correctly,” Chris said. “We actually wrapped the entire side in a 1-in. grid pattern so we could see how each fender deformed the vinyl and shrank back the prints accordingly. Because chrome [wrap film] is so thick, manipulating the chrome itself to line up all the flames from the fenders to the doors was going to be an impossible undertaking.” So, they decided to wrap the large fender flares in bare chrome first, then apply a printed overlaminate and paint protection film (PPF) to the flat areas all as one piece. Because the overlaminate and PPF had to be installed wet, they allowed the chrome two days to start to bond. 

“Once we had those three pieces laid down, we could set out to deform the prints to match up, [after] they were stretched across the fenders,” Chris said. Printing on overlaminate isn’t recommended, he cautioned, because the surface isn’t made to receive ink-like print material. “But that is what we had to do in order to have a clean install without any cloudiness or extra orange-peel texture that an egress film would add.”

Incognito chose Arlon 3270 overlaminate because of its paper backing for this unusual project, printed it on their HP 360 Latex, and ran it though their Easymount laminator. The chrome is Avery Dennison SF 100 Conform and the PPF, Orafol’s new ORAGUARD 289F – Chris says it’s about half the thickness of normal PPF, but very puncture- and UV-resistant – which was an absolute necessity to shield this “rolling canvas” from the scorching Vegas sun.

REFLECT THEN REACT

“There are only a few installers in the world who would consider taking on this project, let alone complete it in the way that my business partner, Joe Alexander, our lead installer, Fernando Alvarez, and our good friend, Shane Everett, did,” Chris said. “Having the mirror finish come through the chrome was the entire reason we did the project this way. Whether you print straight on the chrome or on a clear layer to be put on top, the mirror finish comes through whatever solvent or latex ink is laid down,” he added, noting the exception of white ink, which in this case would have blocked out certain areas from being reflective.

Chris advises all shops to consider demanding jobs. “As this industry grows, techniques are going to change, materials are going to evolve, and tomorrow your nearest competitor may stumble upon the next big thing,” he said. “The only way to keep ahead of the curve is to grow with the trends and be pliable enough in your thinking to embrace that next big thing.” Good advice, worthy of a king.

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