Hidden Dragon

AP Corp applied layers and five different types of vinyl to conjure the mother of all dragon wraps.
AP Corp applied layers and five different types of vinyl to conjure the mother of all dragon wraps.

How did this wrap go so unnoticed for nearly a year? Created for the USSC Sign Exchange wrap contest in December of last year, it placed second, which was no small accomplishment. Entered to our Signshop Competition this year, again the judges went another way. But here, finally, this subtle yet spectacular dragon wrap gets the attention it deserves!

SCALE IT UP

Chris Fong, chief sales engineer of AP Corp (Sykesville, MD), has participated in his share of recognized and awarded wraps – his company’s Pokémon Mobile Capture Unit took home our “Best of Show” in the 2017 Signs of the Times Vehicle Graphics Contest. This new wrap, for a 2015 Audi RS7 APR Stage 2 – which Chris designed and then installed at the Atlantic City show (in 16 hours over the course of three days) – was printed and laminated with the help of Brandon Kemp (design and production manager) and Michael Mihok (production specialist) back in Maryland.

The first step was to create an embossed, dragon-scale texture on the hood of the car. To replicate the scales, the shop had used its Graphtec FC8600 plotter to cut the shapes into 3M 1080 Gloss Sky Blue vinyl, which Chris weeded in Sykesville, then installed onto the hood in Atlantic City. Next, Chris laid Arlon SLX Cast Wrap film – printed with vector clips of Chinese dragon graphics and a custom blue marble finish, using AP Corp’s HP Latex 570 printer (running on ONYX RIP software) and covered in 3M Wrap Overlaminate 8900-304 Sunburst Gold by their SEAL 62 Pro S Laminator – on top of the plotted dragon skin, resulting in subtle, raised rows of scales.

Chris Fong’s fifth vinyl product for this wrap was used to create the look of wooden rocker panels, wood-chrome deletes, wood door-handle accents and wooden rims.
Chris Fong’s fifth vinyl product for this wrap was used to create the look of wooden rocker panels, wood-chrome deletes, wood door-handle accents and wooden rims.

Chris then overlaid some of the printed details, such as the dragon head on the driver’s front quarter panel, with cutouts of reflective gold 3M Scotchlite Print Wrap Film 780mC-10R, to further brighten certain details and to heighten their nighttime visibility. “I applied [3M Décor Overlaminate 8600M-301 Riverbed] only on the 3M 780 reflective dragons that were print-cut and laid over the Arlon SLX,” Chris said. “It gave the print-cut dragons more of a matte finish while the Sunburst Gold sparkle had a gloss finish, so the dragons stood out more.”

He also added a layer of gold Avery Dennison SF100 Conform Chrome on top of the front portion of the hood, trimming the top edge along the scale pattern. (That’s four different wrap films in three layers so far, if you’re scoring at home.) During the installation at the show, Chris used an NT Cutter Knife, Fusion Hand Job Squeegee Handle, Yellotools YelloTwin Squeegee, Bernzomatic torch, Wagner heat gun, Race Ramps, and 3M Knife-less Design Line and Finish Line Tape.

WOOD WORK

To bolster the old-time design, Chris used a fifth vinyl product, 3M DI-NOC Architectural Finishes Wood Grain film, to create the look of wooden rocker panels, wood-chrome deletes, wood door-handle accents and wooden rims. “Probably the most enjoyable thing I did on the entire wrap was something I’ve actually never done before, and never seen before – is not only wrapping [part of] the rims, but wrapping them in the 3M DI-NOC film,” he explained in a fantastic four-minute video about the project. Due to the time constraints of wrapping for the Sign Exchange contest in the tradeshow hall, Chris could only wrap the spokes on the rims, but was still happy that “the final product looked great with having the black paint [from the rims] still pop.”

Chris added more 3M 780 reflective film to the car’s tail end, because, he noted, that part is illuminated most often by headlights. “First, we ran a line, a pinstripe, along the bottom diffuser,” he said. Then, he applied a quote to both complete the Asian theme, and also to represent what AP Corp’s business means to them: “He who waits to start, arrives last.”

And though this entry didn’t capture first place in the Sign Exchange contest – hats off to Big Splash Graphics (Freehold, NJ) who did – or in our Signshop Competition, the creativity and attention to this wrap demonstrates it’s not so much a case of AP Corp are “starting.” I think we can take it from this, that they have arrived.

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