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Vehicles + Vinyl

One Bus, Two Bus

Wraps enliven old school buses and new tour buses alike.




When officials of Marion County Public Schools accepted Nukem Graphics’ (Lebanon, KY) bid to wrap its mobile classroom, owner/operator Matt Nukem was thrilled – at first. “When they told me I had two weeks to get the job completed,” he said, “we all had that deer-in-the-headlights look.” After all, Nukem Graphics is a small, three-man shop and the bus – at least on the outside – showed many signs of age. “We had to fix and smooth out some of the rust, dents and paint,” Nukem said. “We spent around two days just cleaning and repairing.”

The “Dream Bus” is an extension of the school district’s mission: dream, believe, achieve. On the inside, it’s outfitted with the latest technology; the bus also delivers food to area kids when the school is closed. As the mobile ambassador for the school, the school officials “wanted it to be bright and kid friendly,” Nukem said. The collaborative design concept involved students from the Marion County Area Technology Center as well as teachers. “I took their ideas, added some of my own and merged them together,” Nukem said. He created a unique template for the bus using CADlink SignLab 9.1 and graduated to “a friendly, bubbly look connected to the concept of a dream.”

Nukem Graphics output 3M Envision LX480Cv3 print wrap film using their HP L26500 printer, coating it with 3M 8548G gloss wrap overlaminate on a Royal Sovereign RSC-6500H 65-in. Heat Assist Wide Format Roll Laminator. Nukem and his son, Matthew, worked nights during the week and days on the weekend, using 3M primer, rivet brushes, Geek Wrap squeegees and a Wrap Pro Roller for the installation, as well as “a lot of knife blades.” When wrapping a bus, Nukem said, “You get to know the rivet roller, rivet brush and heat guns very well.”

Within the two-week assignment schedule, Nukem and his three-man shop turned in their homework. “The school district worked the city to close down a street in our town so the public could come and see the bus,” Nukem recalled. “… you could see the excitement in the whole community from the kids to the adults.” Give that shop an A+!

Then there are buses whose wraps change so quickly and so often that they’re always like new. Such was the case for Riot Hospitality Group’s Whiskey Row Bus, which the client originally brought to Arizona Color Wrap Professionals (Phoenix) years ago on a referral. Riot Hospitality clearly likes the work Arizona Color has done. “This was about the ninth time we wrapped this exact bus,” Matt Nisbett, designer for Arizona Color, said. For this well-staffed, high-volume shop, “Nothing much changes from the design workflow on larger bus designs other than typically having much more flat space to work with,” Nisbett said.

Riot Hospitality knew what they wanted. “They had full vector versions of their logos ready for me. They just wanted them big,” Nisbett said. Because the client’s brands are well-known in the area, they wanted to focus fully on all the names, forgoing the usual contact information – just a clean and simple dark design to showcase the brands. “So I created somewhat of a texture by tiling their logos in black over a dark gray base color for the backdrop to place the full color logos on,” Nisbett said. He designed the wrap using Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC. Arizona Color then output Avery Dennison MPI 1005 SC Supercast Vinyl with their HP Designjet L260 printer. They used their Seal 62 Base Laminator to apply Avery Dennison DOL 1360 premium laminate on the vinyl. Arizona Color’s five-man installation team required fewer than three full days, aided by Avery Dennison Blue and Red Felt squeegees.


As this was the ninth wrap for Riot Hospitality within the last decade or so, “Nothing out of the ordinary happened,” Nisbett said. The driver picked up the bus for the client, completing “a fairly simple in and out job.” So if form holds and the Riot Hospitality is looking for a tenth wrap, Arizona Color can expect to see this very same bus parked in front of its shop in a year or so, ready to make an “old” bus new again.




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