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Vehicle Wrapping PSPs Present Munchies on the Move

Three application examples prove that printing and installing food truck graphics requires proper planning even when customers are starved for time.




This article originally appeared at our sister publication, Big Picture.

VEHICLE WRAPPING IS an art, but these projects prove that thorough preparation can be as important to success as a skilled hand. Derek Atchley, owner of Atchley Graphics, says PSPs should “measure three times and install once.” This advice almost directly echoes the recommendation of Ann Durso, owner of Express Signs & Graphics, to “measure twice and quote once.” Although this is good advice for any wrap, food trucks present particular challenges, adds Trey Matula, founder and president of Picture This Wraps and Graphics. “We always tell our clients that the design phase is the most important.”

Express Sign & Graphics
Chelmsford, MA

Citing fluctuating delivery times for specialty vehicles, the need to install cooking equipment, and requirements for fire safety and other inspections, Durso says food truck customers are generally “anxious to get their vehicles on the road immediately.” This wrap (printed on a Roland VS-540 and laminated on a Royal Sovereign laminator) is a case in point. The customer, robotics company Boston Dynamics, didn’t have a truck to survey yet, so initial estimates were based on provided measurements. “It turned out that the project required quite a bit more vinyl than anticipated,” Durso says.

However, Express Sign had done its due diligence. Thanks to frank, upfront discussions about the potential limitations of this approach, the customer was “very good about the pricing adjustment,” Durso says. “Although it is normally not our practice to change pricing once an estimate is agreed upon, this was a huge pricing difference due to the major difference between the size we were told and the actual size of the truck.” Another contributor to savings was the choice of Briteline Wrapcast vinyl and laminate, which Durso calls “good vinyl at a good price point.”

Working with a truck several feet shorter than indicated by the initial drawing also created challenges with ensuring the graphics flow uninterrupted by the service window, door handles, and other features. Nonetheless, the work paid off for everyone. “The customer was very happy with the results and was excited to start using their new food truck!”

Tip: Make sure customers understand that an estimate is just that – an estimate. Until final measurement and drawings are done, pricing is subject to change.


Picture This Wraps and Graphics
New Orleans; Mandeville, Louisiana; and Gulfport, Mississippi

Removing pre-existing wraps is a common difference between food trucks and other commercial vehicles, Matula says. However, success with the “Get Stuffed” wrap (printed with an HP Latex 365 on 3M 180C with 3M 8518 gloss laminate) was more about taking the time to get the design right.

If the customer had not presented a clear idea for the graphics they wanted to see – a “Beach Kong” named Beau in “Pepto pink” and “Smurf blue” – the project might have taken longer, Madula explains. “While they were eager to get this wrapped and on the road as soon as possible, we expressed how important the design stage is. They understood, and due to the clarity of their hopes, we were able to get the logo design approved in just over a week’s time and then the final wrap design approved in another four business days.”

Tip: When it comes to good design, less is often more, Matula says. Too many pictures, hashtags, lines of text, or other elements can make graphics too busy and detract from the customer’s branding.

Atchley Graphics
Columbus, Ohio

After the devastating theft of its first food truck, Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace was eager to rejuvenate mobile branding. Atchley Graphics, which had wrapped the stolen truck, “jumped at the chance” to do a second, Atchley says. However, eagerness is no excuse to compromise attention to every detail. “A comprehensive pre-design consultation and extensive measurements and photos are part of our process,” Atchley says. “Every step along the way is planned, measured, and designed with quality in mind.”

Such a process is particularly important for custom vehicles like this one, which required different wrapping methods (and design modifications in Illustrator) to account for features on only one side of the truck. The material (3M IJ180CV3 with matching 3M 8518 gloss laminate) was cut into sections (using a Summa FC1832 digital cutter) to ease installation and ensure the graphics would appear as intended (images were printed on an an HP 570 Latex roll-to-roll using Onyx RIP and laminated with a GBC Arctic Titan 1264).

Overall, Atchley says the project “reinforced the need for our stringent step-by-step process to survey and document the vehicle through to design, then print and finishing, followed up by in the installation and post install steps we take. Our focus on each step of the process equally, especially for the installers, is what helps set us apart from many wrap firms.”

Tip: As tempting as it may be to finish printing faster, make sure you’re not shorting the install crew. Among other examples, Atchley says providing extra material and avoiding unnecessary seams can make their work easier.




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