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Vehicles + Vinyl

Wraps Go 3-D

Vehicle wraps are rising above flat ol’ vinyl.

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Mark Reyland needed a career change. The longtime manager for the National Security Agency’s engineering program, he sought a stimulating, entrepreneurial opportunity. Concurrently, several workers displaced from the closing of Cincinnati’s toymaking industry were seeking career avenues. They found each other, and the match yielded an imaginative application that could change the face of vehicle graphics.

In 2000, Reyland founded Creative 3D (Fairfield, OH) to create custom props for 12 diverse industries, such as moviemaking and sports paraphernalia. The company also fabricates multi-faceted, corporatemarketing campaigns, which has included vehicle wraps, for which the company contracts with design and fabrication partners.

When Ryan Flom, senior manager for experiential marketing at Minneapolis-based Innova Marketing, approached Reyland about developing a unique, vehicle-graphics approach for Perfetti Van Melle USA (Erlanger, KY), the domestic marketer of Mentos candy, the wheels turned. For this project, Innova selected the 2007 Saturn Sky because its futuristic lines and edgy appearance would best emphasize 3-D graphics. They dispatched seven cars for decoration at Creative 3D’s shop for a nationwide rollout where staff would pass out Mentos samples, T-shirts and related gear.

“I’d been inspired by some of the dimensional graphics, such as Red Bull Jeeps and Napa trucks with the hat logo sign over the cab,” Reyland said. “But, these required drilling through the car’s body to attach. Because these are temporary campaigns, we had to find a way to secure them without structurally altering the cars.”

The shop’s graphic and appliqué designers evaluated the best areas to receive 3D and decided on placing the Mentos logo on either door and the hood, and a half-roll that replicates a candy pack atop the trunk. The graphics specialist extracted the dimensional elements from the original template and transferred them to the appliqué maker, who created a template for 3-D tooling. Using 15-lb. HDU and a silicone-rubber mold, the team created the initial form. They inserted 8-lb. styrene into the form, which was heated at 400° F for 15 minutes inside its vacuum former.

Next, Creative 3D injected high-density foam into the appliqué and allowed it to cure for 45 minutes before using a proprietary process to affix it to the vehicle. Reyland said the shop field-tested the material against heat, cold, humidity and road speeds up to 90 mph.

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Creative 3D enlisted Interstate Graphics (Rosholt, WI) to develop the graphic backdrop, To complement the dimensional elements, Interstate devised graphics with sky-blue, inkjet-printed vinyl.

Paul Olson, Interstate’s president and CEO, said creating panels around the Sky’s complex contours and curves to emphasize the dimensional components was a challenge. The prints comprise solvent ink-printed, Avery A9 opaque vinyl with the Easy Apply RS air-egress system.

When creating such value-added graphics as the Mentos project, Reyland realizes that limits still exist – no matter how tantalizing a technology may be, it must be delivered for a price. With this in mind, Reyland value-engineers until he can deliver a project for a pricetag that is in the ballpark of a conventional counterpart.

Flom said value-added vehicle graphics are ideal for projects such as the Mentos rollout because it will last for seven months and can be easily absorbed in a lengthier campaign.

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