Vehicle Wrap “101″

Vehicle Wrap “101″

The auto wrap market has grown tremendously in Charleston over the last couple of years. You’re starting to see more companies of all sizes marketing and advertising their products and services on vehicles. And not just on buses.

With the cost of printers that are able to produce auto wraps dropping every day, more and more of the traditional sign shops are now entering into the wrap business. This is good because it brings more customers into the market. We want to help educate the wrap buyer on the auto wrap process.


When shopping for an auto wrap, the lowest price may not always be the best value. The process involves several steps that are required to get the best value for your money, from the beginning to the end of the wrap process. If you’re not careful, a $500.00 savings at the beginning of the wrap process can cost you $1500.00 in the end. And that does not include the cost of the wrap.

The company that you choose to produce your wrap should be able to show you what they have produced, and show you the process that they follow to complete each wrap. Ask to see the printers they are using, ask about the inks that they use (eco-solvent inks only last outdoors for up to 3 years), and what type of laminate is used. The most important question is what type of warranty do they offer and what exactly is guaranteed.

Let’s say your company requests a bid on a van wrap. You call three sign companies that advertise car wraps. You explain to each of them what you expect, and have them bid the project. For this example, we will assume that you, the customer, have digital files ready to print.

  • Company A’s bid is for $2200.00 printing and installation.
  • Company B’s bid is for $2500.00 printing and installation.
  • Company C’s bid is for $1650.00 printing and installation.

With most companies it’s all about the bottom line, just as it is with ours. Now each of these prices listed above may be a fair and reasonable cost for a van wrap. Each company bidding will base your price on the square feet of material printed and installed. Design time should not be factored into the prices above.

The difference is now down to materials, equipment and installation and most of all experience.

There are several vinyl manufacturers on the market today, the top two being 3M™ and Avery™ Dennison. Each of these two manufacturers offers a warranty for the vinyls that they sell. But this warranty only applies if the graphic was produced to the manufacturers strict guidelines.

There are several factors: what type of printer is used, the inks that are used, cure time (out gassing), and the type of laminate that is used (if any). Beware of printers that use eco-solvent inks for your auto wrap. If you are paying for a premium five year vinyl, why would you want it printed with inks that will only last up to 3 years? It’s these small details they do not include with the quote.

Then you have the installation process. This is the most important process, because the end result is what you will see every day. If your vehicle is not properly prepared for the wrap, the end result could be failure.

Any number of these factors mentioned may or may not be a factor in the three bids listed above. In any case ask the company that you select very pointed questions about how your wrap will be produced, and ask to tour their facilities.

The pictures below illustrate this example. Our company bid on the production and installation of an H2 Hummer. We lost the bid by about $510.00

Earlier this year, the same H2 Hummer showed up at our door, this time wanting the wrap removed. Instead of a 3-hour removal job, it was a 22 hour removal nightmare for the customer. This cost the customer over $850 on top of what they saved in the beginning of the process.

With this job, the company that produced the graphics that were used for this job used a premium vinyl from one of the top two manufacturers. And while the installation looked good, the company that produced this graphic did not apply an over laminate to protect the graphic from the elements. The end result was an unhappy customer with a faded and scratched graphic and a costly removal. Had the vinyl been produced correctly, by using the correct vinyl, the correct inks and the correct over laminate this graphic sould have lasted for at least five years.

We use quality 3M or Avery materialsEach graphic component is engineered, tested and manufactured to work together. The end result is unsurpassed color brilliance and durability.

For more information graphic production and installations or any of our other services please contact us at 843- 881-2593 or Feel free to visit our showroom in Charleston at the Daniel Island Marina.