Bus Of Hope

Full print wrap applied to a double-decker bus.

Without a doubt one of the biggest jobs we have undertaken to date was a full digital print wrap of a double decker bus.
 Vehicle wrapping is becoming more and more widespread as a method of turning a work van into a travelling impact advert for a business. Most people have seen these vehicles on the road but few know the full detail of what goes into a wrap.

Getting The Right Look

Digital design has completely changed the face of modern sign making. In previous years designs might have been sketched out to give an idea of how the final job would look but ultimately it came down to the perspective of a painter. Using modern design software we are able to give detailed, scaled designs prior to print. So with the input of the customer we generated a scaled down drawing of the bus to get the look just right before we even get to printing.

Printing The Vinyl

All the printing of the Bus of Hope wrap was done in house on our 64″, wide format printer, so we could get the best result. To cover the whole bus we printed around 60 meters of vinyl, all of which needed 24 hours after print to “gas-out” before being laminated. Finally, all of this needed to be trimmed to size, by hand before it could be applied to the bus.

Applying The Wrap

The first stage in fitting, as with most jobs in sign making, is all about good preparation. When we first started work on the bus it still had an old wrap on it. This had to be removed as applying a new vinyl to the top could cause the two layers to stretch in different places and pull away from each other leading to loose panels and possible even tears. Additionally, the old wrap had been damaged in several places and some pieces were already falling off. To remove the existing wrap we had to heat the vinyl up using a heat gun and peeling the vinyl away from the body work. The heat helps to break down the glue and weakens the hold to the bodywork, however some glue is always left behind. This also needed to be removed, which was accomplished with the use of a solvent spray that breaks down the glue so it could easily be scraped off.

The final stage in this preparation was to give the bodywork a thorough clean to remove any dirt or dust. When doing this final clean it is vital to use the right cleaner, most car cleaning products you might buy in the shops are not appropriate as they often contain a polish or wax which would actually act against the glue on the vinyl and could cause the wrap to fail.

Once the bus was clean the process was not unlike hanging wall paper. The vinyl is hung in drops, or columns along the body. We started these drops from the rear of bus so that the overlaps would be best positioned to prevent any water being pushed along the side of the bus from gaining any entry underneath the vinyl. This is very rare but if it does happen the water would loosen the glue and could cause the vinyl to peel at the edges. The drops were lined up using the detail of the graphics on the print to create an accurate recreation of the design layout.
Using a high quality, cast, wrapping vinyl allowed us to heat the vinyl to manipulate it around any contours on the bodywork, such as the trim, protruding bolts and indents for handle. To get the absolute best result in the final finish some of the smaller graphics were applied after the main print had been fitted.

The customer had requested that anyone inside the bus should still be able to see out of the windows but they still wanted the graphic to continue over them on the outside. To achieve this we used a different type of vinyl called contravision. Contravision vinyl has small holes cut from it so that when viewed up close (as someone would be when inside the bus) you can see through but from a distance (as most people outside the bus would view it) the holes are so small they are barely visible. This was applied after the main wrapping vinyl to get the best alignment to the wrapped print.

The Result

With the new wrap finished and fully applied the bus was given a new lease of life, while the old print had faded with age and been scuffed and damaged in various places, the new wrap looked bright and bold, creating real impact to grab attention.

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