Complete vehicle wraps will always have more difficult areas that demand your vinyl graphic to be extremely stretched. This video shows the right way to manage heat and tension during install to make sure your graphic applies well and without distortion.

Two of the most important factors in vehicle wrap application are heat and tension. Both need to be managed very carefully. The most common mistake applicators make is putting too much heat on the vinyl and over stretching it causing lifting and many other problems.

We will show how Arlon suggests applying vinyl in deep concave areas like this. Most applicators put a lot of heat here and just push it in which results in lifting. Our method ensures that the vinyl will stay down in all of these difficult places.

There are many sharp angles and tight corners as well as a compound curve around a three sided corner. These can be the most difficult areas to wrap. Install the high points first leaving no wrinkles on the surfaces. Leave as much extra vinyl intact as possible to absorb the stretch.

Most applicators apply a lot of heat here. Then they stretch the hot vinyl and push it in. The vinyl will go, it will stretch into the channel. But with that much tension in the vinyl, over time areas installed like this will pop back up. Then the lifting will travel all the way out to here making the entire area fail.

The first part of the application is done and we’re ready to apply the channel. Instead of applying heat here and stretching the hot vinyl in, we are going to heat the vinyl up here and apply the cold vinyl in this area.

First we will heat here and apply the vinyl here where it is cold and unstretched. All of the stretch is going to happen right here. So, all of the vinyl being actually installed and not cut away is going to be applied without much heat and with very little stretch.

The heated and stretched vinyl will all be cut away later. Now I apply here where the vinyl is cold causing no stretch.

Repeat this step until the channel is complete. Applying the cool unstretched vinyl not only guards against lifting, it also ensures that there will be no adhesive delamination when it comes time to remove the vinyl.

Apply in small increments to prevent distortion in the graphic. This also helps you manage the amount of stretch you put on any one place.

You can see that the word ’Stretch’ is clearly stretched and distorted. But that’s OK because that piece of vinyl will be cut away. And the word ‘Cold’ has almost no distortion. All of the stretch has happened up here.

Finish the tight 90° corners of the channel with your Teflon squeegee. You will need to cut along these lines. Cut away access film and make your final cut along the bodyline. Remove the cut away piece of vinyl and the channel is finished. Looking at the completed graphics you can see that it isn’t distorted and the color is consistent. The edges are secure with no lifting.

So remember, it may be easier to put a lot of heat on the vinyl, stretch it and get the job done quickly. But you won’t be happy with the result. Always manage heat and tension carefully and you will have a successful wrap.

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Ritchie Daize

Ritchie got his start 23 years ago working at a small sign shop weeding cut vinyl and building signs. When the shop got a contract for a large fleet, Ritchie became the lead applicator for the project. Soon after, he opened his own graphics installation company called RD Installations. Ritchie became a leading expert in wrap application and fleet graphics. In 2008, Ritchie sold RD Installations and began working for Arlon.

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Ritchie Daize

Ritchie got his start 23 years ago working at a small sign shop weeding cut vinyl and building signs. When the shop got a contract for a large fleet, Ritchie became the lead applicator for the project. Soon after, he opened his own graphics installation company called RD Installations. Ritchie became a leading expert in wrap application and fleet graphics. In 2008, Ritchie sold RD Installations and began working for Arlon.

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