Items previously displayed or to be displayed in Sign Update Magazine
Items previously displayed or to be displayed in Sign Update Magazine
Items previously displayed or to be displayed in Sign Update Magazine
APA have released new colours in the 'space age' chrome effect vinyl range. As well as the gloss and super bright PVC Cast films that are available in a blue, red, silver and steel finish; new matt non-reflective textures, in the new titanium and blue versions have been added, a 'perfect bond between innovation and exclusivity'.
'High quality materials and easily conformable', says APA, with 125-140 µm thickness, the films are suitable for many surfaces, both flat and undulating. Ideal to decorate and personalise detailed areas, suitable also for interior decoration and to achieve graphic details that require a chrome finishing, says the company.
The adhesive films are compatible with Solvent, Eco-solvent and UV ink printers. The metallic surface is particularly abrasion resistant due to the OLCHS protection Over-Lam-Chrome-Surface. The ultra-permanent glue with channelled adhesive (Air Free FTX System), facilitate the air expulsion and paths the way to a 'perfect application with impeccable results'.
"Intense chrome effect, durability and extreme personalisation make APA Chrome effect vinyl's the popular choice, not to go passed unobserved and to make any type of surface special and exclusive!" says a spokesperson.
Though it's difficult to pinpoint with absolute certainty where and precisely when it happened, whoever it was who first applied self-adhesive lettering or graphics to a vehicle would be fully justified in claiming that he or she had sparked a revolution. Until the advent of cut and applied graphics, the vehicle livery and graphics medium was, at one and the same time, propelled and confined by the creative and commercial potential that lay in the hands of signwriters.
Today, vehicle livery and graphics define a substantial market sector for sign and graphic producers to exploit. It's a sector that now has tendrils extending deep into further specialisations within new skill sets such as wrapping, or in application specific areas such as customisation and decorative markings. With the right skills, and the right technologies and materials, the sector can be among the most profitable of all the graphics markets, and it seems to thrive in whatever the strength of the economic headwind.
The creative potential embodied in a process that can deposit durable, highly conformable colour upon a microns-thin material which can then be coerced over every inch of a vehicle's body work is inestimable. The value of the output this process produces towers above other forms of output produced using the same materials and technology and it is always in demand.
Why choose Livery?
General sentiment in marketing says that goods and services, "things" if you will, are worth what people are willing to pay for them. The worth of vehicle graphics therefore is driven by the value of the impressions they create in advertising, or the extent to which someone feels that applied graphics benefits the object of grand desire, an exotic car for example. Clearly, vehicle graphics' production and supply, is more than just a costs-plus exercise. Also, the market is by no means confined to advertising and branding applications.
The Materials Company, Metamark, is responsible for designing, manufacturing and supplying the SignVinyl, Digital Media and Speciality Materials that underpin much of the creative potential that makes the vehicle graphics market such an attractive one. Metamark believes that, material technology advances, combined with application extending developments made possible by emerging hardware, are responsible for growing the market. The company has a point.
All it takes is an opinion leader to adopt something new in vehicle graphics, and the strength and pace of the market moving to adopt it too is surprising. A good example of this is applied finishes, simulated Carbon Fibre being a recent and notable case.
Carbon Fibre and other materials
Carbon Fibre, the real thing, is seen as an 'exotic material' that's used in high performance vehicles because it can be moulded to practically any shape, it's incredibly strong, and it's so light it's like holding an otherworldly ghost of some other material in the hand. All of these exotic credentials converge to one point - Carbon Fibre isn't cheap, then rapidly diverging to another - it's not widely available either.
Metamark was in the vanguard of companies introducing to the market a cosmetic applied Carbon Fibre material. Known to those who use it as Metamark MM-CF4, the film comprises a multi-layered construction featuring a highly textured facefilm that looks and even feels, for the entire world, just like the real Carbon Fibre it aims to simulate. The material is highly conformable and so is used to wrap anything from small components to whole vehicles. The effect it achieves is head-turning; the profit potential makes it worth getting to know.
Hampshire based Spectral Design has used the material to great effect on behalf of many of its clients. The company has used it to wrap bonnets and roofs and even undertaken interior detailing with the material on car dashboards and trim.
Metamark MM-CF4 material has become so popular that Metamark has introduced both MM-CF3 and MM-CF2 variants on the theme, one being a lower cost product and the other featuring a metallised carbon finish.
Applying textured and cosmetic films to vehicles involves substantially the same skill-set and employs the same hardware used in the production of cut and applied vehicle graphics. According to Metamark, buying patterns suggest that producers are offering textured and speciality applications as a condiment for the main event - printed vehicle graphics.
Wrapping vehicles in digitally printed media has often been characterised as a signmaker's greatest challenge. There's no doubt at all that there is a skill-set needed to do an accomplished job of wrapping a vehicle, but, says Metamark, it can be learned, and some materials are more cooperative than others in that process and in commercial terms.
"A lot of the materials sold for digital printing and wrapping today owe more to legacy methods of production than they do to today's digital means," say the experts at Metamark.
Vinyl that just happens to accept print doesn't necessarily deserve digital credentials. Material that's only marginally suited to digital printing may not perform at all well when it has to answer the demands of an extreme application like wrapping. That can make the already difficult job of applying material even more demanding and have a negative bearing on the durability of the finished job too.
Among Metamark's flagship digital media is its well known MD5 self-adhesive vinyl. This product is evidently chosen and specified by printers and brands around the world and apparently distinguishes itself from other media in some key areas that benefit the production of vehicle graphics.
MD5 is what's termed a reference quality material. It's often used by, for example, printer manufacturers seeking to validate or test hardware performance. Crucially, Metamark MD5 has by any standards what most people agree is a huge appetite for ink. Because of this, it can fully liberate the printer hardware's colour production potential, or "gamut" and so deliver graphics with the vibrant colour and "pop" favoured by advertisers and by graphics specialists.
In use, MD5 is a very compliant material for vehicle graphics and, says Metamark, was designed to deliver benefits at every phase of an applied vehicle graphic's life. During printing, it delivers better quality. During application it's easier to handle because of its novel, Apex adhesive that builds to a powerful application bond but is easy to reposition when being applied. In service, the graphics retains colour and potency. When the graphic's end-of-life is reached, MD5 removes cleanly without a trace so saving time and considerable sums of money that would otherwise be spent on clean-up.
Vehicle wrapping presents many application challenges but one of the most persistent has been eradicated thanks to the advent of Metamark's MetaScape adhesive system. With a Metamark MD5 face-film and the new MetaScape adhesive backing it up, new MD5-A doesn't give trapped air a chance.
Metamark's advances in materials technology have demonstrated their worth in many high profile campaigns. Raccoon Digital in Edenbridge produced a notable livery for Foxtons using Metamark MD5 which was screen printed with customised inks because no solid colour was available and digital print couldn't reach it either due to technical limitations of the process. The custom coloured and printed vinyl was then applied to the cars' panel work and the result is advertising taken to a high art. Over three hundred vehicles were wrapped.
Thanks to low origination costs, digital print is the primary process used by most producers for most of the application livery work that rolls in the door. Three hundred strong vehicle fleets don't come along every day and most companies exploring the market will often be working with single vehicles.
D-Signs recently demonstrated how accessible and powerful the wrapping medium is by taking a single vehicle and wrapping it singlehanded using Metamark MD7. The vehicle was used by the Race To Recovery team, as seen on the BBC's Top Gear.
In design terms, the application of print to vehicles has no practical limit. Anything a designer can imagine can easily be realised. The other side of the coin is that anything that "anyone" can imagine can be realised too and this means work is highly variable. Good design commands a premium and expert application is judged in the quality stakes.
Printed and applied vehicle liveries are very often used for short term work such as promotions and advertising. Advertising seasons are often less than ninety days and this demands clean removal. Metamark says that this was a key consideration when it was developing the MetaScape and Apex adhesive systems. Wraps may enjoy their celebrity and there is no doubt, they can look stunning, but cut and applied graphics and printed component based livery and markings are still the most popular ways of producing vehicle graphics.
So-called dyed-in-the-mass or solid coloured materials are the staple ingredient in many liveries and graphics packages despite the advent of digital apparently heralding an end to their use. Metamark tells us, that, in its case at least the future of cut vinyl looks secure and that sales are strong in the category.
Metamark M7 is where signs and graphics producers turn when looking for potent self coloured materials that cut easily, weed reliably and apply with little effort in producing vehicle graphics. These materials trace their use to the legacy markets that pre-date digital but, in the right hands, they're being used to produce leading edge graphics that are very much a product of contemporary thinking.
Cycle sport has been in the news a lot lately and thanks to its work with Metamark M7 Vinyl, S and S Signs and Graphics has given Sigma Sport's vehicles an elevated profile among the sport's colourful entourage.
Familiarity with the medium suggests that a total, digital wrap is responsible for the crisp design's outcome, but the job is in fact a detail wrap with the red components being cut and applied, just like the rest of the livery's detailing. The job is an exemplar of technique with the Metamark M7 performing a job that would have once been the reserve of paint and today would really exercise the most experienced digital practitioners.
With a market as attractive as vehicle graphics, the temptation is to be driven to specialisation. On the other hand though, substantially the same skills and minor variation in material specification mean that even a modestly equipped company can participate in producing lucrative work across a whole spread of graphic applications with the only thing they may have in common being that, somewhere under all the high tech materials, is a vehicle you wouldn't otherwise look at twice.
As a pioneer and supporter of wrapping, APA continues with the research and the defining of vinyl with varying different effects, paying close attention to the most followed trends as well as anticipating and creating new fashions.
It is with this in mind that the company has developed and produced the Camouflage Effect, an evergreen now in fashion.
The new line of Camouflage at the moment consists of two variations, but the Milanese company is already working on other variations of the same effect but with different colours, to incorporate into the range.
The first version depicts the warm hues of sand and desert and is called Safari Camouflage, whereas the second one perfectly reflects a flourishing forest, hence the name Forest Camouflage.
An effect much awaited and desired by the lovers of nature and adventure that now can completely or partially wrap their own vehicle, in accordance with their taste.
The APAWrapFILM is specifically designed to completely cover flat and curved surfaces, has a perfect adhesive quality and is quicker to apply than doing the classic paint-job: an off-the-road motor, a SUV, a car, and other vehicles, thanks to the expert hands of skilled professional decorators trained by APA, can, in a short period of time be 'camouflaged'.
For more information on APA's products please call 0208 311 4400 or visit www.apaspa.com
Like any skilled trade, the key to becoming an effective signmaker lies in having the right training and knowledge for those who want to polish up on their skills, or even learn new ones altogether. Do aspiring sign makers have much to choose from? Ashwin Mehra unravels the clearer picture when he went searching.
What's out there?Having been in the sign making industry for approximately...five minutes I wanted to see what training was offered to those in similar shoes to me - how do I get trained up as a sign maker?
Traditionally, there are two ways in which you can expand your horizons in sign making; attending a course or becoming an apprentice. There are many courses that you could help you diversify your current skill set. Depending on what you are looking for, we have found the best, most well informed choices to help you add that all important string to your bow. This is an investment in your future, after all.
That's a wrap!
APA UK offers a comprehensive two-day vehicle wrapping course for free. I spoke to Sales Director Scott Cowup to find out what this course offers and why should you attend it.
"APA offers a free two-day wrap course at our premises located in Belvedere, Kent. We have been successfully offering this service once a month to our customers (who purchase vinyl from us) for the past three years and on average have between 6-10 people in attendance, all with varying degrees of knowledge and ability."
Scott explains the certain uses a student would gain in attending their free vehicle wrapping course: "As an introduction to wrapping, our aim is to give our customers a solid grounding in the art of vehicle decoration, and for the more advanced on the course, we can concentrate on more intricate and technically demanding applications. The APA course encompasses not only application but also vinyl composition, sales (why the customer needs a wrap), design, workflow and costing. We can also tailor courses for individual companies who would like to focus a little more on any of these subjects. Although, this may incur a small charge."
When asked why they offer a free service for offering this unique skill to members of the industry and public alike, Scott candidly explains it is free to purchasers of APA's vinyl: "At APA, we believe that if our customers choose to use our wrap films, then we are happy to show them the correct techniques. However, we do not view this as a revenue stream, instead as a valuable service from a trusted manufacturer.
Customers new to wrapping, then have the opportunity to decide whether to pursue this avenue of revenue generation, without investing thousands of pounds in training and film acquisition. If the former is chosen, then for inexperienced fitters we recommend practice, practice and more practice before attempting client's projects. This is advised because after only one course and applicator you will not be a professional, but rather a very well informed amateur," Scott says.
You can find out more about APA's two-day free wrapping course by visiting: www.apaspa.com or calling by Scott on 0208 3114400.
Other companies that offer vehicle wrapping courses include William Smith who provide a two-day course by 3M authorised trainer, Andrew Gamble at £495+ VAT per person, with the option for accommodation to be arranged for you near their offices in County Durham (at an additional cost). You can find out more by visiting: www.williamsmith.co.uk or by calling 01833 690 305.
Graphiwrap also offer a similar two-day course at their premises in Tamworth, Staffordshire for £395+VAT per person. You can find out if this course is for you by visiting: www.grafityp.com or by calling 01827 300 500.
The signmaker's apprentice
Those who are already 'in the know' are fully aware that sign making is no dark art, but for those uninitiated, like me, it could be a pickle as to decide which course is for you.
The dated viewpoint is that you would train in a classroom or shadow a sign maker for a period of time. Modern courses challenge this preconception by ensuring that students are equipped with the right hands on skills and relevant knowledge needed to enter the market.
Walsall College offer a QCF (City & Guilds Qualifications and Credit Framework) Levels 2 and 3 in Apprenticeship Signmaking - based at various locations, this 12-15 month course is positioned as a stepping stone into the signmaking industry for students aged 16 onwards. This apprenticeship deals with the design, production and installation of all sorts of signs, from those displayed on company entrances to advertising hoardings.
In partnership with the Roland DG Signmaking Academy, Walsall College also offer short courses including Intermediate Digital Print and Vehicle Wrap, which are popular with established signmakers and apprentices. These are taught by recognised industry experts, which make them unique to Walsall College.
Apprentices would learn a range of skills including how to design signs; prepare different types of surfaces; cut out and build plastics into letters and logos; use digital technologies and install signs. The nature of the work will vary with the employer, but it could involve machining, joining, engraving, etching, hand decorating, spray painting and screen-printing.
The mode of attendance is very flexible, ranging from College one day a week up to fully delivered on site work at an employer's premises, or a combination of both.
"Our apprentice programmes at level 2 and 3 are unique as Walsall College have spent the last 17 years developing a delivery model where the full framework can be delivered onsite, without the need for the apprentice to attend a traditional day release mode of attendance. The experienced worker route to level 2 and 3 has also been developed to be delivered at distance with a combination of workbooks, oral questions and observations, which build up a portfolio of evidence. Employers are always eager to offer work experience to those attending full time college courses, and most will go on to gain full time employment in the industry," explains Andrew Evans, Commercial Academy Manager at Walsall College.
You can find out more by visiting: www.walsallcollege.ac.uk/courses/signmaking or calling 01922 657000.
Cornwall College offer Levels 2 and 3 apprenticeships in Signmaking, both are one year work-based apprenticeships aimed at teaching students aged 16 years and over how to design signs, prepare surfaces, cut out and build plastics into letters and logos, use digital technologies and install signs; using a range of skills (e.g. graphic design and electrical engineering) and a variety of materials such as perspex, vinyl, metal and glass.
"The Cornwall College signmaking apprenticeship achievement rates have been 100% for the last 3 years. Apprenticeships do help people, especially young people, understand the industry requirements, and begin developing their practical skills immediately," says Malcolm Higham, Course Manager for Signmaking at Cornwall College.
For more information visit www.cornwall.ac.uk or calling 0800 731 7594.
Home grown talent
In these tough economic times, sending an apprentice or worker on a course can be an expensive dent in your budget. For those of you who want to hire your very own apprentice to work on projects for you would be pleased to know that the government are offering an Apprenticeship Grant for Employers for ages 16-24 of up to £1,500.
Offering around 40,000 grants between April 2012 and March 2013 and is available in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% for those aged 19 to 24.
The grant is offered to companies who hire apprentices for up to 12 weeks, at 30 hours per week, and is open to any company to apply, provided they haven't employed an apprentice since September 2009.
Apprentice minimum wage rates from 1st October 2012 will be £2.65 for apprentices under 19-years-old or 19 or over and in their first year of their apprenticeship.
National mimimum wage rates starting from 1st October 2012 are: £3.68 - the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18; £4.98 - the 18-20 rate and £6.19 - the main rate for workers aged 21 and over.
You can find out more about the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers scheme by logging on to: www.apprenticeships.org.uk/Employers/Steps-to-make-it-happen.aspx or by calling 08000 150 600.