Care & Cleaning of Vehicle Graphics

Most people who have invested in large format printers know that using solvent or eco-solvent based ink does not always provide all the protection graphics need.

Solvent and eco-solvent inks are rated for up to three to five years outdoors without lamination. But that outdoor durability is based on UV resistance. If UV fade was the only threat to printed graphics, the world would be a simpler place. But chemicals, gasoline, and abrasion can damage installed prints more quickly than old Sol. So that is why you see the qualifying words: up to. Whenever prints are exposed to brushes, gasoline, foot traffic, or other abrasive elements, lamination is required. Customers may initially object to the added cost, but they will thank you later.

The Wrap Polish Option

If, for some reason, a customer doesn’t agree to lamination, another layer of protection can be added by treating it with CrystalTek Wrap Polish. CrystalTek Wrap Polish contains co-polymers that give installed vinyl a tough wax-resistant coating, making it impervious to Turtle Wax and similar products.

Beware the Jiffywash

If Lewis Carroll were a sign maker today, instead of “Beware the jabberwocky, my son,” he might write, “Beware the Jiffy Wash, my son! The jets that bite, the brushes that catch! It’ll flat screw up your installed wrap!”

Laminated graphics can even be damaged by inappropriate cleaning methods. According to Josh Culverhouse of Oracal USA’s tech support department, danger lurks in the car wash.

Josh offers these care and maintenance tips to pass on to your customers:

“Stay away from car washes with brushes, as these could cause the material to degrade at a very rapid rate. This could cause the [overlaminate] film to chip, mar, welt, and even crack. When washing the vehicle by hand, use cotton or wool sponges with mild car wash soap. Never use pressure washers! This could cause the material to chip away as well as mar the face film and even crack. Never apply wax or polish to matte vinyl.”

Seal-it Pen Keeps Your Edges Flat

Another step you that can be taken to protect installed vinyl is to seal the edges with a Seal-it Pen. Recently, a customer who had installed a graphic with sharp edges on a motorcycle called SignWarehouse. The owner had washed the graphic by hand but, during the drying process, the edges to began to lift, and there were visible cotton fibers caught in the edges of the vinyl. Sealing the edges helps prevent this kind of edge lifting, especially if a graphic is a design with small, sharp edges.

Following these steps can be good preventive maintenance that will ensure a long happy life for installed vehicle graphics.