Wrapping a vehicle with vinyl is a thing of the present, and it’s certainly a part of the future. But what about the past? Let’s talk about the history of car wraps.
Advertising on vehicles started way back in February of 1900. Milton Hershey (of, you know, Hershey Chocolate) was the first to use a vehicle to advertise a company. Because the concept of vinyl didn’t exist yet, the ad was painted on the car.
For 50 years, paint was the only option for automotive advertisements – until 1926, when vinyl chloride was accidently discovered by the Goodrich Corporation (formerly BF Goodrich). By the way, you won’t believe one of the ingredients – you can watch a video from 1954 detailing its creation on YouTube, here. Shortly after its discovery, vinyl became commonplace in the market – coating umbrellas and raincoats, sealants for auto shock absorbers, it was even used as insulation for wires.
From vinyl chloride, along with other chemicals, self-adhesive vinyl was created and is used today for vehicle wraps. Because it is a flexible, versatile material, vinyl can be manipulated and applied to many types of surfaces with curves and edges.
At first, only clients with deep pockets could afford to use self-adhesive vinyl graphics. But by the 1980s, the price to produce and plot vinyl graphics had decreased significantly, which allowed small and large businesses alike to use the material for advertising with lettering and logos.
In the 90s, new technology came onto the scene that allowed for wide-format printing (and thus expanded advertising capabilities). Still, pricing limited most businesses from using it to advertise, and designs and image quality were limited.
One of the first companies to make use of full vinyl wraps as an alternative to painting was a taxi company in Germany. By law, all taxis had to be beige in color. But painting them meant taking the vehicles out of commission for days and they were nearly impossible to sell when it came time to retire the vehicle from the taxi fleet – no one wanted to buy a retired, beige taxi. So instead of painting, they wrapped the taxis. Then when it came time for the vehicle to be sold, they removed the vinyl wrap to reveal the original paint undamaged.
The arrival of the 21st century brought many improvements to the vinyl industry, including more durable and affordable vinyl. Hardware and material became less expensive and easier for consumers to use. Manufacturer and printing technology advancements also allowed for more designs and types of vinyl (hello textures!) to be created. Today, vinyl graphics are created by a designer on a computer and sent to a wide-format printer and plotter that can trim the vinyl with precision. Instead of being limited to a simple, glossy color, the options are endless for those who want to add accents or change the color of their vehicle (or any other surface!). High-gloss, matte, satin, pearl, brushed, metallic, glittered, chrome, color-shifting… the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
With constant improvements within the industry, all types of vehicles and other surfaces can be transformed with higher-quality vinyl for a less expensive price tag. The process of sanding and repainting a vehicle to achieve a unique look has been replaced with simply printing and applying vinyl.
The most important factor in this process is installing it right. The appropriate equipment and expertise is needed when applying a vinyl. Whether it is wrapping a car or fixing a previous wrap, contact us and let us know what we can do for you. Give us a call at 877-819-7277.