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“Ask the Expert” Offers Tips on Wrapping Deep Channels, Complex Curves

Photo of Alan Miller
Alan Miller, 3M Technical Service Specialist

Here is a question we hear often: "Graphic films sometimes lift along channels and around complex curves after application. How do I make sure the graphics stay down in these difficult applications?"

Some vehicles present major challenges for wraps. One good example is the Chevy HHR, with its bumper knobs, wheel flares and tail light areas. These areas require significant stretching of graphic films, bringing the potential for the film to lift and shrink back.

To avoid this, installers should pay attention to the following factors:


Cleaning and Preparation: The vehicle should be properly cleaned on the application site. Make sure there are no waxes, dirt or contaminates in the critical areas. (For more details, see Instruction Bulletin 5.1 "Select and Prepare Substrates for Graphic Application.")

Making the right choice in films, inks and overlaminates: Look for a flexible ink that will not crack or whiten. And, when selecting a film and overlaminate, consider their ability to stretch. 3M recently introduced 3M™ Envision™ Print Wrap Film 480Cv3 and 3M™ Envision™ Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8548G, which have the ability to stretch up to 150 percent while still maintaining the easy installation properties of 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film with Comply™ v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3-10.

Photo of Chevy HHR with challenging wrap application
For challenging wrap applications, like this Chevy HHR, with its bumper knobs, wheel flares and taillight areas, look for a film and overlaminate with excellent stretching ability - like the new 3M™ Envision™ Print Wrap Film 480Cv3 and 3M™ Envision™ Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8548G.

Plan ahead during installation: When you encounter an area where the film will be stretched, make sure a large portion of the film is heated and stretched. This spreads the stress out over a larger area and reduces the potential for lifting.

Post heating: Once the film has been stretched into the channels and around complex curves, post heating is required. Use a heat gun to heat the applied film to a temperature of 200º F to 225º F. But don't simply set the heat gun at 200º F - use an infrared thermometer to determine the distance and setting for the heat gun to reach a film temperature of 200º F. With the heat gun and a roller such as the 3M™ Roller S, installers can accelerate the film's adhesion and change its "memory" to make sure it stays down.


Complex wrap application Video

To see a complex wrap application featuring new 3M™ Envision™ Print Wrap Film 480Cv3 and 3M™ Envision™ Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8548G, watch this short video.

For more information on graphics products and solutions, visit 3Mgraphics.com or locate a 3M distributor.