August 5, 2015
Car Vehicle Wrap:
One of GSB Digital’s philosophies is that in order to provide the best service possible, we must remain on the forefront of print technology. This means that we continually seek opportunities to try new concepts and ideas. Project and printing challenges help GSB Digital explore the range of possibilities our technologies offer, and successes or failures are viewed as opportunities to learn and grow. When GSB Digital President, Stephan Steiner, learned that local drivers were involved in a motorsport called ChumpCar racing, he envisioned several opportunities: to challenge himself and his staff by testing new products and processes, to expose GSB Digital to local communities, and to use race events for both corporate and employee entertainment purposes.
Real Racing, Real Tracks, Real Cheap Cars:
ChumpCar racing is a motorsport that includes both endurance and sprint racing. ChumpCar’s slogan, “Real Racing, Real Tracks, Real Cheap Cars” summarizes its philosophy: offering people with a passion for motorsports the opportunity to race on North America’s finest road courses and racetracks in an affordable manner. Participants Mark, David and Paul Llanos, three brothers who comprise Team Punisher, discovered the Optima Batteries ChumpCar World Series several years ago and have been active participants ever since. Race participants purchase cars worth no more than $500, which are then stripped down and outfitted with approximately $1500 of safety equipment. From there, first-time drivers take a mandatory driving and safety course in an off-track classroom session. ChumpCar races are competitive yet less formal and more affordable than other professional car races. Races range from sprint to endurance events, which can span from 6 to 38 hours of continuous driving. Events are geared toward the pure enjoyment of racing, and give back to local communities by promoting and supporting local charities. President Stephan Steiner felt that ChumpCar events would provide a unique opportunity for GSB Digital to test new products and ideas, so GSB Digital offered to sponsor Team Punisher.
New Experiences and New Challenges:
GSB Digital was tasked with transforming a green 1984 Porsche 928 into a car that matched our company’s branding and color schemes. Marketing Director Jessica Andersen branded the car “Off Register Racing,” a playful spin combining the printing world with the racing world, and began designing the vehicle wrap that would cover every exterior surface of the car. The Porsche was housed at a mechanic’s shop several hours from GSB Digital’s location, and GSB Digital had never designed a car wrap before, so Andersen searched for the closest flat vector file she could find: a 1993 Porsche 928. The Adobe Illustrator vector file showed the car in two-dimensional views from the front, back, left, right and top. Andersen discovered that there were variations between the two stock car models that would require design adjustments. In addition to this challenge, GSB Digital would be working with a new material: Avery MTI 1005 cast vinyl.
Creative Thinking and Teamwork In Action:
Andersen requested multiple photos of the car to visually compensate for what the 1993 vector file misrepresented. To accommodate both the Porsche’s contours and the inherent stretchiness of the Avery cast vinyl, text and visuals were strategically placed onto the flatter surfaces of the car to avoid any distortion of the images during the wrapping process. Using GSB Digital’s corporate colors as the palette, an excessive amount of bleed was added to each panel, so that when applied on site, installers would have adequate material to cover each section of the car. From there, each panel was laid out in a rendering, or two dimensional image of the front, back and sides, in order to create a visual representation of what the final design would look like in its entirety. In order to accommodate the 54” width of Avery’s MTI 1005 cast vinyl, Andersen designed 16 panels to completely wrap the car. Large Format Specialist Robert Cano selected the HP L26500 Latex printer to print on the vehicle wrap material. Unlike calendared vinyl, which stretches but has memory and shrinks again, cast vinyl remains stretched after conforming to the Porsche’s curves. Latex ink was selected for the print job because it would stretch without cracking. In addition to printing, each panel was gloss laminated for added protection. To precisely trim and contour cut the panels, logos, and lettering, GSB Digital utilized their Zund digital die cutter.
Getting Our Hands Dirty:
After printing and trimming the panels, GSB Digital staff drove to the mechanic shop with all the panels in tow. The green Porsche 928 was washed, wiped down with alcohol, and all debris and wax were removed. Primer was applied on any edges to be wrapped in order to ensure the panels would adhere to the car. Once the car was cleaned and primed, the team applied the graphics to the car. One of the challenges the team encountered was learning how to apply the panels smoothly over the car’s curves without causing bubbling. After several hours, GSB Digital’s installation team successfully completed the vehicle wrap, satisfied with their work.
Now that the work has been completed, Team Punisher will debut the GSB Digital Off Register Racing car at its first race, from May 22-24 at Watkins Glen, NY. This endurance race will last a total of 20 hours, using four drivers for the car at one to three hours per driver. As most of the scheduled races will be held in the Northeast, this endurance race will be a prime opportunity to raise marketing awareness of GSB Digital in the tri-state area. President Stephan Steiner looks forward to utilizing the races as opportunities to take clients and employees on outings to enjoy the race. “These racetracks are first class facilities, and beautiful places to host events,” says Steiner. Although producing another vehicle wrap is unlikely in the future, this process taught the GSB Digital team more about different print materials, abilities of their equipment, and creative ways to tackle new problems. When Team Punisher member Paul Llanos reflects on ChumpCar racing, he says, “We either have a good experience when everything goes right, or a good story when everything goes wrong. We have lots of good stories!” Often, the things that go wrong are the best learning opportunities. In the spirit of change and growth, GSB Digital is constantly open to and on the lookout for new experiences, and maybe a few good stories, as well.