Need Help Vinyl Graphics on Tanker Truck

FPWPP_21

New Member
Greetings to all!

I’m new to the Signs101 site and forums. I have searched for related topics and come up short so far, but please let me know if this has been discussed elsewhere and I just missed it. I have a few years of vehicle install experience, but it’s not the main thrust of what I do. I am currently looking at a fleet of at least 30 vehicles where this scenario will come into play. So…I need some advice from more seasoned, experienced installers.

My question is in regards to installing vinyl to the back of a tanker truck. I handled all the other graphics for the truck-doors, large logo and graphical elements on the side of the tanks with little trouble, but the compound curves on the back end are proving to be a real nightmare for me. I’m just getting a lot of wrinkles and tension while applying the graphic due to the convex of the tank and the geometric shape of the graphics.

It is NOT a full coverage graphic that covers the whole back end, so no, I cannot just work all the wrinkles and issues out past the edge and cut them off. I need to maintain the hexagon shape of the graphic element without stretching and distorting the shape. I do not want to do this as separate cut pieces laid on top of each other. It has to be one full piece-printed, plotted and applied. I’ve had some success doing the top half of the graphic in quarters, but by the time I got those down I had to do the bottom as a half and it just went sideways due to what was already adhered. I’m completely open to suggestions and methods.

Here are the materials being used:

Vinyl- 3M IJ180 cv3-10
Laminate- 3M 8519

I’ve tried applying it with masking and without, I think with this large of an area and the compound curves involved, masking is not helping-But open to suggestions.

Obviously trying to use as little heat as possible to avoid accidental stretching and damage to the vinyl.

Any experiences, techniques and advice is welcome. I’m hoping someone just has experience with these things and could give me some basic tips and a starting point.

-Would you suggest hinging vertically or horizontally?

-Starting from the middle and working your way outward?

-Any special tools or techniques that can help with this type of application?

I'v attached a couple pics below for reference. Someone else did the "finished" one and while it's better than the results I was getting, it still has major issues with bubbling, distortion and wrinkles. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Last edited:

unclebun

Active Member
I think I would do it with no application tape. I'd probably hinge it in the middle vertically, but at first only squeegee the center part. You can probably get about 3/4 of the T squeegeed down no problem. Do the left half the same way. then start working outwards radially, heating as you go when it doesn't want to flatten.
 

ActionGraphics

New Member
This is a job for a couple or even several people working together. Masking will ruin it. No mask. Hinge vertically. Having the points held with no slack and no tension (I know, sounds counterintuitive, they have to get a feel for how to hold it) while you heat lightly/uniformly and work out from the center with vertical strokes and apply outward. One side, then the other. Your wingmen are crucial. Unfortunately, this sort of thing comes with experience, and is difficult to learn from someone explaining it. You really have to just lay a lot of vinyl until you get the "feel" for it.
 

FPWPP_21

New Member
I think I would do it with no application tape. I'd probably hinge it in the middle vertically, but at first only squeegee the center part. You can probably get about 3/4 of the T squeegeed down no problem. Do the left half the same way. then start working outwards radially, heating as you go when it doesn't want to flatten.
Thanks for the reply, unclebun.
Just to clarify-You're saying hinge it vertically, but only do the middle, do NOT squeegee that hinge line all the way out to the edges?

SO do a "semi-circular" or just center patch and work that half of the whole graphic out radially? Then repeat on the other side?

Any specific tips for doing it radially?-Like, which part do you'd think it'd be best to end on-a flat edge or one of the "corners"

Thanks again, I appreciate the knowledge.
 

FPWPP_21

New Member
Can ya paint the blue and just lay the orange over top ??
Hey Gino. I wish! That would be an elegant solution in a common sense world, but those decisions have already been made at the corporate level and we need to keep consistency within the fleet and materials.
 

JBurton

Signtologist
Oh cripes, plus that ladder has to stay?
Initially I would say 2 men to get a good even grip on the print, tack it in place, then work the center out. Perhaps even leave the excess material around the print until it's all applied, then cut the graphic out. But with that ladder... ugh. I realize you probably have all of these printed, but this might be better with arlon slx or slx+, the one with the slideability feature. So you can just slap the logo up there and only work the center out without the print adhering and wrecking the edges.
Perhaps you could cut the backing like a pizza, peel 6" back on each section from the tip of the slice, giving you a small area to begin working in the center?
 

FPWPP_21

New Member
This is a job for a couple or even several people working together. Masking will ruin it. No mask. Hinge vertically. Having the points held with no slack and no tension (I know, sounds counterintuitive, they have to get a feel for how to hold it) while you heat lightly/uniformly and work out from the center with vertical strokes and apply outward. One side, then the other. Your wingmen are crucial. Unfortunately, this sort of thing comes with experience, and is difficult to learn from someone explaining it. You really have to just lay a lot of vinyl until you get the "feel" for it.
ActionGraphics Thank you! Thats's good advice and that's part of what I've been trying to get across to management. Of course the vehicle can't be off the road for long and we are short-staffed like most places. One quick clarification; the squeegee strokes should be vertical but also pushing out from the hinge seam, towards the edges. Maintaining the "smile" as you work towards the side, correct?
 

FPWPP_21

New Member
Oh cripes, plus that ladder has to stay?
Initially I would say 2 men to get a good even grip on the print, tack it in place, then work the center out. Perhaps even leave the excess material around the print until it's all applied, then cut the graphic out. But with that ladder... ugh. I realize you probably have all of these printed, but this might be better with arlon slx or slx+, the one with the slideability feature. So you can just slap the logo up there and only work the center out without the print adhering and wrecking the edges.
Perhaps you could cut the backing like a pizza, peel 6" back on each section from the tip of the slice, giving you a small area to begin working in the center?
Oh cripes, plus that ladder has to stay?
Initially I would say 2 men to get a good even grip on the print, tack it in place, then work the center out. Perhaps even leave the excess material around the print until it's all applied, then cut the graphic out. But with that ladder... ugh. I realize you probably have all of these printed, but this might be better with arlon slx or slx+, the one with the slideability feature. So you can just slap the logo up there and only work the center out without the print adhering and wrecking the edges.
Perhaps you could cut the backing like a pizza, peel 6" back on each section from the tip of the slice, giving you a small area to begin working in the center?
JBurton -No, I'm able to remove the ladder so that's out of the way. Thanks for the good advice- I like the pizza idea. I'm worried about printing and leaving extra material to be trimmed down to the shape due to the complex nature of the shape on the contoured surface. We even talked about applying a big square and having knifeless tape underneath in the exact hexagon shape, but it seems to me that making an exact paper template, taping it in place, getting the knifeless tape perfectly around it, then registering the "T" of the logo within that area would all be more trouble than it's worth and still may not work.
 

FCD

New Member
I think I would do it with no application tape. I'd probably hinge it in the middle vertically, but at first only squeegee the center part. You can probably get about 3/4 of the T squeegeed down no problem. Do the left half the same way. then start working outwards radially, heating as you go when it doesn't want to flatten.
Definitely this. Shouldn't really get any wrinkles in it with this process as it isn't that tough of a curve. I would personally hinge it in the middle horizontally and pull the backing back until there is about 1 foot left and stop there to maintain the shape while heating. Take a torch or heat gun and heat it slightly in the center section that has been peeled and lay as much as possible with a wrap glove or squeegee. Work methodically toward the edges shifting the wrinkles away from the center toward the edges. I would use Avery1105ezrs or slx+ in this case.
 

Ldiprinting

New Member
Greetings to all!

I’m new to the Signs101 site and forums. I have searched for related topics and come up short so far, but please let me know if this has been discussed elsewhere and I just missed it. I have a few years of vehicle install experience, but it’s not the main thrust of what I do. I am currently looking at a fleet of at least 30 vehicles where this scenario will come into play. So…I need some advice from more seasoned, experienced installers.

My question is in regards to installing vinyl to the back of a tanker truck. I handled all the other graphics for the truck-doors, large logo and graphical elements on the side of the tanks with little trouble, but the compound curves on the back end are proving to be a real nightmare for me. I’m just getting a lot of wrinkles and tension while applying the graphic due to the convex of the tank and the geometric shape of the graphics.

It is NOT a full coverage graphic that covers the whole back end, so no, I cannot just work all the wrinkles and issues out past the edge and cut them off. I need to maintain the hexagon shape of the graphic element without stretching and distorting the shape. I do not want to do this as separate cut pieces laid on top of each other. It has to be one full piece-printed, plotted and applied. I’ve had some success doing the top half of the graphic in quarters, but by the time I got those down I had to do the bottom as a half and it just went sideways due to what was already adhered. I’m completely open to suggestions and methods.

Here are the materials being used:

Vinyl- 3M IJ180 cv3-10
Laminate- 3M 8519

I’ve tried applying it with masking and without, I think with this large of an area and the compound curves involved, masking is not helping-But open to suggestions.

Obviously trying to use as little heat as possible to avoid accidental stretching and damage to the vinyl.

Any experiences, techniques and advice is welcome. I’m hoping someone just has experience with these things and could give me some basic tips and a starting point.

-Would you suggest hinging vertically or horizontally?

-Starting from the middle and working your way outward?

-Any special tools or techniques that can help with this type of application?

I'v attached a couple pics below for reference. Someone else did the "finished" one and while it's better than the results I was getting, it still has major issues with bubbling, distortion and wrinkles. Any help would be greatly appreciate
 

Notarealsignguy

Very Big Member
I'd try center up and down then heat as it starts to wrinkle in the 4 quadrants. You don't have to stretch it, just enough to smooth the wrinkles out. You can always run 2" tape around the perimeter to maintain the shape.
 

unclebun

Active Member
I think I'm a little late getting back to this, but yes, as others have mentioned, you would squeegee in the center only at first until the center is stuck down in a circular area, then work your way outwards, going around the circle following the curve of the tanker. The goal is to keep everything even all the way around.

I suggested vertical hinging because I thought you were going to have to deal with the ladder in place. With the ladder gone, you could do horizontal the same way. Whatever your preference.

With the ladder gone the idea of holding the graphic from all 6 sides and stretching it down onto the curve to get the center set would work, but you do risk getting stretch points where each hand is, and since this is not a full wrap, that could lead to wavy edges of the hexagon. You can restore stretches with heat and cooling, but you have to be careful. It would be kind of like laying a wrap on the hood or roof of a car, except you don't have the luxury of being able to have excess that's trimmed away.
 

FPWPP_21

New Member
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and suggestions. There are a lot of things brought up by members here that I hadn't thought of or was unsure of how to approach. I'm definitely going to try some of these methods and look into that other material (Arlon SLX). I'll be working on the next truck in the coming weeks and I'll follow up on this thread or a new one with the results. Please keep dropping ideas and suggestions in this thread as I can use all the help I can get!
 

FPWPP_21

New Member
I think I'm a little late getting back to this, but yes, as others have mentioned, you would squeegee in the center only at first until the center is stuck down in a circular area, then work your way outwards, going around the circle following the curve of the tanker. The goal is to keep everything even all the way around.

I suggested vertical hinging because I thought you were going to have to deal with the ladder in place. With the ladder gone, you could do horizontal the same way. Whatever your preference.

With the ladder gone the idea of holding the graphic from all 6 sides and stretching it down onto the curve to get the center set would work, but you do risk getting stretch points where each hand is, and since this is not a full wrap, that could lead to wavy edges of the hexagon. You can restore stretches with heat and cooling, but you have to be careful. It would be kind of like laying a wrap on the hood or roof of a car, except you don't have the luxury of being able to have excess that's trimmed away.
That's perfect! I appreciate the detailed description. That's what I was envisioning. Super helpful-Thanks!
 

FPWPP_21

New Member
I thought the same but I dunno how well it would do on that raw (and oxidized) aluminum.
Yeah, obviously you can see the ghosting of the old graphics and everything else is oxidized. I brought up these general concerns about the surface, but they wanted to move ahead as is. I guess getting one of these trucks back to the original finish would cost 10K per truck according to the company.
 
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