Smoothing out the wrinkles: Sam tries vehicle wrapping with Antalis
On December 10th I found myself in Coalville, Leicestershire, as a participant in a vehicle wrapping workshop at Antalis's Digital Academy.
While these workshops were initially rolled out by Antalis to train its own employees on the products they are selling, they have now been rolled out nation-wide for anyone who is looking to add value to their business.
Led by industry specialists, these workshops are both great for complete starters and those wishing to hone existing skills. Paul Hughes, who ran the workshop I attended, was incredibly helpful: he had an answer for every question, his knowledge of tools and materials was excellent and he provided loads of practical advice. There was a definite emphasis on quality over price and making sure you use the correct product for the job in hand – after all, not all vinyl is created equal.
"One of the things this course does is explain the value of the materials and why you should choose a certain vinyl for a certain job," explains Elaine Gardner, sign and display specialist for Antalis UK. "I think it opens customers' eyes to the range that we have and shows the benefits of more of the higher-end products."
The emphasis wasn't entirely on materials and tools. We were also taught on how to consider design before wrapping: Paul talked about how to effectively place text on a vehicle and gave both good and bad examples of placing messages onto automobiles.
After the morning session we were let loose on van panels, heat gun and all. We first attempted to wrap using a typical vehicle wrapping film, which was particularly difficult, and were then allowed to give it a go with Oracal RapidAir films. This was clearly in part a marketing ploy for Antalis's higher value stock; however, this vinyl was incredibly easier to apply. The texture on the adhesive side is textured, allowing for tiny channels of air to pass through when wrapping, making it much easier to push out stubborn bubbles. For professionals new to the practice, or experienced wrappers wanting to save time, RapidAir vinyls seems ideal.
These workshops are not just valuable for installers; I could definitely see the value of resellers and distributors attending days like these. Such sessions can put vendors in their customers' shoes, giving them a better understanding of their operational needs.
"It's great to have an opportunity [for resellers and sales personnel] to use the products and try them hands-on in a practical environment," continues Gardner. "It helps us figure out any problems the customer might have, any queries on the product and allows us to advise them better."
"In the workshop, we go through different types of vinyls and how they're manufactured. It's always great to have added product knowledge to be able to give clients the right solutions for their needs."
By the end of the day even I could wrap a panel of a van, which really is testament to hands-on tutoring. It felt like the customers who attended walked away with the knowledge of how to make their operations more efficient, not only in terms of technique but also what materials are suitable for which application. Upon leaving, participants are given an infa-red thermometer and vinyl cutting tool as a gift to start them off, as well as a catalogue of vinyls to look through.
Antalis is already in preparation for its workshops in the new year, with sessions include training on colour management and static control. For more details, click here.