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NEVER STOP LEARNING™
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Kaitlyn's blog

Everything you need to start vinyl-wrapping cars

Technically speaking, you can get a car wrapped with just a squeegee and a knife! But if you want to save on time and materials, and set yourself up for the best result possible, these are the core tools/products we recommend:

Squeegees

  • Before you can even think of learning how to become a wrap installer, you’ll have to invest in a squeegee - a reusable, flexible applicator that’s used to apply film to a variety of different types of surfaces. There is a variety of squeegees on the market, so check out our squeegee overview before you buy!

Felt Squeegee Buffers

  • During the install, you want to avoid scratching on the material or the vehicle. The best way to do this is by applying a felt squeegee buffer to the end of your squeegee prior to install. The ideal buffer material for vehicle graphic applications is thin, soft felt, but there are other buffers on the market for wet applications such as paint protection film, chrome, windows and tint. 

Light-Duty Utility Knife and blades

  • When cutting on or near a vehicle while wrapping, having the right knife is absolutely crucial. You’ll want to get a light-duty utility knife with a rounded, plastic front so that you can push the knife against the body of a vehicle and keep a steady hand without fear of scratching anything. You’ll also want to find a multi-cartridge knife, as you should expect to use at least 2-3 blades during a single vehicle install. 

Safety box for blades

  • This one could easily be overlooked while you’re buying your knife and blades, and once you start installing, you’ll need it to click the blade off and store in a safe place until you can discard it properly. 

Tape measure

  • Tape measures are an upfront, essential tool. They’ll help you save time by making sure you get the measurements right the first time and avoid costly reprints and cutting the material the wrong size. There are different types of tape measures that work for different types of installs, so make sure to check out our video on tape measures to find the right one for you!

Cleaning supplies

  • Prepping the vehicle for install is as, if not more, important than the vinyl install itself. To ensure no dust or dirt gets trapped under the wrap, make sure you have the proper cleaning supplies on hand, such as spray bottles and microfiber towels. Click here to see all of TWI’s recommended cleaning supplies. 

Basic Tool Kit

  • You might already have one of these on hand! The right basic tool set is key for removing hardware, and can help immensely in a situation where you just can’t wrap around something. 

Heat gun

  • Heat guns help installers in a variety of ways - from warming the material prior to stretching it, to post-heating to make sure an install sticks, to triggering the memory effect in certain films, the heat gun is a necessary tool for all installers. There are lots of factors to consider when buying a heat gun to find the right combination of price, technology and durability. 

Markers

  • Markers are one of the unsung heroes of wrapping, and they’re super cheap too! To get started, we recommend you pick up some water-soluble and wax markers to help you work smoother and more precisely. 

Masking Tape

  • Masking tape is another unsung hero of the wrap world. It can be used in a variety of ways during an install to help lower surface energy which can help the film tuck under or around objects like door handles, molding and much more.

Magnets

  • Magnets are absolutely key for wrapping solo. Look for a magnet option that won’t damage your graphics or the car, and use it to position and hold panels in place. For some surfaces, such as aluminum and walls, you’ll need to use masking tape, but for many installs, magnets are a huge help.

 

BONUS TOOLS

Not absolutely necessary - but great to have!

 

Knifeless Tape

  • This tool helps safely cut excess film away from a vehicle without having to use a knife. This is especially essential for the beginner or intermediate installer, as this will remove the chance of you cutting on a client’s car. There are four types of knifeless tape available: Design Line Tape, Knifeless Finish Line Tape and Knifeless Bridge Line Tape.

Application glove

  • Application gloves help form film safely into curves and recesses on a vehicle. In addition to prohibiting the transfer of lint or skin oils, they have anti-static properties and excellent friction resistance when moistened with a soap and water solution. 

Snitty

  • This tool often doesn’t get the spotlight, but it’s essential to avoid cutting on the car when cutting away excess film. The blade is encased in plastic, which makes it impossible to cut on the vehicle. You want to make sure you rotate the blade out regularly on this tool to ensure nice, clean cuts. 

First Aid Kit

  • No bleeding no wrapping - this one is a given. In a job where dealing with sharp blades is a regular thing, you want to make sure you have materials handy to deal with a bad cut or two. 

Wrapping Up December 2019

Happy New Year everyone! I hope the holidays treated everyone well. We had an abbreviated schedule for December and here is what dropped:

As you can already tell from the latest videos, there are new changes in store for TWI in 2020. New intros, fresher pre-rolls and better videos. Look for some big changes later within the next few months in terms of the index. We’ve been working hard on this for the past few months and can’t wait to reveal it. There will be better search function and playlists!  

On February 8 we will be having our first TWI Live event of 2020 at MetroWrapz. It's going to be bigger and better than last year, so if you can be there, make it happen. Two cars wrapped real time (we are going to let Bruno surprise us on those), as well as special guest and prize giveaways. It’s a free event, but RSVPs are required so be sure to register ahead of time.

From April 2-4, TWI will be hosting the Never Stop Learning™ contest in our booth at the ISA Sign Expo in Orlando, FL. This is a free wrap contest that is geared toward all levels of installers. Trainers from 3M, Arlon, Avery Dennison and ORAFOL will there, so this is a once in a lifetime chance to get some great training and as well as win some awesome prizes.  

The Wrap Experience will take place during that same show. It'll be an interactive booth area that is focused on upselling, new business avenues and much more. Be sure to watch our social for more updates on who will be there, and how to get involved.

As always, TWI appreciates your support and we look forward to growing much bigger in 2020 with the addition of Rainer Lorz in Germany and Dimas Brasil in Brazil.  

Best of luck wrapping in 2020 and, as always, Never Stop Learning™!

Cheers
!
Justin

Wrapping Up November 2019

Hello TWI members! I hope November was filled with happy clients and high quality installs. Here are the videos that dropped on TWI last month:

As you may already know, TWI and Nick Caminiti from Exotic Graphix teamed up on a super cool install in Melbourne mid-November. Nick and I have been brainstorming the event since last year’s TWI Live event at his shop. Joffrey van der Jagt happened to be in Australia at the same time, so for him to join the project made it even more special. At the end, for all the puzzle pieces to come together in the way that they did was too cool. Look for the Wrap Life video to drop in mid-December. It's going to be very special. Trust me.  

In early December TWI will be making a special announcement concerning our booth at the ISA Sign Expo in Orlando April 2-4. This announcement will include a sign up link for the Never Stop Learning™ contest which filled up very quickly last year so be sure to jump on that right away.

TWI is also very excited to announce that the first 2020 TWI Live event will be held at MetroWrapz in Miami on February 8th. I can’t share any of the details Bruno and I have been chatting about, but you can bet it's going to be over the top with cool installs and special guests. It’s a free event so be sure to plan it into your schedule. 

The videos in December are on point with lots of great tips and tricks. Be sure to check out the three-part series with Curvaceous Wraps focusing on her Nike MAG design. It's super special. From December 24th - January 1st, we will be taking a break for the holidays, so best wishes to everyone during this time. For January 2020, we already have a spectacular lineup with a lot of new changes for the videos and website which will make your TWI experience even more special.  

There is a new product code exclusively for TWI members. Get 10% off all orders on Luxe Auto Concepts! Use coupon code: TWI2020. Check out all the deals for members in the Shop.

As always, thanks for being a TWI member, and Never Stop Learning™!

Cheers,

TWI Balloon Challenge

IF YOU MISSED THE SECOND ROUND OF OUR TWI LIMITED EDITION KNIVES SALE, HERE'S YOUR CHANCE TO WIN ONE!

We want to see your cutting skills in action. Grab a balloon and submit your entry for the #TWIBalloonChallenge to win a TWI Knife!

The rules are simple:

1. BLOW up your balloon

2. APPLY a scrap piece of vinyl and cut out at least one of the shapes in the PDF below

3. POST a video of your attempt to Instagram or Facebook and show your results

4. TAG @wrapinstitute and hashtag #twiballoonchallenge (make sure your account is set to public!)

5. WIN a limited-edition TWI KNIFE - the first 15 people to share a video of their cutting skills will win!

Best of luck, and Never Stop Learning!™

Wrapping Up October 2019

How to Become a Certified Installer

A lot goes into becoming a certified installer. From fees to different exam types to learning how to maximize your certification - it can all be extremely overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to guide you through all the necessary steps to ensure you’re not wasting time or money.

 

DO YOUR RESEARCH AND DECIDE WHICH CERTIFICATION TEST IS RIGHT FOR YOU

In the last seven to ten years, manufacturers have started to make their own certification tests to make sure certified installers truly understand their material. Initially, this may seem like more work for you, but in reality, it allows you to choose a certification test that caters to your specific needs. In addition, you’ll know what material you’re working with going into the certification test, which gives you an automatic edge. 

That being said, make sure whichever certification test you decide to take (and the location you take it) is reputable. Unfortunately, some certification tests in certain locations are known for being easier to pass, and even if you pass with flying colors, your certification may not be given the recognition it deserves.

 

UNDERSTAND WHAT GOES INTO A CERTIFICATION TEST

While each certification test is different, most of them maintain a similar structure. In order to go into the test with your best foot forward, it’s a good idea to understand what you’re getting yourself into financially, time-wise, and physically prior to taking the test.

  1. An upfront fee. These fees can run anywhere from $450 to $1,500 - and if you’re taking a workshop prior to the exam, it could be more. Make sure to calculate the total of both the workshop and the test fees to avoid any surprise expenses.
  2. Travel fees. As stated above, it’s important to choose the right location. Unfortunately, this means that you could have some hefty travel fees added to your overall cost of taking the certification test. Look at and book your flights and hotel as far in advance as possible, and make sure you include these costs in your overall certification test budget.
  3. A one-to-three day length. Most certification programs are one to three days long, and involve both a workshop portion and the test portion. Sometimes you’re able to decide not to participate in the workshop portion, but it’s strongly advised to take the workshop as the program instructors may want their film installed in a certain way. HIDDEN FEE: The length and timing of the workshop/test will affect the time you have to install that week. Make sure you factor in these lost work costs.
  4. Both an install and a written exam. Both of these will be on a point scale, and understanding the material is vital to pass both of these exams.

 

CERTIFICATION CONSIDERATIONS

While we believe the benefits outweigh any potential negatives of becoming certified, here are a couple things to consider:

  1. Not passing the test. After all the time and money spent on the certification test, it’s extremely frustrating if you don’t pass come the end of the test. In addition, it could cause you to lose face if people find out you didn’t pass the test on your first try. That being said, make sure you are completely prepared for the test, and that you know your material before you go in. BY THE WAY - we can help with that! Prepare for workshops and certification tests by learning from Wrap Institute videos.
  2. Brand Association. Only becoming certified in one brand of film could easily pigeon-hole you, as clients may think you can’t meet their needs for different material brands. To be a well-rounded installer, it’s good to think about getting certified in as many brands you use as possible to ensure your talents and expertise are showcased properly.
  3. Certification Ownership. Be sure to do your research on who owns the certification once it's obtained. In some cases, if the wrap shop or owner paid for the installer to take the test and that installer leaves, the certification is void. This means the installer, now that they are on their own, will have to pay for and retake the test. This also means the wrap shop or owner no longer has the certification and would have to train another installer. If the installer paid for the test with their own money, then, in most cases, the certification would go with them and the wrap shop or owner would have to send or train someone new to take the certification if they still want that recognition for their shop. It can get complicated, so make sure to talk to the manufacturer before committing to taking the test. 

 

THE BENEFITS OF BECOMING CERTIFIED

While becoming certified ultimately takes a lot of time and money, it gives you the confidence to know you’ve reached a professional level of expertise and quality. In addition, you become part of the community of certified wrappers, which leads to respect from clients and other wrappers around the globe.

Also, both direct and indirect job leads often come from becoming certified. In terms of direct leads, the certification program will often list as a certified installer on their website. When a client needs to look for a great installer, they can often search for a certified installer in their area on the manufacturer’s website - and it could be you! In addition, certification ensures you know the material and how to install it extremely well, which ultimately leads to less failures, happy clients, and better business for you. If you have any specific certification questions, feel free to drop them on the Forum, and Never Stop Learning!TM

See which certification programs are near you.

 

Videos to watch:

Certification Overview

Freelance Installer Tips

Why Get Certified

Announcing TWI Endorsed Trainers!

The Wrap Institute is proud to announce our newest development - TWI Endorsed Trainers!

These days, finding the right wrap trainer and determining their qualifications can be difficult. If you spend a lot of money and time on a wrap course and get a poor training, it can instill bad habits, provide misinformation and be extremely frustrating.

TWI Endorsed Trainers are instructors who have been hand-selected because they fit criteria that exemplifies our slogan, Never Stop Learning™. Learning from or working with a TWI Endorsed Trainer means you will receive top-level instruction using the best methods possible, without influence from any outside brand, product or service. TWI Endorsed Trainers are always working to improve their craft using new techniques and tools as well as constantly modifying and enhancing their trainings to remain cutting-edge.

To be clear, these trainers do not teach workshops for The Wrap Institute. The Wrap Institute is supporting wrap film manufacturers by highlighting their best trainers, and helping installers worldwide find trusted resources for hands-on training.

For more information and to see TWI Endorsed Trainer criteria, visit: wrapinstitute.com/trainers

Wrapping Up September 2019

Hey TWI members – I hope that the wrap world has been good to you in September. Here are the videos released on TWI last month.

October is shaping up to have a great round of informative videos on The Wrap Institute, including some detailed videos on Tesla wraps as well as business advice videos. We're currently filming, and I can't say enough great things about the content on it's way. We've also recently upgraded our equipment, so look for higher quality in both visual and audio. 

SEMA is right around the corner, which is always a ton of fun. We plan to capture all the best wraps there to share with our TWI members who can’t attend the show.  

TWI has also partnered with ISA and will be hosting another Wrap Experience contest at the ISA Sign Expo in Orlando April 1-4.  We have some very exciting news about this event, so keep an eye out for it in the next week or two. This event is open to everyone, and will provide great learning experiences in addition to prizes, so be sure to sign up.  

As always, thanks for being a member of TWI and helping us push the Never Stop Learning™ train.

Cheers,
Justin

TWI & ISA Form Ongoing Partnership

INTERNATIONAL SIGN ASSOCIATION, THE WRAP INSTITUTE FORM ONGOING PARTNERSHIP FOR EDUCATION, ADVOCACY AND EVENTS  

ALEXANDRIA, VA – September 3, 2019 – The International Sign Association and The Wrap Institute in partnership with Justin Pate will build on the successful ISA Wrap Experience to provide ongoing programs that further expertise and advocacy for wraps professionals.

One of the largest-scale initiatives will be a series of educational events and hands-on training at ISA International Sign Expo 2020, held April 1-4 in Orlando. More details on the specifics of those events will be released in the coming weeks.

ISA International Sign Expo 2020 is just one element of a multi-pronged relationship between ISA, The Wrap Institute and Pate, widely regarded as the foremost authority on vehicle wraps. In addition to the tradeshow, the agreement will allow the two organizations to work together on education events. 

ISA’s Digital Badge program, which has been well adopted by sign, graphics and visual communications companies, will expand to include skills needed most by wrap professionals. Those who pursue Digital Badges in wrap-related areas will be able to set themselves apart from their peers by showing a commitment to continuing education. ISA and Affiliated Association members will be able to receive a discount on education offered through The Wrap Institute.

The relationship grows out of an extremely successful venture during ISA International Sign Expo 2019. The ISA Wrap Experience featured 81 attendees participating in rounds of hands-on competition combined with education, all led by Pate and his group of highly talented instructors.

"As more companies expand into providing wraps as part of their comprehensive marketing lineup, it only makes sense that ISA and The Wrap Institute offer more information and products in this field,” said Craig Campbell, director of strategic initiatives for the International Sign Association. “We believe this partnership will help both organizations’ missions of building business and expertise for our members.”

ISA and The Wrap Institute also will work on topics of research and advocacy, since wraps often are misunderstood by local communities who respond with aggressive regulations.”

"The keys for continuing to grow the wrap industry in the next few years are threefold,” Pate said. “One, continued education on product and install knowledge with training both hands-on and streaming.  Two, creating crossover revenue opportunities between traditional sign makers and the customization/protection side of the industry (PPF, color change and tint). And, third, working diligently with local businesses and consumers to make them both more aware of wraps and of their benefits in terms of marketing, cost savings and the environment.  I have devoted most of my career to building wraps as a profession and this relationship with ISA will only allow that to expand.”

ISA International Sign Expo 2020 will be April 2-4, with pre-conference education April 1. It will be held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Registration will open later this fall at www.signexpo.org. 

About ISA International Sign Expo

ISA International Sign Expo is the on-premise sign and visual communication industry’s largest expo. Held each spring, the event features the latest products that showcase the breadth of the sign and visual communications industry along with education and networking events. The event has been named to the Trade Show News Network’s List of Top 250 Trade Shows and ranked in the Top 100 Largest Events by Trade Show Executive three consecutive years. Learn more at www.signexpo.org. 

About International Sign Association

The International Sign Association (ISA) strives to be the leader in shaping and developing the sign, graphics, and visual communications community worldwide. 

About The Wrap Institute

The Wrap Institute provides access to industry information, a dedicated community of wrappers, and instructional videos taught by wrap experts from around the world. The main objective of The Wrap Institute is to help improve the installation community worldwide in order to help the industry reach higher standards of professionalism and efficiency.

Wrapping Up August 2019

Hello everyone – I hope August was a successful month for your business, and that you picked up a lot of new tips and tricks from the following videos that were released in August:

Our TWI Garage booth at Wrapscon 2019 was a big success. The demos from sponsors and special guests were really well received, so we would like to give a big thank you to everyone who helped make those happen. It’s always great to see a lot of great peeps in the industry at one event, so a big thank you to Wrapscon and NBM for putting that show together. Be sure to check out all the Wrapscon 2019 videos if you couldn’t make it there. There is some really great info, plus tips and tricks for hardware removals and installs that will be very useful.

The lineup for September is really strong with a wide mix of quality videos. Week one features Kevin Kempf and Shareef Khan. Week two is mirror week with Mantas, Dimas and myself, plus a detailed breakdown on the TWI Garage floor booth design and install. A must watch for wrap shops. Week three is all about hardware removal tips with Jeff Sharell plus a cool overview on XiX3D with ZENO. Week four has a cool series on wrapping a bathroom stall plus an overview of the cool wrap technique called The Shimmy.

I want to take this chance to give a shout out to Jonas Sjöström (aka JBS Dekor). He has been our top contributor on The Wrap Institute Forum. For those of you who don’t know him, he won the FESPA Wrap Masters 2 years ago and got 3rd place last year, so he knows his stuff. Be sure to trust his advice because it's solid.

Due to the success of the XiX3D with ZENO promotion for TWI members, they are extending it indefinitely for TWI members only. Be sure to take advantage of this as their new beta programs are true game changers. 

Lastly, we are aware of the issue with the thumbnails on the site that no longer show a preview of the video. We are working with Vimeo to get this fixed as it is a code they changed without notice, so there are several layers to sort through. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thanks as always for being a member, and Never Stop Learning™!

Cheers,
Justin