Boat Wraps

Made in Florida

FSF Staff February 26, 2013

Anglers and boaters rarely consider the tremendous effort required to design and manufacture the countless components and accessories that enhance our on-the-water experiences. Skilled craftsmen design and assemble many of these essentials right here in Florida. We wanted to learn more about these companies and we are confident that you, too, will be fascinated with what we uncover.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

Printed on adhesive-backed vinyl base film, boat wraps offer numerous benefits and are increasing in popularity along waterways across the country. Not only do they feature artistic and eye-catching designs, but they can also be applied to protect a new vessel’s glossy gelcoat, or better yet give your old boat a much-needed makeover.

In the large format media graphics industry there are three types of inks utilized—UV, Solvent and Latex.

When it came time to re-wrap Florida Sport Fishing’s Superfly 19, we once again turned to the professionals at Image Graphix 2000. Located in Pompano Beach, Image Graphix 2000 is a leader in large format graphic printing and installation. With over 20 years experience installing automobile and marine wraps, architectural signage and much more, we knew we were in good hands. What makes the situation even more comforting is the fact that the owner, Wade Davis, is an accomplished fly fisherman with numerous tournament wins under his belt—the most recent coming at the 2012 Cheeca Lodge All American Backcountry Tournament and 2011 Redbone. When he’s not placing a fly with deadly precision, Wade and his crew expertly perform graphics applications to boats of all shapes and sizes.

Designing the graphic is likely the longest and most tedious step in the entire process, but long before an artistic rendering comes to fruition the job is qualified and an initial quote is made depending on the vessel’s size and how intricate the artwork is. From here the in-house designers will create a color proof for the customer to approve.

Our situation at Florida Sport Fishing is slightly different than most, and with our Creative Director Jonathan Perkinson having worked on several boat wraps in the past we once again developed the wrap in-house. Utilizing Adobe Illustrator, Jon created the wrap with a basic outline of the skiff’s hull, while making sure to leave plenty of extra artwork to work with (Image 1). Fortunately, this time around it wasn’t too much of a challenge designing original artwork, since we wanted the Superfly 19 to match our SeaVee 390, which was also expertly wrapped by the professionals at IGX 2000.

When the team at IGX 2000 receives approval, or a finalized design, they must then make adjustments based on the hull’s particular bends, nuances and exact dimensions. It’s important the graphics team reaches out to the boat builder to work with a CAD file of the hull (Image 2). If this isn’t possible the team will have to create a custom template. Because of the way boat hulls flare toward the bow it’s important the designer leaves plenty of extra artwork to work with. This is much less of a worry on a flat skiff compared to a larger center console with substantial bow flare, but still a factor that must be considered.

In the large format media graphics industry there are three types of inks utilized—UV, Solvent and Latex. IGX 2000 utilizes solvent inks, which bond to the vinyl through a molecular process (Image 3). Solvent inks are flexible, which enable the wrap to flex and form-fit the hull without the ink cracking. With the large format printers capable of printing extremely wide graphics, the size is only limited by the vinyl manufacturer. Some only produce media from 48 to 52 inches, while others produce media in the 60 to 70 inch range (Image 4). The goal is to eliminate seams while conserving as much material as possible.

After printing the inks must dry for 24-hours, at which point a clear film laminate is applied on top of the ink to protect the color from fading due to UV exposure. To ensure an appealing and long lasting application it’s important only the highest quality materials are utilized throughout the entire process.

Before the wrap can be applied the hull must be prepared by removing dirt, grime and grease with isopropyl alcohol (Image 5). The hull is now ready for installation (Image 6). Starting at the topside, the installers hang the graphic along the side of the hull to check the fitment and placement. Once they are happy with the positioning they begin removing the adhesive backing and stretching the laminate from stern to bow (Image 7). The installers begin by lining up the graphic with the bottom of the hull (Image 8). Working their way to the bow they line up the graphic and use a squeegee to remove any air bubbles, while taking into consideration any thru-hull fittings (Image 9). Working up from the waterline, the installers continue removing air bubbles (Image 10). When there are no visible air bubbles in the vinyl the wrap is trimmed with a razor blade. The wrap is applied in the least amount of pieces possible, with one piece for each side and two small patches for the transom. The only major seam is at the nose (Image 11). After the main body panels are placed the installers turn their attention to the stern (Image 12).

Once the wrap has been applied the installers place masking tape along the edge of the wrap, leaving only a ¼ inch uncovered. Now they apply an edge sealer to ensure the longevity and durability of the wrap (Image 13).

While it may take weeks to complete the design process, the install can generally be completed in a day, so you don’t have to worry about losing too much precious time off the water. However, leading installers recommend leaving the boat out of the water for at least 24- to 48-hours.

Vinyl boat wraps provide head turning good looks, while simultaneously protecting your investment or providing a much-needed face lift. To start designing your very own custom boat wrap be sure to visit IGX2000.com and add some excitement to your life!

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