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Pushing the Graphics Envelope

Crush Creative images the Air Force Reserve's Jet Car.




Although vehicle wraps are standard fare these days, most wraps don't have to withstand 6000 pounds of thrust and 11 Gs of force. The Air Force Reserve's Jet Car, however, pushes the envelope when it comes to graphics requirements: Powered by a jet engine, the 26-ft-long Jet Car is made of aluminum and magnesium, travels 400 mph, and has parachutes for brakes. Crush Creative took on the challenge of printing and wrapping the Jet Car, its traveling trailer, and even the driver's helmet, in January of this year.

Production challenges
Crush used its Agfa :Grand Universal Sherpa 64 printer to produce 350 sq ft media for the car and the driver's helmet onto 3M Controltac Plus Graphic Film w/Comply Performance IJ180C-10 and 3M Scotchlite Flexible Reflective Graphic Film IJ680-10. In addition, it used its 3M Scotchprint 2000 printer to output more than 1700 sq ft of 3M Controltac Plus Conformable Graphic Film 8620 ES adhesive back vinyl for the trailer. To help protect the images, Crush applied Scotchal 8519 overlaminate with a GBC Orca III laminator.

In executing the wrap, Crush Creative had to remove all metal components from the vehicle and individually wrap each component. For increased adhesion, 3M Tape Primer 94 was applied to the surface; to ensure the vinyl would not lift, an edge sealer was used where the vinyl stopped and the metal began.

Just one of this job's many challenges was wrapping a cylindrical section of the Jet Car with reflective media. Many shops don't opt for this media on complex wraps because removing and reapplying the material”?common on non-flat applications–can pull the reflector element from the media. With four experienced installers, however, and each holding one corner, Crush was able to install the reflective media onto a half cylinder without having to pull it back up.

Crush also was able to wrap the driver's round helmet in 3M Controltac Plus Graphic Film w/Comply Performance IJ180C-10″?using only one seam. The media was installed on the curved surface of the helmet using a considerable amount of heat.

Total print time was 3 days. Four installers took 2 days to install the graphics on the Jet Car; the install on the trailer wrap took 3 days.


Complex curves and shapes
“The greatest challenge”?was that each piece of the graphics had to line precisely next to one another,” says Steve Rosenberger, Crush Creative.

“What made this process so difficult was that the area being wrapped comprised many complex curves and shapes–each of which had to be aligned to the section that ran over or under the section you were working on. Each piece of metal on the car interlocked with each other with a 2-to 5-inch overlap, which is not seen unless you take the car apart,”

Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Shows (, for car sponsor Air Force Reserve.

The Players
Crush Creative:

Tools & Supplies
Agfa :Grand Universal Sherpa 64, 3M Scotchprint 2000 printer, GBC Orca III laminator, various 3M media.




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