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Striking a New Chord

A small-town sign shop delves into big jobs.



For a small-town sign shop specializing in multi-dimensional storefront signs, producing a full bus wrap was literally a tall order. The Sign Shop, located near Mansfield, Pennsylvania, is a four-employee operation that predominantly produces ornate wood-carved and hand-painted signage. Although the shop has dabbled in partial wraps, full vehicle wraps have not been in its typical application mix, and certainly not vehicles just shy of 12-feet tall-at least until this spring.

When a bus-leasing agency asked shop owner Jim Cooper to wrap a tour bus for German heavy-metal band Necrophagist, Cooper accepted. The Sign Shop already had a Roland VersaCamm SP-540 in-house, as well as vehicle-wrapping media; the challenge came in completing the wrap before the bus was scheduled to hit the road for the band’s 2007 “Summer Slaughter” tour. “This was territory we hadn’t taken on as far as size, but our company likes new challenges,” says Cooper.

Band sponsor Ibanez Guitars altered its designs to fit the bus specifications. Most of the graphics for the wrap were created in Adobe Photoshop, and Cooper was in constant communication with the Ibanez design team to prevent any complications that might arise during wrapping. Upon receiving the file, Cooper’s staff performed just a few alterations and e-mailed the PDFs for approval.

For output, Cooper used the aforementioned VersaCamm SP-540, printing 32 panels-each measuring 50 inches x 13 feet-onto 3M Controltac Plus Graphic Film with Comply Version 2 Adhesive with Roland’s Eco-Sol Max ink. Cooper and crew completed all 38 hours of printing prior to receiving the bus.

The installation phase presented a new obstacle: The coach did not fit in the shop’s bay area. So, instead, the bus was delivered to Cooper’s home, 10 miles from the shop, and parked in his pole barn for the install. The Sign Shop also faced challenges presented by the bus’s age. “It was an older coach so it wasn’t as sleek and had rivets and corrugations that made it physically more challenging,” says Cooper. In all, wrapping took two employees 45 hours.





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