What’s it cost to produce these box truck graphics?

By Chris Lovelady

Posted on Friday, February 26th, 2021

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We’ve done two of these box trucks, plus a pair of plastic faces for an illuminated sign for this furniture store. The company is part of a national chain, and they have an in-house graphic designer/marketing person who provides us with artwork for these jobs—artwork for this job was delivered to us in an Illustrator file.

It was a nice little project, and we did all of it using our Summa DC3 printer. The project used two 55-square-foot digital prints for the sides and one 30-square-foot print for the rear, plus two 10-square-foot “price tags”. [Not sure about digital print pricing? Use the cost of buying prints from a wholesaler and mark them up accordingly. –Editors]

Here’s how the material and labor broke down:

Digital prints: 160 sq. ft.

Cut vinyl lettering: 50 sq. ft.

Total labor: 7 hours

We all have our own vinyl film application shortcuts, and I’ve passed along a few of my favorites here. I hope you find them helpful.

Position and mark registration: 10 minutes per side

On a long strip of copy like this one, I’ve learned that using the side-hinge application will go faster. Hinging the copy with strips of tape along the top edge works but requires cutting the copy into pieces—which slows us down. On the left side, hash marks on the transfer paper and the vertical strip of tape show where the copy belongs. On the right side, a horizontal strip of tape holds it in place while the backing is peeled off left-to-right. Lefties can reverse this.

Apply vinyl lettering: 45 minutes per side

With the transfer paper held in place with masking tape, one person can easily peel the backing and squeegee the lettering. Getting a good seal around the rivets takes a little time. The time includes removing the transfer paper.

Apply transfer paper to digital prints: 30 minutes per side

This step was fairly time-consuming because the yellow panel is four or five pieces, and the price tag is a one piece. The DC3 prints on 40-in. material, but the actual print area is 35 3⁄4-in. wide.

Apply digital prints: 2 hours per side

These prints were applied back-to-front (so that the overlaps were facing toward the back of the truck), each one overlapping a 1⁄4-in. or so. In this situation, a top-hinge application (that is, registering the prints and taping them in place at the top) made better sense. Piercing, heating and pressing the vinyl into place over all those rivets was pretty time-consuming.

I wrap the edge of my squeegee with the loop side of pressure-sensitive Velcro as you see in the photos. It protects the media and lets me be a little more aggressive with the pressure.

Chris and Debi Lovelady’s shop, Vital Signs, has locations in Thomasville, Georgia, and Tallahassee, Florida.