What’s it cost to produce the graphics for this enclosed trailer?

By Chris Lovelady

Posted on Friday, August 13th, 2021

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Vinyl and application tape: $606
Digital printing: $115
Total: $720

Design: 3 hrs. 15 min.
Cut and mask film: 2 hrs. 30 min.
Apply graphics: 2 hrs. 45 min.
Total: 8 hrs. 45 min.

This is one of those sign projects that just went right from start to finish. I worked with the customer on the design and made several changes until we had a design we agreed was right. Even though he’d seen the design on paper, he was really surprised and happy with the finished product.

In addition to the design and trailer lettering, we sold this customer the trailer graphics, a pair of magnetics for his truck and some business cards. Since he’s a farrier and farriers always seem to have a horse for sale, Debbie and I traded out this project for a horse for our kids. In the end, we got a nice horse and a customer for life. I think the best way to build a business is through a good relationship, making the experience enjoyable for everyone. Note that the times are given for doing both sides and the back of the trailer. •SC

Chris and Debi Lovelady’s shop, Vital Signs, is in Thomasville, Georgia.

From SignCraft, November/December 2009; prices have been adjusted for inflation.

1. Apply the orange vinyl: 60 minutes. In this photo we’re applying the orange vinyl in one single application. All the orange vinyl was put on in a single application. The color of the trailer becomes the inline on the lettering, which is something I like to do. It’s almost as if it gives the project another color, but there’s no expense. I installed it using a side hinge.

2. Apply the oval and filigrees: 45 minutes. Again, we applied these graphics using a side hinge. That’s my helper, Joey Cordell, at work. He cuts all the vinyl and together we do a lot of the production and installations.

We applied these graphics using a side hinge. This photo shows the end of the mask opposite the tape hinge; the little knick marks on the tape are used for registration.

This close-up photo shows the triangle that we’ll use to register the yellow vinyl we’ll be applying next. The second layer goes on with a top hinge, which you can see in the next photo.


3. Apply the yellow vinyl: 45 minutes. It’s easy with the triangle registration method. You can see how the triangle in the mask lines up with the vinyl triangle that’s already on the trailer. When I prepare the files, I put one set of triangles down, and then I’ll take the outline and I’ll copy the triangle and outline together, and again with the interior part of the letter. Then the cutter puts all the triangles in the same places on every level.

Most of these small trailers have screws, not rivets, holding the siding on. We remove the screws, apply the graphics, then put the screws back in. It looks better than trying to form the vinyl over the screw heads because the vinyl wants to tent.


4. Apply the digital prints: 15 minutes. The prints were produced on our Summa DC3 thermal printer. I assembled the artwork from parts and pieces. The horseshoe graphic came from iStock Photo. I couldn’t find the other tools, so I took photos, posterized them and traced them using the process I described in Convert a photo into an illustration.




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