Rockin’ Out with a Bike Wrap

Element Graphics & Design of Mokena, Illinois has been around for twenty-one years, starting by cutting vinyl for signs and truck doors. Today the company has progressively kept up with the times and evolved to designing, producing, and installing high-quality fleet and vehicle wraps, large format signs, banners, point-of-purchase displays, floor graphics, and even “coming soon” barricade walls for stores under construction. “If it’s ‘wrap-able,’ we’ll make it happen,” says Operations Manager Lisa Minetti, noting that they’ve even wrapped an escalator. “Nothing is out of the question.”

The company is made up of six employees and uses its Roland VP-540i printer/cutter, a plotter, and a laminator to produce its output. “We enjoy special projects that are out of the ordinary,” says Minetti, “because we’re always up for the challenge.”

This philosophy really came into effect when one of Element’s long-time clients—Greater Than, a start-up company in the sports drink market—came to them with a request to create and install a wrap for a unique bike that would be displayed at last year’s Lollapalooza festival. This project was music to their ears.

“This sports drink company approached us years earlier to help out with their branding and their guerilla marketing in getting their name out there,” says Minetti. “So we had already made banners, decals, signs, cooler wraps, vehicle wraps, and anything in between to help them get off the ground.”

Even though this project wasn’t as large as a full vehicle wrap, Element Graphics still found it fun to work on. “This BlueVelo Quest bike had a fiberglass body, so it was not that different than a car,” says Minetti. “We first prepped and cleaned it with alcohol, making sure it was dry and clean before installing the vinyl.”

They wrapped the outer shell body with 3M Scotchprint® Wrap Film 1080 in Matte Black wrapping cast vinyl. They then applied the graphics, which had been printed onto 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3-10 with 3M™ Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518 over it. “The solid-color 3M film itself doesn’t need lamination,” says Minetti, “but we added it to all the printed graphics for abrasion and UV protection.”

  •     1 of 6. The fiberglass shell in-shop ready for its wrap.

  •   2 of 6. Thanks to the bike's convex and concave curves, it was like wrapping an egg.

  •           3 of 6. Pre-wrapped bike shell.

  •       4 of 6. Post-wrapped bike shell.

  •      5 of 6. You can catch the bike all over downtown Chicago these days.

  •      6 of 6. 3M Controltac film was used to wrap the bike shell.

From the onset, the Element Graphics team knew that the big challenge on this project was going to be the bike’s convex and concave curves. “It was like wrapping an egg,” says Minetti. “There was plenty of heating involved to stretch the material around the body.”

The wrapped bike itself is quite a marketing tool for the sports drink company, and it has really made the rounds after its Lollapalooza debut. In fact, you can catch it these days all over downtown Chicago and along its lakefront.

And if you’re in the area, be sure to keep your eyes open for other large format and wrapped graphics—there’s a good chance Element Graphics might’ve worked on them, as well!

—Jeff Wooten



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