Sign & Digital Graphics

WRAPS '17

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60 • WRAPS • 2 0 1 7 PRODUCTION & INSTALLATION stressed poor Adam out too, but he was an excellent and patient instructor. There were two of us testing the last two days and Adam recommended that we tackle the most time consuming sta- tions first. There is a time limit on each station and you're allowed to go over a certain amount with a penalty. Each station must get an 80 percent or bet- ter score in order to pass. There are also certain mistakes that equal an automatic fail. If you fail a station you are allowed to retake the test on that station as long as you have time at the end. Stations There were 12 total tests that we took over the final two days. One was the written test and one was the wall test for checking the paint and graphics adhesion. The other 10 stations were all hands- on installation tests. Since I knew I would have to hustle both days to complete all the tests on time, I took Adam's advice and started with the three tests on the HHR. The last thing Adam showed us in training was the front bumper wrap because it incorporated all the tips and tricks we'd learned from the rest of our training. It was fresh in my mind and was the most time consuming station so I started with the bumper Thursday morning. From there I moved to the other two tests on the H H R —the rear ¾ panel which includes the rear door, handle, rocker panel, quarter panel and window perf. All panels have to of course line up to one another perfectly and the install needs to be as clean as possible. The last test on the HHR is the Front Half Wrap which includes the front door, rocker panel and front fender. I knew I would go over on my time so I made sure it was worth it. I got a 96 percent on the rear panels and a 95 percent on the front panels which helped offset any small pen- alty for going over time. I didn't have enough time left in my first day to do another big test so I chose to do the floor graphic test, think- ing I would knock that one out quick. Unfortunately I failed it because you have to cut a perfect butt cut, otherwise it's a trip hazard, and an automatic fail. This really is a fairly easy test but my cut wasn't perfect and I ended the first day on a frustrating note. This meant I had to have enough time left at the end of the second day to retake the test with an automatic five-point deduction going in. Crunch Time I went into the second day with nine stations that needed to be completed. To say my stress level was high was definitely an understatement. I started day two with the corrugated wall test which proved to be my worst station of all, and not a good way to start my second day. I think lack of sleep and a very high stress level contributed to the stupid mistakes I made during installa- tion. From the corrugated wall I moved onto the Sprinter door. My practice installs on the Sprinter door had gone fairly well, but I was using tools I had never picked up before train- ing. I went over my time again, and made a couple dumb mistakes, but I ended up with an 88 percent which at this point I would happily take. On day one of training we had prac- ticed our skills on the rivet wall. With so many years experience applying pre- mium cut vinyl I didn't anticipate any problems with this station. I also didn't realize how many bad habits I've picked up over the years. Holding the squeegee correctly proved to be my biggest arch nemesis those first couple days. Holding the squeegee at the correct angle makes all the difference when applying vinyl across a rivet. This was a perfect example of how being self-taught doesn't always mean you're doing it right. I had psyched myself out on my abili- ties on this wall by this point and was dreading having to do it. I had to push through it as quickly as possible because I still had six more tests left after this one. Adam gleefully marked this test up with lots of circles and marks—to mess with my head a little—but then he gave me a 100% on the station I was dreading. As soon as I finished it I moved onto the concrete wall, smooth wall and brick wall mosaic tests. Each of those tests went fairly smooth, even though I was using tools that were new to me. Although it was getting later in the afternoon I was able to breathe a little at this point. I just had the written test, wall test and the floor graphics re-do test left. Because I studied like crazy for the written test I was able to breeze through it in about 15 minutes with a 100% score. The wall test also went smooth as Adam had walked us through the steps during training. I returned to the floor graphic test for another attempt at cutting a clean butt cut. Luckily this time I was able to keep my knife at the correct angle and my seams aligned perfectly. Having an encouraging trainer made a big difference in my ability to calm my nerves enough to get through each test. The knowledge I acquired, and the skills I learned, have been passed along to the other installers in our shop. Earning the 3 M Preferred Graphics Installer certifi- cate has also opened up doors to more installations as well. Even with years of prior install experience the training taught numerous tips and tricks for faster, cleaner installs. Proper squeegee technique is a small but important lesson.

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