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When wrapping a fender that is with a recessed area on the top, there are various ways to do it. Normally, the wrapper would either bridge the film and form the material in, or simply feed the material in and work out.
Although there are more and more installers choosing to feed the material in and work out when wrapping a fender, there are both advantages and disadvantages for each method. Today let’s break these down and you can decide which one suits you the best in which circumstance.
(If you want to see the result for yourself, it can be a good idea to apply both ways on the two fenders of a vehicle.)
First let’s look at what bridge-and-form can achieve: apply the material to the section, squeegee with the soft part of your squeegee around the bodyline to the corner, meanwhile creating glass on the vinyl wrap film, and bridging it on the top part of the fender straight away. The key is to create enough space for the material to form into the recessed around at the top of the fender, as it is usually very deep.
As soon as you have prepped the vinyl wrap film in this way, you can spray soap on your application glove to stand by, on the other hand, take your heat gun to go over the top of the fender, apply some heat around (make sure the heat is even out though), and relax the vinyl wrap film.
Once the material is relaxed enough, and the wrinkles seem flattening out, use the palm of the other hand of yours, which has an application glove on with soap, to go around the recessed area. And when the recessed area is too deep, you might have to consider using your finger to further form the material into the gap as well. This will help you settle the deepest part of the recessed area well enough.
By bridging and forming the material in, it is easy to get everything done. You just have to bridge over the entire section, everything is easy to squeegee, and you heat the vinyl wrap film up, form it then create glass. It is actually rather a standard way for installers to wrap a fender.
When the film has been properly applied and formed in, just simply make a cut on the side of the hood, and seal it down with the hard part of your squeegee, then post heat.
As for the other method, where wrapper should feed the material in, it is best to start on the highest point of the section, which is the part that sticks out on the fender.
Squeegee with the soft part of your squeegee on the front part of the fender, where it is usually just before the recessed area in order to secure the material on the section.
And use both of your hands to hold the material up at the back of the fender (one on the top, and the other at the bottom), slightly pull towards their directions (up and down) to kind of create a triangle, and secure the material down.
Then you can squeegee around the upper ridge with the soft part of the squeegee, try to create just minimum glass there. And lock the material down to the bottom. This will take you a bit more time to set up compared to the bridge-and-form method.
As soon as this is set, use one hand to pick the material high up from the top section at the back of the fender (make sure you hold it away from the section so that it will not reach the recessed area), and use the other hand to squeegee (with the soft part), feeding the material into the groove of the recessed area.
But do remember that the film is not supposed to be jammed in or forced in, instead, it has to be really relaxed in this stage so that you will have no tension inside the recessed area. Thus it is basically just a tuck-in.
This again will take a longer time, which requires more patience. The installer should work incrementally, best squeegee for about a quarter-inch or one centimeter at a time.
To work out from the recessed area, it is important to squeegee down towards the outside of the recessed area by about half an inch or about two centimeters.
There would be tension building up on the outside, but the key is to work the material out, work straight to the edge. And remember not to use heat at this stage, because you will very possibly overstretch the film.
Use one hand to pick the material up again from the top at the back of the fender, hold it up and create a triangle shape, while the other hand squeegee (with the soft part) to work the material away. No heat needed, just use the shape of your triangle, and the material can be easily formed out.
Once you have done these, make a relief cut at the front line to shift the tension out. And with the triangle shape you created, the upper portion of the fender should be much more relaxed by now.
Unlike the bridge-and-form method, with this feed-in method, to finish up, you have to give it a bit of heat to the outside (near the hood) before you make the final cut because the film has more tension on the outside comparing to those applied with the former method, thus you have to first relax it before cutting and squeegeeing down to seal.
Comparing the two results, the one used bridge-and-form shows a little texture on the ridge because the material is stretched to almost 30%. But for the feed-in one, the color looks 100% uniform and very smooth.
So to conclude, the bridge-and-form method requires lower install skills. It is good for full print installation, where the sections would align well, and it is suitable for aggressive film installation, whereas it is hard to feed in with the feed-in method; and it is good for gloss film installation too.
However, with this method, the vinyl wrap film must be post heated when installed. And it is not recommended for the wrapper to apply this method to calendar film, because the vinyl wrap film might gloss. Thus, this method can be risky.
As for the feed-in method, it takes more time but seems more flexible compared to the former method. It suits almost all color change projects, whether using cast or calendar film. Yet it does require higher install skills, where the installer must always be observant enough to read the wrinkles and adjust his move.
It is not as risky as the bridge-and-form method, but it also has its disadvantages too: it is recommended to use low-tack film when using this method. Also, it is not the best method for both full print projects and textured film wrappings.
Decide which method to use accordingly, and enjoy your wrapping ;)