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Custom Graphics Installation Instructions

Please read directions carefully.   

The following are application instructions for custom graphics. These procedures must be followed prior to any consideration by HCA and/or it’s graphic manufacturers in regard to replacement or credit.
Failure to follow instructions listed below in bold red letters may result in product failure and be considered non-warrantable.
Please note that for any horizontal application of vinyl graphic products, such as a vehicle hood or roof, Warranty coverage is reduced by 50%.

Graphic Materials Information
Storage and Rotation:
Stock rotation and climate-controlled storage are important. Age and temperature extremes degrade the adhesive and can dramatically reduce its effectiveness. Product should be used within the recommended storage life of two years. In addition, product should be stored in an environment between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature Recommendations:
Surface temperature should be between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit before attempting the installation. As a general rule, if the surface is hot to the touch it's over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Adhesive becomes brittle when it gets too cold and gummy when it gets too hot. Applications outside the recommended range of 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit reduce the adhesives' ability to perform. 
Preparation & Cleaning Procedures

****An Important Note about Cleaning. Please Read.****

Why Surface Preparation is More Important Than Ever Before!

Due to an increased usage of silicone based additives in automotive paint that traditionally contained only solvents or oil derivatives, the pressure-sensitive graphics industry is facing adhesion challenges. The result of these changes is the need for increased awareness towards surface preparation and application methods.

To reduce the amount of solvents in some of the newer "heavy solids" paint and clearcoat products, silicone-based additives are used as flow agents. As the solvents evaporate during the curing process, silicone particles migrate to the surface, leaving a silicone residue. In fiberglass manufacturing, mold release agents may also leave a silicone residue.

Traditional surface preparation for graphics application has consisted of chemical washing. Most cleaners contain a hydroxyl compound (acetone, alcohol) or a petroleum base (kerosene, zylene) solvent. These solvents work by dissolving oil-based impurities that are on the surface.

Silicone, however, does not dissolve. Removal of siliconates occurs through emulsification (suspension of small globules within the liquid, like oil in water). Soap and water will generally outperform solvent for silicone emulsification. However, an extra wash process costs applicator time and it may not always be necessary.

The application process noted herein, when followed, will effectively prepare the surface to bond with the adhesive. We recommend this process for all striping and graphics, regardless of who manufactured them.
Cleaning Procedures:
All surfaces are contaminated to some degree. To ensure good adhesion to any vehicle surface, it is critical that you follow these recommended procedures in decontaminating and preparing the surface prior to any vinyl product installation. A clean, lint free towel or cloth must be used between each of the cleaning steps to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Remove heavy road grime or tar using our Rapid Prep cleaning solution.
  • When a silicone substance or residue is suspected, wash and rinse the contaminated area with liquid dish detergent and warm water. Dry the surface with a clean, lint free towel or cloth.
  • After the detergent wash simply finish the process by wiping down the entire area with our Rapid Tac or Rapid Tac II application fluid. Again use a clean, lint-free towel or cloth.
Installation Guidelines
Application Procedures:
  • Do not excessively stretch pin stripe during the application. This is the main cause of end lift. Pull the stripe only as taut as necessary to keep a straight line.
  • Because vinyl is a pressure-sensitive product, a squeegee must be used for all installations.
    - Apply graphics using a squeegee. After the application tape/premask is removed, squeegee a second time, focusing mainly on the edges and tips.
    You may want to use a protective sleeve, such as a soft folded paper towel, on the squeegee to avoid damage to the paint and/or vinyl surface.
    - Pin stripe can be laid down initially using your thumb. However, after the application tape is removed, a squeegee must be used on all cut ends including door breaks as well as the ends of the stripe.
  • When removing the application tape/premask, always pull it slowly, back onto itself, at a 180-degree angle.
    Bubbles should be punctured using a sharp air release tool. Do not slit the vinyl to release the air. If the vinyl is slit it will spread or gap.
  • The cutting or trimming of any stripe or graphic should be done using a very sharp knife and very little pressure. Any openings, such as doors, should be trimmed back away from edges at least 1/8 of an inch. Do not wrap the vinyl around door edges.


Illustrated Installation Procedures

Step 1
Clean the surface with our Rapid Prep Pre-Cleaner or a few drops of grease-cutting liquid detergent in water (do not use a petroleum base cleaner). Rinse clean with fresh water then dry with a lint-free cloth. Wiping surface with our Rapid Tac, Rapid Tac II or alcohol will also help remove any contamination and enhance the adhesion process.

Step 2
Put a piece of masking tape on each end of your vinyl transfer in the area where you plan to apply it and anchor each end to the application surface with masking tape.
Step 3
Estimate the center of your vinyl transfer and place two vertical lengths of masking tape to secure the vinyl transfer and create a center hinge as shown in the illustration. This step allows you to apply half of the vinyl transfer at a time.
Step 4
Remove the masking tape anchor from one end of your vinyl transfer and SLOWLY peel the release liner away towards the center masking hinge. Be careful not to touch the adhesive side of the vinyl transfer. Use scissors to cut away the excess release liner and discard.
Step 5
Hold your vinyl transfer by the application tape, careful not to touch the vinyl adhesive to the application surface until you are ready to squeegee. Beginning at the center hinge, make easy overlapping, pushing strokes with your squeegee. Remove the center hinge tape and slowly peel the remaining release liner away. Squeegee the other half of the vinyl transfer, working from the center to the edges.

Step 6
To remove the application tape, peel SLOWLY at a sharp (180°) angle. If the vinyl appears to be lifting, gently push the application tape in the opposite direction from which you were pulling and re-squeegee that area. If after removing the application tape, air bubbles are apparent, puncture the vinyl with a pin or needle (DO NOT USE a knife or razor blade) and squeegee out the air towards the puncture.


Wet Application Method: Spraying a light mist of our Rapid Tac or Rapid Tac II application solution onto your application surface will delay the adhesive activation between the bonding surface and vinyl transfer, resulting in a bubble-free, wrinkle-free application. CAUTION: Wet application may delay the immediate removal of the application tape. A waiting period of up to 30 minutes may be necessary.

Exterior Graphic Care

Today's finest pressure-sensitive vinyl materials have been used to create your new graphics. These graphics require little maintenance and should be treated similarly to a painted surface.

Do wash your graphics with plain soap and water or any commercially made car wash soap. Rinse thoroughly.

Do keep high pressure nozzles at least 18 inches from the edge of the graphics. High pressure spray may cause the edge of the graphic to peel.

Do test any cleaning solution on a small section of the decal before using. Be sure to read the solution's directions and warning notices that may apply to Vinyl Graphics.

Don't use any aromatic solvents such as acetone, M.E.K., toluene, paint thinner, or lacquer thinner on your graphics. Any solvent may soften the vinyl material or smear colors.

Don't overcoat the graphics with clear paint (voids manufacturer's warranty).

Don't let gasoline or other fuels drip or stay on graphics for any length of time. If a spill occurs, wipe off and rinse with water immediately.

Don't paint over the graphics.

Don't apply wax over graphics. Wax products generally contain petroleum distillates, which can damage vinyl graphics. The only products we suggest for use on vinyl graphics is RejeX® High Gloss Polish or Rod & Custom Show Gloss Creme.

Care and caution should be taken when storing your vehicle. Vinyl graphics and other items such as dashboards, tires and flexible rubber products will have a shorter life expectancy when exposed to severe heat and sunlight. Protection of graphics from prolonged direct sunlight will insure an extended life.

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