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What Is Custom Vehicle Lettering?

So, you’re driving down the road singing along with the radio and you pass this cool looking car with the words ‘Live Free’ on the side surrounded by flames of red and yellow.  You cannot help but to think that it’s awesome and wonder how they got that on there.  Was the car purchased that way in some manufacturer’s promotion?  Was it detailed by a wizard with a paint gun?  How did they do that?

They did it by having custom vehicle lettering applied to their car.  Usually made of vinyl because of its durable nature in any weather condition, the letters and graphics are programmed into a computer and then cut out by a machine called a plotter.  The vinyl comes in huge rolled sheets perfect for designing just about anything the computer and plotter can handle.  Once the plotter spits out the design, the excess vinyl is removed and what is left has tape put on the back.  Now they are ready to be applied to any non-porous, clean smooth surface.

The graphics you saw could have also been a very big magnet.  This type of customization is mostly used for business advertising and is handy if you want to take it off and put it on something else.  The magnets are made of weather-resistant sheeting, similar to the vinyl lettering, and they will mold to most surfaces.  Before applying, make sure the area is clean and dry for the best possible stick.  You will commonly see this type of lettering or advertisement on the doors of pizza delivery vehicles.

The vinyl used in customized lettering and graphics comes in some basic colors, such as white, read, black, blue, and yellow.  They can be printed on with a weather-resistant ink to give a two-dimensional look.  Some colors combine better than others for a good contrast that is easily seen and easily read.  

Customized vehicle lettering and graphics can be specially ordered through vehicle shops that specialize in this work or, if you think you have a steady enough hand, you can purchase pre-made and packaged designs from your local auto parts store.  If applying this to your vehicle yourself, make sure you have a smooth surface free of dirt and grime that is dry.  Follow the manufacturers instructions to the letter to apply the graphic and try to do it right the first time.  Graphics and lettering are not easy to remove and fix once you have applied them.

Graphics and lettering from your local auto supply store prices starting at $10.00 and up.  Custom-made graphics and lettering, however, will vary depending on the shop, the detail of the lettering or graphic, and if they print them in house or have to send away for the final product.  Remember, if you also have the shop install your custom graphics, there may be an additional charge for labor.

There are a variety of different types of customized lettering that you can get for your vehicle, either online, through a custom shop, or at your local store.  If you want something that defines you and who you are, look for a shop in your local yellow pages or online and ask them for a price quote.  It may not be as expensive as you think and your vehicle will get a good perking up.

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