One of the country’s foremost motorsport engineering education centres has teamed up with Mimaki distributor Hybrid Services to try and push wide-format print to new audiences.
Hybrid has created the Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab at Oxford Brookes University by supplying a Mimaki wide-format printer, cutter-plotter and software package.
A Mimaki Latex machine and a Mimaki CG-FX plotter worth around £20,000 were among the machines installed at the base on the outskirts of Oxford late last year.
Undergraduate race engineers will gain a commercial understanding of vehicle wrapping, branding and liveries. Many alumni end up in high-profile roles in Formula 1 and other motorsport roles.
Also involved in the project is material supplier Metamark, which is supplying a range of media and expert advice on additional opportunities for display graphics.
Expert vehicle wrapper Jason Price, who works for Corbeau Seats group, teaches design wrapping and installation services.
Hybrid national sales manager for sign and graphics John de la Roche said: “The project is about making engineering undergraduates better aware of the commercial requirements in motorsport.
“Motorsport rotates around sponsorship and the importance of getting a professional looking message on and around the cars cannot be underestimated.
“Mimaki’s range of wide-format printing solutions already has a strong presence in vehicle wrapping at all levels.
“And current F1 teams have been investing in their own Mimaki systems for years, but we were keen to provide an opportunity at an early stage of these people’s careers.”
He added: “The university was keen for students to better understand the importance – not just the technical advantages – of image in general and how vehicle wraps fit into that.”
The students take part in the global Formula Student series of races in cars that mimic scaled down F1 models. The vehicle wrapper has to make the car look fast and show corporate identity.
There are also technical benefits to wrapping a car rather than painting it: the weight savings are significant so it’s said to be an easy sell on technical grounds.
Metamark regional sales manager Samantha Daulton said: “The new MD-X Cylinder cast film is ideal for the students to be using on the cars.
“We’ve also provided our RU500 LayFlat roll-up material for use within the Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab along with wallpaper and digital frost-etched window film.”
Daulton teaches technicians at Oxford Brookes and works with the university's head of mechanical engineering and mathematical sciences at the university, Professor Gareth Neighbour.
“We pride ourselves on having the highest percentage of alumni in Formula 1 of all the universities,” he said.
“The development of the Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab has added yet another string to our students’ bows.”