Using stickers to paint boats, once unconceivable, now is possible! First of all, because they are advanced films and not simply stickers; on the other hand, because these materials have made a remarkable technological step forward.
Luca Antonutti, owner of Luca Design, a company seated in Udine but active throughout Italy, tells us everything about this charming world. Luca is a pioneer in nautical wrapping and a great lover of the matter. His field of action includes motorcycles, cars, interiors, exteriors and, above all, boats of all sizes.
– Let’s start from the beginning, Luca Design is a reference point in Italy as regards nautical wrapping but your experience comes from far away…. “We have been dealing with wrapping at 360 degrees since 2006 and after a 12-year-experience in the field of advertising films. We approached boating in 2010, when materials started to experience an important evolution and they became more suited to this world”.
Can you tell us the evolution of these films? “At first, they were born to cover any means: planes, trains, ships. The original idea was to provide protection, not decoration. Over the years, technology has stepped forward by offering more workability and strength and customers have started to ask for more decoration. People started to understand that wrapping art could replace painting“.
The marine environment is typically very “hostile”, starting from humidity and saltiness. How did you improve your products? “At first, with our customers who, like us, were wrapping pioneers like us, we tested what seemed to be better. Many products promise wonders but only the real use allowed us to choose the best and, at the end, we found a perfect connection with 3M films“
The comparison with traditional painting springs to mind; does wrapping last more or less? ” The film is first placed and then “sealed”, it doesn’t cause any detachment or opacification problems, as it often happens with painting, especially with blue and dark colours in general”.
What does “sealed” mean? “ Along the sides of the boat, the film is placed until the waterline, then a strip of transparent sealant is added (0.5 cm). It’s a product coming from aeronautics. The contact point with water is, of course, the more difficult one because of dirty. The sealant is an additional guarantee against detachment“.
If I were a bricolage master, could I apply my film? ” Nothing is impossible, the basic operation is very simple. Guarantees are the problem. The film itself is good but experience helps to avoid problems. We are very experienced craftsmen with a professionalism that no one can improvise” .
How much time do you need for a 12-metre boat? ” We offer a complete service: cleaning, wrapping, sealant, customized plates… I’d say 1-2 days”.
How much does the customer save? “Compared with a professional painting, you can save about 50% on boats with a length between 10 and 20 metres. The segment which benefits the most is that one between 12 and 15 metres“.
Can you work on “difficult” sharp-cornered hulls and decks, too? “Absolutely yes, we can. On sailing boats there are no joints. On no-homogeneous motorboats, corners are exploited to cover joints. We’ve just completed a 18-metre fly, his owner couldn’t find the points where we had passed from a brush to another”.
Do fenders ruin the film? “Exactly like on varnished surfaces, especially PVC ones. In both the two cases, it’s better to use specific covers”.
Does their effectiveness change according to temperature? Do they suffer from Mediterranean heat? “When we finished our work, the material is stabilized at 90-100 degrees. So, they don’t fear high temperatures. On the other hand, it’s difficult that a surface reaches over 100 degrees. Anyway, they’re always resistant”.
Who are the shipowners who prefer wrapping? “I’d say those who own a boat with a length between 10 and 20 metres, especially those who love DIY on their boats and are able to understand the real advantages of wrapping. We’ve an increase by 30% a year in terms of number of applications. But there’s still much ignorance around the matter and there’s still room for improvement”
Are films scratch-resistant like painting? ” Yes, they are. Of course, the film generates a little wrinkle. We always provide our customers with a repair kit“.
In case of more serious damages? “I’ll give you a concrete example which happened some minutes ago: a 1×1 m hole in a side. After repairing and pointing, we put a square panel on the area: it is impossible to see its borders unless you know where you have to search”
Does wrapping protects against UV? ” Absolutely yes, it does. When you decide to remove wrapping, you’ll discover that, under it, your boat is still new. The film provide a complete protection against UV; gelacoat is practically new even after 6-7 years“.
You are 3M certified… ” Yes, it’s not a certification like others. There are some courses which, after a couple of hours, give you a wrapper diploma and there are lots of unexperienced and improvised competitors. Wrapping art is a little affected by the actions of some unreliable people. But 3M certifications are real written and practice exams, you can take your diploma only after all the steps, which allows to 3M to select the best wrappers. We’re an elite. Shipowners can’t thank us enough for the excellent results we are able to ensure”.