Vehicle Graphics – a History

Vehicle advertising is no new concept. It has been around since the conception of modern transport, whether it be on trains, cars or aeroplanes. One of the very first uses of automobiles for advertising is said to be in February 1900. Milton Hershey brought the first automobile to Lancaster (US) and used it to help advertise his brand of chocolate, which today is America’s most famous chocolate bar.

Before the invention of materials that allow cost-effective vehicle graphics and wraps possible, logos and advertisements would often be hand painted. This was a very long and painstaking process, which could quickly be ruined by the slightest slip of the hand. Then came the invention of vinyl.

Despite Vinyl Chloride being accidentally discovered in the late 1800’s, vinyl only began its commercial uses in the 1930’s after Dr. Waldo Semen created plasticised polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or what we now call vinyl. Initially the
material had a host of commercial uses including piping and wiring, but it gradually diversified until eventually it became possible for large clients, like the US air force, to use self adhesive vinyl graphics.

Much like a host of other things, technologies that the military adopt quickly make their way into the market as commercial uses are discovered, and its production becomes cheaper.

By the 1980’s it was commonplace for small businesses to use vinyl to letter their vehicles without the trouble associated with paint. However, vinyl graphics did not have the capability to produce complex designs, and therefor paint still remained a popular choice for companies looking for a bit more personality in their vehicle graphics. It was only with the introduction of faster and more advanced computing in the 1990’s and into the 21 st century that vinyl could demonstrate its dominance in the vehicle graphics industry. Cheaper, faster and
more complex design made it possible to create impressive full vinyl wraps which could outperform the quality of any paint job.

Today vehicle graphics is still an evolving market with constant developments in the installation, design and quality of artwork being produced. Action Signs remains committed as ever to keeping up to date with the latest technologies in design to deliver the best quality vehicle graphics for our customers. Here are just some examples of the work we have done recently.