Some of the biggest concerns in entering the solvent print / wide format market is maintenance, material waste, and length of time before your printer is obsolete. There can be many advantage though such as controlling your workflow, color management, and choice of media to offer your clients. I've been on both sides of the fence. Early on, I outsourced all of my prints to a local digital imaging company who specialized in point of purchase printing but had Roland Eco-sol capabilities.
It was a fairly hassle-free process sending my digital files out and receiving prints back in a matter of days for installation. I'd recommend outsourcing vehicle wrap prints to smaller sign shops who wish to keep their cost per square foot always the same. Many suppliers and manufacturers price solvent ink and comply media, for example as approximately $ 1.50 per sq.ft. This may the true price of purchasing solvent ink and media, but what this factor in is: damaged or spliced sections of media, printing errors, test prints, maintenance such as head replacement (every year for most depending on usage), and of course a protective media laminate.
When you price some of these things into the equation, your actual price per square foot of vinyl falls somewhere between $ 2.75 – $ 3.00. Of course there are ways to reduce your costs, such as buying a bulk ink system, volume media buying, and simply using a less expensive vinyl, but if you want to keep things simple – you can just outsource your prints and collect on your markup . In most areas of the country, finished vehicle wrap media can be sold for anywhere between $ 8 – $ 15 depending on the market, media, and volume being purchased.
I came across one sign printing company that offers online orders with a 24 hour turnaround time which ships via UPS. Signs365.com produce wholesale sign printing and are based in Utica, Michigan. They offer printing on 14oz. finished vinyl banners, magnetics, economy (Orajet 3651) and 3M Controltac IJ180-10c vinyl films, and full-color coroplast site signs. The only thing I don't see on their menu of services is perforated window film, which is a absolute must in vehicle wraps.
Their site offers instant online quoting, so I took a look if you could actually make any money using their service. Let's say I'm doing a full vehicle wrap including roof of Chrysler PT Cruiser with no windows. If you punch in 250 sq.ft on laminated 3M IJ180-10c you get $ 1274.88 or $ 5.10 per sq.ft. plus shipping. At $ 5.10 per sq.ft I could personally still do okay marking up to $ 10 while adding design and installation on top. Not a bad choice over all, but just think – if you're not dealing with the printing headaches and lease payments, you have more time and money to work!