Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab puts motorsport students in pole position

Exclusive UK and Irish Mimaki distributor, Hybrid Services Ltd has teamed up with the country’s foremost motorsport engineering education establishment; Oxford Brookes University, in a partnership set to take wide format print to a whole new audience.

As part of its increasing commitment to supporting young people in print, Hybrid has created the Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab; supplying a Mimaki wide format printer, cutting plotter and software package to the university in a relationship intended to provide hands on experience, expert tuition and a commercial understanding of vehicle wrapping, branding and liveries to undergraduate race engineers set for high profile roles in Formula 1 and other avenues in professional motorsport.

Also involved in the project are material supplier, Metamark and expert vehicle wrapper, Jason Price; whose employment within the Corbeau Seats group allows him opportunity to provide design, wrapping and installation services for a vast array of clients within the motorsport industry.

The project is all about making these highly talented engineering undergraduates better aware of some of the commercial requirements within motorsport, says National Sales Manager, Sign & Graphics for Hybrid, John de la Roche. “However you look at it, 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.”

The motorsport engineering students at Oxford Brookes take part in the global Formula Student series of races. These cars mimic scaled down, single seater F1 models – so still boast highly developed aero packages, telemetry systems and cutting edge mechanical engineering. “It’s the job of the vehicle wrapper to make the car look fast but, additionally, vehicle graphics provide corporate identity making the vehicle look professional,” says Price. “It’s unusual to give this responsibility to the engineers, but in this instance, they’re getting first-hand experience of what’s involved, so it should stay with them throughout their careers.”

“There are also sound technical benefits to wrapping a car rather than painting it,” Price continues. “The weight savings are huge so it’s an easy sell on purely technical grounds – let alone the benefits of how the team presents itself.”

Metamark is supplying a range of media to the project along with providing expert advice on additional opportunities for display graphics. “The new MD-X Cylinder cast film is ideal for the students to be using on the cars,” says Samantha Daulton, regional sales manager for Metamark “We’ve also provided our RU500 LayFlat rollup material for use within the Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab along with wallpaper and digital frost etched window film.”

Daulton has spent time at Oxford Brookes guiding technicians within the department on best practice with the Metamark product range and Head of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the university; Professor Gareth Neighbour, stresses the importance of the mentoring provided by the various partners.

“We’re immensely proud of the incredibly high standards of technical tuition on offer to our students, but we’re not afraid to admit that we’re completely new to wide format printing and all that goes with it,” confirms Neighbour. “The extensive training and support from Hybrid and its partners has very swiftly allowed our teaching staff and technicians to get to grips with the technology and offer an exciting new component to our degree and masters courses.”

“We pride ourselves in having the highest percentage of alumni in Formula 1 of all the universities and the development of the Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab has added yet another string to our students’ bows, being of great interest at the recent Autosport International show,” says Neighbour.

Oxford Brookes’ impressive facility bears more than a passing resemblance to the HQ of a motorsport team with a vast array of tooling, engineering equipment and testing instruments alongside memorabilia and former race cars and the Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab’s central position enables passers-by to see the printing process in operation.

“Bringing vehicle wrapping and branding into the heart of the Technology Centre really helps to remind the students of the importance of how they present themselves and their teams,” concludes Brian Sims –  Oxford Brookes MEMS Advisory Board Member, Former Marketing Director of the  Benetton F1 Team and Founder and Honorary Life Member of the prestigious Motorsport Industry Association “Having been involved in this project from the outset, I’m delighted to see how the students are already embracing it and using it to their benefit.”

The Mimaki Vehicle Wrap Lab is located at the university’s Wheatley Campus from where Oxford Brookes Racing competes in the global Formula Student series and has over 4,000 followers on its Facebook page. The university offers undergraduate and masters degree courses in motorsport engineering, automotive engineering and motorsport technology along with many others within its Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences – further information of which can be found by visiting www.mems.brookes.ac.uk.