Team Wendy SAR Vinyl Wrap Install

Background

I recently decided to see if could get my Team Wendy Exfil SAR helmet hydro-dipped in Multicam Black.  The local shops I talked to basically told me that they had’nt had much success dipping lexan and were very reluctant to take on the project.

A wondered if I could do a DIY vinyl wrap on the helmet myself using GunSkins, a product traditionally made for firearms and similarly shaped items that I had used in the past and had a lot of success with. Because of the much more rounded shape of a helmet, compared to the flatter surfaces I had previously used the GunSkins on, I couldn’t help but wonder how a vinyl wrap would turn out.

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You will Need:

  • GunSkins Kit
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • Exacto Knife
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Pen
  • Heat Gun
  • Paper (optional)

 

Prep

A technique I came up with, that I found extremely useful for mapping out sections on an install is to use masking tape on object you are wrapping to create your template before cutting the actual vinyl. This allows you to figure out where your relief cuts have to be and how large the sections can be without using the actual vinyl fabric, minimizing material and time wastage.

I recommend starting at the front and back areas of the helmet as these will give you a reference point to line the rest of the sections up with. As these areas are single curve surfaces, they will be some of the easiest sections of the whole install.

Cover the area/sections with masking tape starting at the edges creating an outline pattern and working your way in. Use strips long enough to cover the area lengthwise being careful to minimize wrinkles while trying to have the section be as flat as possible. If you’re having a hard time flattening the section without creating wrinkles or having the tape come apart this is a sign that you will need to rethink the section.  Initially I had hoped that I might be able to follow the seams on the helmet but ultimately the curves were just too complex.

Once the section is masked off, carefully peel the tape back,  while keeping the section intact. Lie the tape section as flat as possible on a piece of paper or directly on the backside of the GS backing.  Once the taped section is flat on the paper, trace the outline leaving a bit of excess, it is better to have to have the section slightly larger and have to trim around it than to not have enough and leave gap between the sections. For all the sections other than the front and back you will need to flip the template over and trace the outline so you have a mirrored piece for the other side of the helmet. Next, use the scissors and cut around the outline you traced.  Once all your vinyl sections are cut, the most tedious part of the prep work is complete and you can now begin the install process.

Start by taking the alcohol wipes and give the surface of the helmet and your hands a good wipe down. If you have pets or are working in a dusty area, you need to be particularly careful to keep your surface area clean, as oils, hair and small debris are impossible to remove should they get trapped to the sticky back of the Vinyl.

You are now ready to start wrapping.

6 Tips to help your install go as smoothly as possible:

  1. Pre cut sections as much as possible before installation
  2. Do not over heat the fabric
  3. Do not over stretch the fabric
  4. Do not stretch the fabric past the edges before cutting
  5. Do not stretch the fabric too close to the part that you are sticking to the surface as this creates wrinkles
  6. Take your time

Installing the Sections

Starting at the front and back sections, line the top edges of the material up with the seams of the helmet leaving about half a millimeter of fabric past the edges of the helmet. Line the segments up starting with the edges, working off the last one. Push the air out using you fingers as you pull gently on the out on the outside of the fabric. You will notice that if you grab on to the fabric too close to where you are pressing down, that the fabric will have a tendency to wrinkle.  Instead try to pull a wider area as far from the area being pressed down as you can. You goal is to pull the fabric out with one hand and then with the thumb on your other hand, in an arching movement  press down the fabric applying enough pressure to pushing out the air bubbles. Do not be afraid of applying pressure as you press down, but just watch out for wrinkles which will get harder to avoid as you get toward the edges of the piece.

The GS fabric is pretty forgiving, so just take you time, peel the material back as often as you have to in order to eliminate the wrinkles and apply some heat to help it along. You can either overlap the edges of the sections or trim the seams, its just comes down to personal preference. I personally found that the overlap created shiny bumps that gave the impression of white lines. But if you do decide to cut the excess, make sure you have a sharp knife, be mindful of the pressure to avoid damaging  the Lexan underneath and don’t over cut, or else you will have gaps between the sections which increases the risk of snagging which can lift or tear the fabric.

Once the helmet surface is completely covered go around the edges of the helmet and heat the overhang and fold it on to the inside of the helmet. (Be careful not to stretch the fabric too much past an edge you are looking to cut as this will cause the fabric to back off once the pressure is lifted. The last step is to cut out the vents, you can either cut them flush with the edges or cut about a quarter milimeter toward the center of the hole and then heat the area an fold the overhang over the edges, which I personally recommend as it looks cleaner and will also help secure the fabric.

Now that your helmet is done, you can go ahead and reattach the side rails and add Velcro panels if you wish, to complete the look.

Insights

Overall, I would rate this install to be a 7/10 difficulty, mainly because the curvature of the helmet can be a bit of a challenge to navigate. Total time for this install was about 6 hours, the majority of the time being taken up by mapping out the sections, and allowing for some trial and error.

Even though I started from scratch, without a pre-cut kit I surprisingly only wasted about a 6” section of material. It took one GunSkins kit to wrap the whole helmet and had about a half a section left over at the end. If you would like to use the template we created, feel free to email us and we’d be happy to send it to you. To watch a video of the install, check out our YouTube link here:

Gunskins is such a an awesome product, can be applied to nearly anything, from guns, gear, and pretty much any hard surface. More durable then cerakoting and hydro dipping,  it’s a great way to protect the surface it also allows you to change the look up as often as you would like for about half the cost. I almost want to buy 2 more Team Wendy Helmets just so I can have one in Multicam (MC) and MC Alpine too.

 

The Kit used in this install was generously provided to us by GunSkins

 

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