How to Heat Print a Motorcycle Tire

Customer Mike Blakenship wanted to personalize a motorcyle tire. Mark Merola suggested using SuperFilm.

Customer Mike Blakenship wanted to personalize a motorcyle tire. Mark Merola suggested using SuperFilm.

Hopefully that title got your attention! This is not something we recommend, but we do want to let you know that it is doable. Thanks to Mark Merola and our fearless and creative customer, Mike Blakenship for forwarding me this story and the great photos. Here’s what happened.  According to Mark, Mike wanted to know if he

This was one application where something other than a heat press was used! However, due to the low application temperature for SuperFilm, an iron and a hot air gun did the job.

This was one application where something other than a heat press was used! However, due to the low application temperature for SuperFilm, an iron and a hot air gun did the job.

could apply a heat transfer film to a motorcycle tire. Mike said he only wanted it to last long enough for one race.  Mark reports, “In the past, I have personally used Super Film on some rubbery / plastic substrates with very good success, so I told him about what I did, and how I applied the Super Film.”  Mike decided to give it a try and he ordered CAD-CUT Super Film™ heat transfer material and applied it to his tire, and then sent us before and after pictures. Wow! And it seems that Mike’s wish for the application to last at least until the end of the race has come true. The last picture is one of the tire after four races.  Needless to say, he’s quite pleased. Of course I was curious as to how the application was actually executed. We always say you can heat print just about anything you can fit under a heat press. It looks like we may need to expand that to cover motorcycle tires. When I asked Mark how it was done, he said: “Very carefully!”  “Due to the curvature of the tire, it was applied with a hand iron and a heat gun.  The iron was used to tack the film in place, and then he went over it with a heat gun (paint stripper), and then immediately pressing down on it for adhesion.”  Obviously, it was enough to get it to stick. For future applications, Mike said he is going to try and machine out a piece to insert into the tire cavity for the pressure equalization, which, if machined properly, would work great. The creativity and ingenuity of our customers never ceases to amaze me. As does the ever increasing demand for personalization, on just about anything you can think of. And while we normally recommend Super Film for use on performance wear, this type of performance is something we hadn’t considered until now. If there’s something unusual that you’ve decorated using a heat transfer material, let me know.

Although the customer would have been happy if the print stayed on only until the end of the race, the logo is still going strong after finishing its fourth race. Now that really is a SUPER Film!

Although the customer would have been happy if the print stayed on only until the end of the race, the logo is still going strong after finishing its fourth race. Now that really is a SUPER Film!

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2 comments

  1. Art Delarosa says:

    Hi I usually use Stahls premium plus and Fashion film for clothing but my customers are asking me for vinyl to be placed on their tires. I’ve seen some stickers for tire but they are telling me that this is vinyl and they apply them with a clothing iron. I guess this is what they are talking about?is super film the best for this application?

    Thanks
    Art Delarosa
    Team Nobody

  2. Ted says:

    Hi Art,
    Thanks for reading. Josh Ellsworth, who is an expert in CAD-CUT heat transfer films, had this to say: “I feel confident in Gorilla Grip II or Superfilm being the best choices, however each tire cover may be different and will require a test to ensure its not overly heat sensitive. A flexible application pad will also help to prevent scorching.” I realize it’s hard to test print on tires, but if you can, it would be worth it.

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