Vinyl cut stickers are usually used with lettering, wall and window decals, storefront signage and mobile signage, just to name a few applications just in advertising. Their advantages are numerous: they are affordable, durable, easy to install and to remove and can add classy and eye-catchy decorative distinction to any place, among many other benefits.
Nonetheless, you do not cut vinyl with just a pair of scissors. There is a little more involved. You use a vinyl cutter, which are computer-controlled machines and they usually look like your normal printer or plotter. The computer controls the movement of the blade which is used to cut out shapes and letters from vinyl sheets.
Once a vector-based design is created in a software program (usually Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw) is then sent to the cutter where it cuts along the vector paths laid out in the design. The cutter is capable of moving the blade on an X and Y axis over the material, cutting it into any shape imaginable. Since the vinyl material comes in long rolls, projects with significant length like banners or billboards can be easily cut as well.
The biggest limitation with vinyl cutters is the fact they can only cut shapes from solid colors of vinyl. A design with multiple colors must have each color cut separately and then layered on top of each other as it is applied to the surface. Also, since the shapes are cut out of solid colors, photographs and gradients cannot be reproduced with a standalone cutter.
During this process, it is possible to remove the positive parts, which would give a negative sticker, or remove the negative parts, giving a positive sticker; removing the figure would be like removing the positive, giving a negative image of the said figure.
Cut vinyls and its principal uses
· Clear Window Decals: these are signs with the design printed directly onto a sheet of clear material. They are printed as one piece of material, meaning that during installation the sign will adhere to the window as one piece. Since the design is printed on the clear material, each individual letter or image does not adhere to the window separately and any white colored sections of the designs will look transparent.
· Vinyl Lettering: this is a special adhesive vinyl that is cut directly from a piece of colored material. Unlike clear window decals which are printed on the exact color you need, the material for vinyl lettering is only available in certain colors.
Out of this two, you can find many variations as wall decals, window stickers and such. The broad variety is what makes vinyl such a valuable product in the industry.
What about installing Cut Vinyl? Is it the same as installing flat stickers?
Well, no. Not really.
Cut vinyl decals can be applied to different flat surfaces such as metal, wood, glass and drywall, among others, and depending on their quality can be quiet durable.
One key element which allows the installation of this type of vinyl is pre-mask, transfer tape, or application tape as it is also commonly known. Pre-mask tape is used to transfer cut graphics from their release liner to the substrate or surface you want them on, thus helping protect the graphics in transport and during installation.
The general installation process, as you will see next, is very simple, but each step must be done properly and with care to be able to achieve the desired results.
· First, clean the surface. Straight on the nose, we know, but you will be surprised of how many installation jobs fail because the installer did not take the time to clean the surface properly. Also, be sure to use a suitable cleaner according to the surface you are going to apply the decal on.
· Measure, be sure, apply. Once the surface is clean, take a few minutes to measure the area where the decal is going to be installed. You usually have just one shot at getting it right, so position your graphics very carefully.
· Place the decal sheet in the area where you want it to be, with the transfer tape facing you and the backing still on.
· Choose a corner and peel, choose one side of the design and gently remove the transfer tape backing. Be sure to do this at a 30o or 45o angle to prevent stretching or tearing. You can help yourself using a squeegee over the decal to avoid air bubbles.
And that’s pretty much it. Of course, there are a few tips and tricks we professionals use that were left unmentioned, but we will comment on them in another article. Finally, as any of our dozens of clients will tell you, at DEV1150 we work with the best vinyls in the market and we are a team of experts willing to help you with any need you may have. Take a look around the site, and if there is anything we can do for you, give us a call!