How to Make Vinyl Stickers from Scratch
You see them everywhere — on car windshields, bumpers, and doors; on storefronts and shop windows; even as giveaways during an event. Vinyl stickers are affordable and are easy to make, yet they grab attention and can do wonders for your personal or professional purposes. You'll be glad to discover that learning how to make vinyl stickers is quite a simple task.
Vinyl stickers come in various designs and lettering styles, so you can pick the best design or lettering style that suits your purpose — whether as a decorative element or as signage for your business.
What Are Vinyl Stickers?
Vinyl stickers (also known as vinyl decals) are often used to decorate or provide information. Most vinyl stickers only use one color but have become a lot fancier — it is now possible to print various images on a vinyl sticker.
Vinyl stickers vary in size — they can range from very large formats which cover entire walls down to a small vinyl sticker that you can use as a giveaway or as a decorative element on your car's windshield or bumper.
The materials and adhesive used for a vinyl sticker depend on its shape, size, and purpose. Before embarking on learning how to make vinyl stickers, it would be wise to know the types of materials and adhesives available so you can choose the best type that suits your purpose.
The Different Types of Vinyl
Not all vinyl stickers are made of the same material or adhesive. Most vinyl stickers can only be used once, but reusable types are now available as well.
Just to give you an idea of the types of vinyl available in the market and how they are being used by the signage industry, here are some examples.
1. PVC Plastic Vinyl
Traditional vinyl is produced using PVC plastic. It is usually cut from a single color using either a vinyl cutter or a laser cutter. However, full-color images can be printed on the vinyl and can be cut around the contours.
2. Wrap Vinyl
Wrap vinyl is used for vehicles and requires high-performance materials (such as UV laminate) for longevity and protection. Full-color images are printed on the vinyl for the design.
3. Cut Vinyl
Cut vinyl makes use of a solid one-color vinyl which is then cut and transfer-taped.
4. Translucent Rolled Vinyl
For back-lit signs, translucent rolled vinyl is the ideal type to use because it allows light to pass through. This type of vinyl is also high-performance — it usually lasts from between 7-10 years.
5. Intermediate Rolled Vinyl
Intermediate rolled vinyl is typically used for short-term promotional materials or giveaways. This material usually lasts up to 3 years.
6. Reflective Vinyl
This type of vinyl can either be printed or cut and is often used for emergency vehicles because of its reflective properties.
7. Temporary Vinyl
For short-term advertising on walls, floors, ceilings, sidewalks, etc., temporary vinyl is the ideal type to use because it does not damage the surface it's placed on, nor does it leave any sticky residue. This type of vinyl can also be printed on.
What Can You Do With Vinyl Stickers?
Vinyl stickers are typically made with cut vinyl because it's the most affordable and convenient type to use. You can stick them easily on vehicles, window displays, walls, or any solid surface.
Here are some ways that you can use vinyl stickers for your business:
1. Mobile Advertising
Advertising while you're on the road is one of the most effective means of creating awareness about your business. It doesn't have to be fancy — a simple vinyl sticker on your back windshield or bumper can show your logo and your business website or the name of your business and an easy-to-remember contact number. This is an easy way to send important information across.
2. Storefront Lettering
Whether you want something decorative and eye-catching, or you just want to relay a simple message such as days and business hours of operation, using cut vinyl for your storefront lettering is a practical and effective way to deliver the information.
3. Sticker Giveaways
This is a great way to publicize your business presence, especially during events. An interesting promotional sticker could wind up on someone's bumper — adding to your advertising mobility
4. Branding Stickers for Products or Promotional Merchandise
Vinyl stickers are also a practical and less costly way to label your products or promotional merchandise with your brand. When it comes to durability, vinyl stickers last longer because they adhere well and don't fade quickly.
Besides being long-lasting, vinyl lettering stickers also ensure that your letters are precisely drawn and cut — leaving little room for errors as compared to hand-painted letters.
The best part about using vinyl stickers for these purposes is that you can actually do the task yourself! Vinyl stickers are easy to install, thus cutting down costs on what usually requires extensive manpower.
Learning how to make vinyl stickers and actually using them for your advertising and branding efforts also saves the environment from harmful chemicals released into the air when doing high-pressure painting.
How to Make Vinyl Stickers the Easy Way
There are several techniques you can use when creating a vinyl sticker, but just to get you started, we will be teaching you what is perhaps the easiest way of how to make vinyl stickers — by using materials that are readily available to you. You can actually do this technique at home.
Before making a vinyl sticker, it is important to have a solid design first. Using any graphics software (such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw) will be most helpful since you can view your design and make it fit on the printable area.
If you're unable to come up with an original design, try to find inspiration from existing printed material, or you can experiment with simple fonts and typography in the meantime.
In order to produce a high-quality vinyl sticker, you will need these three very essential things:
- Inkjet printer
- Inkjet white waterproof and printable vinyl
- Polyfocus glossy over-laminate
When you have set your design properly on the printable area, you can print the design using a regular Inkjet printer but print it on the Inkjet white waterproof and printable vinyl.
You can actually use the printout as your sticker, but placing a glossy over-laminate on top will add to the glossiness and overall durability of your vinyl sticker.
Transferring the glossy over-laminate might be a little tricky, so make sure you have an ideal work area to do the deed. The secret is to prevent air bubbles from appearing between the over-laminate and your printable vinyl. To be able to achieve this, you have to peel the backing off the over-laminate slowly and part by part.
Once you've set the laminate in its proper position on the edge of your printable vinyl, slowly but firmly put pressure on the laminate and the edge of the printable vinyl with your fingers to make sure that it's airtight and completely flat — no air bubbles should appear.
When you've secured the edge of your printable vinyl with the over-laminate, make sure that the rest of the printable vinyl is smooth and wrinkle-free before you start the process of covering the rest of it with the over-laminate.
Use a straight-edge ruler to flatten the over-laminate against the printable vinyl while simultaneously peeling the over-laminate off from its backing. Make sure to put enough and consistent pressure on the whole sheet as you go along to ensure that it's airtight.
After completely covering your printable vinyl with the over-laminate, give it another pass with your straight-edge ruler just to make sure that there are no air bubbles or pockets in between the printable vinyl and the over-laminate.
Now you can cut your vinyl stickers to your desired size and shape. You can be more exact by using an X-Acto knife and a metal ruler or you can simply cut away with a sharp pair of scissors.
After you're done cutting the stickers to their final shape and size, you can now use your vinyl stickers as you please!
This is just one of the many methods for how to make vinyl stickers — there are far more sophisticated techniques that you can still learn.
Making vinyl stickers is an exercise in precision — it's not as hard as you think, but practice always makes perfect. Knowing how to make vinyl stickers is an advantage, especially for start-up businesses who have tiny budgets for advertising and promotions.
As a beginner, you are better off starting with smaller formats so that they're not as hard to manage. Once you get the hang of it, you can transition to doing cut vinyl stickers — for example, cutting around the edges of vinyl lettering with precision and accuracy.
Learning how to make vinyl stickers need not be all about cost-savings for business. You can also have fun with it! Create humorous vinyl stickers for your family and friends, or start a sticker campaign for a cause.
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