How vinyl decals are made largely depends on the type of design or artwork you choose. Your artwork determines the most suitable method required to print it. It also determines the type of vinyl sheet needed to bring it out as desired.
You pick or create a design. Move it to a specific printer digitally or place it on a silk screen. Then, select the best type of vinyl sheet for your design and feed it into the printer to reproduce your artwork. That’s generally how the vinyl decals-making process works.
It’s important to note that how vinyl decals are made affects their quality and durability. This is why some decals begin to fade within a few weeks. Others tear easily and damage your surfaces when removed.
This article outlines how we manufacture high-quality decals with a lifespan of over five years. We’ll take you through our process stage-by-stage while giving you crucial tips for getting the best-quality decals for your space.
How to Make Vinyl Decals
There are five main stages of making high-quality vinyl decals:
Stage 1: Preparation
The preparation stage involves gathering the equipment and supplies needed to make vinyl decals. Most people overlook this step, but it’s essential. Without the correct production equipment, there is no product.
Some tools required to facilitate the process of making decals include:
As the name suggests, design software helps you create designs or illustrations for the decals.
A printer is a vital element of the decals-making process. It’s what transforms a decal from an idea into a tangible product.
There are several types of printers fit for this purpose. Some of them are digital such as ink-jet and laser printers. And others, like screen printers, are non-digital.
Each printer works differently. Therefore, the decals they produce differ in terms of quality and longevity.
Essentially, this is the backbone of what vinyl decals are. You cannot have vinyl decals if the material used to produce the decal is anything other than a vinyl sheet.
The most common types of vinyl sheets used to make decals are printable, regular adhesive, and heat-transfer vinyl.
Printable and regular adhesive vinyl work well in digital printers. However, their end products differ. The difference comes in the way the decals look and stick to surfaces.
Decals made of regular adhesive vinyl cling more to surfaces compared to decals made of printable vinyl. Also, the process of making quality vinyl decals from these two materials is different.
Heat-transfer vinyl works best in screen printers.
Cutting machines help cut out the designs from the vinyl sheets.
Stage 2: Designing
When decals were invented, this stage of making them was challenging. Now, designing is easy due to the introduction of graphic design software. Using such software, you can create unique images, illustrations, and patterns for your vinyl decals within minutes.
We provide simple software on our site to make it easy for you to create or customize your channel letter designs. It’s straightforward and easy to edit and get a design that fits your brand perfectly.
You can upload your photos or those of your friends and family to create personalized vinyl decals perfect to use on gifts. We’ve also added a few design elements on various themes to inspire your creativity.
Overall, there are two aspects of design to pay attention to when using any design software – size and alignment.
Setting the page size and considering your design’s alignment helps your artwork line up with the printing. It ensures everything cuts seamlessly. Such details seem small, but they contribute to the quality of your vinyl decals at the end.
We consider designing a critical part of making vinyl decals because it guides the rest of the process. Your preferences at this point will determine how the next stage of the production process goes.
As a result, our expert designers are always keen to help you with this stage. Once your design is ready, we send it to the most suitable printer for production.
Stage 3: Printing
There are two main categories of printing techniques for making vinyl decals – digital and traditional. We’ll focus on digital printing in this article because it’s the widely-used method today.
The most popular printing techniques under the digital category are inkjet and laser printing techniques. They depend on the type of printer in use.
Inkjet Printing vs Laser Printing
Both techniques use ink or toner to recreate your digital design. The only difference is how the two printers do this when the printing process is in motion.
In inkjet printing, once the printer receives the digital image and the vinyl sheet is put in, it trickles tiny ink drops onto the vinyl sheet to recreate your design.
But in laser printing, a laser beam moves back and forth to remove charges from a surface first. The surface then takes up toner and deposits it on the vinyl sheet, transferring your image. Afterward, heating takes place for your text or artwork to fuse with the vinyl sheet.
Looking at how these printers work, you can tell that making vinyl decals through inkjet printing is faster than using laser printing. However, the quality of decals made differs.
We’ve found that laser printing produces top-notch quality texts and graphics with minimum effort. It is the best method for creating custom logo products or corporate branding and signage.
The decals last and are suitable indoors or outdoors because they are water-resistant. Also, color laser printing captures a brand’s theme colors perfectly.
Generally, inkjet printing requires more effort to get decals similar in quality to the ones produced via laser printing. Here, additional steps are necessary to increase the product’s durability or achieve a perfect finish depending on the type of vinyl sheet put into the inkjet printer.
Printable Vinyl vs Normal Adhesive Vinyl: Which One Is Best?
Although these types of vinyl are essentially what wall decals are made of, each is good for a specific purpose. We use both frequently to bring our client’s visions to life and enrich their spaces.
When looking for quick-to-apply and remove wall decals, using a printable vinyl sheet to make them would be best. You can get popular wall decals designs that work well on any surface. It’ll make reusing easier.
Often, we advise our clients to play around with the colors to get different effects and add some personality to popular designs. The watercolor effect and shading do this perfectly.
On the whole, decals made using printable vinyl are not very durable. They last for roughly one year only. As a result, an extra procedure called lamination is often necessary to increase their lifespan.
Lamination involves adding a protective material (laminate) to the decals. On top of increasing their durability, this process also makes them more water resistant.
Most people don’t realize that lamination is an opportunity to be a little more creative when making decals. We use a spray finish as the laminate instead of the regular see-through solid sheets where appropriate. With lamination, printable vinyl decals can last for nearly five years.
On the other hand, if you want stunning wall art that makes a statement in your home, using regular adhesive vinyl is it.
Making vinyl decals this way can be challenging because the ink doesn’t soak as fast as it does on printable vinyl. Instead, it collects into pools and runs off.
To succeed, we layer and transfer your designs using transfer tape. Then cut out their middle parts in a process called weeding.
Weeding is only done on some decals, like letters, to remove any excess vinyl and make them more visible. We can stack up six-color vinyl to create intricate artwork that brightens up your space. These decals outlast the ones made on printable vinyl.
For window decals, using perforated adhesive vinyl is what will give you that beautiful blend of art and privacy most people are after.
From the outside, one sees a lovely illustration or artwork without seeing through the window. And while inside, you see through the window as the sun shines through. This is how perforated window film works to protect your privacy without blocking natural light.
Stage 4: Cutting
Cutting your designs out is likely the easiest step of the vinyl decals production process. There are several computer-driven cutting machines to help with this. A regular pair of scissors works well for those operating on a small scale.
Here, precision is the key to giving your decals a smooth, professional look. For square-cut decals, mechanical cutting machines work best. They produce perfect straight cuts, which is crucial when applying such decals. We use die-cutting machines to meet our mass production needs.
Stage 5: Application
At this stage, your decal is ready for application. In our case, this stage also includes packaging and shipping the product to our clients.
If requested, we can also help with the display or application. But most of our home clients prefer applying their decals on their own.
Most people prefer making vinyl decals using printable vinyl sheets via inkjet digital printing. It’s easier and faster. However, the easiest and fastest way to do something may not always be the best. It’s advisable to consider your design and intent before picking the printing material or method.
If you are looking for removable wall decals to use and reuse on different surfaces, sure, inkjet printing with printable vinyl is best for this. But if you’re after a more permanent feel, go for the other printing techniques, no matter how tedious or complex they may seem.
Remember, our design experts are always here to help you out. So, if you’re finding it hard to choose or create your design – don’t panic, contact us. We will walk with you from ideation through to the end.
Did you enjoy reading our blog? Then consider checking other guides:
- Popular Vinyl Decals
- Types of Vinyl Decals
- Premium Vinyl Decals
- How to Apply Vinyl Decal
- How to Apply Vinyl Decal to Glass/Window
- Applying Vinyl Decals to Canvas
- How to Put Vinyl Decal on Curved Surface
- What Can You Put Vinyl Decals on
- Applying Vinyl Decals in Cold Weather
- Why Is My Vinyl Decal Not Sticking
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- Are Wall Decals Still in Style