When Were Decals Invented?

Wall and window decals are becoming a phenomenon in home renovation. They’re easy to apply, they’re affordable, and they give the room a more personal touch.

So, when were wall decals invented?  

Before we can dive into when they were invented, what is a wall decal, and what’s all the hype surrounding them?

What This Article Covers:

What Are Wall Decals?

Who invented the decal

Wall decals are a good way to spice up your environment and serve as a replacement for posters and paintings. 

They are typically made from vinyl rolls and can be applied to almost any surface.

These are not to be confused with stickers. Vinyl wall decals are transferred to your wall from a transfer material, whilst stickers use a sticky adhesive and can be removed with ease.

You can think of a wall decal as one of those temporary tattoos you had as a kid, except it won’t come off your wall as easily.

The designs of wall decals are often intricate and are made up of different components and patterns. This means that they require a considerable amount of patience when applying them.

But what are vinyl decals used for outside of making your environment more lively and artsy?

Well, vinyl decals are also used on vehicles, giving your ride a personalized aesthetic.

Today we’re going to focus on wall decals, breaking down when they were invented and why so many people prefer them over posters or canvas.

Many people use custom-made wall decals to make the space have a more personal aesthetic. 

Yes, you could purchase a painting or a canvas, but that means something will be against your wall.

Having artwork become one with your wall through a sticking adhesive means that nothing will be separating the decal from the wall.

Now that we’ve got an idea of what they are, how are vinyl decals made?

How Are they Made?

when was wall decal invented

The first step to making a vinyl decal is designing it on a computer or mobile phone using a graphic design application.

Once it’s designed, it needs to be digitally cut to remove the trimmings you don’t want in your final vinyl print.

A vinyl cutter is then set up with the PVC vinyl. The cutter checks to see if the printing material is inserted properly and can be used for printing.

Once everything is ready on the vinyl cutter’s side, you can send your digital design to the cutter.

The cutter receives the design and proceeds to cut into the PVC using a precision knife. It traces the path, going from one letter or pattern to the next.

Once the cutter is finished, the weeding process can occur. This is simply peeling off the unwanted pieces once the vinyl has been traced.

Transfer tape is then placed over the final decal design, allowing you to apply the decal to whatever surface you wish.

So, if you’re still wondering what window decals are, or today’s topic of wall decals, they’re all made using the same equipment and materials.

The Invention of Decals

As early as the 19th century, people were trying to move an image or engraving from one place to another.

One french man by the name of Simon Ravenet made this possible. He was a skilled engraver who traveled to England to further harness his decal skills.

He found a way to take engravings from pottery and transfer it to various materials so that those engravings could be used elsewhere.

Stickers were created before decals were invented, being used in the form of postage stamps and glue gum stickers in the 1800s.

However, we want to keep our focus on vinyl wall decals.

the invention of decals

As time passed, different printing materials were being developed, such as perforated vinyl.

So what is perforated vinyl you ask?

Well, as much as all decals use the same equipment, some materials will make for a better vinyl quality depending on the surface you’re wanting to stick it to.

Perforated vinyl works best for windowpanes due to it consisting of tiny holes and an adhesive-backed PVC. This makes for a gentler stick against a more fragile surface.

These printing materials are needed to place inside of a machine. That machine is the vinyl cutter.

History of the Vinyl Cutter

The vinyl cutter is self-explanatory. It’s used to cut graphics onto vinyl sheets, allowing for a sticky adhesive to be applied on the backside of the sheet.

This sticky adhesive would then be removed from the back and placed onto a wall or glass pane.

Before the vinyl cutter, the decals had to be extracted using the Simon Ravenet method, which required them to be hand extracted or painted.

These machines were eventually invented in the 1980s but reached their height of popularity in the 90s and early 2000s.

The reason they became more popular in that period was due to the personal computer being more accessible for companies and consumers.

the invention of wall decals

This means that smaller businesses could open and make vinyl decal printing a form of profitable income.

However these machines were priced at around $10,000, but once a business owner or consumer got hold of it, vinyl decals could be made and sold with ease.

Hybrid cutters emerged after the early 2000s, allowing for full-color decals to be developed.

This means that the prior cutters only allowed for black and white decals. Some allowed for a very little color but it was mostly black and white designs.

Customers could now have more detailed and colorful decals instead of being restricted to monochromatic designs.

To this day vinyl wall decals are seen as a way to replace the bulky artwork and canvas in your homes with something that simply sticks to your wall’s surface.

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