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How Vinyl Decals Are Made

Customers of CustomVinylDecor.com often want to know what's involved in the process of creating the vinyl decals we make and sell. The production of vinyl decals, including stock and custom designed products, involves a few steps:

  • Creating the a digital version of the design
  • Preparing the vinyl cutter
  • Sending the digital design to the cutter
  • Weeding the design from the vinyl

Designing the Vinyl Decal

Vinyl decals can be designed using one of the popular image editing software tools available.  We use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Some designers use Gimp, a free tool for image editing that can do most of what Illustrator and Photoshop can do, but that has limitations.

design-illustrator.jpg

After the design has been created on Illustrator or Photoshop, we then send the design to a software application called Inkscape, which is capable of communicating with our vinyl cutter, a Graphtec machine.

Some vinyl cutters come with proprietary software that includes a plugin that is capable of communicating with Illustrator directly. For these setups, an intermediate software application is unnecessary, because the design can be "printed" to the vinyl cutter directly from the program in which it is designed.

Also, for simpler designs, Inkscape can be used as the graphics editor. In these cases, need for designing with Illustrator, Photoshop, Gimp, or one of the other advanced graphic design software tools is eliminated.

outline-illustrator.jpg

Preparing The Vinyl Cutter

Preparing the vinyl cutter involves placing a roll of vinyl on the cutter's rollers, positioning the guides so that they match the width of the design that will be cut, and configuring the settings on the cutter in preparation for receiving the design from Inkscape.

Cutting The Vinyl

The vinyl design is sent from Inkscape to the Graphtec printer using the "Print" function in Inkscape. Once the design has been prepared in Inkscape and the "Print" option has sent the design to the cutter, the cutter interprets the design it receives from Inkscape to cut out the vinyl decal.

Inkscape is used to send the vinyl design to the cutter

It's important to note that the cutter simply makes cuts on the vinyl without otherwise separating or removing the design from the surrounding vinyl.  The final step, weeding, removes the excess vinyl from the vinyl decal.

Weeding the Vinyl

The process of separating the vinyl decal design from the extra vinyl material is called weeding. The video below is a quick example of how weeding is done.

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