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Posted on February 12, 2016April 19, 2018 by Benjamin Gibert
You might wonder why the Alice Searching Behind the Curtains macbook sticker above is a vinyl sticker and not a decal. After all, it’s a single colour isn’t it? That’s absolutely right. The problem is that it’s a very complicated design. There’s no way you could get all the detail in the cross-hatching of that illustration in a small macbook decal. Our team would spend 10 hours to weed it and you would drive yourself crazy trying to keep all the little pieces on the application tape when you tried to stick it down. In cases where a single-colour design is too complicated to produce as a decal, we produce them as stickers that are printed onto transparent vinyl. The result is a product that looks a lot like a decal but has all the properties of a vinyl sticker.
Have a quick look at the products above. Do you notice any similarity between them? These are all vinyl decals. There’s a decal for a macbook, a vehicle and a wall. But the important thing is that they are all vinyl decals! You can get decals in lots of different colours and finishes but they are usually only in one single colour. Why? Because vinyl decals are physically cut from a roll of vinyl by a magical machine called a vinyl cutter or plotter. Here’s what our cutter looks like in our studio in Oxford.
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At Vinyl Revolution, we specialise in making the best quality vinyl products possible. That’s why we want to make sure everyone can understand the differences between vinyl stickers and decals. It’s not rocket science. It’s just some simple vinyl science that everyone can wrap their heads around (excuse the pun – we just can’t help ourselves).
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Have a great day and I hope you love the wonders of what vinyl can do! It is so easy to use and remove compared to paint, not to mention most of the time it cost less too! – Mike (from JustDecalit) ———————————————————- ———————————————————-
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REMOVAL OF VINYL: If you decide to remove your vinyl in the future all you need to do is start to peel on the edge and slowly remove at a downward slanted angle. Then use rubbing alcohol or goo gone to remove any sticky residue left behind.
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Combine all the layers onto a single piece of backing paper before taping them. This leaves you with only one layer to apply when it comes to sticking it to your surface. Tape each layer separately. This means you then have to combine each layer separately when you try and stick it on your surface.
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Technically, you could make a vinyl decal with multiple colours. But to do this you’d have to cut each layer of vinyl separately and then do one of the following:
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You might have heard the terms vinyl stickers and vinyl decals before and wondered what the difference is? It’s not surprising you might be confused. A lot of people seem to use the terms interchangeably. Or they think that hearing the word vinyl immediately means decal. But vinyl stickers and vinyl decals are very different and it’s important to understand the difference when buying online in our shop. You need to be sure you’re getting what you want!
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Have a look at the products above. The similarity between these three stickers might be harder to notice than for the decals at the start of this post. But there is one thing they all have in common. Each of these vinyl stickers is printed onto vinyl using a wide-format printer. We load a roll of digital vinyl that absorbs the inks we use and keeps them looking great for ages. We use special repositionable vinyl for our stickers because it is much easier to apply and remove than other stickers while benefiting from all the long-lasting properties of vinyl. This is particularly important for wall stickers, when you don’t want to damage your wall upon removal. Here’s a photo of one of our printers in our studio in Oxford. Looks a little more complicated than the plotter doesn’t it?
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Once the vinyl has been cut it’s removed from the machine and laid on a table for weeding. Weeding is when the excess vinyl (the negative space in your decal) is removed by hand. This can be quite a time consuming process depending on the complexity of the design. Check out the video below for an example of what this looks like. Thankfully we can speed it up so you won’t be watching for hours!
Ok. Maybe not quite a vinyl wizard. The vinyl wizards in our studio have been honing their craft for years to learn the best way to weed a decal and create design files for die-cut stickers. Their experience helps us to make the best vinyl stickers and decals around.
Once the decal has been weeded, it’s ready for the taping machine. When the decal is pushed through the taping machine it rolls a layer of application tape onto the decal. This is what is then used to apply the decal to a surface. Voila! You’ve got yourself a vinyl decal.
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The vinyl cutter is connected to a computer which allows it to read our vector design files. The cutter uses a single, tiny blade to cut into the vinyl .The big roll of vinyl is moved back and forth as the blade cuts into the material. Most importantly, the blade only cuts deep enough to slice through the vinyl material, not the backing paper it is stuck to. The result looks almost exactly as before. One big sheet of vinyl. But there’s an important difference! Look closely and you’ll see tons of tiny little lines cut into the material.
Weeding one vinyl decal is already quite a lot of work. Doing option 1 above is very time consuming to produce and would mean your decal would get very expensive. Doing option 2 above means you’d have to stick multiple layers on your surface, which can be a serious pain. While we do this sort of thing all the time for businesses that hire our professional services, we rarely include it in our products. Why? Because some customers already struggle with applying their decal. It can get a bit tricky with all the bits and pieces. Imagine trying to do multiple layers!
This is just a quick and simple guide to help people insure they install their decals on a good clean surface so that they last the longest and look the best. Please note I am not the best writer, I was a math geek in school and not the greatest at English.
So that said any typos I am sorry and just let me know! -Mike STEP 1: CLEAN THAT AREA GOOD! First make sure you have a dry place and no wind to install your decal. Make sure to prep the area, this is the most important part of installing a decal! If you put your decal or sticker on a dirty surface, it will just pick that dirt and grim up like a lint roller does your shirt, those aren’t so sticky after you use them are they! So lets make sure the area is nice and clean so that it can adhere to where you are going to place it.
You can use soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or any other fast drying cleaner. My favorite is rubbing alcohol since it dries by itself within seconds and leaves no residue behind. On that note, do NOT use anything like windex or other household spray cleaners that leave a residue behind or oily substance, that defeats the purpose and will cause your decal/sticker not to adhere to the best of it capabilities.
STEP 2: DECIDE AND PEEL! After you have cleaned your car, you now need to decide where you want to center your decal in the area you cleaned. I use a measuring tape to measure from different spots on the car to make sure I have it exactly where I want it and that it will not turn out crooked.
When I measure I use a piece of masking tape to mark the measurements, normally four for left/right/top/bottom. Then I have a some what boxed area to force me to place the decal where it should go.
Be aware after you stick it, you might can not undo it and use it again, since it can separate the design or text from each other. After you decide where you want it, go ahead and start to peel your decal back, if it doesn’t stick to the transfer tape the first pull, replace the transfer tape and push it together with your fingers or use a credit card to press together.
STEP 3: PLACE THAT DECAL! So you cleaned your area and also decided how and where you are going to place your new decal or sticker and you made sure your decal can peel apart easily. FOR SMALLER DECALS – Now fully peel the decal off the backing and hold it on the tips of the masking/transfer tape.
Try not to touch the back of the decal itself since it could leave dirt on your decals back side. You should have each hand holding the furthest corners from each other and keep it tight so that the decal does not fold in on itself.
Place one end of the decal down and then smooth it out to the other end till the decal is fully placed. FOR BIGGER DECALS – Do not fully remove the backing on your decal. You will want to remove about 1/3 of the backing and start by applying that 1/3 of the decal to the car.
Then slowly pull more of the backing off while at the same time apply the decal to the car until you have fully installed the decal. Either work left to right or right to left, which ever you feel best doing.
Don’t forget you can always buy a $1 spray bottle at your dollar store, put ONE small drop of soap in it and fill with water and shake. Then LIGHTLY (I MEAN LIGHTLY) spray the area and then apply the decal.
This is only suggest for bigger decals or decals that you need to be in a precise area. STEP 3: THE HARDEST PART! Waiting… yes this is the hardest part, because most people are so impatient that they can’t wait and they mess up the decal by removing the transfer tape too early! The best way to allow your decal to dry is out in the sun, having it in the shade or in a cool place will only make it take longer.
If you used a mist of soapy water when installing your decal and do not let the sun dry it, then it will take a very long time before it adheres correctly, since nothing is there to remove the water and dry the decal to the surface.
Do not try and rush this buy using a heat gun, you can melt the transfer tape and vinyl and when you peel it, it could cause the decal to stretch with the transfer tape. Again the best way is the sun.
Finally just give the decal 30 minutes before you remove the transfer tape, go inside and eat lunch. By the time your done you should be able to go back outside and finish your decal and be in a good mood from that great lunch and nice cold sweet tea! If your decal is still not sticking, make sure you got it in the sun and it is warm out side, and just give it a bit longer.
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Vinyl stickers can still have shapes cut out of them. In fact, most of our stickers have shapes cut out of them. They just look much better when stuck to your surface like that. We actually die-cut all of our stickers to make them look even better. That means that after your sticker is printed onto the roll of vinyl, the same machine goes back and cuts a contour for each sticker into the role. This cutting process is exactly the same as for decals with one important difference: the blade is set to cut all the way through the vinyl and backing paper (rather than just the vinyl). This creates a die-cut sticker that we pop out of the big vinyl roll and quality control before preparing it to be sent anywhere in the world.
Wait a minute. Did you just understand all the terms in those last sentences? If you did than you just might be on your way to becoming a true wizard. Welcome to the club. Now use your newfound knowledge to impress your friends. Or head to our online shop and buy something knowing exactly what to expect. Want your own custom decal or sticker? Just contact us and we’ll be happy to help!
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