Jun 24, 2019

Brilliant, bright colors, durability, design flexibility, affordability. Vinyl graphics are an attractive solution for many types of signage requirements. After all, this is signage that we can apply to nearly any kind of non-porous window or wall surface. It’s removable, too. Or, from another point of view, updatable. Seasonable.  And the icing on the cake? Environmentally friendly. Let’s look at the way it’s done.


Making professional-quality vinyl graphics signage is a tech-driven process nowadays. A high-end computer system and a set of various cutting devices make up the basic hardware investment. A suite of design and process control software applications makes it all happen.  That is, in the hands of trained, experienced, and creative staff. Do-it-yourself “consumer level” versions of all these components are out there.  And in fact, they’re not bad. For what they are, that is. The difference between DIY and professional vinyl graphics? It’s much like the difference between your latest iPhone video and Spielberg’s latest movie.


The process goes through stages of conception, design, and output.  A client typically brings to the table a list of text content and graphics items. There are parameters of size, shape, color, finish, reflectivity, opacity, and other visual elements. Once we’ve got consensus with a client on these specs, a designer creates prototypes in software. We tweak fonts, colors, layouts, etc., until the client’s cried “Perfect!”. Then comes the output stage.


At this point, the product exists as a data set in a computer. The output process transforms this data set into a physical object, the vinyl graphics sign. The details of the process depend on the specifics of the design itself, the selected types of vinyl material, and the signage’s size. It can be highly technical and involve conversions of the data for compatibility with a downstream device.

Simply put, the output process involves the computer taking control of a device like a blade cutter. A little like your home printer. But it cuts vinyl rather than printing on paper. At the professional level, though, the complexity and sophistication of the product require expert, hands-on involvement. For example, the output device may do what we call “kiss cuts” while shaping letters. The blades, that is, cut only through the top two layers of vinyl. A craftsman then manually removes the excess vinyl. For example, from the space inside a cut “O”. This is called “weeding”.


Finally, crafters apply the adhesive-backed signage elements to the substrate, or background. There are several ways to do this. The trick is in knowing from experience which method best suits a particular application. The finished installation by a professional team is exactly what the client and designers created and viewed on-screen. It’s so affordable it’s a no-brainer to choose pros over bros, as they say.

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