How a Vinyl Design Comes to Life

Curious to know? Well we’re going to take a minute to explain to you all of the steps for making a vinyl decal.

What we do first is brainstorm for design ideas. We meet and discuss what people are talking about, looking for, and what makes a good design for After we come up with a design, we simply make sketches until the design is close to what the finished product should look like. Once the hand-drawing process is complete, we scan the design into a computer. Other times, designers will just create an image from scratch using design software. Whether hand-drawn or digitally created, the design team converts the design file into another that is recognized by the machine software.

The next step for the team is to load vinyl into the machine. Vinyl comes on rolls in various widths, lengths, and colors. Once we have the selected color and size, the vinyl is loaded into a plotter, or cutter. This machine works on two perpendicular axes, mostly made up of rollers that move the vinyl forward and backward, as well as a belt-driven knife that moves side to side. The vinyl moves from front to back and the blade moves across the vinyl on a horizontal axis. To give you a better idea of how this works, imagine having a piece of paper on a desk that you move with your left hand. In your right hand, hold a pen straight up and move your hand only from side to side. Move the paper forward and backwards with your left hand to create a design and you have the basic idea!

The vinyl is then trimmed off of the machine and taken to the weeding table. At this station, we pick out all of the vinyl that is to be discarded in the design. We use a sharp point to pull up the excess vinyl and have to be careful not to let any of the peeled vinyl to touch and pick up pieces of the design. Once all of the unwanted pieces are removed from the sheet of vinyl, the decal is then “pre-masked.”

For the pre-masking stage, we use large rolls of masking tape to cover the vinyl design. This will serve as the transfer paper that will leave just the vinyl on your walls. We pull a sheet of this paper over top of the vinyl design. We then go over it with a squeegee to make sure that wrinkles and air are kept out of the “vinyl sandwich.” Trim off the edges and excess paper, and you’ve got a completed decal!

Each decal is made-to-order. We make everything right in our own shop here in Charleston, South Carolina. Using this process, we can efficiently cut and manufacture decals at a great pace. We’re always looking for new designs to cut, so if you have any suggestions, let us know! We would love to hear your input on the designs, but also on the how-to of it all!

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