Efficient Decal Production

When you hear the term “decal,” it can apply to a range of products from truck door graphics to short and long runs of small stickers. Typically, I define a decal as a one-color cut-vinyl graphic or a full-color digitally printed vinyl graphic that may or may not be contour cut. Producing decals efficiently is a process made up of a lot of little tips and tricks. Pick and choose the ideas that will work for your shop.

·         Try to schedule and cut all of the cut vinyl jobs together and produce the printed jobs together. By doing this, you can maximize both our time and material by nesting graphics together.

·         When setting up printed and cut graphics, create straight weed borders by designing with a box around the graphics. Prior to cutting, move the box in about a ¼" around the graphics. Once the graphics are masked you can cut straight edges around the decal. During installation, light-color vinyl, scripts, and angled text or logos make it difficult to measure to the graphic. It’s much easier and faster to take measurements to a straight weed border.

·         Weed borders also make it easier to line up two-color graphics. If a customer will be applying the graphics themselves, use the weed border to line up one masked graphic over the other unmasked graphic. Then create a tape hinge and run the graphics through the laminator to eliminate bubbles. If the two colors don’t actually overlap, bubbles aren’t a problem.
If you are installing the graphics, apply the base color and then, before peeling the mask off, put tape squares along the edge of the mask in the top two corners. Using these as reference marks, you can line up the second masked graphic and apply it as normal.

·         For cut-vinyl graphics, keep the font style simple. Profit margins can be completely lost in time/labor spent doing fine weeding. Be sure that scripts and serif fonts are large enough to weed quickly. For small text, use a san serif font.

·         Use the handy variable data printing tool available in many good RIP packages. Variable data printing is an extremely efficient way to create a run of decals that have the same background design and layout, but where the text or numbering on the decal needs to be different on each decal.