Banner Making: From Envision to Completion
VINYL BANNER MAKING...STEP-BY-STEP:
Now you understand a bit about the types of equipment, software, and design considerations that go into making a banner with vinyl graphics. Here we give you a more in-depth description of how these individal steps in the process are done by the sign maker. Taking into account the labor listed below will help you make an informed decision about designing your banner or choosing a method of production.
Computer cut vinyl letters are cut with a "vinyl cutter/plotter". These cutters are software driven using vector based programs similar to CAD programs. Solid colored rolls of vinyl film are fed into the cutter. These vinyl rolls are composed of two parts - adhesive vinyl on top of a waxy paper "carrier". The software program sends the appropriate color vector image to the knife blade of the cutter. The knife blade follows the artwork "path" instructions provided by software program. The blade cuts through the vinyl layer, but not through the paper carrier, producing the desired graphic shape. If the banner artwork has more that one color, the next roll of vinyl is placed on the cutter and that color vinyl is then cut. This process continues until all of the banner graphic colors are cut.
Weeding vinyl is called weeding because it is like weeding a vegetables garden - all of the good stuff stays and all the "weeds" or bad stuff gets pulled out and thrown away. Weeding is hand done - there is no such thing as a weeding machine. Each unwanted element is picked out of the roll of vinyl and discarded. The more letters and graphics that are on a banner, the more time it takes to weed away the unwanted vinyl.
After weeding out the unwanted vinyl, the next step is setting up the vinyl for transfer to the banner material. Since the vinyl is now cut out and weeded, we need a method to transfer these graphics to the banner all in one piece. This is done by completely covering all the graphics with "transfer tape". The transfer tape is like a low tack masking tape but comes in widths up to 48". The transfer tape allow us to lift the graphics off the waxy paper, all in one piece, while still keeping the original spacing between all elements of the cut image. Each vinyl color is separately weeded and taped using the same procedures.
Prior to the application of the vinyl, the banner preparation begins - measuring, cutting, cleaning, and determining vinyl graphic placement. After the banner is prepared, each taped vinyl colored image is peeled off the waxy paper liner and aligned for placement on the banner. Each color is placed in its desired position and burnished down onto the banner using a squeegee. The transfer tape (which has a lower adhesion than the adhesive vinyl) is peeled away from the banner and the vinyl image remains on the banner. After the tape is removed, the vinyl image is squeegeed again, enabling the adhesive vinyl to stick to the banner.