This section describes the different steps followed to produce a simple sticker at the Fab Lab using your favorite image or graphics. It is important to note that if you planning to use your stickers for marketing and promotional purposes, make sure to ask for help from professionals, as it is not just about creating a pretty sticker. There are a number of things that you should keep in mind, including the message you want to communicate, the sizing/shape, the typography and the printing process.
Step – 1 : Design Your Sticker
In order to print and cut any sticker, you need to prepare the digital file first that you want to use for production. This could be a graphical vector file designed on any digital design software such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, GIMP and many more. It can also be simply an image that you like and you want to print and cut. However, with images, files need to be prepared, mainly to create the vector path that the machine should follow to cut the printed sticker. Below is a brief guide to walk you through the design process.
- Choose Your Size & Shape : The first aspect of your design to think of is the size and shape of your sticker. This mainly depends on the intended use of the sticker, and where you are planning to stick it. The most common shapes for stickers are regular rectangular, squared, or circular designs. Make sure to consider the limitations of the machine you will be using. Most machines have a limited size and length that they can handle.
- Choose Your Material: Typically you may have an idea about what kind of vinyl you will use and its color. You can print on Glossy or Matt White Vinyl. You can also use clear vinyl to create more custom-shaped designs. This allows you to create an entirely customized design even though, your sticker is simply a rectangle. Using clear vinyl also gives you the freedom to print in reverse, in case you are planning to stick them on windows or other transparent surfaces. In this example we will be using White Vinyl.
Make it Bright & Colorful: No matter were you are planning to use your sticker, the main purpose is to grab people’s attention. Because stickers are usually viewed from quite a distance, it is advised to make your sticker design bright and colorful. This does not mean to use every color of the rainbow. One or two colors are enough to do the job.
- Choose Your Best Typography: If your sticker is intended to communicate a message, it is very important to decide on the right choice of typography when designing your sticker. The main goal is to make sure that the message is readable by the intended audience, and to create brand visibility. It is advised that you choose a bold and clear typeface that can be read from a distance.
- Incorporate Your Brand: If your sticker represents and brand, it is important that the brand stays at the heart of your design. The main aim of a promotional sticker is to increase brand visibility, so unless your sticker well represents that brand, it is going to cause an undesired impact. It is always a good idea to include your logo in the sticker, as it is usually the most recognizable visual identity.
- Include a Call-To-Action: A call to action is usually a line of text or an image that prompts the recipient to take a specific course of action. This can be anything from visiting your website, following your social media profiles or give you a call.
- Keep Things Simple & To-The-Point: While a lot of information might be appropriate for leaflets, brochures or flyers, Stickers on the other hand should be as minimalistic and simple as possible.
In this case we used Adobe Illustrator to design the sticker. Make sure the lines you want to cut are single continuous lines. Join lines when needed using the Join function.
Step – 2: Prepare Your Design For Printing & Cutting
Once the design is ready, the next step is to prepare your design for Printing & Cutting.
You will then import the design file into a preparation software, in our case we use CorelDraw. The sheet width should correspond to the vinyl roll width.
- Set the Correct Size & Resolution: It is important to ensure that you set your file size and resolution correctly, as failure to do this often results in an unintentional outcome. Most printers require a resolution of 300 DPI, so make sure you change this before you set a new project. The correct size is usually straight forward, as long as you know how big you want your sticker.
- Set Up Your Cut Contour: Mark your cutting outline that will be followed by the machine to cut the designed sticker. The vinyl printer recognizes the special color that can be accessed by adding Roland Bn-20 illustrator color palettes. Mark the outline that you want to cut and choose the color named “CutContour”. Make sure you set up your bleed and trim correctly. The bleed is the area outside the trim, and we do it to ensure that you are not left with an undesirable white/clear line around the edge of your sticker. Also make sure to keep your text within a safe area from the trim line, to ensure that none of the text is accidentally cut-off during the trimming process.
Save your design as.PDF or .EPS, When saving as an .EPS, Make sure to uncheck “Convert a stroke to an outline”.
Step – 3: Setting Up The Vinyl Cutter
After choosing all variables, load the vinyl roll and turn on the vinyl cutter by following those steps:
- Pull the pinch roller lever and insert the material.
- Align the material with the rollers, then push the lever.
Step – 4: Input Design to Versaworks
Open Roland VersaWorks and load in your file.
- Go to File>Add Job to Queue A. Your job will then appear at the bottom of Queue A.
- Double click on your loaded file to open up the Job Settings Window, In your Job Settings window, you will need to check settings in the Layout, Quality, Printer Controls and Cut Controls tabs.
- Choose the option print and cut.
- From the first option, choose “get media size” to get the width of the material we put in the machine.
- Duplicate the drawing to fill the whole width to maximize the use of vinyl cutter, and minimize material loss.
Once everything is set, forward the job from the computer. This is when the magic happens!
Press the print button on VersaWorks. Accordingly, the vinyl printer & cutter starts.
Step – 5: Perform The Printing & Cutting Job
Remove you part after it is done and the vinyl is pushed forward.
Step – 6: Remove Your Media and Prepare you Sticker
To prepare the sticker, follow those steps.
- When the print is done cut the printed part with a cutter.
- Remove all unwanted parts of the Vinyl.
- Stick a transparent adhesive film on the remaining vinyl shapes
Step – 7: Transfer your sticker to the intended surface
To stick your sticker onto the intended surface, follow those steps:
- Clean the surface of choice to remove any dust and impurities
- Cut one sticker
- Remove the back paper support layer
- Stick the transparent sticky film with vinyl shape on the surface
- Press the vinyl onto the surface and make sure to remove all bubble stuck under it
- Slowly and carefully remove the adhesive film.