Stickers can be made on inkjet plotters and vinyl cutting plotters. A vinyl cutting plotter actually cuts letters and designs out of adhesive vinyl while an inkjet plotter can print large, highly detailed images up to 17-by-11-in. on adhesive-backed paper, allowing you to manually cut out the sticker. The type of plotter you use will depend on whether you want a design-printed sticker or simply a cut-out vinyl one.
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Things you need
- Digital imaging software
- Adhesive-backed printing paper
Set up the plotter on your computer. Install the drives using the CD packaged with the plotter by inserting the CD into the computer and waiting for the installation wizard to start automatically. If you no longer have this CD, download the information from the manufacturer's website. Connect a USB cord to the back of the printer and to a free USB port on the computer when prompted by the installation program.
Open your digital imaging software, and create the design you want. If you don't have digital imaging software, download a free software program like MS Paint or Gimp. (See Resources.) Open photographs or clip art in the program if you can't create your own image.
Move the paper guide to the side until it is about 1 in. wider than the width of your paper. Insert the special adhesive backed paper into the plotter, and use the printer dials to help guide the paper through the rollers. Make the paper long enough so you can push the tension roller over it to hold it in place as the printer works. Place the side paper guide back next to the paper to guide the print.
Go to "File" and then "Print" in your digital software. Wait for the image to print, and use the printer dials to gently roll out enough of the print so you can cut it with an box cutter.
Cut the image out on a cardboard work surface, and remove the sticker from the adhesive backing. Place your sticker on any surface you want.
Install the drivers for the vinyl cutter plotter, if you haven't already connected it to the computer. Insert the installation CD, and wait for the installation wizard to start. Follow the on-screen instructions, and connect the USB cable to both the printer and the computer USB ports when prompted by the program. When the program completes, click "Finish."
Create the decal you want in an image designing software. Save the final image as a .peg in your "My Documents" folder.
Open the plotter cutting software program you just installed. Locate this program under the "Start" menu and "Programs" option.
Choose the "File" option ,and select "Open." Locate the jepg document you saved. Make any size adjustments you need by clicking the "Image" tab and choosing from the available options.
Pull out the vinyl plotter tension roller until it is in the full up position. Push the side guide out until it is 1 in. further than the width of the vinyl paper.
Roll the vinyl paper into the plotter using the dial. Make sure the vinyl is under the blades and the shiny vinyl side is face up. Move the paper guide back up against the vinyl side. This will keep the vinyl from moving as it is being cut.
Pull the vinyl up into position where the tension roller can be placed back down over the vinyl to keep it tense as it's being cut.
Turn the plotter on, and wait for it to warm up. Set the cutting depth of the blades. Refer to your manual for the best cutting depth, which depends on the paper you are using. Select the "Test" key on the printer to test the cutting depth. Adjust the blade depth and blades as necessary, referring to the plotter manual to make these adjustments.
Click the "Print" or "Cut" tab in the software program to cut the vinyl. Remove excess vinyl with an utility knife.
Tips and warnings
- Vinyl designs can also be made directly in the vinyl cutting software rather than a separate program.
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