Cutting and Weeding
Initially perform a test cut on the material. Peel back the cut vinyl and check the cut to ensure that the blade has just marked the silicone layer of the release liner. Then look at the reverse (printed) side of the release liner and check that an impression of the cut is not visible on the reverse of the liner. If such a mark can be seen, the cut is too deep and can will cause paper de-lamination when weeding as well as premature blade wear and damage.
It is important to remember that the choice of cutting weight and depth is dependent on the film type, with cast materials requiring the least pressure and speciality materials such as polyester and reflective vinyls the most. For general guidelines refer to the plotter’s manual. Certain speciality materials such as fluorescent and reflective vinyls and sandblast vinyl will require a greater blade angle and a slower cutting speed, as will materials with a polyester face film.
When weeding, short sharp snatches can often prove the cleanest method, particularly where text has sharp serifs. Correct cutting will save weeding time. Cutting and weeding can prove difficult in cold or hot conditions and it is important to weed the graphic shortly after cutting to avoid adhesive bleed that will make weeding difficult, particularly in hot conditions
Applying Sign Vinyl Decals
The following is a recommended method for accurately aligning and applying sign vinyl decals.
- Once the decal has been cut and weeded, and application tape applied, it can be offered up to the substrate and carefully aligned in its final position.
- Apply a 50mm tab of masking tape to fix each end in place horizontally. Apply a third strip of masking tape vertically across the centre from top to bottom; the tape should extend above and below the decal and fix it to the substrate.
- Start with the right hand side of the decal and cut or tear the 50mm strip of masking tape, leaving half on the substrate. Turn the right hand side of the graphic back on itself. Peel away the silicone release liner, cutting it at the centre point where the vertical masking tape fixes the decal to the substrate, and discard. When peeling decals away from the silicone release liner always try to keep them as flat as possible and peel back the release liner towards you. This will reduce the chance of damage to fine details or serifs.
- The first half of the decal can now be lightly applied by holding it taught and using the two parts of the 50mm masking tape tab to align it perfectly. Squeegee down firmly.
- Remove the vertical strip of masking tape and repeat for the left hand side of the decal.
- Finally remove the application tape by peeling away at 45° to the direction of the text and 180° to the surface.
- Air bubbles can be removed by puncturing with the tip of a scalpel.
- This method of application can be modified for large graphics (in excess of 2m). Apply vertical strips of masking tape at two, three or more intervals. Cut the graphic half way between these points to form smaller panels and proceed as described above.