Apply vinyl decals
First it was anodized hardware, then colored fuel tubing; now vinyl decals are the new craze for customizing a car. Vinyl-decal logos of several manufacturers are available to trick out your ride, and decal-making machines, such as that offered by Roland Digital Group*, allow you to create your own decals and graphics. Believe it or not, there is a correct way to apply a decal. Here is a step-by-step guide to success: no air bubbles, no wrinkles and no unsightly, uneven letters.
1 DESIGN. Same companies sell precut decals that are ready for appilcation, but we’ll start at ground zero with Roland Digital Group’s decal cutter. This very precise tool creates custom paint masks and decals; hand-cut graphics look kinds back. The computer software and cutting machine kit allow you to design your own logos and graphics or to Import graphics from a scanning program. Here, I’m using basic fonts sup. plied with the cutting program to create a logo decal.
2 CUT After the decal has “been designed, all you have to do Is sew the “Print-Cut” command, and the machine takes care of the rest.
3 WEEDING. After the machine has finished cutting the decal, you must remove (or “weed”) the negative spaces (or insides) of letters such as 0, P, D and Q and any areas whom you want the vehicles surface to show th. Use a hobby knife to pull up the material.
4 MASK WEEDING. Vinyl decals may be used as masks for painted-on graphics. There am two ways to wood and use a mask decal. You may weed the letters as negative space, leaving the decal material on the outside; when paint is applied, the letters will show up “positive” when the mask is removed. The other way is to remove the vinyl outside the letters, so they will be “negative”–visible as clear Lexanuntil a color is applied; this technique is useful for painting lightcolored letters an the inside of dark-colored bodies. No matter which technique you use, remember to reverse the letters when using decals as a mask. When applied to the body’s inside, the reversed letters will read correctly on the outside.
5 TRANSFER TAPE. Transfer tape is used to remove a vinyl decal from its bacig with
out disturbing the alignment of the decal’s indWMual letters or design elements. Once the decal has been completely weeded, apply transfer tape over it, making sure you cover every component of the design. Although it looks Ike masking tape, transfer tape has a “low tack” adhesive that sticks just enough to pull the vinyl off the backing sheet, but not so much that it then polls the decal away from the object to which it has been applied. Masking tape wig work in a pinch, but genuine transfer tape is best. You can get it from a sign supply shop. You could by to remove the letters or graphic elements one by one, but I you do, you risk placing the pieces unevenly.
6. APPLICATION. After placing a decal on the vehicle’s body, press it down, working outward ftm the center to renmve air bubbles. A credit card, (or plastic library card In my case; it’s the only time I use it) comes in handy here. Use it to squeegee the decal. By “working” the decal, there is less chance of having air bubbles trapped under the decal. If air bubbles remain under the decal, prick them with a pin and work the air out using the card.
7APPLICATION OVER CURVES. Placing a decal is easy I the surface is flat like a wing or a hood, but an a curve the potential for wrinkling is increased. Here is where the job becomes time-consuming, but a little effort makes the difference between a graphic you can take pride in and a back job. Spray the area of the body where you wish to apply the decal with an alcohol-based glass cleaner, then apply the decal to the wet surface. The slippery surface will allow you to slide the decal into position and to work the decal ever the curve before it dries.
8FORMING. Another way to apply a decal over a curve is the forming method, using a hairdryer. With the dryer on the Now” setting, heat the decal while working it with a plastic card or fingertip to help smooth it over the curve.
9FINAL TOUCH. When the decal is finally stock on, you can remove the transfer tape. Slowly peel the tape off the decal, and check for decal edges that we still sticking to the tape. It a portion of the decal stays stuck, roll the decal and transfer tape back dean on the body and burnish it down with a fingernail or card. You could also slip a hobby knife between the decal and transfer tape and separate them partway. Hold the piece of the decal you burnished down on the body and try pulling off the transfer tape again. A short Mast of hot air from the hairdryer will reactivate the adhesive and the decal will stick better
Applying vinyl decals is fairly easy, but it can be time-consuming. If you do take your time, you will be rewarded with wrinkle- and air-bubble-free decals. ill
Copyright Air Age Publishing March 2000
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