If you’re looking to make hand-crafted items that feature crisp images, there are a number of tools that you can use to make your creations. If you’re interested in working only textile substrates alone, a heat press machine is the preferred choice, as it can produce a large amount of products in a short frame of time; however, if you want to work on more than add images to more than just garments – mugs, thermoses, wood, leather, or even picture frames, perhaps – a vinyl cutting machine is the tool you’re going to need.
A vinyl cutter transfers images onto vinyl with pinpoint precision. The vinyl graphics that the tool cuts out can then be applied to a variety of substrates. In other words, unlike a heat press machine, you aren’t limited to only textiles; instead, you can print images onto virtually any medium you can think of. But how exactly does vinyl cutting work? Below, we’ll explain the process so that you can gain a better understanding of how this handy, multi-purpose tool can be used to produce a wide variety of unique items.
Vinyl Cutting Explained
Vinyl cutting, as the name implies, involves cutting sheets of vinyl into specific designs. The images are created using a software program, and those images are then sent to the vinyl cutter, which then cuts out the design into a a sheet of vinyl. A small, sharp blade is situated inside the machine, which cuts through the vinyl to produce the desired image.
Essentially, a vinyl cutter is a machine that is controlled by a computer; similar to a printer. However, unlike a printer, vinyl cutting machines do not use ink to produce an image on a piece of paper, but rather, it contains a sharp knife that cuts the image that the machine has been instructed to create into a sheet of vinyl. Using software, you create an image on your computer, and that image is then sent from your computer to your vinyl cutter. The movements of the blade are directed by the software and the computer, much like a printer prints an image onto a piece of paper.
Once the image has been transferred onto the vinyl, it needs to be “weeded”; a term that is used to describe remove the unneeded parts from the material and the design. When the image has been properly weeded, you’re left with a vinyl print of the image that was created using your software program.
Creating the Finished Product
Once the finished vinyl product is created, you can apply it to virtually any substrate you can think of; glass, wood, binders, furniture, clothing, walls… you name it! To apply the image to the desired medium, you need to remove the backing from the adhesive along the back of the vinyl. Using care, you can then apply the adhesive side of the vinyl to the item of your choice. For example, if you are applying it to a wall, you would peel off the backing to expose the adhesive and carefully apply the vinyl image onto the wall. The use of a straightedge ensures that the graphic image is applied firmly onto the wall and prevents the creation of air bubbles.
There are a variety of ways that the images that are created with vinyl cutters can be applied to mediums; it really depends on the substrate that you are applying it to. Whatever type of material you are placing your vinyl prints onto, the finished results will be beautiful, long-lasting, and durable.
Whether you’re thinking about starting up a business selling unique, hand-made items, or you just want to create your own one-of-a-kind crafts, a vinyl cutter is a must-have in your arsenal of supplies.