Creating Vinyl Stickers




About: Space Technology and Planetary Exploration Engineering, working in development for Magna Parva Ltd. Also a proactive member of St John Ambulance and volunteer for various open source electronics and programm...

My hackspace has a Silhouette Portrait and I thought it would be nice to make a big sticker to put up on our hackspace door.

For the supplies I stumbled across MDP Supplies who do a variety of different vinyl by the roll.

Step 1: Preparing the Cutting Mat

I have roughly cut out the vinyl, not worrying too much about the edges, because it is just going to end up taking the logo out of the middle.

The vinyl then gets stuck down (paper size down) to the cutting mat and inserted into the cutter (by pressing the button which looks like a grid).

Step 2: Converting the SVG to Silhouette

Fortunately for me the Leicester Hackspace logo can be downloaded from the contact page on the hackspace website.

However, SVG's are not naively supported by the free version of the Silhouette Studio. I downloaded and installed inkscape and used the "save as" feature to save it as a DXF.

  1. Import the SVG into inkscape
  2. Resize the page to fit the drawing
  3. In the hackspace logo the H and the outline were separate, I used the "Path" -> "Difference" tool to subtract the two from each other so that it is one solid object.
  4. Save the logo to your desktop as a .dxf
  5. Tick the ROBO-Master type of spline and untick LWPOLYLINE
  6. Inside Silhouette Studio use the "File" -> "Import" -> "Import to Library" feature.
  7. The logo should now appear in your library.

Step 3: Placing the Item on the Cutting Mat

Because they are vectors graphic in Silhouette they can be scaled to whatever size you want/need. As to not waste too much vinyl I placed several in the unused spaces of the page.

Step 4: Setting the Cutter Depth

The software advised for vinyl to set the cutting depth to 2, so I did that with in built in knife adjustment tool that is fitted on the inside of the cutter.

Step 5: Sending It to Cut

Make sure you leave plenty of space behind the cutter too! I made the mistake initially where I left the rolls of vinyl behind the cutter and they all got pushed to the floor.

When it is complete, the cutting mat is mostly ejected (back to how it was when you loaded it) and you press the eject button to finally push it out.

Step 6: Peeling It Off

Now comes the fun part, peel off all of the waste to be left with only the bit you want! These are the stickers to be transferred on to whatever you need.

Step 7: Transfer Tape

I tried a load of different tapes (duct tape, sellotape, masking take, micropore medical tape, zinc oxide tape, parcel tape) but they were either all too sticky or too hard to work with. I ended up using electrical tape in lots of lines as my transfer tape.

To lift the sticker off the page make sure you use a shallow angle when pulling. Lift the corner no more than 15 ish degrees at a slow and steady rate. I used a hook shaped tool to lift off any of the detail bits that stayed stuck to the page.

Step 8: Sticking It Down

To transfer it down, line it up in whatever way you can, and don't stick it down all at once!

I typically start from the bottom and push the sticker up and onto the surface. That way you push out all of the air bubbles and abnormalities as you go along.

To remove the tape you now go at a steep angle. I pretty much come back on myself and slowly pull. Any bits that try to come off with the tape I push back with the hook tool again.

Step 9: The Finished Item

So, now can put stickers on my box, and have put sticker on the hackspace door :)

Hope you find some useful tips in this instructable, and if anyone in the UK knows of good suppliers for alternative transfer tape please let me know in the comments.



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    10 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Packing tape works well as a transfer material if you stick once or twice it to a T-shirt or some other cloth first before applying it to the vinyl, to sort of reduce the adhesive properties of the glue. It's commonly available in 3" widths and is fairly inexpensive. I used to make vinyl stickers (large and small) by hand using X-acto knives, and the packing tape trick worked really well.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I tried packing tape but it was just a bit too tacky, the vinyl would not peel off the tape. It was probably just the brand I have got, which brand do you use?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The tape I used was just some cheapie generic stuff I 'liberated' from my day job. Before using it, though, I would stick it to some cloth (usually a T-shirt or a towel) once or twice; this reduced the stickiness of the adhesive. Once it had been treated this way, it was just sticky enough to lift the vinyl from its backing and hold everything in place while the sticker was being applied, then the packing tape would peel off very easily.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Ok a few tips about stickers if you don't mind me sharing:

    a) use the proper lift off or application tape it really is worth the money and it works out far more cost effective than masking or painters tape. Secondly it has a low tac adhesive which makes removal easier and some even have a water soluble element which helps with tip b below.

    b) once you have removed you sticker from the backing spray the sticky side with a 10% mix of water and washing up liquid. This allows you to position and if necessary reposition the sticker with ease. It also allows the removal of all the air bubbles making the sticker adhere to the surface much better. Once the water has dried off the sticker will be perfectly flat and without any bubbles or marks. The water also makes removing the application tape easily as after a few minutes it has destroyed the adhesive and the application tape will simply just lift off.

    c) always remove the backing from the stickers from the last cut area to the first for some reason this makes the removal much easier.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, those are some really good looking tips. MDP Supplies have quite a large range of transfer tapes, from your comment it definitely sounds like it is worth investing in.

    The water tip is already a great idea, the sticker on my box is a bit wonky and I did not have a chance to rotate it once I put it down.


    4 years ago

    I've never done it, but this sounds like a great idea, hear me out. You can put a sheet of copper tape/foil with adhesive, and stick that on the cutting mat, then cut out circuit board then transfer that to a board and drill holes for components.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    For a little while I had a job decaling tractor trailers and I went to the place that made our decals. Let me just say your idea of big sticker pales in comparison. You could have played a game of basketball on their plotter. It was that big.


    4 years ago

    I used to do vinyl graphics for the carnival I worked at for 10 years. One of tHe few things I miss Iis access to their software. I've used Inkscape and it is similar to signlab, but signlab is like superman and Inkscape is more comparable to aqua man.