Introduction: Make Your Own Project Labels - Simply!
So you just finished that super Arduino temperature controller project that powers a 220 volt AC heater and you want to add a warning label for safety and also because it looks neat.
But, all you need is one "Danger High Voltage" sticker and don't wish to spend 20 dollars to purchase and wait for an entire pack of stickers to be shipped. All you need is one!
I'll show you how to make your one-of-a-kind label stickers.
It will only cost you a penny or so to make and about 10 minutes of your time.
The items you will need are:
- A printer (preferably color) or a thermal label maker.
- A roll of clear shipping tape, 2 inches wide or more.
- A roll of thin double sided tape (for example, carpet tape, NOT the thick foam type). 2 inches wide or more.
- A nice sharp set of scissors or a razor blade or a hobby knife and a straight edge ruler (for cleanly cutting out the finished label).
Please be careful with the sharp tools. If you cut yourself, it will make a mess out of your new label and maybe even require a hospital visit. You've been warned. PLEASE BE CAREFUL!
So, let's get started!
Step 1: Search the Web for the Kind of Image You Want
In this example, we will make a simple "Danger High Voltage" sticker for our project.
So, go online, type in a relevant search string such as 'danger high voltage', then click the control which displays images which the search located.
Step 2: Transfer the Image From the Web to Your Computer
Depending on the computer, operating system and image editing software you use, the exact method will vary a little bit.
The idea is to either copy the image, then paste it into your favorite graphics editor or else simply save the image to disk, then load it into your graphics editor.
Depending on your needs, the image may be fine as-is, or you may wish to edit some colors or text.
For example, maybe the perfect sticker you located says "Danger 120 Volts AC" but your project runs on 240 volts AC.
No problem, just cut out the "120" and edit in "240" (and/or any other changes you wish to make).
It's YOUR label, make it the way YOU want it!
Step 3: Prepare the Image for Printing
This method requires that your finished label be no taller than the width of the tape you have.
Typically, this is around 1.75 to 2.00 inches tall. Width is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.
So now, either resize the image in your graphics editor, or in the "print preview / setup" screen, set the print size to your liking (usually no taller than 2.00 inches).
Step 4: Print the Image of Your New Label Sticker
After editing the image to your liking (and don't forget to size the printout properly: 1.75 to 2.00 inches tall!), make a print of the image and remove it from the printer.
Step 5: Cover the Top With Clear Tape
To give a nice, shiny professional appearance and protect the label sticker from getting dirty, faded or peeled, cut out a generous length of clear shipping tape and apply it over the top of the image.
Be sure no dust gets caught under the tape and don't handle the image area. Fingerprints will show through and ruin the sticker.
Also be sure to lay the tape down smooth and flat the first time. You probably cannot successfully remove and re-stick the tape.
If you make a mistake, throw away the tape and print and try again.
Step 6: Apply Double Sided Tape to the Reverse Side
Hold the sheet of paper up to a light and carefully make an "X" mark at each corner (away from the image itself) to be used as a guide to properly align the double sided tape.
The printed image will be difficult to impossible to see from the back side, so the small ink marks assist in aligning the tape.
As with the clear tape, if you make a mistake, toss it away and try again. Attempting to pull the tape off and re-stick it most likely will not work.
Step 7: Check Your Work
Hold the almost finished label sticker up to the light and insure that the tape (both sides) properly covers the entire image with some border to spare.
Note the small red alignment marks I made on the reverse side to aid in aligning the double sided tape.
Step 8: Cut Out Your New Label
Using scissors or a sharp blade (hobby knife or a new razor blade and a straight edge), carefully cut out your label sticker.
Take your time. The more careful you are, the better the sticker will look.
You may notice in the following pictures that I did a rather sloppy job in cutting out this demo label and it shows.
Step 9: Prepare to Use Your New Label
Peel off the protective layer from the double sided tape, exposing the sticky surface.
Stick the protective layer back on to use as a "handle" to align the label without the need to touch the sticky surface and ruin it's adhesive properties.
Step 10: Line It Up...
Place the label where you want it. Be sure it is on straight. Compare the edges of the label to the edges of your project case and verify that it's all parallel.
A crooked label will look..... crooked... and unprofessional!
Step 11: ...and Stick It Down
Press down part of the sticker, carefully remove the protective film from the double sided tape and then press the rest of the sticker down firmly.
Be sure there are no trapped air bubbles, wrinkles or any other defects in the sticker.
The slightest imperfection, unfortunately, shows up at a glance.
Step 12: The Finished Product!
Here's your new label in all it's beauty.
Notice how my tiny error in cutting out the label is painfully visible and obvious.
Be sure to cut the label out slowly and carefully. A careful job cutting out the label will go a long way towards making it look as pretty and professional as possible!