Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
In this guide we're making a vinyl car decal.

Some background:
Stephanie is the director of the San Francisco office of The Humane League, an animal protection organization. She gives presentations at schools and travels a lot for her outreach work. She came to a Hack for Animals night and we came up with the idea of converting her personal car into something that promotes her organization while she travels, so I helped her make this vinyl-cut sticker.

This project was made on the vinyl cutter at TechShop.

Materials:
* Some vinyl sticker paper
* Contact paper
* Rubbing alcohol

Equipment:
* Vinyl cutter machine - I used the one at TechShop, I recommend looking for a maker space that may have one
* Exacto knife
* Dental tools or toothpicks
* Squeegee

Step 1: Prepare the files

Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
You'll need to create your artwork as a vector file. We started with a PNG logo and used live trace in Illustrator to convert it to a vector file.
Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
humane-league-new.eps1 MB

Step 2: Run the vinyl cutter with your design

Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
We used the vinyl cutter at TechShop. This machine takes our image and cuts it onto the sheet of vinyl.

Step 3: Remove the negative space

Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Using dental tools and an exacto knife we cut out the negative space in the design. It'll take some time to get it all cleaned up. You want to end up with a piece that have your design stuck to the white backing.

Step 4: Cover your piece with contact paper

Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
After cleaning up the design, we cover the piece with contact paper so we can adhere it to a surface. Smooth out the contact paper so we can get good contact with the surface and reduce air bubbles.

After this step our big decal is ready to be deployed.

Step 5: Clean your car for maximum sticking power

Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Use the rubbing alcohol to clean up the car door before placing the sticker. Remove dirt and any particles.

Step 6: Place the sticker

Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Start from one side and smooth out the sticker as you place it. This will help prevent airbubles. Use the squeegee to smooth out the sticker as you place it.

After you place the sticker, remove the clear contact paper film. Be careful around the edges. After you remove the clear sheet, use your hands or the squeegee and push down the sticker for good adhesion.

Step 7: Finished product

Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter
Car Decal Sticker - made with a vinyl cutter

If you need to remove the sticker at any point, you can use a hair dryer to heat up the vinyl and it'll come off a little easier.

 
 

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