If you have experience in graphic design, vinyl sign making could be a great way for you to make some extra money on the side or turn it into your regular business. While it is possible to work out of your house to make vinyl signs for sale, you should try to operate your business as professionally as possible. Cash flow is always tight when starting out a business or new venture, so it is understandable to want to try to minimize your initial investment. This list of vinyl sign making supplies will help you to understand the basics of what you will need to get started on your sign making business without breaking the bank.
1. Design Program
Sometimes, when you buy your vinyl cutter, it will come with its own design program. If it does not, you will definitely need to invest in one. Adobe is a safe bet for just getting started in the business. This software program is used by many graphic designers across multiple platforms and is relatively inexpensive. For the types of graphics that you will be designing and printing for vinyl signs, a program like Adobe will definitely make the cut. Many graphic designers are also familiar with using Photoshop to complete their projects. This can be useful for other mediums, but it is likely that the level of detail in graphics that Photoshop is used for is not really necessary for the vinyl sign medium.
Illustrator is another software program that you may consider. The benefits of using Illustrator are that it allows for working with vector art files, which is probably what you will be ultimately using for your vinyl sign designs. Vinyl cutter-ready vector art (VCRVA or VCVA) cannot be saved in regular graphic file formats. What makes these files unique is that they can be transferred and enlarged without distorting the image. Other files, known as raster art, can become grainy and distorted when moving them to different platforms or changing up the size of the image. When working with vector art files, you will notice they are much clearer when printed.
2. Vinyl Decal Cutter
No matter what type of vinyl signs you are making, you will need a vinyl decal cutter. The vinyl decal cutter will likely come with a software program that allows you to properly size and format your sign designs. Many of these programs are not as compatible with Mac computers, so be sure to check the specifications of the program that you use when you are searching for a vinyl decal cutter.
3. Vinyl and Transfer Tape
These will be the least expensive supplies you need to get started. The number of choices for vinyl supplies can be overwhelming. To get started, there are three basic categories of vinyl that you should be familiar with, including calendared, cast, and specialty vinyl. You will most likely be choosing between calendared and cast vinyl as you are getting up and running. “No matter which vinyl you choose, it will be put through the vinyl cutting machine to have your graphic design cut directly,” said H&H Sign Supply.
After the vinyl design is cut, you will need to use transfer tape to be able to adhere the design to the actual sign or banner, which is also called the substrate. Transfer tape is also sometimes called app tape, and it comes in many different sizes. To prepare the transfer, you take the vinyl design that has been cut out and place it on top of the transfer tape. Then, you can use a squeegee to make sure that the design is completely flat against the tape without any air bubbles. The flatter you press the design, the more professional it will ultimately look on your banner.
There are plenty of ancillary supplies that will help you along in the sign making process. These three basic ones are the bare minimum it will take to get you started and help you figure out what else you need to perfect the sign making process.