How to Maintain a Vinyl Plotter

Like any other kind of mechanical equipment, your vinyl plotter needs a bit of TLC to keep it in good working order. Maintenance helps to minimize wear and tear and ensure that your plotter will continue working at its optimum performance while extending its useful life. Here are a few tips to help you learn How to Maintain a Vinyl Plotter.

How to Maintain a Vinyl Plotter

Properly maintaining your vinyl plotter keeps it in good condition while protecting it from damage. When setting up your plotter, place it in an area where there is little to no dust, and don’t put it in direct sunlight. Make sure it’s stabilized on a level surface, and try to locate it in an area that is free of obstacles. These simple steps can drastically cut down on the amount of maintenance you need to perform.

If you’re using your plotter on a daily basis, there are certain maintenance tasks that need to be performed each day before you leave the shop. First, make sure the pinch rails are raised. Leaving them latched down can cause indentations on the wheels, resulting in poor tracking until the indentations work themselves out.

Wipe off dust using a soft cloth to avoid problematic dust buildup later, and clean the tooltip using compressed air. This removes vinyl and other debris that could restrict the blade’s swivel movement.

Keeping Your Vinyl Plotter Clean

Cleaning your plotter is one of the most important aspects of maintaining it. In addition to daily dust removal, you need to do a more thorough cleaning regularly. To clean your plotter, you’ll need a small wire brush, rubbing alcohol and paper towels.

Begin by cleaning the wheels. When they track over vinyl, they tend to pick up some adhesive. This adhesive can build up over time and eventual result in poor tracking. To correct or prevent this problem, clean the wheels using a paper towel that’s been drenched in alcohol. Latch the wheels down with paper or vinyl loaded. Press the drenched paper towel against the wheels, and while holding it in place, move the wheel forward until glue and other debris has been completely removed. If there’s a lot of accumulation, you may need to use a pair of tweezers to carefully peel the glue away.

In time, debris may also build up in the grit rollers. This debris can be removed using a small wire brush to gently scrub it away. Scrub in a circular motion, being careful not to scrape the paint.

By taking proper care of your vinyl plotter, you can rest assured knowing that it will provide you with years of efficient service. For maintenance requirements specific to your particular plotter, check out your manual or the manufacturer’s website.

A Basic Guide To Wall Graphics

A Basic Guide to Wall Graphics

If you’ve set foot in a craft store or done some shopping on Etsy recently, you already knowwall graphics that interior wall graphics are big right now. From meaningful quotes to life-sized cutouts of your kid’s favorite character, an interior wall graphic is an easy way to add some visual appeal to any space, and homeowners are jumping on the opportunity.

Using sign vinyl for interior decorating is more popular than ever, and taking advantage of this trend is a great way to give your sign making business a boost.

Because there are special considerations that must be kept in mind when creating wall graphics using sign vinyl, we’ve put together this helpful guide.

Successful Interior Wall Graphics

  1. Start with the Right Vinyl. The successful creation and installation of interior wall graphics begins with the right type of vinyl. In most situations, you’ll want to use vinyl that has a matte finish and removable adhesive.The matte finish ensures that interior lights won’t create glare that obstructs the image or graphic. Unfortunately, matte vinyl isn’t as widely available as its glossy counterpart, so it may be more challenging to find exactly what you need.
  2. Match Your Vinyl with the Right Application Tape. The application tape is just as important as the vinyl, and getting the tape and vinyl combination right is crucial. Matte vinyl has a unique surface that makes it difficult for many types of application tape to make a secure bond. This could make it more difficult to remove cut and weeded vinyl from the release liner.Choose a tape with an adhesive compound that’s strong enough to remove vinyl from the liner and passive enough to release so the graphic can be applied to a painted wall.
  3. Ensure Proper Application. Self-adhesive sign vinyl is designed to stick to standard sign industry substrates like aluminum, glass and smooth plastic, so applying it to interior painted walls can be a With textured walls, such as brick, it’s nearly impossible to achieve a strong bond.Advise your customers not to apply their graphics to heavily textured or freshly painted wall. Prior to application, encourage them to thoroughly clean the surface to ensure that it’s dirst and dust-free.

    When applying the graphic, apply pressure using a squeegee to ensure that the graphic bonds to the wall properly. Gently peel away the transfer tape while continuing to use the squeegee to keep the graphic pressed to the wall.

Flexi Software for Interior Wall Graphics

Interior wall graphics are big business right now, and offering them is an excellent way to expand your services and attract new prospective customers. SA International Flexi Software for wall graphics makes this easier, with tools like tiling and weed lines, and we provide all the resources you need whether you’re new to the industry or an experienced sign maker. Contact an authorized Flexi reseller or reach out directly to us today to learn more about Flexi sign making software or order your copy!

Basic Guide To Magnetic Signs

Magnetic signs are an effective and affordable alternative to vehicle wraps and vinyl lettering applied directly to a vehicle. Since magnetic signs can be placed and removed quickly, they’re a popular choice for small businesses.

If you own a sign making business and you don’t offer magnetic signs, you’re missing out. They draw in new customers and offer high margins, and they should be a staple of your business offerings.

Making magnetic signs is a fairly straightforward process, but there are still a few things you need to know. Keep reading to learn more about magnetic substrates and how to care for and maintain magnetic signs.

Magnetic Signs: A Basic Guide

Magnetic Substrates and Paper

magnetic signs
Magnetic Signs Are Easy To Make And Use

Magnetic signs are made by applying vinyl graphics to a flexible magnetic substrate, or by printing directly to magnetic media. These substrates are available in two varieties: magnetized paper and magnetized vinyl. Magnetized paper is a small format inkjet substrate intended for use in desktop printers. It’s appropriate for crafters and hobbyists, but it isn’t the most durable material and should not be used for professional auto magnetic signs.

Magnetic vinyl, on the other hand, generally ranges in thickness from 12 to 30 millimeters, and it’s designed for wide-format digital printing or for use with self-adhesive vinyl. Magnetized vinyl comes in a limited range of colors with a matte for glossy finish. The thicker the vinyl, the greater its magnetic strength. 10 to 20 mil magnets work well on filing cabinets, as temporary signs on buildings and for decorative purposes, but they aren’t suitable for vehicle graphics. To prevent peeling at highway speeds, you need 30 mil tick magnetic material.

Magnetic Sign Care and Maintenance

Before applying for the first time, the area underneath should be thoroughly cleaned, dried and waxed to prevent damaged paint and keep the sign from sticking permanently. Also, make sure to apply the magnetic signs to a completely smooth metal surface of your vehicle. If part of a magnetic sign is over a plastic sidebar or other non-magnetic surface, wind can get underneath while driving and pull it off. If a magnetic ever gets stuck to a vehicle, steam is the best way to remove it with minimal damage.

Be sure and inform your customers to follow these same cleaning steps when removing and re-applying the car magnet. Car magnets vibrate slightly as the vehicle moves, so if one applies the magnet with dirt or dust underneath, over time this can cause abrasion that can damages the vehicle finish and paint. One of the great things about car magnets is that they are easy to maintain. They are durable and strong, but they do require a little TLC. Remove and clean both sides of them regularly to keep them looking like new and to prevent damage to the vehicle. Customers should always remove magnetic signs before entering a car wash and then wipe the vehicle area and magnetic side of the signs clean before re-applying them.

SAi Flexi for Magnetic Signs

Flexi sign making software from SA International is a powerful tool for designing and printing magnetic signs. At SAi, our goal is to make our software as easy to learn as possible to help sign makers of all skill levels build and grow their businesses and offer the products their customers want. To learn more about using SAi Flexi for magnetic signs or to purchase Flexi for your sign making business, contact us today by calling 801-478-1900.

Basic Guide To Pricing Signs And Banners

Sign Pricing Guide
Keeping Costs In Mind Is Important When Sign Pricing

As a new sign maker, knowing how to price your signs and banners is crucial. Few other decisions have a bigger impact on the success or failure of your business. It doesn’t matter how amazing your signs are or how good your equipment is. If you don’t price your products correctly, your business will likely fail. This is where our banner and sign pricing guide can come in handy.

While there are several factors that you must take into consideration when pricing signs and banners, including industry standards, materials costs, labor, etc., this primer will give you some basic guidelines.

Banner & Sign Pricing Guide

Sign Pricing Guide

Because there are so many different types of signs, the industry standard for pricing varies greatly. Magnetic signs may cost as little at $40 or as much as $199. Corrugated yard signs may only cost $10, while an aluminum sign costs $100 or more.

When pricing your signs, consider the materials. The cost of the material is based on the area of the substrate or sign measured in square feet. This formula accounts for the amount of vinyl wasted and the amount of transfer tape needed, while determining material costs based solely on the size of the letters or graphics doesn’t.

You also need to factor in the cost of labor. Sign makers charge $60 to $70 per hour, on average. If you’re a sole proprietorship, you’ll likely charge less than if you have employees you need to pay.

Banner Pricing Guide

Banners will likely account for the majority of your sales, so pricing them right is crucial. The average digitally printed banner costs $8 per square foot. Of course, this amount may vary if it has a simple, one-color design versus a more complex design.

If your customer doesn’t provide you with a design and layout, you’ll also need to charge your labor fee for the design process.

Designing Signs and Banners with SAi Flexi Sign Making Software

When it comes to designing signs and banners that sell, using powerful software helps. Top-of-the-line sign making programs, like SAi Flexi, include features designed to help users manage costs and customers. It also allows you to save important job information, like the number of colors used and total editing time, that will help you determine how much to charge for the final project.

Whether you’re new to the sign making industry or you have a bit of experience, knowing how to price your products and services will help to ensure the success of your business.  We hope this banner and sign pricing guide helps to do that!To find out more about how Flexi sign making software can help your business, contact us today!

Sign Design Guide

We’ve all seen poorly designed signs, banners and vehicle wraps, and these bad signs serve as an instant reminder that simply having a vinyl cutter doesn’t make one a professional sign maker. But don’t worry! We’ve got a basic sign design guide that can help you not end up making the mistakes of these poorly designed signs.

At SA International, we strive to help our customers use their Flexi sign-making software to its full potential. We believe that your success is our success, and we’re here to help you design professional signs for any application. Whether you’re designing signage for your own use or to sell to others, this sign design guide will help you get started on making attractive and effective signs.

Sign Design Guide From SAi

Contrast and spacing are two of the most basic and most important elements of effective sign design. Without proper spacing and contrast, signs are often too difficult to read and don’t stand out. Because signs and banners are often seen by people driving by, it’s important that they be easy to interpret at a glance.

Sign Design Guide
Contrast Helps The Elements of Your Sign Stand Out
  • Contrast is what sets the main element of your sign apart from other information as well as the background. It’s how you draw attention and ensure that essential information is communicated. There are a few ways to effectively use contrast. Two of the easiest are colors and fonts.
    • Colors – High-contrast colors grab attention. Black text on a white background offers maximum contrast, but many people find it a bit boring. White on black works well to change things up a bit. You can use other colors as well. When trying to determine contrasting colors, make sure you don’t use any colors that are too similar. Yellow text on a white background, for example, is very difficult to read.
    • Fonts – When designing your sign, use different fonts that look nice together. You should use one font for your main message and other for your secondary message. You can achieve contrast by using different font styles, sizes and weights. Remember to use fonts that are easy to read at a glance.
Sign Design Guide
Proper Spacing Is Important To Make Sure Your Sign Can Be Read
  • Spacing – A good design makes use of both positive and negative space. Your positive space includes letters and images, and negative space includes everything around and in between. Ideally, you should make sure your negative and positive space are well balanced. One of the most common mistakes is failing to manage the amount of negative space between letters. Another common issue is trying to cram so much information into the design that there isn’t enough negative space for organization.
    • Kerning – Kerning, or the negative space between letters and numbers, is an important graphic design element. Most software programs apply a certain amount of space between characters. While this works well for documents, it’s not so great for graphic design. All letters are not the same in size, and kerning keeps smaller characters close together to make words more cohesive. Sign software, such as Flexi, includes kerning tools.
    • White space – A good design should have a good balance of white space in relation to the other elements. Overly cluttered signs are difficult to read, and presenting too much information could cause viewers to miss your message entirely. Use sufficient white space to group related elements close together to help your viewers find what they’re looking for.

Flexi software is a powerful tool that allows you to create professional-quality signs, banners, vehicle wraps and more. While this sign design guide is far from all-inclusive, it will help you create better, more effective signs using the powerful tools included in Flexi sign-making software. As always, if you have any questions, we encourage you to contact us or participate in one of our many training opportunities.

A Basic Guide To Vinyl Vehicle Wraps

From fleet lettering to complete wraps, vinyl vehicle graphics are a mainstay in the graphics and sign making industries. For new and established sign makers, offering your customers a vinyl vehicle wrap is an excellent way to increase your revenue and attract new customers.

Many questions arise regarding the challenges of making vinyl vehicle wraps. This basic guide to vinyl vehicle wraps is intended to provide you with answers to some of those questions.

Guide to Vinyl Vehicle Wraps

What Type of Vinyl Should You Use for A Vinyl Vehicle Wrap?

Which vinyl to use is one of the most frequently asked questions about vehicle wraps, andVinyl Vehicle Wrap the answer isn’t always straight forward. The type of vinyl you should use largely depends on your market and intended outcome.

For basic graphics applied to simple curves or flat surfaces, metallized film works well, but more difficult applications require better film.

For commercial fleet graphics, you may want to use standard cast and calendared films, but the exact type you should choose is largely a matter of personal preference as well as the customer’s budget.

You’ll want to pay close attention to the outdoor ratings of various vinyl options to determine the best choice for a particular project.

Wet or Dry Application

Vinyl vehicle wraps can be applied dry or wet using an application fluid. While the decision largely comes down to personal preference, each method has its benefits and drawbacks. Dry application is faster but may be complicated by dust and air bubbles. A wet application removes dust particles and air bubbles, but it takes longer and it’s necessary to remove all of the fluid prior to finishing the installation.

How to Prepare the Surface

Proper surface preparation is a crucial step in ensuring successful installation of your vinyl vehicle wrap. Start with a thorough cleaning, but do not wax the vehicle. Next, clean the area with isopropyl alcohol to remove stray dust. Alcohol is an ideal cleaner for this purpose because it evaporates quickly and leaves behind a clean, dry surface.

With SAi Flexi, you can design, print and cut vinyl vehicle wraps and decals for vehicles of all makes and models. To learn more about how you can use this powerful software in your vehicle graphics business, contact us today!

Benefits of Different Sign Substrates

The sign substrates you use for your project can have a major impact on the quality of your final product. While vinyl is the most common option, polyester and polycarbonate are also relatively common, and they’re better suited to certain applications than vinyl. To help you choose the right sign substrate, here is an explanation of the benefits of these three types.

Benefits of Sign Substrates

Vinyl

Sign Substrates
Vinyl Sign Substrates

Vinyl is the most common and cost effective material for sign making. Vinyl is flexible, durable and appropriate for both indoor and outdoor applications. It adheres to nearly any surface, including concave and convex surfaces. Vinyl is available in several thicknesses and colors, and there are even special types of vinyl – like glitter vinyl – on the market. The downside to vinyl is that it tears easier than some other substrates, and it isn’t resistant to chemicals.

Polyester

Polyester is an excellent substrate for projects that require a bit more durability. It’s lightweight but resists tears better than vinyl. Polyester does not shrink as it ages, and because it is chemical, solvent and oil resistant, it works well in numerous environments. It’s ideal for outdoor use as well because it can withstand damp and humid conditions.

Polycarbonate

When strength and durability are your top concerns, choose polycarbonate. Polycarbonate offers a high-end look that is scratch-resistant, lightweight and incredibly strong. It’s commonly used indoors, but there are also options for outdoor polycarbonate applications.

Choosing the right substrate is an important step in any sign making project. Vinyl is the most flexible and cost-effective solution, but it isn’t the strongest. If your sign will be exposed to harsh weather, chemicals, oil or gasoline, you may want to consider using polyester or polycarbonate instead. Understanding the differences and choosing the right material ensures a successful project and long-lasting sign.

How To Weed Vinyl

How To Weed Vinyl
Our Vinyl Weeding Tips Will Make sure Your Signs Come Out Crisp

Are you new to sign making with vinyl cut with a vinyl cutter or plotter machine? Perhaps you’re looking at your first sheet of cut vinyl and are wondering how to weed vinyl? Or maybe your a vet and know how to weed vinyl, but want to get better? Well, yoiu’re in luck!

Weeding, or the process by which unnecessary vinyl is removed from a design, can be tricky, especially when working with small letters or intricate designs. Tiny designs and letters are extremely difficult to cut out, and problems like vinyl lifting off the backing and paper tearing are common. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to make the process a bit easier. Keep reading to check out a few simple tips for weeding vinyl.

How To Weed Vinyl

  1. Lay your unweeded vinyl out on the table in a right-reading direction. Begin weeding from the upper right corner and work toward the lower left corner.
  2. When working with designs that are ½” or smaller, tape out the entire cut? The designs you need should come up with the vinyl in one piece. Lay this on your weeding area sticky side up and hold the vinyl in place using spring clamps. This will allow you to weed away the excess vinyl without causing any misalignment.
  3. Only cut a weeding border and no weeding lines, except the ones needed to separate groupings. Carefully weed out openings, such as the holes in the letters A, e and O. Cover the design in transfer tape like normal, carefully remove the backing paper and apply the design as usual. You should be able to remove the transfer tape and excess vinyl without the risk of damaging your design.
  4. Put the vinyl in the freezer for about an hour after cutting. This will cause the vinyl to shrink and make the weeding process easier.

Weeding vinyl cut from a vinyl plotter software is undoubtedly a challenge when working with lettering and intricate designs. With these tips in mind, the mystery of how to weed vinyl should be solved and you can make the process much simpler. Following the advice listed above will also save time and allow you to complete projects faster.

Self-Adhesive Vinyl Types & Their Benefits

Self-Adhesive Vinyl
Self Adhesive Vinyl Comes in Different Types

Self-adhesive vinyl is commonly used in sign making. Various types of vinyl are available, and each type has unique qualities that make it the best option for certain applications. Generally speaking, self-adhesive vinyl is ideal for sign making because it is durable enough to last up to 5 years outdoors and up to 15 indoors.

Whether you’re just getting in to the sign making business or you’ve been making signs for a while, choosing the right type of vinyl is crucial to the success of any project. Here are a few of the most common types of self-adhesive vinyl and their benefits.

Types of Self-Adhesive Vinyl and Their Benefits

Opaque Vinyl

Opaque vinyls don’t transmit light. They’re commonly used on lettering for yard signs, but they’re also popular for window and vehicle lettering. Opaque vinyl is durable and should last for several years with proper care and maintenance. It’s important to note, though, that the actual lifespan depends on the quality of the vinyl you purchase. No matter how good your vinyl plotter software is, it can’t fix cheap vinyl!

Translucent Vinyl

Translucent vinyl allows light to pass through, making it ideal for outdoor use. This type of vinyl is commonly used on acrylic and other materials that benefit from its light transmitting properties. When used outdoors, translucent vinyl has a relatively long lifespan. Unfortunately, it is more expensive than other types of vinyl, including opaque vinyl.

Reflective Vinyl

Reflective vinyl can be extremely difficult to work with, but it is ideal for certain situations. It is best used in conditions involving low lighting because when light strikes reflective vinyl, the lettering becomes easy to read. Reflective vinyl is commonly used on road signs and on warning and safety signs.

These are just a few of the most common types of vinyl. There are several other types on the market, and there are subcategories within each primary category. No matter what type of sign you’re working on, there is a type of vinyl that is perfectly suited to your application, and with Flexi software from SAi, designing and cutting vinyl for signs is easier than you’ve ever imagined!

Is Custom T-Shirt Printing Worth It?

Businesses, organizations and even individuals are always in the market for high-quality custom t-shirt printingcustom t-shirt printing services. Whether you’re already in the sign and graphics business and you’re thinking about expanding to t-shirts or you’re thinking about opening up a custom t-shirt business using heat press vinyl instead of screenprinting and other techniques, you probably have one big question:  Is it worth it?

The benefits of offering custom t-shirt printing are numerous. Read on to learn more!

Why You Should Offer Custom T-Shirt Printing

If you’re thinking about offering custom t-shirt printing, you’re probably already well aware of the demand. From local baseball teams to Fortune 500 companies, everyone wants custom t-shirts, so you’ll never struggle to find customers.

Vinyl Offers Something for Every Taste

When you choose to offer custom t-shirt printing using heat press vinyl, there are options that will appeal to any customer. There are dozens of t-shirt transfer materials available. From soft, high-quality PU to extremely cost effective PVC, the options are numerous.

Offering vinyl t-shirt printing also allows you to give your customers something extra. Metallic, fluorescent, glitter and even holographic vinyl is available, and it’s a great way to add some “bling” to garments and attract an even larger customer base.

T-Shirt Printing Is Easy

Making custom t-shirts using vinyl is easier than you may think. If you already make signs or vinyl graphics, the process is almost the same. One of the main differences is that, when making t-shirts, you need to reverse the image before sending it from your vector software to your cutter. This creates a mirror image of the original file that is applied to the t-shirt upside down to create a design that faces the correct direction.

Whether you are new to vinyl graphics or you’re looking to expand your current business, t-shirts are a great way to make money. With SAI Flexi, you can turn virtually any design into a custom t-shirt. To learn more about how Flexi can help your t-shirt printing business, contact us now. We’re here to answer any questions you may have!