Make Vinyl Decals From Home
Make Money With a Vinyl Cutter
With a vinyl cutter, you can make products to sell and earn an extra income. You can do the same work most large sign shops do using just a corner of a room, while spending very little money.
I set up a small sign shop in a corner of a spare bedroom. I bought a Roland Stika SX-15 vinyl cutter which can hold up to a 15-inch-wide roll of adhesive-backed vinyl film. I connected the vinyl cutter to an old laptop I was no longer using. The SX-15 hooks up to the parallel port and the computer recognizes the SX-15 as just another printer.
Roland provides an editing and printing software called Dr. Stika which can import .bmp bitmap files and convert them into vector files which can be cut by the SX-15 vinyl cutter.
Once I upload a bitmap and convert it to a vector with a single button, I need to clean up around the edges of the vector so no cut lines intersect with any other lines. This is a simple process that anyone with basic computer skills can easily master. When the file is ready to cut, I hit the print button just like I would with any home printer.
The Roland Stika Sx-15 then starts to cut into the vinyl without going too deep. It cuts only the vinyl, not the backing paper.
When I finish cutting the outlines of the pictyure, I "weed" or remove pieces of vinyl that were cut and are not part of the picture. When all unwanted pieces of vinyl are removed I cover the vinyl picture with a transfer film. This is used to cover the picture cut into the vinyl and secure the unconnected pieces of cut vinyl so it won't lose its shape when I move it to the final destination surface I want to apply it to. Then I squeegee the air bubbles out of the vinyl and then remove only the transfer film. It's just that simple, anyone can do it.
Things You Can Make With a Vinyl Cutter
Cutting vinyl shapes can be an excellent side business.
Here are some ways I make money in my spare time with my Stika SX-15:
- Decals for windows, Cutting masking for sandblasting mugs (I used regular vinyl, not the expensive sandblasting material).
- Masking for liquid etching
- Car decals; flames, swoosh, pin-striping
- Tattoo decals. Copy the person's tattoo and turn it into a decal for their car
- Iron-on vinyl lettering and decals for T-shirts (my biggest money maker).
- Creating yard signs (garage sale, home for sale)
- Decals for laptops
- Website decals that can be stuck anywhere like graffiti to get free advertisments.
- Open hours signs for businesses
- Pin-stripping decals for windows and motorcycles
- Flame decals for motorcycle gas tanks and helmets
- Ham radio call signs
- Wall stickers
- Custom stickers from someones hand drawn design
- Wall quotes
- Window decals, etc.
Vinyl cutters have dropped in price over the last few years. There are many economical package deals out there which include everything you need to get you started making money in a spare corner of a room.
Cutting a vinyl decal is super easy.
Sure there are better ways and a few tricks I left out. But I want to show you how easy it is to get started with a simple vinyl cutter. Once you can do this, then you can perfect your technique of cutting vinyl into products you can sell.
Stika Vinyl Cutter in Action
Vinyl Cutting Supplies
Vinyl Cutter bundle packages are a great deal to get started. They include everything you need to get started right out of the box.
- Cutter - I own a Roland Stika SX-15 and a Endura-Cut 24"
- Vinyl rolls to fit your cutter. Start out with black, white and your favorite color.
- Transfer tape that is the same width as your vinyl
- Razor knives to cut the vinyl, many sizes
- Dental pick to weed or pull away the excess vinyl from a decal
- Boards or something to apply the decal to
- Squeegee or old credit cards work good too.
- Clip art
Sign Shop in a CornerClick thumbnail to view full-size
Selling Your Crafts
There are so many ways to make an extra income with a vinyl cutter and you won't need an office full of equipment. I keep all my supplies in plastic crates hidden in closets and under the bed in a spare bedroom. I have my vinyl cutter near my computer just like a standard printer. I use a fold-up table for the layout and applying the transfer tape which can be folded and put away under the bed when guests sleep over.
Having a vinyl cutter is a fun and exciting way to explore your creativity. Once you have a product designed that can sell, you can start selling on eBay or Etsy. Etsy is a great place to see your competition and get ideals for products to create using your cutter.
A vinyl cutter is a perfect way to enhance the look of products like clocks and photo frames. Adding vinyl cut borders and graphics turns a dull clock or photo frame into a unique or custom made product you can easily sell.
Some of my biggest sellers were websites, for example "www.enterjakarta.com." Everyone knows someone who has a website they are promoting. Ask them if you can supply their website logo or name on a vinyl sticker. Website decals are sold in packs of ten, twenty or more. At a few bucks each you could easily make some serious cash within a few hours.
I also sold t-shirts using my vinyl cutter. I bought heat transfer vinyl material that can be cut with the vinyl cutter, then ironed-on to t-shirts using a simple home-use iron. The only thing to add is a sheet of wax paper or Teflon sheet to protect the vinyl from direct heat of the iron.
I sold many shirts at $15 each. A $200 heat press would be nice but not required. I like doing everything "on the cheap" at first, until I can afford the nice equipment. A simple $20 iron worked fine. My wife started helping with the ironing, and that worked great. In a few hours we could make a hundred dollars' worth of shirts. First cut the vinyl, weed out the unwanted bits, put on the transfer film, move the vinyl to the shirt, then remove the transfer paper. Use a hot iron to secure the vinyl to the shirt permanently. It's as easy as that, anyone can do, including you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2011 Alan Lehmann