Decals or sticker and vinyl papers as they are sometimes known are often used to customise the exterior of cars when a ready-made decal is unavailable or does not meet your expectations and design. These custom decals will adhere to the vehicle to achieve a certain authentic look (for example when collectable cars are concerned), to promote a company name or just in order to make your pride and joy standout for a bit of fun.
Your options include obtaining a ready-made decal, using a decal supplier or using your own printer and a suitable printable self-adhesive paper. Each of these options has its far share of pros and cons. You will do well to evaluate these options and determine your preferred choice.
Ready-Made Designs – If you have come across a suitable design and the paper properties meet your requirements in terms of waterproof and UV resistance, buying a ready-made example makes a lot of sense. However, in the vast majority of cases that we’ve come across, you are not likely to find the precise design you have in mind, in terms colour palette, size and suitability as a long lasting option.
Decal Suppliers – There are plenty of companies that allow you to send your design and they will produce the sticker on your behalf. If you require an unusual large size, it makes a lot of sense using a specialised supplier that already has the required printing capabilities. However, you will often be required to purchase in bulk so if you are after a few decals to fit here and there, it is probably not the best option or at least, quite an expensive one. Furthermore, once you’ve given them the green light, you can no longer change the design. From experience, it is very common to adhere the custom decal onto the car and to quickly realize it isn’t quite what you had in mind. If you are stuck with lots of unsuitable stickers you’ll quickly regret it.
Printable Self-Adhesive Vinyl Sheet – If you look at your printer’s settings you will discover that it supports a whole host of printing media not only printing paper. In recent years progress in printing technology and progress in ink stability has allowed manufactures to offer various types of paper, including decal paper. These are self-adhesive sheets with a clear or white finish (in glossy or matt) that feed into your standard printer and come out on the other end as custom stickers. These sheets merely require an Inkjet printer with normal inks, though it is always better to use pigment inks that are quite common in inkjet printers such as the Epson’s DuraBrite inks, the HP Vivera inks etc. These inks will provide better durability and light fastness.
The self-adhesive decals can accommodate text, a high-resolution photo or a combination of the two and will suit non-porous substrates on your car such as the window, bumper and other areas. Simply design your sticker, print on the self-adhesive sheet and apply onto the vehicle. If your intention is to keep the sticker on the car for long, you will be required to use a fixative spray to improve the waterproof and UV stability of the ink.
This spray, which is available in glossy, satin and matt finish, will leave a transparent layer on the surface. When the application layer had dried and together with the paper’s own anti fading features it will become stable for longer. To ensure successful application, you can apply two layers (allowing one application to dry before attempting a second one) and re-applying the spray onto the surface every once in a while.
Custom decals for your car are easier to make than ever. Here’s our own how to video with step-by-step instructions on using these sheets.
Image by wikipedia under cc license