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Every few years, it seems I have a reason to apply a decal.  These decals are one-time only – meaning, if you mess up the stick, you are not adjusting it.  I’ve done this with the decals on the side of the Arcade Cabinet and I expect to do something like this for Suleski & Associates too.

Most recently, I’ve had to apply a large 3’x3′ decal to sheet metal.  My buddy and Graphic Designer, Gary Podosek, shared some advice.

Method #1 – Big Machine

If available, use a laminator to get the perfect stick.  One time through and done.  There’s a video on the process too.

Method #2 – Manual

Although a secondary option, Gary shared a step-by-step rundown on how to apply the stick manually.

  1. Clean surface using alcohol.
  2. Place graphic, with backing still on, evenly on surface. Make sure that it doesn’t move by using small pieces of tape on the sides.
  3. Apply a strip of tape across the whole graphic in the middle taping the graphic to the table. (FYI you should do this on a table or a makeshift table of plywood on horses)
  4. Lift up one half of the graphic and separate the backing paper from the vinyl. Note: keep the vinyl in one hand so that it does not touch the surface while you cut the paper and remove it.
  5. Using a squeegee, apply pressure at a 45 degree angle pulling down the graphic and then reversed back up. Up and down motions until the half is adhered.
  6. Repeat 4 and 5 for the other half.
  7. Use bastard file to file off excess vinyl on edges by pulling file down forcing the vinyl down on the edge of the material and then cutting by the file rubbing down on the sharp edge of the material. Note: this technique is my own and it removes the excess vinyl and deburrs the metal at the same time.

I also came across this video which somewhat goes over the process, but on a wall.

Final result

For this particular project, I was fortunate to find a sign place in the area that had a laminator.  They were able to apply the decal in about three minutes and it came out good – although, it was a bit pricey.