View Full Version : Complex vinyl registration

Scott Shepherd
07-23-2007, 11:02 AM
I'm working on a job right now and I've managed to get through the tough part, but it was a learning curve and I certainly didn't do it the easy way, so I thought I'd post the question here for some technique questions.

I have a customers logo that's multicolor. It has a fairly complex shape overlayed on several other shapes. The back object colors are dark blue while the front object is light greenish. I thought it would be simple and I'd just put the green object on top of the blue objects and we'd be all set. Wrong. The blue showed through the green. Dang it.

So I cut out the complex shape again, and then cut all the blue objects with the object cutout as well, so it would fit like a puzzle. Now, laid the blue down, all is well. How the heck am I going to lay down the "puzzle piece" that's green?

I can't see through the backing paper, so I can't tape it in the right place and hinge it. I ended up doing that piece wet so I could slide it into place. Worked out okay.

Did I do this right? Or is there an easier way to align complex shapes. I've used registration squares before, but for super sharp detail, I've had mixed results.

Joe Pelonio
07-23-2007, 12:35 PM
The main thing is to do what you did, use common sense to figure out a way. I use wet when registration marks would mean a lot of wasted vinyl.

I prefer to use + marks for registration. I place two of them fairly far apart just above the edge of each color. Apply the first color. On the other colors after applying transfer tape cut across the very edge of the tops of the + marks, so they can be lined up with the ones applied with the first color.

After all colors are on, remove the +'s (don't forget that step).

Rather than fitting together like a puzzle, which will require perfect registration but will show after a few weeks shrinkage, what I do is a slight inline or outline (1/16-1/8") on the darkest color before cutting, so that it overlaps the lighter one slightly. That overlap may alter the color slightly but not too noticably.

By the way, there's also a totally clear transfer tape that you can use for easier alignment, it's more expensive and harder to work with though.

On a simple one like this example I'd just eyeball it, but it shows how the reg marks work.

Scott Shepherd
07-23-2007, 2:41 PM
I've used registration marks a couple of times, but I ran into some problems with them when cutting across different directions of vinyl. I had a piece that worked best when cut in the "X" direction on one size/color, and the other shape worked best cutting in the "Y" direction on that size material/color.

When I tried to line them up, they were always about .020" off. Doesn't sound like much, but when you're doing a black shadow like background with light letters, .020" can stand out real easy. I found when I went back and cut them in the same direction, even though I wasted more material, they lined up perfectly.

That happened twice and then I stopped trying to cut in different directions. Ever since I stopped that, it's worked out okay.

However, this one, I didn't think I could do that way.

Have a look and let me know if you think laying one down and floating the other one wet was right? I know the material will shrink some, so it'll probably be a small gap once it settles down, but it's on a sign on the side of the road, so if you can't see it while doing 45mph, then it's all good :D

Joe Pelonio
07-23-2007, 4:40 PM
In this case you did what you had to and it worked. I would have cut the
2nd color with a .075 outline (original line deleted) so that it would overlap
the 1st color, and even with the .02 offset the alignment marks would have been close enough that the edge would be covered. Simply split the difference.

Scott Shepherd
07-23-2007, 8:36 PM
Thanks Joe, I'll give that a try next time. I think I'm going to be doing a couple more of these in the not so distance future, so I'll give it a go on the next batch.