Apply mask and cut to shape: 45 minutes I cut the panel shape in removable white vinyl and applied it to the prefinished 3mm aluminum composite material to serve as a cutting mask.
I laid the panel on a piece of 4-in. thick foam to support the panel while I was cutting out the shape.
The cutting was done with a saber saw and a Dewalt medium metal cutting blade with 18 teeth per inch. It cuts the 3mm ACM nicely.
Cut, print and apply the vinyl film: 45 minutes Printed vinyl before weeding
Here’s the primary copy, printed on the Gerber Edge printer and weeded.
I do my application using a RollsRoller Applicator Table. Here I’ve positioned the panel and tacked the graphics in position.
I rolled the applicator roller to the center of the panel.
Then I removed half of the liner paper and laid that half of the graphics over the roller. I rolled that portion down.
Next, I removed the rest of the liner and rolled the other half down.
The vinyl was applied in a matter of seconds.
I applied the border, ornament and secondary copy by hand, and the sign was complete.

What’s it cost to produce this 26-by-40-in. sign?

Digital printing and cut vinyl film combine to get the job done

By Michael James

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2018

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Substrate: $19.33
Cast metallic gold vinyl (4 ft. x 15 in.): $5.71
Cast white vinyl (4 ft. x 15 in.): $5.01
Removable white vinyl (8 ft. x 15 in.): $5.57
Gerber EDGE foils (black and UV 3 ft. each): $3.72
Application tape: $2.29
Jig saw blade: $4.39

Total materials: $46.02


Design and communicate with client: 60 minutes
Cut out substrate: 45 minutes
Cut, print and apply graphics: 45 minutes

Total time: 2 1/2 hours

Our local newspaper needed a new sign for the exterior of their office. To stay within their budget, I chose to use 3mm aluminum composite material for the sign panel, which was 26-by-40-in. overall. Instead of using cut vinyl for the graphics, I decided to use a wide format print mounted to ACM.

I did a design for them to review. After the customer approved it, I began production. Our shop is in a rural area and resources such as CNC services are limited, so I used a jig saw to cut the design.

Before cutting the shape, I removed the protective film from the ACM. It doesn’t have enough tack to stay adhered to the material’s surface during cutting. It will lift as the jig saw blade cuts the material.

I cut the panel shape full-size from removable white vinyl, then applied it to the prefinished ACM. I find a DeWalt medium metal cutting blade with 18 teeth per inch works well for cutting 3mm ACM.

Using the edge of the white vinyl as a guide, I began cutting the design. After the cutting was completed I smoothed the edges with a fine file, removing any sharp edges. Since the sign would be attached to a light-colored wall, the small glimpse of the shiny aluminum at the sign edge would not be noticeable.

The main copy and shadow was printed on high-performance vinyl film on the Gerber Edge. Application was done using a RollsRoller flatbed applicator. The ornaments were cut from Gerber high-performance metallic gold vinyl and applied by hand. Finally I added the border, which was also cut from metallic gold vinyl.

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