How To Print On Vinyl Using An Inkjet Printer

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Ever wondered what it would be like to make your own stickers? Better yet, have you been admiring laptop stickers or bumper stickers and thinking how you'd like to make your own DIY vinyl decals. Well, we've got just the thing for you. We'll guide you on how you can print on vinyl with an inkjet printer with a couple of supplies.

How to Print on Vinyl

1. Create your own design

When it comes to creating your own vinyl graphics, there are three ways you can go about this.

a) Research other designs

It's always said that there’s nothing new under the sun. Hence you can use the internet as your source of inspiration. Drawing inspiration from others might be what boosts your own creativity. You can search through various designs using keywords such as “vinyl sticker designs” or “printable vinyl stickers” and pay attention to what you like and don’t like about the different designs you come across. You can also be specific; for example, if you want to make stickers for a laptop case, you can look for laptop vinyl stickers, and this can give you an idea of what size and color your design should be.

b) Sketch your design

There’s also the option of sketching your own custom design image before finalizing the design on a computer.

This is a great option if you enjoy designing/sketching or want to explore your artistic abilities. All you’ll need is 8 x 11 inches of paper for your design and once you’re done, scan it to your computer. While designing, don’t worry about drawing all the details. Your aim is to get a basic idea of how the design will look before you attempt to recreate it on the computer.

If you don’t have Photoshop or Illustrator, you can use any free image editing website GIMP to recreate your design. If your design is colored, ensure to choose bold, vibrant colors that will show up when printed.

c) Use Image editing software

If you consider yourself proficient in the world of image editing software, you can easily create your own images. There are various options from paid options to choose from, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, and free ones as well, such as Canva and GIMP.

2. Printing out your stickers

a)Using a Home Printer That Prints on Vinyl

There are different types of printers you can use for vinyl. Inkjet printers are ideal as home printers. If you're a professional sign maker, a large format inkjet printer would be best. They are specially built to run on roll fell media.

In your image editing software, open a new 8 x 11-inch document. This will allow you to begin edit and size your design. If your software does not let you specify the size when opening a new document, you can edit it once you open it. If you are working with Silhouette, you’ll need to set up the document in the Studio software first. In the page settings tab, start by setting the page size to 8.5 x 11 inches, then ensure to have the registration marks turned on. This is important so that the machine can cut the decals.

b) Copy and Paste the Design

Copy and paste the design from the software you created it in. If you plan to make multiple stickers, you’ll need to paste the design several times in an orderly form. Ensure that none of the copies are in the document's margins or they print onto the paper.

c) Print Preview

Click on the print preview to see how the stickers will print. If any of the stickers are being cut off by the margins, bring them in. You also need to ensure that none of your designs are overlapping.

d) Loading your Inkjet Printer

Your printer should be a 4-color Inkjet Printer with a 1200 dpi print resolution. Load the printer with 8 x 11 printable vinyl sticker paper into the printer’s paper tray. The printing side is the non-adhesive side, and you should make sure this side is up. If you’re not sure, you can always run a test sheet through the printer to confirm.

When buying vinyl printer paper, make sure it's compatible with your printer. If you want the background of your stickers to be transparent, use clear vinyl printer paper. If you want your stickers to be water-resistant or want to laminate them, you’ll need a laser printer.

e) Print Your Design

Ensure that your computer is set to print to the inkjet printer. Check your quality settings and set them to high quality to make sure they come out looking top-notch. Now all you need to do is find the print option and press print. You can choose to print a single copy to see how they look; that way, you know if you got the settings correct and if they are exactly what you wanted. If everything is as it should be, you can go ahead and print as many copies as you want. If not, go back and adjust the settings. Check the paper compatibility settings and try again.

3. How to Cut Vinyl on Cricut

a) When your project design is done, load the Cricut Printable Vinyl into your home printer. One side of the Printable Vinyl sheet has grid lines, and the other is white with a matte finish. Print on the matte side.

The difference between printable vinyl and printable sticker paper is the thickness. Sticker paper is thicker than printable vinyl. However, printable vinyl is more durable.

b) Follow the guidelines given on Cricut Design Space and send yours to the printer. Make sure to allow the ink to dry before you proceed to cut.

c) Match the top corner of the printed vinyl ( the liner side down) to your machine's top left corner, then load it into your machine.

d) If you have the Cricut Maker, select Browse all materials, then select the Printable Vinyl setting. If you have the Cricut Explore, turn the Smart Set Dial to Custom, select Browse all material, then select the Printable Vinyl setting.

e) Once this is done, select the flashing Go button.

f) Peel the vinyl from the liner and apply it by hand.

There's also the option of printable iron-on vinyl. For this type, you'll need a heat source.

4. Laminate and Cut Vinyl Stickers

Inkjet printable vinyl on its own can last for about a year.

However, when you add a laminate overlay, it can last for 4- 5 years. You can choose from a glossy or matte finish.  

a) The first step is to apply the laminate sheet over your stickers.

b) Once you’ve done this, ensure to peel it back slowly and line the top edge of the laminate sheet with vinyl paper.

c) Press it down and continue peeling back, slowly running your fingers smoothly over the laminate to make sure it sticks to the vinyl sheet.

d) Keep running your fingers to ensure there are no air bubbles.

e) Cut the laminated stickers. You can use a pair of craft scissors and a ruler  or a vinyl cutter such as Cricut.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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