Do you need a special printer to print on vinyl?

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No! A Regular Inkjet will do the basics

Many crafters want to incorporate printed images in their projects, like photo decals or graphic stickers, but are curious about how well their design will print on vinyl. We hear people frequently ask: Do you need a special printer to print on vinyl?

The good news is NO. You can definitely print high quality images and graphics onto adhesive vinyl sheets using an ordinary inkjet printer.

There are basic printable permanent vinyl products for home and craft use. Oracal, the same company that manufactures adhesive vinyl mainstays 651 and 631, also produces Orajet 1917. This printable vinyl has a matte finish that comes in standard letter size and fits in regular inkjet printers.

Cricut and Silhouette also have printable vinyl available for home inkjet printers.

Be aware that using these printable vinyls with home inkjet printers may not give you results that are waterproof or suitable for outdoors. If your printer uses aqueous, dye-based inks, your printed vinyl project will not be water-resistant. This printer ink is OK if you want to make labels for home organization or stickers for journaling. If you are planning a bunch of bumper stickers, you’ll have to rethink your ink.

For the best results for printed vinyl projects that will be used outside, use pigment based printer ink. Pigment ink is water and UV resistant and can withstand scratching and wear and tear. Your projects will last even longer if they’re laminated!

Epson makes a number of great pigment printers in its Workforce line that start at about $150. Or you can upgrade to Epson’s Eco-tank series and ditch expensive cartridges.

How to Set up Print-then-Cut projects on an Inkjet Printer

  1. From the design software that operates your cutter (like Cricut Design Space or Silhouette Studio, for example), select the print option. This will create registration marks on your design that the optical scanner on your vinyl cutter will read.
  2. Print your design using the highest quality setting
  3. Depending on the printable vinyl you use, you may have to wait until the ink dries before loading it in your cutting machine.
  4. If you want to increase the longevity of your stickers or decal, you can laminate your printed sheet before you load it into the cutter
  5. Once the ink has dried, load the printed vinyl into your vinyl cutter, either on a cutting mat or as is if your machine is able to cut without a mat
  6. Set your machine to cut the design and select the appropriate material setting.
  7. Your machine should scan the registration marks and cut around the design, leaving a clean edge.

If you are going to produce commercial quality images, however, you might want to read further about true vinyl printer-cutter combo machines and their commercial potential. Click here to read our overview of vinyl printer-cutters.

Image by Dilan arezzome from Pixabay

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