A Digital Printing Network
So we did a sign for my nephew. It's the first large sign so we are pretty much doing it for the price of the materials since it is a learning experience for us. We used Rapid Tac when putting down the layers but still ended up with some bubbles. More than I care for. This is a 4' x 7' sign. What are the secrets to getting good clean layers. There was still one more layer that went on this.
I definitely need to get the bubble issue worked out. I posted a picture of the final product on our business Facebook page and within 5 minutes a fan asked me to get in touch with them about new signage for their store.
Layering cut vinyl can be a pain sometimes. I've been doing signs with cut vinyl from the time one would use a template and a xacto knife to cut the vinyl and I can tell you for certain even the best still encounter problems with bubbles .
One of the tricks I use is a speedball roller. Use the roller from the middle out and chase the bubble to the edge. This method works well when a good amount of apllication fluid is used. I recommended using the hinge method if doing large pieces, spray and squeegee as you lay it.
The bubbles in you sign will disapate over time.
I'll have to look into a speedball roller. All we have is a squegee. We use the hinge method and sprayed the entire application area before putting the vinyl down then repeated on the other side of the hinge. I take it you use the hard rubber roller? What size do you use?
I also use the roller method, and only rollers I ever found were from Fellers, a 4 inch with bent rod handle, and a slightly smaller one with a handle about a foot long. Might be discontinued... Layering vinyl on vinyl is always the worst for getting bubbles. I know there are pros out there that can do it dry with no (well, almost) bubbles and others like me that do the 'wet' method. I do the center hinge method, and have upgraded to the Rapid Tac II-it's great. After you tape down your sheet, and lift and peel to get half the 'hinge' side ready, mist the surface, not the adhesive side of the top layer-it can affect your transfer paper. Then start at the hinge, I start with a 12" wide 'shower' squeegee, and lightly squeegee away from the hinge-right down the center. Now you have 2 hands to work with, and you can squeegee from that center strip out to the edges, lightly. This will get rid of 90% of your bubbles. Now you can use your roller, felt squeegee, plastic squeegee, whatever you feel better at using-but always, always go from the 'center' to the closest outer edge. If there are large bubbles, you can't get out, then grab your 'pin' and heat gun. Carefully, on low heat, just brush the bubble with heat until you see it start to expand, and pop it quick. Majority of the time that bubble will instantly vanish. The rows of small bubbles I see in your picture look like the overlap area of transfer tape-in a straight line. Trick to avoid those-if it is also your hinge line, don't roll or squeegee down right to the hinge, stay at least an inch away. When you do the second half, start your squeegee about 2" away and go right over the hinge area and bubbles should be gone.
If I remember right that top photo does show bubbles along the tape seam. We did get bubbles in the middle of the tape in random areas no matter how carefully we removed the mask. We waited a couple minutes before removing the mask and drew it back at 180 degrees. We are just about out of Rapid Tac. I think we'll try the Rapid Tac II this next time. I thought we were using a medium tack mask but after looking at the sign supplier we usually buy from all they have in the size of roll we have is a high tack. I will have to check our invoice that we purchased that on and see what it says.
If you feel untalented when you get bubbles, just go wander around town and look at signs done by other shops...you'll find bubbles in them until they've been in the sun for a year or two. Makes you feel better to see that other people do the same thing. It's the nature of the beast!
Reminds me of the first banner I ever did-hung the banner on the back of the building I was renting because I had no tables...laid the vinyl out, did every thing I thought was right-and peeled off the transfer tape. Found out immediately you don't hang a banner to lay vinyl on a T-11 textured wall!
Took us days to get all the bubbles out...
I know this sign will be up around 14 feet off the ground. You might have noticed the finished product photo in the photo section. You can't really notice the bubbles from a short distance head on. Not sure how it will look from below but like you said, there are probably plenty of signs out there with bubbles.
I do my signs and banners on a slanted 'table' that hangs from the back wall of my shop-30 feet from my office door. So I always show customers how it looks from the doorway, and you don't see any bubbles or wrinkles. Up close, sure, but I make them view it from the distance the public will see it first. Then they ignore the defects when they pick it up to take home. Works all the time! IF they see the sign right up close FIRST, then all they can remember is the defects.