Die cutting screen printed stickers

screen printed die cut stickers

I was at Short Run Seattle the other week and it gave me the cool idea to print up some stickers as a giveaway or inexpensive purchase. But how to do it? I was familiar with cutting vinyl but not sure how to cut out stickers I had already screen printed. 

The answer was, of course, to do a contour cut and fortunately my cutter supported this feature (I have a USCutter LaserPoint II). 

I created a sheet of stars in Illustrator that were slightly smaller than the stars I was going to screen print (to allow for a bleed). I then opened this file in Sure Cuts a Lot and printed the file with registration marks to a PDF file. I then opened this PDF file in Illustrator and added the same registration marks to the file I was going to screen print. 

Here's the Sure Cuts a Lot file with registration marks.

Sure Cuts a Lot file with registration marks

 Here are the screen printed registration marks. 

Screen printed stickers with registration marks

Printing on vinyl is a bit trickier than paper. I used a very high mesh count (305) because vinyl isn't absorbent and you don't want a lot of ink on there. Vinyl takes a while to dry as well so I used a hair dryer to speed up the process a bit. I used Speedball acrylic inks which work quite well. They dry matte but are fairly permanent and the colors are really vibrant!

A bunch of precut screen printed stickers

Once the vinyl is dry it's time to cut out the stars. I found this tutorial really helpful on how to do contour cutting with Sure Cuts a Lot (hint: it's a pain). You need to hit Print+Cut and line up the vinyl cutter laser with the three printed registration marks.

I used a high quality 60 degree blade and added quite a lot of pressure to it so it cut through the vinyl and the backing. Of course, I put the vinyl on a cutting sheet since I was cutting through the backing. 

Lining up the vinyl cutter laser with the registration marks

 Once you've lined up all three registration marks. You can go ahead and cut!

It took a little trial and error to get an accurate cut. One tip is to use CMD+arrow keys to move the laser by smaller increments when you are lining it up with the registration marks. 

Screen printed die cut stickers

Voila! Die cut screen printed stickers! I plan to do more shapes in the future now that I've figured it out. Let me know if you have any questions. It's a tricky process but the result is worth it.