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Contour Cut Graphics: Display a Permanent Logo or a Seasonal Message

Looking to make a bold statement, capture attention, or get your message across in the city of Chicago? Consider contour cut graphics for your home or business! Contour cut graphics can be printed in a variety of different sizes, using various materials, with endless applications! Not to mention they are some of the most popular and commonly used graphics to date!

Contour Cut Graphics: Display a Permanent Logo or a Seasonal Message-1

What are Contour Cut Graphics?

Contour cutting is the process of cutting around the outer edge of an image, in a predetermined shape or contour of a design. You then peel away or to use the industry term, weed the background material leaving behind the specific shape of your design.

In its beginning stages, contour cutting was a technique used mainly for cut vinyl letters, something you typically see in business storefronts, listing hours, address information, etc. While this is still extremely common, the process has really evolved over the last many years, and has come to include graphics far beyond standard vinyl letters. At Alphagraphics Chicago North, we print a variety of contour cut graphics, from small decals to large window & wall graphics.

Where to Begin?

When it comes to contour cut graphics, you will want to make sure you take into consideration the following factors before sending your file to print:

  • Quantity
  • Graphic Size
  • Use/Application
  • Material
  • Duration

It is important to provide your Alphagraphics Chicago North sales rep with as much information as you can in regard to the quantity you are looking to order, the final size of the graphic or graphics, and the intended application of the graphics. There are a variety of different materials that can be used to create contour cut graphics, and what you select will ultimately depend on the use & intended duration of the pieces.

For example, say you own a security company with a unique logo in the Chicago area, and you want to provide your clients with a cut graphic that they can leave in their window to show that their home or business is secured. Contour cutting is the perfect way to show off your logo, and it gives you the opportunity to provide your clients with a temporary or long-term graphic to leave in their window. You have the option to choose between static cling, a short-term solution, or removable vinyl, which is better for the long run. If installed on glass, vinyl with a removable adhesive is preferred over vinyl with a permanent adhesive.

First Surface vs Second Surface

The topic of surface application will also come into play when you are considering adhesive vs non-adhesive contour cut graphics. There are two types of applications; first surface vs second surface. First surface application is the standard when you are working with printed vinyl with an adhesive backing. This means that the graphics would be installed on the outside of a window. Depending on your project, we may recommend applying a laminate over your graphics – this helps to protect the material against the unpredictable weather in Chicago! Second surface application refers to graphics that are installed on the inside of a window. This would mean that the image is reversed out, so that the artwork is viewed correctly through the glass.  Static cling is a nice alternative if you are looking to install to the inside of a window, however it is a temporary application. It is possible to print on the adhesive side of contour cut graphics, so that they can be installed second surface, however this process tends to be more involved and costly. Reach out to your Alphagraphics Chicago North Sales rep to see what your options are!

One you have narrowed down your quantity, material, intended application and use, you can then begin to make sure your artwork is set up correctly for print. Contour cut graphics require a special cut line, which the machine reads and thus knows where to cut. If you are providing print-ready files, it is important to make sure you include this cut line. If you have any issues at all, our production team at Alphagraphics Chicago North will make sure to review your cut lines to make sure they are set up correctly for print. If you require complete design assistance, our graphic design team can assist every step of the way, from initial proofing, all the way to production.

Installation of Your Contour Cut Graphics

One of the last things you need to consider when printing contour cut graphics, is installation. Depending on the size of your graphics, it may be our recommendation to have our professional installers assist. The larger your graphics are, the more difficult they can be to install. You may think that installing a contour cut graphic to a window or wall is as easy as putting a sticker onto a piece of paper, however it is often much more complicated. Your Alphagraphics Chicago North sales rep will be able to advise you in the right direction based on your specific projects and its needs. Don’t forget to consider contour cut graphics the next time you are looking to make a bold statement in Chicago!


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