Project Turbo Miata: Adding Some Vinyl

Update by Tom Suddard to the Mazda Miata project car
Mar 5, 2018

How do you turn a pretty car into a race car? Easy: Slap some vinyl on it.

Before we could enter the next race with our turbocharged Miata, we needed to cover its shiny blue paint with logos and race numbers. The obvious way to do that is with vinyl.

We did the math: Our local sign shop was going to bill us nearly $400 for the job, but we could buy a budget cutter for less than $300. We picked up an MH 871 Cutter Value Kit from USCutter for less than $300. (Hint: Check their eBay Store for sales.)

Art director J.G. Pasterjak set up our cutter:

“We found the cutter easy to set up and use, with excellent instructional videos available on USCutter’s website. The software it comes with is fairly robust, but since we have lots of experience with Photoshop we tend to do most of our work there and simply use the CutMaster software for vectoring the images we prepare. The CutMaster software ingests jpgs or psd files quite well, and vectorizes them for preparation for the actual cutting operation.

“If we have any tips to add, it’s to try and simplify your images as much as possible. The images have to be physically cut from sheets of vinyl, so complex, tiny curves might not work out so well. There’s also a definite skill to weeding–removing the unnecessary vinyl and preparing the decal for application. Go slow your first few times and lift the old vinyl completely off the surface. Don’t peel parallel to the surface, but rather lift straight up and you’ll avoid a messy wad of vinyl.”

And after a session of somewhat-careful application, our Miata looked better than ever.

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View comments on the GRM forums
AWSX1686 GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/6/18 8:38 a.m.

Oh man, an affordable vinyl cutter right around tax refund time? Must resist.... Awesome project!

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