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Apologies for the extremely newbie question, but I'm way out of my area of expertise here.

I'm working with a municipal government on a community composting program. Several large bins consisting of a steel frame and high-density polyethylene panels will be placed around the City for residents to drop off their household food waste. We are contracting with artists to design vinyl sticker overlays to give the bins visual appeal and brand identity. However, we don't have a good template to use, so I've been tasked with designing one.

I've never designed something for such a large print job, nor for a vinyl sticker that, I assume, needs to be heat adhered and thus will shrink a bit. My questions:

  • I'm using Illustrator. Should I be providing one artboard per panel?
  • What presets should I use for printing? I used inches for the dimensions so that I would have a better hope for getting the specs right.
  • How should I approach bleed and slug given that there may be some shrinkage?
  • There are moving parts and metal handles- what is the best way to represent those on a template?

I have been provided with some bin specs, but I don't know if they are completely to scale. Here's an exampleAny basic advice to set me on the right track would be extremely appreciated!

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    Hi. Welcome to GDSE. I think you should probably speak to your vinyl overlay supplier/provider. They should be able to tell you the tech specs (such as shrinkage/bleed) that you need to follow, or what they need from you, etc. Also if you don't know if these drawing specs are to scale, it's probably best to ask whoever gave you them. There's are too many unknowns here.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 24 at 15:28
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I'm using Illustrator. Should I be providing one artboard per panel?

Yes, I would make each panel and artboard in Illustrator with the correct spacing between each artboard. I find this easier to design on instead of 1 artboard. You could do 1 artboard and draw the bounding boxes.

All panels on 1 artboard

1 artboard

All panels with their own artboard. I think this is easier for printing.

multiple artboards

What presets should I use for printing? I used inches for the dimensions so that I would have a better hope for getting the specs right.

I would use whatever is most common for your area. Since I live in the USA, I make all templates in inches. Generally I design templates at 100% scale unless the graphic is pretty big, then I would maybe go down to 50% or 25% scale. Just make sure the designers know what scale they're using.

Example of general art specs

Artwork specs

How should I approach bleed and slug given that there may be some shrinkage?

You shouldn't have to worry about shrinking material. That is the job for the printer to handle. They have compensation settings for each vinyl that should adjust for any shrinkage that may happen.

If all your panels are squares, then I would just put .5-1" bleed around each panel. The slug should be the physical space between each panel. The bleed kind of depends on what you're wrapping.

There are moving parts and metal handles- what is the best way to represent those on a template?

I would make a new layer above the design layer. Then put a rectangle where the handle would go. This would indicate that you should not put important information there.

do not design here

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The bin specs you have do look pretty accurate. I don't believe they would have done this effort of drawing it without making sure it has correct measurements.

– In general one artboard should do (the printers may take it apart afterwards, but this is how I generally receive template from printers too)
– Print presets are often ignored by printer (replaced with their own set). Set it to CMYK the rest should not matter at this stage.
– If in Europe use mm in USA use inches. (maybe open in inches in order to double-check the scale is 1:1 and then convert to mm)
– Shrinkage could possibly occur, I'm not sure. But if so it would highly depend on material surface etc. – so that's something the printer should worry about.
– Handle, screws etc you can show pretty much like on the drawing you shared, just put it on a separate layer and maybe with 'overprint' set to true.

But really I would recommend you ask that the printing company that will produce this. They will now best how they need their artworks.

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