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Vinyl is a staple of the crafting world, preferred by artists for anything from iron-on lettering to house siding. So many uses have been found for the stuff that it can be hard to keep track, and many artists will eliminate most of them from their career for simplicity alone.
That said, it can be endlessly rewarding to produce a good vinyl piece ‒ just get your materials straightened out before you start and there should be no need for worry. One tool to help with this process is the vinyl calculator, a simple online resource that lets you check what kind of vinyl is needed and what cost it will run you.
A more basic vinyl calculator is exactly what it says in the title ‒ a mathematical engine that will produce a price quote for your project when fed the rest of the values, such as size and cost per centimeter of the vinyl to be used. While many find this helpful on some level, there are more advanced engines available.
Printing or craft companies may have a free-to-use calculator on their web sites, hoping to draw in buyers by offering a free service and range of materials and values to explore. A common added feature in such cases is a ‘live chat support’ feature, where a service representative will open a small instant messaging window to ‘speak’ to a shopper as they browse the site.
It is in the interests of the corporations behind such websites to make them as detailed as possible, and they often rise to the challenge ‒ after all, no right-minded supplier wants to be thought of as lacking the exact product a shopper was intent on buying.
Still, buyers should take care when perusing supplier sites, and come ready with the specifics of their project to avoid being pressured into buying something they didn’t need.
A store’s proprietary calculator is also unlikely to compare prices during a calculation, and instead produce a figure based solely on that company’s rate. Buyers should take care not to view the result as an absolute going rate, and to look at multiple vendors before finalizing an order.
Many stores will not include taxes, labor fees, or shipping in their calculator programs, creating an artificially lowered price for the potential buyer. These prices can sometimes be waived for a large order, but any buyer should begin by trying to contact the supplier to clarify if there are any such ‘hidden fees’ associated with their quotes.
On occasion, a group of like-minded consumers will create a calculator program for fellow buyers ‒ sometimes out of a desire to help a fellow hobbyist, others simply interested in protecting the online shopper.
These projects can be hard to find and often look fairly rudimentary, but make up for it by offering comprehensive features and a no-pressure environment for a buyer to consider an order.
The first kind of calculator, sporting simple mathematical formulae only, can be readily found here.
This web site will run the values given in short order and spares the buyer the trouble of figuring them one operation at a time, but is noticeably unhelpful beyond that; a hobbyist with even a decent grasp of the order of operations could well arrive at the same answer without opening their browser.
Representing the second variety of calculators are such things as the Stahl’s or Discount Displays Ltd. web pages. Each boasts a far more detailed calculator and than the previous link, and take into account far more details than simple calculators are likely too.
Two main reasons drive this kind of attention to detail: first, as mentioned, in order to present the buyer with the image of a knowledgeable and experienced dealer, any corporate calculator will be made as thorough as possible.
A second consideration is simply to keep the potential buyer on their site longer, giving more time overall to close a sale.
Advanced, unbiased calculators can be hard to find and harder to use; they are on many occasions not computer programs at all, but tables of values that a buyer can consult before going to a vendor with their order.
Tables such as this one can prove exceptionally detailed and invaluable help for someone looking to plan a project exactly.
An inherent downside of such tables is in their static nature; as a fixed publication instead of a real-time program, they are susceptible to change without notice that can throw off a carefully planned project.
Care should be taken to select only recent tables from trusted outlets that will give accurate and recent quotes.
For many, the simplest vinyl cost calculator is, in the end, their fellow vinyl enthusiasts; many will likely have bought material recently, and online communities can oftentimes be relied upon to answer pertinent questions only somewhat slower than a fully digital search engine.
This is especially true in specialty fields like vinyl crafting, where the information under discussion is the mainstay of the group as a whole.
Of course, goodwill and enthusiasm are only so helpful without a few pieces of information. Begin a search by collecting whatever values are available; the dimensions of the desired project, the type of vinyl sought, or the method by which it is to be cut and applies can all alter the price and should be mentioned when getting a quote.
A final note for buyers is that any calculator is only a guess at what the price of the material is too be; they are not the final quote unless explicitly states otherwise.
Always speak to the vendor before placing an order to make sure that the quote from the calculator is in fact what will be on the final invoice.
Vinyl has its tricks like any trade, but it remains a rewarding material to work with in a wide range of projects. Find the right vendor and price, and you will have taken a major step towards an enjoyable hobby for some time to come.