Suggestions for making nice bumper numbers?

Our team always has issues with bumper stickers peeling off and never staying on the bumpers, but are there any techniques -like painting bumper numbers, etc.- that make for nice bumper numbers (ideally on a budget)? Thanks!

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We’ve done it two different ways. First was a local screen printer - You may be able to find one willing to print the numbers on for you as sponsorship for the team. The second is using a Cricut (that another mentor already had) to cut the numbers from vinyl and iron them on. Get the heat and timing down, and the numbers are practically impossible to remove - the vinyl essentially melts into the fabric.

Both methods can give you crisp, professional looking numbers that won’t come off for years.

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We’ve done heat-transfer vinyl we did on our vinyl cutter in the past, I know some teams have had luck with spraypaint templates that they laser-cut. There are many ways to skin that cat, but ask other teams in your area if they’re willing to cut them for you.

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We have a vinyl cutting machine at our school, so we used that with heat transfer vinyl to make ours this year. We used a t-shirt press to “iron” on the numbers.

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The past 2 seasons we have just painted on the numbers to the bumpers because we had the same problem in 2017. It has worked well and I think it looks just as good if not better

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We use a vinyl cutter to make stencils (removing the numbers and keeping the outline) and spray paint the numbers on the bumpers once they are complete, they look pretty good but requires some over spray clean up etc. I like some of the suggestions here about cutting out the numbers and ironing them on, I’m wondering if that can be done when the bumpers are done or it needs to be done on just the fabric?

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Like others have said, vinyl and then iron on. Similar to Jon’s team, one of our mentors has a Cricut that we use to make the numbers. But a steady hand with a scalpel style exacto knife works just as well.

Example of something a little fancier we’ve done with our bumpers using the Cricut:
Google Photos
Those aren’t defects in the lettering btw. That’s meant to be like that.

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We’ve done stencil templates and they come out okay, as long as you put the numbers on the fabric before you put the fabric on the bumpers. Using adhesive backed paper is a good idea as well, because you get sharper inside corners that way. As with most stencils, numbers with floating holes in the middle are harder than others which means that OP’s 4828 isn’t a super stencilable number. 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 stencil nicely, 0, 4, 6, 8, and 9 don’t.

Side note: has anyone ever noticed the link between a digit’s topology and it’s “prime-ness”? Between 1 and 9, all of the primes have no holes; 4, 6, and 9 have two prime factors and one hole, and 8 has three prime factors and two holes. For n prime factors, each digit has n-1 holes.

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We get ours here:
http://www.robopromo.com/category_s/1818.htm

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We use stencils as guides to outline the numbers, then just paint them on in white and outline them in black. We’ve never had a problem with the stencils, because we only use them for outline so we can paint over the voids you’d otherwise have. The numbers look just as good as any others and they definitely don’t come off.

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We tried “Dirt Digits” for the first time this year. They have a bit more of a sporty feel due to the angle and weight of the digits. They certainly looked nice when the bumpers were new.

They were definitely stickier than the numbers from Andymark, but they were also stiffer which meant that they still tended to peel away from the material a bit when the bumpers were flexed during impacts. So, during the first competition, they already started to show signs that they were not going to hold up long. I brought in some Shoe Goo and I was able to glue down any corners that looked to be peeling up. It worked quite well and once they were glued down, they lasted the rest of the season with very little sign of distress.

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We laser cut ours out of adhesive backed dacron.

https://www.sailrite.com/Insignia-Adhesive-Backed-UV-Dacron-14

Then just stick it on to our sail cloth bumpers, no heat needed.
We used this method for the first time this year, never had to replace a number or try to restick a corner or anything.

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If you can get a sponsor that does it, embroidered bumper numbers are pretty cool, we’ve been doing it for 8 years and no problems with like it falling off. 2019-09-08_08-38-07|690x460

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We made a stencil and went in with a paintbrush and good fabric paint. They come out looking very nice but take a long time to finish because it requires multiple coats.

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Orbit Robotics had an embroidery machine given to the team this past season. It does a great job but isn’t quick. After 2 district events, Provincials, Worlds and several outreach events there are 3 or 4 broken threads.

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The other Orbit cuts numbers out of white fabric and sows them on, we’ve never lost a number since we started doing them like that and it looks pretty nice


(only Pic I found where you can see the seams)

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We cut ours from fabric and embroidered them on:

Here’s a closeup showing the seams


After a season of heavy use, the white thread used to embroider shows signs of wear. I wouldn’t expect numbers like these to be used for more than one season. They were embroidered using a mentor’s sewing machine, nothing fancy.

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Team 25 uses a stencil and paints on the numbers - and then, depending on the color bumper, uses either red or blue paint markers to outline the numbers in case of over painting the lines.

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I am surprised more teams don’t do the black letters on a white background approach: