Stickers are a common medium of advertising. They are popular for a number of reasons;
- they can be placed on still and moving media such as vehicles which means unlimited reach.
- they are affordable
- they are easy to put up and take down
- they can be done in a number of ways in terms of shapes, size and the stock or paper they are printed on.
Choosing sticker printing options
The first decision about sticker printing to be made is the paper or stock a printer will be printed on.
- There are three basic options which then open up other options. These are matte or glossy stock and vinyl. Matte paper has a dull finish that is not shiny much like ordinary office printing paper and notebook paper. It is ideal for printing name tags, mailing labels or other sticker that need to hold ink well for legibility. Glossy paper on the other hand has a subtle sheen which adds a touch of sleekness to stickers.
The third option is vinyl. It is the longest lasting stock for printing stickers. For spot or single color printing, the stickers are finished with clear lamination that protects against scuffs and scratches. When CMYK printing, stickers are finished with a protective UV varnish.
When considering the stock to print stickers on, it is important to consider whether the stickers will be applied indoors or outdoors. This factor will lead you to choosing the right stock.
Stickers made for indoor use are printed on;
- white or yellow gloss paper and have a semi-glossy appearance
- white or yellow matter paper which has a flat appearance and which is ideal for labeling
- -fluorescent paper which is green, red, purple, pink, yellow, blue or orange paper with a bright Day-Glo matte finish. Stickers printed on this stock should be printed with dark ink high contrast with the paper.
- foil which gives stickers a shiny gold or silver metallic finish.
- brown craft paper which has a natural look and is also ideal for labeling.
- laser and inkjet labels which are ideal stock for laser and inkjet printers. They come in different kinds of paper including pastel tinted paper, white matte paper, matte polyester, fluorescent paper, white glossy paper and clear paper.
- static cling which has static charge that makes it possible for a sticker made out of it to stick onto clean, smooth without adhesive. These stickers can be done on white or clear static cling. Clear cling can have the static on the face or back of a sticker but with white cling, the static can only be at the back.
Stickers meant for outdoor use can be printed on;
– clear vinyl which is durable and weather-resistant. When it is applied, it appears almost completely clear. It is best to print white ink behind the image area so that it is legible. The adhesive can be at the front or back depending on the direction the sticker will be viewed from.
– white vinyl which is also tough and well able to stand up to the elements. It comes in white and yellow.
– polyester which is also very durable. This synthetic film is used for outdoor applications where there is a lot of moisture. It comes in chrome, brushed chrome, white and gold.
Stickers can also be printed on other types of stock to suit their precise status. These are;
- numbered labels that can be used for companies, office and apartment complexes and even government issues.
- magnets which are made of a flexible white material of different thicknesses
- glow-in-the-dark vinyl which is made of a luminous material that glows continuously for an hour with proper charge time.
- tamper-proof decals keep items protected. They are used for sealing electronics such as computers and their components, boxes with vehicle spare parts and other items.
- domed decals that are finished with a clear, polyurethane coating which gives them a one-of-a-kind three-dimensional appearance.
- reflective vinyl stickers which are made to be visible at night. These are typically used for security and industrial applications.
- prismatic decals which have prismatic patterns that are repeated after every six to nine inches. They can be made with or without a seam line appearing on the finished decal.
2) Having the stock the stickers are to be printed on, you then need to decide the adhesive that will be put on them. The options are;
- permanent adhesive which is the type that is standard with printers. It is a general purpose adhesive that works with most applications. This is how stickers are done unless otherwise stipulated.
- ultra-removable adhesive which adheres better compared to static and that comes off just as easily and without leaving behind residue.
- removal adhesive that is made to be taken off after a short time. However, with continued exposure to the elements, even such a label can become permanent.
- temporary adhesive that makes it possible to apply a sticker, remove it and reapply it on different kinds of surfaces. The adhesive always remains temporary.
- opaque adhesive which covers the surface it is put on such that the surface is not seen through the label. This sticker is ideal where you need to cover wrong or outdated information. They can also be used where the color of a surface could affect the way a sticker appears. Note that this kind of adhesive could affect the color of the ink and therefore the color matches.
- white gloss with freezer grade adhesive which is used to label products will be put in an environment that is below 50°F. These stickers have an application temperature that goes up to -20°F.
3) Once you have the two choices of the type of sticker you want and the adhesive you want, you will need to decide on the printing method.
- Flexo printed stickers
This method of printing is quick and cost-effective. With this method, it is possible to print full color stickers in spot or CMYK inks. This method is also compatible with many types of stock and there is the option of printing standard-size stickers or printing in customized sizes. The finished result is a roll of stickers separated by perforation.
- Screen printed stickers
This method is the premium method for printing customized stickers. It is also the method that gives long-lasting stickers that last for between three and five years. There are the options of printing using standard spot inks or custom CMYK process printing which can be done on clear stocks or vinyl. It is also possible to print stickers in customized die-cut shapes. The finished product is a sheet of stickers where the stickers are on individual sheets of backing that have crack and peel liners.
- Digital short-run stickers
As the name suggests, this type of printing is ideal for printing a few stickers within a short period of time. It is ideal for printing custom-shaped stickers and different kinds of stickers for the same purpose such as stickers displaying different aspects of benefits of the same product. These stickers are all printed through a CMYK process and they come out as individual sheets.
4) Another decision to be made is the ink that will be used to print stickers. They are three options;
- Pigment-based inks
These inks are a cost-effective option for printing general stickers. There is only one UV-stable pigment-based ink color and it is black. When all the other standard ink colors are exposed to the elements, they do fade over time.
- UV-stable inks
This type of inks last for three to five years despite exposure to the elements. They are ideal for printing stickers meant for long-term use such as stickers that are to be put up every time there is a sale or special offer.
- CMYK inks
These inks are ideal for printing colorful stickers with images that closely resemble photos. Standard roll products that are printed with CMYK will start to fade over time after exposure to the sun. However, CMYK inks can be UV-stable with digital or screen printing.
- Pantone color matching
This can be done as an alternative to CMYK printing for precise color matching. You can choose from over 25 standard inks. However, they can only be used for screen printing spot-color sticker prints.
5) Lastly, when the stickers are done, finishing needs to be done and there are several options for this as well.
- Hot stamping which can make stickers more attractive. This is often used to finish stickers that are put on beauty products for the touch of glimmer they add. This finishing can also be done to ensure products are not tampered with.
- Foiling which is the use of a length of gold or silver foil. It is ideal for return address labels, for envelope seals, awards and other items where maximum impact is desired. Ideally, foiling should be done on dark surfaces so that the foil stands out.
- Embossing where an image or text is lifted from the surface so that the raised image or text can be felt as well as seen. It is also to print stickers that go on premium products.
- Ultraviolet or UV varnishing which is a process done to give a sticker a nice, sleek finishing. This finish is also done to provide protection against the elements. It is a deluxe version of non-UV varnishes and it is done with a special UV drying machine.
- Lamination which is of two types; matte and gloss lamination. Lamination is done for aesthetics and also for protection against wear which is provided by the plastic film lamination.