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Common problems to look out for with stickers & labels

This article contains the most common problems to watch out for when receiving your new batch of stickers or labels. We've been printing custom stickers & labels since 2006 and have made our fair share of mistakes. Over time we've developed processes & machines to avoid these problems. We've put this guide together, so you know what to look out for.

Dirt under the laminate

If your stickers are laminated, watch out for small specs of dirt under the laminate layer. They can look like a tiny grain of sand or dust, or even be as large as a piece of hair!

If you see these, you'll know your print supplier has a dirty environment and ensure you get replacements sent.

Banding in the print

Incorrect calibration can cause a digital inkjet, wide format printer to print banded. The result are lines throughout your print where it should be a solid colour, making it look terrible. Like this:

Source

Mis-registered cutting

There are many ways to cut stickers, and some are more accurate than others. One of the most important things is to ensure the cut is exact around the edge of the sticker.

If it's not near perfect, any borders can look uneven and ruin the effect of your label. To help avoid misregistered cutting ruining your design is not to include contours or borders, but have it going to the edge. 

Too much ink

Some digital printers are susceptible to this problem - especially with orange & red inks.

Too much ink on the media causes an orange peel effect that impacts the appearance of the colour.

There is nothing you can do to combat this; you need to use a print supplier who has the latest technology and maintains their machines properly. 

The wrong colours

Not getting the exact colour is a big problem. Two factors often cause this:

  1. Giving the wrong colour values in artwork

  2. The printer cannot print the required colour

When giving artwork to your printer, be sure to convert colours to CMYK and provide a Pantone reference or a physical sample for them to match.

To avoid the 2nd point, choose a colour that can be printed in CMYK. If not, suppliers will need to make spot colours for you or print in CMYKOVG.

This image shows the difference in colours we can see vs an RBG & CMYK colour spectrum.

Source

Delamination

Delamination happens when the transparent, plastic film applied to the sticker to protect it, starts to separate from the printed media below. 

Delamination occurs for two main reasons:

  1. Not using the correct laminate. The glue isn't strong enough, so it starts to peel.

  2. Not degassing properly. Solvent inkjet printers need time for their ink to cure before laminating so the ink can 'gas-off' before being trapped beneath the laminate. This process can take 24-hours, and some print suppliers may not leave this time.

Curling

Curling of your sticker will happen when the tension of the laminated layer is different from the printed layer. One layer pulls the other & they curl. 

Labels can also curl because cheap backing paper can take on moisture, causing the paper to expand and curl.

Hard to peel your sticker

When trying to peel your sticker & the backing is tearing, it's cut too deep so the backing paper tears. It's very frustrating and is because the cutter settings are incorrect and it's applying too much pressure or energy.