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What is a sticker made from?

That depends on the material you choose. On top of that, some stickers are laminated, whereas other are not. Let's take a look at your options.

A sticker has five layers. Starting from the top, they are:

  1. Laminate; (optional) for maximum protection.

  2. Ink; your printed design, usually made from CMYK colours.

  3. Media; the paper or plastic we print your design on.

  4. Adhesive; keeps your label stuck down - very important!

  5. Backing paper; often forgotten but very important. Protects your sticker and makes it easy to peel & apply.

Split view of a white vinyl sticker with each material layer numbered

Here is a little more information about each layer of a sticker:

Laminate

This layer is optional. Use a laminate for outdoor or long-term applications where the added durability is required. For example; 

  • Laptop stickers

  • Branded giveaways

  • Water bottle labels

  • Stickers on bikes

  • Industrial equipment stickers on tractors, wheelbarrows or similar

  • Stickers for a premium application

 

A liquid is occasionally used as a laminate where minimal protection is needed. The most popular laminates, however, are thin, transparent plastic films that are either gloss or matte. These give the maximum protection. Generally thicker = more durable.

Ink

There are many ways to print stickers. Digital & traditional are the two main categories.

Our focus in this section is digital.

Digital printing is growing hugely due to advances in printing. If you're buying less than 5000 stickers per batch, they're probably digitally printed because the setup costs are much lower than for traditional printing.

Digital printers typically print in CMYK. That stands for; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (key). Some, more advanced printers can also print white. In the last few years, printers have even been adding orange, violet and green inks to widen their colour gamut. Meaning, they can print a broader range of colours.

At Sticker it, we have digital printing machines with up to 8 ink stations, meaning we can hit a vast range of colours and print white in one go.

Media 

The media is the layer we print on; this can come in various types and even more colours. 

The most popular types of media are; plastic and paper. 

Both types of media are available in a vast range of colours, such as; white, clear, metallic silver & gold, fluorescent and many more.  

Adhesive

There are 3 main types of adhesive; removable, permanent or high-tack.

Removable adhesive is only suitable for very short-term applications where you want to remove the sticker - for example; removable paper packaging labels and seal stickers for envelopes.

Permanent adhesive is the most popular. It's the best allrounder and is what we recommend in 95% of applications. It can stick to; metal, glass, plastic, paper and more.

The high-tack adhesive is suitable for hard to stick to surfaces, such as rubber, or some low-energy plastics, like; water buckets, wheelie bins & MX bikes. 

Backing paper

It's easy to forget about the backing paper (aka release liner). The purpose of the paper backing is to make the sticker or label easy to peel, which nearly all backing papers are good enough these days to do this effectively. 

The one thing a good, thick backing can do is add a premium feel to your sticker or label.

If you're applying stickers in-house, to your product, for example, don't worry about the backing paper. It can be thin because no customer will see it.

If you're giving handouts or selling stickers as products to your customers, we recommend going for a nice, thick backing paper to provide a premium feel to your custom stickers. It also makes your stickers easier to peel, which is a good bonus.