How stickers are made in 4 simple steps

Ever wondered how these little sticky-backed beauties (stickers) get made?

We’ll show you how, in the next few minutes.

Step 1 – Artwork setup

Getting artwork right is probably the most crucial step but also one of the most underappreciated. It impacts everything that follows, so we take the time to get it right!

What happens at this stage?

  • Adding cutlines to your artwork
  • Adding bleeds
  • Creating registration marks to get accurate cutting
  • Adjust colors to CMYK to ensure they print correctly
  • Nest the artwork to be the most efficient use of space on the vinyl
  • Export in the correct format

 

We use various professional design programs to create print-ready artwork. The two main tools we use are; Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW. They allow our designers to change the artwork as much as is needed.

Here are some great free or low-cost resources to help you create your own designs:

Step 2 – Printing

There are many different ways of printing and various materials that we print on.

Here we focus on Sticker it’s most popular method of printing – digital inkjet printing.

We start by taking rolls of media and load them onto the printers.

An inkjet printer takes ink in a liquid form, and through a print head, fires tiny dots of ink at the printable media. Printers apply a layer of ink about 15 microns thin. They print up to 1440 DPI (dots per inch), so incredibly small, ultra-high-resolution, creating amazingly vibrant images.

The ink is then cured and this happens in different ways depending on the technology:

  • UK inkjet uses UV light to instantly cure the ink
  • Solvent inkjet – allow the solvent to ‘de-gas’ over time, usually 24 hours.

To learn more about the different types of materials that can be printed on go to our page all about materials.

Here are some examples showing the detail that we can achieve:

Step 3 – Laminating

For some of our stickers, we apply a transparent, protective layer to maximize durability. We can choose from many options, but they must be compatible with the media and print technology.

Laminates can be gloss, or matte, textured. Often the effect you choose can be personal preference and dependant on the finish you want.

Laminating protects the printed layer giving it resistance to sunlight, scratching, chemicals, oils and most other things that can damage stickers.

Step 4 – Cutting

The final step is to cut the stickers into the correct shape.

Shapes can be as complex as you want. The more tiny details you have, the more small edges there are to lift. The most durable shape is a circle or oval, closely followed by a rectangle with rounded corners.

There are loads of ways to cut a sticker.

An old cutting technique would cut stickers pre-made metal ‘dies’ that looked & worked like this.

This is why custom-shaped stickers came to be known as die-cut stickers.

However, time & technology have moved on. To speed up the process, reduce costs and increase accuracy we now using digitally controlled knives or high-speed lasers to cut stickers.

Print companies who use the old cutting method with metal dies tend to charge extra for bespoke shapes because the dies need to be made. The giveaway will be if they want to charge you a setup fee for your stickers.

At Sticker it we only use digital cutting. It’s more accurate, quicker, and cheaper, so you get your stickers quicker & cheaper.

To know anything else about how stickers are made please get in touch.