How are Vinyl Stickers made?

What do stickers consist of and how are they made?

A quality self-adhesive film should include three layers:

  • The face layer. It is made of PVC and plasticizers. It can be both high quality films, as well as cheaper transparent and monomer materials. Of course, the cheaper version will last less, moreover, such films give shrinkage over time.
  • The glue layer. It consists of a water-based glue or solvent. It is the second option that allows you to create products with the longest service life, but it also costs more.
  • The substrate. It is usually made of paper, treated with silicone on one side.

Advantages of high quality film

If the stickers were made from high quality film, they will have the following advantages:

  • Durability. Under favorable operating conditions, such products can last up to 5 years.
  • Resistant to temperature changes in the range from -40 to +80 degrees.
  • Moisture resistance. Because of this, the vinyl sticker can protect the gadget from the negative effects of moisture.
  • Excellent tolerance of ultraviolet rays. This makes sure that the film will not wrinkle on the body of the phone, tablet or smartphone, after lying a little in the sun.
  • Attractiveness. And this effect gives both glossy and matte film.
  • Excellent price/quality ratio.

For production of stickers usually ORACAL 600, 640 is used and its thickness varies in the range 0,07-0,08 mm. Due to such thin film layer and substrate it is very easy to use. It is easier to stick such a sticker on a prepared surface. But we do not use this film, instead we use a better quality vinyl film with a thickness of 0.1 mm (100 microns).

For luminous stickers I use a special photoluminescent film. This comparatively new product contains in its composition luminophor.

A detailed manufacturing process

Plotter is a high-speed automatic cutting machine, which is able to cut figures from self-adhesive film at a given contour. Although the process is not complicated, the focus must be on accuracy. This is very important, because on the plotter cut not only circles and squares. The shapes can be very complex, both open and closed. The plotter can handle any geometry beautifully. This technology allows you to create appliqué stickers.

Printing varieties

In order to print an image on a self-adhesive film, different types of printing are used. Let’s consider each of them in detail.

Digital printing

It is used less frequently, since it is suitable only for small runs of labels up to A3. It has advantages, such as the detail of the image. However, due to this cost sticker will be more expensive – not because of the complexity of the process, but because of the high cost of equipment. For digital printing will need inkjet or laser printers, their format can be different.

The image is clear, bright, in this way to create transitions of colors and shades. This method of printing gives a unique opportunity to produce even photographic images, as there is a high resolution. For such printing one takes photo paper or self-adhesive paper and attaches it to vinyl. Good printers immediately print with a glossy effect. In order to prolong the life of such a product, it is additionally varnished or laminated.

Large format printing

This method is widespread because it has practically unlimited possibilities. You can print on either a white or colored base: in both cases you get a beautiful full-color picture.

There is also a semi-transparent base, on which you can create great pictures with a stained glass effect. Film ORACAL allows printing any images with large format printing: portraits of people, landscapes, complex paintings.

Offset printing

This is the use of offset machines to transfer images to vinyl. This is not done directly, but through a special device called a platen roller. This technology is not widespread, as it allows you to work only with roll material. In addition, this is the most complex and labor-intensive method of all possible, hence its high cost.

Sublimation printing

It is characterized by maximum efficiency. The print provides the best possible penetration of ink into the very depth of the material, so the paint is perfectly fixed. Hence the greatest durability of stickers with minimal possibility of damage.

In order to print an image, it is first printed on paper and then applied to vinyl. After that high temperatures affect and the image simply stays on the vinyl. Such an image needs additional protection, it lacquered. When souvenir stickers are created, the product is coated with polyurethane resin or laminated.

Solvent printing

It gives a high quality picture, very bright and full color. This method is used frequently, as it gives a stable image, which is able to withstand the most negative external factors perfectly. Such stickers will last at least 3 years, even if they are exposed to aggressive environment. This method requires a special solvent ink. When it hits the material, it penetrates deep into the base of the film itself.

Vinyl Stickers

Can I make my own stickers?

Vinyl stickers have gained great popularity. If you have a desire to decorate some object, you can try to make stickers yourself. It is not as difficult as it may seem. It is only required to adhere to a certain algorithm:

  1. In a stationery or construction store should buy a film Oracal or Avery desired shade.
  2. Use a computer program to create your own picture. It is better to make it monochrome, simple, but expressive. The best way to process the picture is to use a vector program Corel. But it is not obligatory, any graphic program will do. The finished drawing is printed on an ordinary printer. If you do not have skills in graphics programs, you can draw a picture by hand, and then photograph it.
  3. When everything is ready, it is necessary to spread the film on a flat surface (on a table or the floor) with the glossy layer down. Then the prepared drawing is transferred onto the film. To do this you will need a ruler and a pencil. The back side of the film is crossed out into centimeter squares, so it will be easy to do.
  4. When the drawing is successfully transferred to the film, the image is carefully cut out with scissors. It should be turned upside down with the glossy layer and glued to the mounting adhesive tape. This is necessary to facilitate the transfer of the image to the desired surface.
  5. The surface on which the product will be glued should be prepared. First of all, it is cleaned from dust, and then degreased, as before attaching the usual store vinyl sticker.
  6. Then you need to cut a piece of tape and fasten the sticker by the top edge to the place where it will be located. The backing in the form of mounting tape is gradually removed and the film in the form of an image is applied to the surface. For smoothing, you need to have a flat object at hand, such as a ruler or a plastic card. This object is very handy to remove air bubbles as the film sticks.
  7. When the sticker has been transferred to the surface, you should check it again for air bubbles and see how even it is. If there are distortions, you can carefully remove the film and reattach it.

If you want to extend the life of the sticker, it must be laminated. At home, this is done with ordinary transparent tape. The only condition – it must be wide enough to cover the entire image. No joints of the tape strips are not allowed, dust will get there and it does not look very aesthetically pleasing.

With your own hands you can make not only stickers for gadgets, but also interior stickers, stencil stickers and even very beautiful and unusual luminous images. For the latter, a completely different film is used. It must contain a special component, thanks to which the product will glow in the dark.