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​What is CMYK or full colour sticker printing?

By David Willis 30 July 2018 16 Views No comments

What is CMYK or full colour sticker printing?

We often are asked to supply quotes with reference made to the artwork being printed in CYMK, or Full Colour printing.

So what’s the difference between CYMK and Full colour printing?…it’s a very simple answer, there isn’t one, it’s just two ways of describing the same thing!


‘Full Colour’ is how some would describe a piece of print, that isn’t necessarily a ‘full colour’ print.

It may well be printed in what are described as spot colours, pantone colours or pms individually matched colours.

The term ‘CYMK’ is an abbreviation of ‘Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and blacK’, which are the four colours used in the 4 colour process printing process. From these four transparent colours, virtually any colours can be made.

So, following this logic, you could actually print a nice rich bright colour, in either a colour of ink mixed like paint in a tin, or by printing varying degrees of the 4 colour process colours, to make what looks to the naked eye as the blue colour you hope for.

The big difference in printing terms, is that the first method is a single colour print job…the second method makes it a four colour process job.

The end result might look similar, but as far as producing the job goes, the one colour job will be far cheaper than the four colour version to produce.

The old adage that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ couldn’t be more applicable to print, and in many cases expense could be saved…if only more accurate detail was available to quote against!

Desk top printers that we all have sat on our desks now make the printing of our photographs, email attachments etc on paper so simple.

Print copy-shops, and other small scale printers, can very easily print off a few leaflets, posters or business cards on a scaled up version of a desk top printer.

However, not all ordering of print…and especially when you move away from basic paper, is quite that simple.

Your printer can only give you an estimate, or quote for a job, based on the information you provide. Some well meaning print-buyers give descriptions and specifications for jobs that can only be described as ‘open to interpretation’ at best!

Here’s an example of a scenario that is all too common:

Customer: ‘Please can you quote me for 5,000 stickers, printed in full colour, on white self-adhesive vinyl. Size A4?’

Us: ‘No problem…could we just clarify what the design looks like please? It’ll make the price more accurate for you. Perhaps you could email us the artwork over to have a quick look at?’

Customer: ‘Of course…as I say, it’s full colour. I’ll send the artwork now’

Us: ‘Many thanks for sending the design over…are the stickers only to be printed in blue & red, like the artwork…and not full colour?

Customer; ‘Yes, that’s right…full colour…red and blue’

Unfortunately in a case like this, unless time is taken to help guide the customer through the various possibilities of print production, the quoted price may be far more than it needed to be.

At Edge Stickers, we have various methods of producing virtually every description of printed self adhesive vinyl sticker.

We’ll work with you to go the extra mile to ensure that we choose the correct print process for your work, and it’s end use.

Reflective stickers & signage - Class 1 or Class 2 ?

By David Willis 30 July 2018 16 Views No comments

Reflective stickers & signage - class 1 or class 2?

Don’t get confused with Class 1 and Class 2 reflectives…they’re very different, and have different uses.

(To add a little more confusion, Class 1 used to be Class 2, and Class 2, Class 1!)

You may also come across descriptions of RA1 and RA2, these are the same as Class 1 & 2, so no problem there.

Basically, you would commonly see Class 1 reflective signs and stickers used for promotional or informative end uses, where it is used to illuminate a message in darkness.

In some cases it is used in the production of temporary road signs too.

Class 2 has a higher specification of ‘reflectivity’ and is used for permanent signage for roads, as well as safety and warning markings on emergency service vehicles.

As you would imagine, there is a considerable difference in the cost between the two class types, but chosen correctly, you will get the correct product for your intended use.

Edge Stickers produce a huge array of printed reflective stickers, reflective signage and markings, and can give you all the advice you need to help you choose the correct type of reflective, for the job you have in mind.

​How are window stickers printed?

By David Willis 27 June 2018 46 Views No comments

Following on from my last post about lightfast printing, I’ve been asked to give a simple guide to how stickers for windows are made.

Firstly, not all window stickers are actually ‘stickers’, as some of them work without any adhesive, but nevertheless the printing process can be the same regardless of which type of material they’re printed on.

So first of all, let’s see how the printing part works…

Although you’d probably imagine that the plastic is printed, and then the ‘sticky’ is coated onto the print, it doesn’t actually work like that.

Window stickers start life as a clear plastic film, (with or without an adhesive layer)

The clear plastic film comes already with a paper or thin card backing paper. If it is a true ‘sticker’, the glue holds the backing paper in position. If it’s a self-cling sticker, the film ‘clings’ to the shiny backing paper on its own.

On to the exposed side of the clear film, the artwork is printed in reverse, mirror -image, wrong-reading, or however you want to describe it.

Over this reverse printed artwork, a solid, usually white, solid layer of ink is printed, trapping the artwork print underneath it.

So, when the sticker is peeled off it’s backing, the print is revealed.

What you’re actually looking at is the print, through the thickness of the clear film, and through the clear glue..(in the case of a ‘sticker’) Clever, but very simple!

As you’ll see, the printing part of the process has nothing to do with the actual type of ‘sticker’ you would like to produce.

Care needs to be taken to work out how ‘sticky’ the customer would like the sticker to be, or how long they want it to remain on the window.

At this point the correct choice of material is necessary. If the window sticker is a temporary or promotional graphic, that only needs to remain in place few a matter of days or weeks, then a static ‘self cling’ pvc might be the material of choice. This is a soft, shiny highly plasticised clear film that sticks to the window without any glue or adhesive. The great advantage of this material is that it can be easily removed without leaving any mess behind on the glass. It’s also easy to apply, as you can simply have another go, if you get it wrong the first time!

If the sticker or graphic needs to remain in place for a longer spell, but you’d still like it to come off later, then you might choose a clear self adhesive vinyl with a REMOVABLE adhesive.

This is basically a thin clear film with a thin coating of adhesive that holds it in place on the glass. It’s easy to peel off for the first part of it’s life, but does stick harder the longer you leave it in position!

For long term stickers and graphics, then a clear self adhesive vinyl with a PERMANENT adhesive should be used.

Apart from the obvious advantages of a nice long useful lifespan, be careful putting these type of stickers on…you only get one chance, and it’s very easy to get air bubbles trapped underneath, that will look terrible for ever more!

The meaning of lightfastness

By David Willis 2 May 2018 2993 Views No comments

Here’s an example of a common misunderstanding, or mix up in translation, of the meaning of ‘lightfastness’ with regards to print.

As you’ll see, here are two window stickers that will have started life looking identical, but ending up looking very different…

The problem is a misunderstanding of print processes, and what they’re capable of producing…or not producing in this case.

The sticker to the left was Screenprinted, using lightfast pantone special green mixed colours, and retains all of its original vibrancy.

The sticker to the right is actually more recent, and was produced by others, using the wrong process for the job in hand, who should have known better. As you’ll see, the green has actually faded to blue, as the yellow element of the mix has quickly faded away, and far from the brand colour guidelines!

Lightfastness of printing ink is measured on a scale known as the Blue Wool Scale. Historically, this was a method of measuring how much dyed fabric faded, over a given time, compared to a sample that was kept away from sunlight.

The scale is used in the same way for printing ink, and the test involves exposing a print sample to direct sunlight for a period of three months, and then comparing it to a ‘control’ sample that is hidden from the sun.

The amount of fading is given a fade rating on a scale of 0 to 8, 0 denoting any lightfastness at all.

To add to the confusion, different colours in printing ink have different Blue Wool ratings. Of the traditional CYMK, 4 colour process or Full colour process (they’re all names for the same thing) the M or Magenta, followed quickly by Y or Yellow are the first to fade by quite a long measure.

Time and time again we see Window Stickers, Window posters and general Outdoor display print of which the colour has simply faded away, leaving only a drained and faded version of its former glory, bereft of any life and colour, behind.

But my printer said he uses UV ink!

Maybe he does, but all is not what it seems here either…

UV ink refers to printing ink that is dried using UV light. UV ink isn’t necessarily UV stable, (or lightfast.)

In a nutshell, work produced using the Litho, or Lithographic process just isn’t lightfast. If in any doubt at all, just ask your printer to give you a guarantee of expected lightfastness.

Work produced by the Screenprinting process is very lightfast, and can give years of un-faded colour reproduction.

Some digital print processes can create a lightfast result, but again, best to check!

If in any doubt, call us at Edge Stickers on 01347 823230, and we’ll talk you through the best, and most suitable way of producing your work…that won’t fade.

Sticker Robot | Robot Sticker Printing

By 21 October 2017 5852 Views No comments