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June 2018

​How are window stickers printed?

By David Willis 27 June 2018 182 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!