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What are the most common terms used by sticker printers?

By David Willis © 2019

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Sticker printers, like other professionals, have their own terminology. In this article I try to explain the meaning of the most commmonly used terms in the industry.

Gloss Stickers

full colour round vinyl sticker

Gloss stickers are self-adhesive vinyl stickers with a shiny finish.

Gloss finished stickers can be produced using permanent or removable self-adhesive vinyl. They can be cut to any shape, made to any size and produced in any quantity.

Matte Stickers

Matte stickers are self-adhesive vinyl stickers with a non-shiny finish.

Matte (or matt) stickers can be produced using permanent self-adhesive or removable vinyl. They are elegant and stylish, perfect for creating a subtle effect.

Spot Colour Stickers

Spot colour stickers are self adhesive vinyl stickers that are printed with an ink using a single run.

Typically, spot colour stickers are printed using either silk screen or thermal transfer printers. Spot colour printing usually results in more dense colours than when printed using 4-colour process CMYK. Spot colours are suitable when a design has one or two flat (non-gradient) colours. However, in theory several colours can be used within a single design.

Spot colour printing is used when more specialist colours are required including metallic, fluorescent or neon colours.

Spot colour printing has the advantage that sequential numbers (or a pre-set alphanumeric series) can be easily added to your sticker design making each of your stickers unique, branded with a different number or code.

full colour vinyl window sticker

Weatherproof Stickers

Weatherproof stickers are vinyl stickers that are suitable for outdoor use.

Self-adhesive vinyl stickers with water resistant inks (and resins) are suitable for outdoor use in all weather conditions. The adhesives used in these stickers repel water and continue to bond even under water.

Vinyl stickers can be applied to canoes, boats and even air tanks used in deep sea diving. These stickers can also withstand seawater without impacting the ability to adhere to a surface.

Vinyl stickers also can withstand extreme temperature conditions from minus 40C to up to 110C, allowing them to be used on equipment as diverse as skis and engines.


Lamination is a clear film that is applied over the print to protect the inks from scratching or destroyed by solvent cleaners.

Lamination is more often used with digitally printed stickers than with screen or thermal stickers. Lamination is recommended when stickers are to be subject to a high degree of abrasion.

Stickers printed by thermal printers or which are screen printed rarely require lamination since the inks used in these proceses are already highly resistant to abraision.

It is worth noting that laminated stickers can be double the thickness of a standard sticker.


Vinyl is a synthetic man-made material made from ethylene (found in crude oil) and chlorine (found in regular salt)

When processed, both the substances are combined to form Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) resin, or as is commonly referred to - Vinyl. By employing further chemistry, vinyl can be made flexible, rigid or semi-liquid; clear or colorful; thick or thin – making it the world’s most versatile plastic material.

Vinyl was first invented in 1920 by scientists who wanted to develop a material that would help to manufacture everyday products that were easier to make, more durable, and cheaper than what was available. Today, vinyl has become the second largest manufactured and sold plastic resin in the entire world.

screen printed vinyl sticker

The most common use of vinyl is that in construction, especially as vinyl flooring and vinyl siding. In fact, these uses of vinyl are often thought of as its only uses. In addition to these, however, vinyl has many other uses because of its ability to combine with various additives and modifiers, thus making vinyl highly suitable to be used in the manufacture of many different products such as stickers, signage, banners, displays and exhibitions.

Common Properties Of Vinyl

Vinyl is a very strong and durable plastic material and is resistant to moisture and humidity. It can be manufactured in a variety of colors, both transparent and solid and is a very lost cost material to produce.


Vinyl is a Recycle Product

Vinyl is a plastic material, which unlike other plastics, can easily be recycled. Because of the durability of vinyl, products made from this material have a long life span. Add to this the fact that the vinyl can then be recycled, translates into an even longer life of the vinyl plastic resin.

Vinyl is a very environment friendly material, not only because it can be recycled, but also for many other reasons. Vinyl helps in the preservation of environmental resources as 57% of vinyl is made from common salt, which is a renewable natural substance. Non-replenish able resources such as crude oil only account for 43% of vinyl resin, thus making it nature friendly.

In comparison to various other materials used by the packing industry, vinyl requires lesser amounts of natural resources to make, utilizes much lesser energy for manufacture, and also releases lower emissions into the environment.

Thus vinyl, a synthetic man-made material, has truly revolutionized the entire plastic resin industry and the first choice material for any sticker printer.

David Willis
David Willis
This article was written by David Willis, a print entrepreneur and respected industry expert.

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