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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Archive for the ‘Label and Sticker Printing’ Category

Sticker Printing and Label Printing: More Options Than You Might Think

Friday, August 5th, 2011

What do you need to know about printing custom stickers? It seems this would be a fairly straightforward genre of printing, but there are actually a number of things to consider when buying custom stickers (or labels).

Consider the intended use of the sticker.

For indoor use, such as a name badge or a label for a large envelope, 70# matte or gloss label stock should be fine. (This is often referred to by its brand name, “Crack’n Peel,” since you bend the paper to break the backing away from the label, and then just peel away the backing sheet.)

Crack’n Peel labels are ideal for light-duty uses, since you will not be exposing the paper to moisture or scuffing. Of course, you would also need to specify the number of ink colors and the size of the custom sticker. Most printing companies start small with uniform sizes, such as 2” x 3/5” and go up incrementally, although you can also specify a custom size for sticker printing.

More durable substrates exist for demanding uses.

For more demanding uses, you will need more durable label stock. A wine bottle label, for instance, would require a stock that can adhere to a cold, wet bottle. A label used on food packaging may need to be printed on a similar stock for the same reasons. So in addition to the press run, ink colors, etc., describe to your business printing vendor the final use for the custom sticker or label.

Custom stickers used outside, such as campaign and political stickers, may be printed on vinyl substrates rather than paper. This material will withstand sunlight, moisture, etc., particularly if laminated.

For really demanding uses in extreme conditions, such as for labels in factories, you might even choose matte anodized aluminum coated with an acrylic adhesive, which will bond to plastic and bare metal surfaces. These labels resist abrasion, solvents, and extreme temperatures.

You can also specify that the custom stickers be printed on a clear vs. white substrate, and you can have them printed within diecut circles, ovals, squares, or rectangles. Also consider whether you want the label or sticker printing run to be provided in sheets or rolls. If you choose rolls, be sure you specify your preferred unwind position (the orientation of the custom sticker on the roll) on the quote requests you send your printing companies.

You can even add numbering or bar coding. Let’s say you need sequentially numbered stickers for bags of platelets in a blood drive. More than likely, such labels will need to have a metal foil backing adhesive to stay put whether the bags are in the lab or the refrigerator.

Printing Methods

Prior to the advent of digital printing, printing companies produced labels and stickers on flexographic presses. That is, rubber plates attached to press rollers printed the images on the label stock. This was a relief process (raised lettering and graphics on the rubber plates). You could often identify the flexographic printing by the thicker ink “stroke” around the images and letterforms (offset printing would not have this outline around the graphic elements). But recently, printing companies with laser imaging equipment (including high-end xerographic presses such as the HP Indigo) and inkjet presses can produce custom stickers for their clients as well.

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