Thoughts From Printing Experts

Bart Simpson

How a Sticker is Made [INFOGRAPHIC]

Here at GoDecals.net, we receive questions every day from clients, other businesses, and even our friends about the different aspects of sticker production. The printing and manufacturing industry has been around a long time, and some people never stopped to think about how stickers, decals, signs, labels, and other printed marketing materials are actually made.

Since we manufacture and process all orders ourselves, we are experts about every single step of the ordering process—from initial concept to final product. The number of questions we receive on a daily basis has grown over the years, and the questions are almost always about the sticker-making process. With so many people interested in this topic, we decided to create an infographic to help explain how a sticker is made.

how-sticker-is-made

As you may have been able to decipher from the infographic, we broke down the creation of a sticker into five steps. But instead of simply showcasing our company's design and manufacturing of a sticker, we decided to reach deep into the history books to help tell the story of how stickers originated.

  1. The History of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  2. Thank goodness for Mr. Regnault! A French chemist, he was the genius who first discovered how to synthesize chlorinated hydrocarbons like vinyl chloride and polyvinyl chloride back in 1895. This opened the door for others—like Waldo Semon and B.F. Goodrich—to take Regnault's work a step further and help create plastics out of polyvinyl through experimentation with different additives. Ultimately, PVC was discovered through the polymerization of the monomer vinyl chloride (VCM).

  3. From PVC to Sticky Stickers
  4. But, wait a second. What does PVC have to do with the bumper stickers on the back of your truck or the wall decals in your living room? Well, I'm glad you asked. The PVC is converted into flat sheets and married to pressure sensitive adhesive in order to create sticker vinyl. If you really want to break the process down to its foundation, it's the blending of a polymerized colorless gas and a sticky glue we in the decal industry like to call, "adhesive."

    Once those two sheets are "married," we have the foundation for all the stickers and decals you can imagine. Now comes the fun part: These sheets aren't limited to any particular color, thickness, or size. As you probably guessed, the normal color of the sheets is white, but look around: there are stickers of all colors, shapes, sizes, and thicknesses all around you. Some are customized out of necessity. Others are customized simply to be different. That covers the raw materials. Now, let's starting designing!

  5. Customer (That's You!) Orders a Sticker
  6. If you couldn't already tell, that's where you come in! This is the part of the manufacturing process your where awesome logos, slogans, and designs are set up to be cut and colored into various shapes for placement around your home, community, vehicle, and more. Sometimes, the design is provided to us in the form of a logo or particular image. Other times, the customer approaches us looking for advice on how to put together the best design and layout for the message they're trying to communicate.

    Depending on the type of art, the proper printing method will be chosen. It's between digital printing and traditional screen printing; both of which result in the creation of a high-quality, durable sticker product. However, the way the final product is created is different. For example, if digital printing is chosen, the graphic designer simply creates the file and sends it to the digital printer best suited to complete the job.

    But if traditional screen printing is the better printing option, the film is run and a screen gets burned with the film's image (the customer's artwork). Once the screen preparation is complete, production begins on the screen press that layers the different colors one at a time until the image construction is complete. It's the same high-quality product, but a distinctly different process.

  7. Customizing the Artwork
  8. While the design of a sticker is extremely important, so is its shape and ability to stick. The back liner of the sticker we've created needs to be scored in the back to ensure an easy removal of the liner that exposes the sticky adhesive. Without this step, the application of your sticker would be tedious. The sticker will then be cut into whichever shape necessary, either by the clam shell die cutting machine or a digital machine. Each shape brings its own details and intricacies. For example: square-cut decals and stickers require a specific, large, mechanical cutting device to ensure perfect, straight cuts.

  9. Packaging, Shipping, and Sticking!
  10. To recap, PVC has been around for more than 100 years. It starts as a sheet that's married to an adhesive featuring a really slick design. The stickers are then cut, packaged, shipped before you get them and stick them in the hands of folks who will stick them all over the place.

If you'd like to post our infographic on your website, feel free to use the embed code we've provided below. Thanks for sharing!.

Embed Code for Infographic

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