View Full Version : Adhesive sticker material

Emma austin
07-17-2011, 8:38 PM
Is this always PVC vinyl? Or is there different types. Ie is the type used for car decals different to the stuff printing companies use to make product stickers?
Have a printing company wanting me to cut their sticker sheets in different shapes, rather than buy the different knives.
But I presumed this would be the type of material not good for the laser? It is thin white sticker sheets.


Bill Cunningham
07-17-2011, 8:48 PM
There is some that's a polyester material, but most is vinyl, and that's what is usually used for stickers and labels..

Emma austin
07-17-2011, 8:53 PM
That's what I thought thanks. I presume the standard would be vinyl for a printing shop.
I still can't figure how he thinks it would be economical to have a laser do this, he wants quotes for 500, 1000 and 10,000 stickers, he would supply the printed sheets and files, we would just cut.
But I looked at one of their quotes for a client of 1000 stickers for $389, so I don't see how there is much room for us to make money in there!! All to save him $100 to buy the knife shape.
But anyway, if the material is going to damage the laser, no point even coming up with a quote!

Joe Pelonio
07-17-2011, 9:31 PM
You will have a difficult alignment issue also, most likely not worth your time
unless you print too, and use the same artwork for both printing and cutting.

Emma austin
07-17-2011, 9:35 PM
Yes Joe that is what I thought too, the alignment would be a pain.
Anyway I have spoken to him again and he said they are not PVC vinyl, they are just gloss paper adhesive. I rang another printer and asked them about their sticker stock and they said the same thing, that it is definitely not PVC vinyl, that is thicker and what would be used for windows etc.
SO sounds like these normal stickers aren't toxic?
I also asked about the fact that the knives only cost $100 or so, how is it worth outsourcing this. He is think more for when he needs 500 stickers cut to 5 different shapes, so would save $500 or so.
Anyway will do some math!

Larry Bratton
07-17-2011, 9:41 PM
You will have a difficult alignment issue also, most likely not worth your time
unless you print too, and use the same artwork for both printing and cutting.

Absolutely agree...pass on that one.

Richard Rumancik
07-17-2011, 10:32 PM
Whether alignment would be a problem or not really depends on what is being printed. If the particular sticker has text or a graphic with a wide clear margin, it does not need an accurate registration. If there is color to the edge, the printer will design it with bleed (color past the edges of the cut) to allow some registration error. Tight registration will be required when there are graphics (such as an outline border) that you need to follow. Even then, I think the registration could be done pretty accurately.

Whether it will save money for the printer is another question. You have to work out the set-up time and job time and see if the numbers work. It looks a bit doubtful at first glance as steel rule dies are pretty cheap. I think that x-y laser tables have a hard time doing digital die cutting on a competitive basis. A galvo is more suitable. The laser can work for graphics that are really delicate or complex where a steel rule is impractical (and assuming the printer has a big budget to work with.) I have found that for simple shapes, the laser is usually not very competitive.

Bill Cunningham
07-17-2011, 10:47 PM
A lot of potential customers have a very unrealistic idea of what a laser is capable of doing.. I get at least 2 requests every week for something totally out in left field.. But hey! They seen a laser in a movie once..

Dan Hintz
07-18-2011, 6:14 AM

I'll ask since no one else did... your description of "think white sticker sheets" leads me to believe it's a paper sticker, like what price tags or box labels are made out of, not vinyl (like what a windshield banner would be made out of and cut with a plotter). Can you confirm?

Mike Null
07-18-2011, 6:29 AM
I wouldn't be so quick to turn this down but I would be very concerned with registration. Run a test or two to check that out and to establish a time. I think you'll be surprised at how little time it takes and therefore that it may after all be viable for both of you.

Scott Anders
07-18-2011, 6:34 AM
I would definitely do a hot copper test before starting, 95% of material used in the sign industry is PVC. even if they are saying the paper is not pvc then if it has an overlaminate on it, it probably will be pvc based. If you can specify a material to them i would ask them to print on polypropylene paper. Play it safe, if it is for outdoors i can almost 100% guarantee it will be PVC.

Rodne Gold
07-18-2011, 6:44 AM
We used to register and die cut to within 0.2- 0.5mm on A4 sheets of deskjet vinyl (was not PVC) and it wasn't too difficult. If you have a fast machine and its capable of high spoeed vectoring , you can cut quite quickly - normally its very low power and 100% speed.
However paper stickers might be an issue as no matter how we tried , there was some discolouration when cutting paper (much more noticeable if you used the laser to cut the white sections), the thicker the paper , the worse the effect was.

Martin Boekers
07-18-2011, 9:45 AM
If it has possiblities of long term or higher volume consider a cutter plotter, or maybe just a cutter with an optical sensor.
They could include registration marks in the print the sensor would read and cut acurately.

I have a feeling that he may be printing these himself on a laser printer cheaply and is just looking for the cut.

Rodne may be able to help on the viabilty of a optical cutter.

Larry Bratton
07-18-2011, 9:56 AM
I wouldn't be so quick to turn this down but I would be very concerned with registration. Run a test or two to check that out and to establish a time. I think you'll be surprised at how little time it takes and therefore that it may after all be viable for both of you.
That would be my main concern, trying to get the registration correct on something that she didn't print. Otherwise, it might be a pretty good deal for both. If the printer can be consistent every time he prints a sheet, and you can use your setup over and over, it would work.

Ian Franks
07-18-2011, 10:08 AM
Here are some pics of stickers we cut from the laser printer. The paper is gloss sticker paper and the brand is Manta. These run through our laser colour copier no hassles.
Just you need registration mark to cut first and then check and fix your alignment. :)
For a few sheets this is the perfect way to do it.
Excuse the photo quality this was taken with my cell phone.

Rodne Gold
07-18-2011, 10:16 AM
Yes,you would have to communicate with your sticker supplier as to the method of printing , by far the easiest way is to print centred as then the graphics would not have sheet margin issues. One of the other problems you will have is the calibration of your laser in terms of the X and Y axis , which might be out in respect of both the printer and reality. An optical reader type cutter is not that expensive , however it would be better for the supplier themselves to do this and buy one themselves. Large runs of laser die cut stickers with our type machines is generally not profitable if all you are doing is the die cutting. Where it does become profitable is proofing packaging or doing limited run packaging , for example die cutting an upmarket wine label for a run of maybe 200-1000 bottles or less.
The sticker guy also has to remember that you will have to have a good few sheets to get your registration spot on with , prior to actually cutting production.
We did it this way: Print centred with a die cut line on the top left and bottom right sticker being printed - send the graphic without the printing but just the die cutting to the laser , put the paper in a jig that it just fit into, do a test run of just the 2 stickers printed with the die cuts to see if the cuts actually registered with the printed die lines and that power and speed were ok and then make any adjustments needed and do the production run.
We then weeded the excess and domed the stickers , it was a remarkably cheap method of doing die cut full colour and domed self adhesive decals , all that was required was a ink/deskjet printer and the inkjet vinyl which wasnt PVC based (available from www.papilio.com (http://www.papilio.com) )

Mike Null
07-18-2011, 10:20 AM
It could be quite simple--if the guy is printing on standard letter size paper he can send that file to you and you should be able to cut directly from it. Even easier if he wants a kiss cut.

Emma austin
07-18-2011, 2:22 PM
Hi everyone. Wow thanks for the responses. Certainly looks like I didn't give enough info.
Yes Dan, I have established now that these are the paper based labels, so no PVC.
They are for product labels, nothing outdoors.
It is not just some backyard printer, this is a pretty large print company. They have die cutters etc.
What he is trying to save on is buying a knife for every different shape a client wants. They pay $100 a time for a knife, then do the printing and cutting themselves. They can cut a couple of thousand an hour.
Where the benefit for Them would be is if they needed say 500-1000 of 5 different shapes, then that would normally cost $500 just for knives.
They would supply on A2 which fits my laser bed.
I tested cutting yesterday, yes it is kiss cut, got the settings really good. A random sized sticker I did 6 on a A4 sheet in 25 secs. So an average for A2 would be about 1min30 secs.
Am thinking of charging just a flat fee for anything on an A2 sheet, no matter if lots of small or more larger stickers.
Thinking $4 per sheet? With a minimum of $50 work at a time. On the condition that this applies if there is no set up with placement etc and design.
Not sure what that price is like though. The biggest issue is that for such quick runs, I will be standing over it liftin the lid every 2 mins and swapping the sheets.

Emma austin
07-18-2011, 2:26 PM
To add, I did ask that didn't he just pass that cost of the knife on to the Client anyway? Which he said yes to. So I don't know of he is lookig to AAVE the client money, or himself...

Ian Franks
07-18-2011, 2:43 PM
I would consider a setup charge, call it make ready printers normally understand that, as well. We don't die cut so we send out for that and are charged for a die plus a setup charge.
Just work out how long it would take to open the file set it up and line up (register in print terms) then multiply by at least 1.5 there will be problems. Also keep the minimum charge. Then always ask for overs-extras for setup and run problems, as things do go wrong either with the print or the cutting. Then they will also have samples for their worktickets.
The laser is great for short runs and laser-die cut business cards are a good attention getter.

Dan Hintz
07-18-2011, 2:47 PM
I was going to say, because if he's paying $100/knife, he's breaking even after having you do a mere 25 sheets at $4 each. He would need to get 20 stickers per sheet just to break even on 500 stickers, and it sounds like a lot less than 20 fit on a sheet.

Unless his accounting skills are worthless, he'll quickly figure this out and you've lost the job. This means the laser would only be worthwhile for quick turnaround times when a knife would take several days to get back to him.

Unless we're missing more detail, I'd walk away form this one before you spend a lot of time in setup only to lose the job shortly thereafter.

Mike Null
07-18-2011, 4:36 PM
Don't you mean that his gross savings from the sale of 25 sheets might equal $100 if he bought the knife and did it himself?

Sarah Holbrook
07-18-2011, 4:55 PM
If you are working with a pre-printed piece make sure to check the calibration on a few sheets. I recently did a kiss-cut sticker job of 30+ designs in varying quantities on letter-sized sheets. I found that the most variability was in the printed sheets themselves. If the design has a tight tolerance you may need to check/correct the registration on each sheet.

I found it helpful to create registration marks that are boxes with small tickmarks at known intervals. Cut the box first and count the ticks to find the adjustment you need to make.http://candyspotting.s3.amazonaws.com/images/registration%20mark.png

Emma austin
07-18-2011, 5:03 PM
Yes exactly the sums don't make a lot of sense. He is a very pushy type business man and is pretty insistent that this will work out well for both of us. But I can't for the life of me figure out a price where that is the case! As anything less than $4 a sheet is really selling my time short, as it is not like I can just set it up like a paper feed machine, I would have to be standing over it the whole time and lifting the lid every 1-2 mins.
And the fact that the client pays the knife fee anyway, which is industry standard, I can't understand why he is so keen.
AND he wanted to come see the machine which is not going to happen as I work from home with my two young babies!
Even if we made an average 30 sheets in an hour, taking the time to swap each one, that is about $120 for the hour. I don't think that is too unreasonable considering it is not only only machine time but also operator time.
I could probabbly drop that a but I guess, but surely not to anything that will make it a better option than his warehouse full of printing machines!!
By the way I am quoting NZ dollars but it is close enough to US at the moment :)

Chuck Stone
07-18-2011, 7:02 PM
all that was required was a ink/deskjet printer and the inkjet vinyl which wasnt PVC based (available from www.papilio.com (http://www.papilio.com) )

+1 on the Papilio material. I use the glossy polyester film and another matte material and
they work great for resists for chemical etching (thanks for the tips on that, Rodney!) and
I've even done some vehicle lettering with them. Wouldn't want to do it all day, but for
a one-off or a favor, it's not too bad.