Stickers, labels, and decals are a popular way to add personalization and creativity to everyday items. Sticking them to a laptop, a water bottle or even a car are common places to show brand loyalty and interest.
Have you ever wondered how long stickers last? Why do some stickers fall apart quickly while others last for years? In this post, we will explore the various aspects that lead to long-lasting outdoor stickers and help answer the question of how long stickers last!
The material and ink are the two biggest factors in long-lasting stickers.
Breakdown of sticker base materials
Sticker materials are wide-ranging. From paper and BOPP to vinyl and polyester. The material a sticker is printed on makes a big difference in the longevity of the final product. A paper sticker won’t last outside in a rainstorm regardless of the print process. A vinyl sticker won’t last very long on a high-temp engine component because vinyl melts at 172°. The environment of the sticker, combined with the material, greatly impacts its lifespan.
|Sticker Material||Common Use Case||Expected Exterior Lifespan|
|Paper||Flyers, Business Cards, magazines||0 months|
|BOPP||Product labels||less than 1 year|
|Vinyl||Outdoor stickers and various industrial applications||5+ years|
|Polyester||Outdoor decals, high-temperature environments, chemical applications||5+ years|
Vinyl is the most commonly used base material for outdoor stickers. The material is made to last outdoors for several years, with constant exposure to the elements. Some vinyl materials will even last upwards of 7-10 years! That’s really important for transportation decals such as boats, trucks, and RV graphics. Vinyl is well known for its ability to conform to a number of curved or rounded surfaces, which is why it’s the most commonly used. The versatility of vinyl can’t be topped!
Polyester is another commonly used outdoor sticker material. This material is great for high-temperature applications like under the hood, or heavy-duty equipment like tractors and lawnmowers. Polyester has an even longer outdoor lifespan than vinyl and is better for the environment!
Breakdown of print processes and inks for stickers
Stickers are printed on many different kinds of presses. From desktop inkjet and laser printers to industrial digital printers. The outdoor durability of the product is greatly impacted by the quality and density of the ink. Some presses, such as offset presses, are traditionally used for printing business cards, flyers, magazines, and posters. Flexo equipment is used for printing product labels used in food products, soaps, spices, and craft beer cans. Screen and industrial digital presses are the only kinds of printing processes made for long-term outdoor durable decals.
There are many different types of ink that can be used to print stickers. Comgraphx uses UV inks which are very strong and hold up to the fading effects from the sun. The amount of pigment in all ink types determines how long stickers last without fading. Printers using solvent based inks have a disadvantage because most of what makes up solvent based inks must evaporate for the ink to dry. UV inks cure when exposed to UV light and retain their structure, nothing evaporates leaving the ink to stay strong.
What happens when a sticker fails?
How do laminates affect sticker longevity?
We can print on many different materials from chrome to vinyl and anything in between. The material your sticker is printed on has a lot to do with how long your decal will last. Obviously, paper stickers will absorb moisture and flake off when exposed to the elements. If you want your sticker to hold up ask yourself, how long do I want my stickers to last before deciding on what material to use.
We use screen printing, flexographic printing and digital printing to print your stickers. All three of our printing processes use UV inks. Each process lays down different thicknesses of ink and therefore, provide different colorfast longevities. The thicker the ink deposit the more resistant to fading the ink will be. Flexographic printing lays down a very thin coat of ink allowing for higher line screens to be produced and high-fidelity print quality. Screen printing lays down the most ink providing the most longevity and digital printing is between the two in both fidelity of image and how long stickers last.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of where to start with how long you need your stickers to last in the sun. Talking about materials can give you an idea of how inferior materials can save you money in the short run but may not be the best choice if you need durability. Finally, you don’t have to choose other printers because we provide the best of all three printing processes when it comes to printing your stickers. Check out our video on “How Long Stickers Last”.