What are decals?

Decals are labels or stickers which adhere to and decorate a product, vehicle or building. They can be decorative or informative and often designed with a particular life cycle in mind. For example a shop window decals will have low tack adhesive and may be used for a couple of months then removed. Others need to last the entire life of the product they are adhered to.

Labels within this sector have some unique and diverse properties relating to how they are to be viewed and applied. This can provide some technical challenges during production. Display or window decals are used for aesthetic, promotional and health and safety purposes. For example a promotional sticker in a shop is adhered from the inside but must be visible to the street outside. Therefore ink order must be reversed so that print is readable from the glue side of the label. Likewise a decal on a glass door may need to be visible from both sides.

Often decal labels are in direct sunlight and all weather conditions. Adhered to vehicles, ships, cranes, toys, lawn mowers, power tools. Yet must retain the identity of the brand. For this reason they must be highly scuff, scratch, wet, heat, and light resistant. All of which puts some very tough requirements on ink.

To accommodate this sector’s needs several technical challenges need to be overcome by the digital inkjet press.

Over white printing capability
Over white is a ‘must have’ for windows, where the label needs to be adhered from inside the premises. This is often preferred by businesses because the glass protects the print from weather, increases resistance to fade, and removes the risk of people peeling them off or defacing them!

With inkjet label presses the print order is fixed, typically in an under white, yellow, cyan, magenta black configuration. In doing so the production of such labels simply isn’t possible. With Graphium we have recently introduced an over white print bar. This means the press can print laterally reversed text and images so that the label, once printed, can be viewed from the glue side. It is then finish with an over white, for colour vibrancy and opacity. Without the over white – the decal labels simply wouldn’t be fit-for-purpose.

Substrate used as a protective barrier
Over white may also be used when printing on the glue side of the label. The adhesive and liner are added after printing. This produces a special label, which is viewed through the clear substrate. Thus the substrate protecting the print and increasing its capability to resist scuff and scratch e.g. product, vehicle, caravan, bike, boat graphics all have to endure the environment they are operated in.

Double sided labels
Labels that have been designed for viewing from both sides of a window or product can be achieved by utilising the sync to mark function on the press.Graphium’s sync to mark capability allows pre-printed material to be reinserted into the press and to maintain register.

With an inline post digital flexo station, lamination and unwind the adhesive and liner material can be added post printing. This ensures there is no break in production increasing the quantity of saleable output produced per day.

Outdoor and harsh environment stickers
Hazard signs must be visible. If the print fades or is scratched the label is no longer fit-for-purpose as critical information may no longer be visible. It is critical that you select a press that utilises robust, durable inks. Graphium’s inks create intensive vivid colours similar to screen print. They are highly resistant to light, wet and scratching but can be taken much further thanks to the inline varnishing and lamination options available on the press.The highly adhesive qualities of our inks means that Graphium has no issue printing on highly weather resistance materials like PVC – critical to certain segments of the decal label market.

Product labels
Product labels may have decorative, warning, tracking or asset requirements.In some cases this may mean use of variable data and functional barcodes as used in electrical product parts.

There may be some hazard or packaging information labels and there may be purely decorative labels such as those found on toys, kitchen appliances, electrical goods etc.What these have in common is that they

1. Must last the intended life span of the product.
2. They are usually hand applied as part of a production assembly line.

Hand applied labels particularly asset or decorative labels are created as decal sheets often A4 in size containing all the decorative features IDs and barcodes which go on a single product.Because the labels may exceed a single sheet label converters would often need to create fan folded or perforated sheets.Graphium’s 3 stage die-cutting and multi-length sheeting capabilities make this type of application very straight forward.

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