Difference between plotted and digitally printed stickers

March 27, 2023 2 min read

Unterschied von Geplottete und Digitaldruck Aufkleber - Bremssattel-Aufkleber

Plotted stickers

Plotted stickers are cut out of a roll of foil using a cutting plotter. After cutting, the excess foil is removed and the cut out motifs remain. These are then covered with transfer foil and cut to size.

Advantages of plotted slides:

  • Very customizable
  • Individual production possible
  • No border or background (freestanding)
  • High UV and weather resistance
  • Very long lifespan

Disadvantages of plotted slides:

  • No gradients
  • Limited number of colors
  • Time and costs per piece almost the same, therefore hardly any cost savings for large quantities
  • Pixel graphics must always be converted to vector graphics

Digital printing stickers (direct digital printing with lamination)

Digital printing Stickers are printed on special film in a similar way to a normal printer and then provided with a protective laminate. The laminated and printed web is then trimmed, leaving the characteristic white (or transparent) border on some designs.

Advantages of digital printing stickers:

  • Large quantities at low prices
  • Color gradients and many design options without price differences
  • Very weather resistant
  • Easy to remove and swap
  • Comparatively little work
  • Use of pixel graphics possible

Disadvantages of digital printing stickers:

  • Small quantities relatively expensive
  • Cannot be used outdoors without protective laminate
  • With pixel graphics, the print quality depends heavily on the print data
  • Not free-standing, but only available with a "background".

Which type of sticker is suitable for which application?

Plotted stickers: areas of application

Plotted stickers are particularly good for:
  • Vehicle lettering and decorations
  • Window Signs
  • wall decals
  • Individual pieces or small quantities
Since plotted stickers do not allow color gradients and the choice of colors is limited, they are particularly suitable for simple, monochrome or few colored motifs.

Digital printing stickers: Areas of application

Digital printing stickers are great for:
  • product labels
  • Promotional stickers in large quantities
  • Photorealistic prints and color gradients
  • Detailed and complex designs
Since digital printing stickers offer a much larger color palette and the possibility of color gradients, they are ideal for demanding motifs and graphics that require high print quality.

Price differences between plotted and digitally printed stickers

The price differences between plotted and digitally printed stickers are mainly due to the different manufacturing processes and the associated material and time expenditure. In the case of plotted stickers, the costs arise primarily from the manual weeding process and the production of individual pieces or small quantities. Therefore, the cost per piece of a plotted sticker is usually higher than that of a digitally printed sticker. In contrast, digital printing stickers are more cost-effective, especially for large quantities, since the workload and material costs are manageable. For small quantities, however, digitally printed stickers are relatively more expensive than plotted stickers, as the basic costs for machine setup at the beginning of the printing process are higher. Overall, the choice between plotted and digitally printed decals depends on the unique needs of each project. It is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both methods, as well as the areas of application and price differences, in order to find the best solution for the specific application.

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