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What is the difference between transfer stickers, multi-color transfer stickers, and printed stickers?

Transfer Stickers

Transfer stickers get their name from the fact that they are applied by transferring the sticker from their backing onto transfer tape, and from the transfer tape onto the final intended surface. These stickers are perfect for artwork that is not very complex. A good example of this would be basic text or silhouetted artwork. The process of creating a transfer sticker works like this:

  1. Load a roll of solid-color vinyl onto a plotter
  2. Cut a path in the shape of the artwork into the vinyl
  3. Removing all the vinyl that is not part of the artwork
  4. Cover the remaining vinyl, and its backing material, with transfer tape

This is an example of a standard transfer sticker - the trunk and leaves of the tree have all been cut out of a sheet of green vinyl, and all that’s left behind is the design, covered with transfer tape. The white backer is also still attached until the transfer tape is removed completely.

Transfer Sticker

Multi-Color Transfer Stickers

Multi-color transfer stickers are similar to transfer stickers in that the application process is the same and the production process is similar. The main difference is that, instead of being cut out of a roll of solid-colored vinyl, they are cut out of a roll of standard white vinyl that has a printed design on it. These stickers are a great solution for artwork that is about the same level of complexity as a transfer sticker, but requires more than one color to look correct. An example of this could be a multi-color logo where the letters or shapes are not connected to each other.

Here’s an example of a multi-color transfer sticker. It’s mostly the same design as the previous example, but now the design uses two colors and as a result will need to be printed. As with the previous example, the backing material is still present as the transfer tape has not been fully removed.

Multi-Color Transfer Sticker

Printed Stickers

Printed stickers allow for a significantly more complicated design to be produced, when compared to transfer or multi-color transfer stickers. The reason for this is that the cut path goes around the outside of the sticker as a whole, rather than around individual shapes or inside letters. Sometimes, if a multi-color transfer sticker is going to be too difficult to produce due to its complexity, a better solution can be to order a printed sticker on clear or white material. Our printers can produce a high level of detail in the stickers they print, and if printed on clear material, you will be able to see the surface behind the sticker - one of the advantages normally reserved for transfer stickers.

Below is a sample of a printed sticker. Once again we see the tree with some changes made. In this case, the leaves are changed so that they’re not filled in, but have a unique stroke around the outside. If the intention is to have the centers of those leaves blank, it would be very difficult to produce a multi-color transfer sticker without any errors. In this case, a printed sticker (either on standard white vinyl or on clear vinyl) would be a better option. The small cuts needed for the leaves would no longer be a problem since there would now only be one cut line, going around the outside of the design as a whole.

Printed Sticker Example

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