Stickers & Solvents


Modern stickers are not as resistant to solvents as their predecessors were.
That, whatever anybody tells you, is the truth of it.
 
We have stickers on the shelf that are 50 years old and still look good, the glue is all shot to hell and the vinyl is like an old piece of lino, but no amount of petrol washed over the artwork would fade the ink (except the Red which has long since disappeared as it always did).
However, we (the print trade) have been banned from using full solvent inks for many years now and have no choice but to use 'eco-solvent' inks instead.
By definition these formulations do not burn their way into the vinyl like the old ones did.
The easy comparison is with modern day petrol versus the old volatile 5 star fully leaded stuff we used to get;
We could run 11 to 1 compression ratios, leave the fuel in our tanks for years and not worry about age deterioration, get high as a kite on the fumes, and still start after 2 years and a few kicks.
But times change and Health and Safety changes too.
 
Some screen printed stickers seem to be slightly better at solvent resistance but the screen print process requires longer runs to make production viable and as such sticker screen printers are a dying breed and designs limited by the economics of the process.
 
Some stickers have a second clear vinyl laminated over them but this can look odd and once moisture/petrol and or heat gets between the two the delamination effect is not good.
 
No sticker should ever be fixed in an area where it is likely to come into contact with solvents without being clear coated first (even in the old days they had to be 'lacquered' over witness all the Japanese bikes of the 60's and 70's).
This in itself is a potential nightmare but our stickers are printed on modern high quality vinyls and are compatible with most modern clear coats, but do request an extra vinyl test sample with your order if unsure.
 
Solvent polishes are just that, solvents.
They are designed to slightly melt the top surface of the paint and as such should only be used on clear coated stickers.
Old style waxes are generally less harmful but the act of rubbing any product enthusiastically across an unprotected printed surface is bound to cause deterioration.
You should always polish around the stickers and not over them.
 
Conversely, the old trick of using T-Cut to make a new sticker look old is still much in use by those who wish to create a 'sun aged' and 'time worn' look.
 
In conclusion, if you are putting stickers in an area of possible solvent contamination or high abrasion consider using a suitable clear coat.
It can be a full Japanese motorcycle style 'two pack everything until it glistens' job or even a carefully applied can will make the world of difference.
If you do accidentally spill petrol or any other solvent on your stickers it can be wiped off gently or, better still, leave it to evaporate.
 
Or you could just stop spilling petrol all the time - it's expensive enough!