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Making a professional-looking stickers

2016-08-01 16:43:38,  In: Hack, DIY

Again I got an old computer with a sticker missing. This is quite frequent, especially in machines which were used in schools - everyone wanted to have a piece of computer and stickers were stolen in the beginning. If the sticker was molded using non-flat form, then there is a problem as they are not easily made at home (but still possible using e.g. silicone forms and polymer resins). But if the problem is a flat sticker, it can be made very simple way. You need:

1. 1:1 scale print-out of the sticker.
2. Transparent sticky tape
3. Two-sided sticky tape. Do not use foam tapes, use flat ones. You can find it in home improvement stores as tape for fixing carpets or doormats.
So first of all, print the sticker proper way. Use a good vector graphics program like Inkscape to make your sticker, as it allows to get the true scale of the image, lossless rescaling of vector graphics and its CMYK has black. If you put a black-background bitmap on black-background vector, you will get two black colors: From CMYK palette and from RGB (from the image), and this is visible in many laser printouts. It's better to stick with vector graphics.

Now print the image using a good laser printer on a good paper. Do not use old, yellow paper, but white, office-grade paper. I don't recommend "photo" paper, as it's too slippery for sticky tapes, but a normal, white paper should be OK. Cut the sticker out leaving 2-5cm space around.
Now apply the transparent tape over the printed side of the printout. Do it the way that edges of tape don't cross the printout, the whole print should be covered with tape. Do not fold the tape, do not let the air inside. The tape will be impossible to remove from paper without destroying it and will protect the paper adding a nice shiny surface.

On the non-printed side, stick the two-sided tape the same way as transparent one on the printed side. Don't remove the protective layer yet. This way you've made a "sandwich": Two-sided tape, paper, printout and transparent tape. Now you can cut the sticker from the sheet. Carefully cut round edges and do not make any notches from bad cuts.

If the sticker goes into some sunken place, it may be applied now by removing the protective part from the bottom of two-sided sticky tape. If not, use a flat file (with powder-like surface) and carefully slide it in sharp angle on the transparent layer's edges, going from inside to outside. This should not leave any traces! Making edges ending a little sharper protects the layer from peeling off after few years of friction at the edges.

With this method you can prepare a nice looking simple stickers without expensive specialized sticker printing services.

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