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March 5, 2019

StickerYou 101: What Makes A Sticker Waterproof

Categories  Get Inspired StickerYou Knowhow Stickers

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At StickerYou we make sure we take every precaution to ensure your stickers last long and stick strong. We think that if you’re prepared for anything, your stickers should be, too. That’s why when we decided to make our stickers waterproof, we decided to get extra-prepared and discover how waterproofing was done before stickers were even a thing, how we could make our stickers waterproof today, and what the future of waterproofing looks like.

Soak up some of the ways waterproofing protects your high-quality custom waterproof stickers below.


The Past

Way back in the Neolithic Era our ancestors developed an amazing practice that still keeps us alive today: farming. The only drawback at the beginning of this period was that farms had to be close to sources of water. Which meant the area of land you could farm on was limited to the area of land that was near the water. So how do you move a bunch of water inland to fully utilize all potential farmland? You need a waterproof vessel.

There wasn’t much around in terms of crafting supplies in the beginning of the Neolithic Era (pottery came towards the end of the era) so our early ancestors made baskets and bowls out of leaves they would have sewn together with other plant materials. However, leaves aren’t the most sturdy structure found in nature so these prehistoric humans decided to coat their containers in sticky sap found from the trees from which they were crafted. Thus allowing them to carry water wherever they wanted, and plant food wherever they could.

Soon we started developing a yearning to leave the farm and explore the world, so we made boats out of wood and coated them with bitumen to make the wood waterproof and prevent degradation. Civilizations in the Amazon at the time were making waterproof clothing out of rubber trees and the craze took off. However some climates didn’t take well to rubber, as it gets sticky in hot climates and heavy and stiff in the cold, so rubberwear still had to be coated in saps or animal waxes.  

All this coating and treatment was becoming more hassle than it was worth, so society decided to figure out a way to make fabric itself waterproof. In the 1800s, Burberry manufactured the first totally water-resistant fabric by layering and chemically treating different materials to make them malleable and waterproof. That of course has led to the many plastic and synthetic fabrics we have for waterproof gear today.

The Present

Modern waterproofing has come a long way, but we have discovered that it’s much easier to use chemical methods to waterproof materials rather than derive them from frail plants or living creatures. This of course includes custom stickers, especially the kind we make at StickerYou.

We actually offer stickers that are waterproof and stickers that are water-resistant. Our water-resistant stickers and labels are on our regular white and clear pages. Our clear and white stickers are coated with a UV coating liquid which is then sealed and dried by ultraviolet light. This is a similar process to how photographs are finished, as they deepen the color of the ink and make for a glossy finish. These stickers however are made with plant-based adhesive material and toners, meaning they’re soluble in water. These stickers will still resist water when stuck on things like refillable water bottles, but they definitely wouldn’t survive a carwash.

Our waterproof stickers on the other hand do live up to their namesake!  Our waterproof stickers (and vinyl lettering and outdoor decals) are made from actual waterproof plastic known as biaxially-oriented polypropylene (or BOPP as it’s more commonly known). BOPP is a plastic that through a process of heating, inflating, and pulling becomes a rollable film.

This film is used most commonly in packaging equipment because it can withstand chemicals and gas and is totally waterproof.  In addition to that, the film form of BOPP material is incredibly absorbent. This makes it the perfect material for printing stickers. Furthermore, our inks aren’t soluble in water! This makes the sticker itself and the graphic on it totally and completely insusceptible to damage caused by water.  

The Future

BOPP material is actually expected to be used in a lot more applications in the future. Manufacturing companies are currently replacing cellophane, waxes, and even aluminum foil with BOPP films. This is because BOPP is exponentially more flexible than the materials listed above, and can facilitate faster packaging and sealing practices.  In fact, 2.4 million tonnes of BOPP film is used around the world per year. The market is set to expand to 5.8% by 2024 and is predicted to grow in value to $20.9 billion U.S. dollars.

Today many of us implement technology in our daily lives, so studies are being done to create waterproof plastics that can be used to make totally waterproof smartphones and wearable technology. For now, there are tons of fabrics and films using plastics and chemicals to make them either waterproof or water resistant and are used in clothing, sporting goods, outdoor equipment and our stickers.  



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StickerYou blog posts are written and published by members of the  at our headquarters, located in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.

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