How to Build a Sticker Printing Machine

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Commercial printing presses are expensive, complex pieces of machinery, but hobbyists and small printers can build a simple sticker printing machine with basic hand tools and easily obtainable parts. Screen printing is the easiest method for sticker printing, and a small flat-bed screen press will produce excellent quality stickers in small batches. Though screen printing of stickers is similar to t-shirt printing in technique, the screen and inks used are quite different. Particular advice on materials necessary to print different sticker types can be gotten from your local ink and supply distributor, along with the screen printing hinge clamps to complete the press.

Things You'll Need

  • Plywood, 18 inches by 18 inches
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • 2 Screen printing hinge clamps with screws
  • Drill
  • Drill bits (assorted)
  • Screwdriver
  • Screen printing screen, prepared and edge-taped
  • Sticker material, 8 inches by 10 inches
  • 2 Cardboard strips, 1 inch by 2 inches
  • Double sided tape
  • Spray adhesive
  • Measure the center of the plywood, two inches in from the outside edge with a tape measure, and mark with a pencil.

  • Measure three inches out from the center on each side, and make with a pencil.

  • Center the screen printing hinge clamps on the three inch marks on either side of the center, and mark the screw hole locations with a pencil.

  • Drill pilot holes for the screws, in the location of the pencil marks for the screw holes with a drill. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screws provided with the hinges, and drill to a depth approximately 1/2 the screw length.

  • Place the hinges in position, and tighten the screws with a screwdriver.

  • Install the screen printing screen on the press by inserting the screen into the hinge clamps, and tightening the built in thumbscrews.

  • Lift the screen, and place a sheet of sticker material on the plywood.

  • Lower the screen and center the sticker with the screen image by measuring all sides with the tape measure. Several tries may be necessary to center the sheet.

  • Install cardboard strips on the outside edge of the sticker material with double sided tape. One strip on top, and one strip on one side, will act as a placement gauge for sheet loading.

  • Remove the sticker material sheet, and spray a light coating of spray adhesive to the plywood where the sticker material will be placed. Allow to dry for one minute before re-loading the sticker material, and smoothing flat with one hand. The press is now ready for ink and printing.

Tips & Warnings

  • The press base size can be modified to suit larger or smaller sticker sheet sizes.
  • Screens purchased from a print supplier are superior to homemade screens, and are often less expensive than making one yourself.
  • Plywood covered in kitchen laminate can be substituted if available, and can make ink clean-up easier.
  • A small cup or other cylindrical object may placed under the open screen at the edge, to help facilitate loading and unloading of sheets as they are printed.
  • Avoid over-tightening the hinge clamp screws to minimize wood stripping.
  • Always use safety glasses when operating drills and other woodworking equipment.
  • Sticker ink must be used in a well-ventilated area, and may be flammable. Always follow ink label warnings and instructions.

References

  • Photo Credit Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
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