Hoping someone can help me here, We are a supplier of Kids Ride on cars and we are looking to provide personalised Numberplates for our ride on car range. We had a supplier which made these and they were like a laminated sticker but could be fully customised. I guess we could make a template in excel or photoshop but need to know what type of printer and stickers we would need? They need to be professional looking and need to be suitable for outdoor use. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
In general, you're supposed to use screen-printing for vinyl printing and that can be a big investment to get these machines. It's also not very convenient to print custom on these unless you join many orders together and don't need to give the sticker to your customer within 5-10minutes!
If you want vinyl, you should probably find a print shop for this and get more than one sticker printed at the same time, or the fees will be too high for you for that kind of product.
If you can tolerate having a sticker that will be similar to the quality of most bumper stickers, then the next suggestion could be something you can do in your office. Personally I don't suggest Inkjet technology because they require specific stock/self-adhesive that can be expensive and the ink is also expensive. On top of that you might need to add a few coats of varnish. But it's still an option.
What I could recommend you is to have a look at the Xerox Phaser as a printer. They do dry ink, can print on pretty much anything including self-adhesive and you can use the same stock as the one used for offset printing; therefore it's a lot cheaper and easy to find. You can order the papers/self-adhesive at any print shop, they'll trim it to the size you need. That's also something you can test with your local print shop before investing in your own machines; a lot of print shop own a commercial version of these Xerox printers. Note: Xerox cannot print on plastic or vinyl, they can print on high gloss self-adhesive.
If you do this, you might simply ask them what they recommend while you're there, they could have better solutions for you that end up being cheaper and less trouble than printing everything yourself and trimming the stickers.
I tried many kind of self-adhesive peel-off stickers, and the most resistant for outdoor use or for wine bottles (for example) was the "FasTrack® High Gloss". They can stick for a very long period of time where they're applied and the colors are very sharp and bright on them. If you want to make sure the color stays the same and doesn't fade because of the sun, you can add some UV varnish on it with spray cans. What I liked about this brand of sticker is they are very thin and the glue is quite strong; they can stick well even if the surface is not totally even or flat, and they're not affected too much by condensation, for example. They also usually have a black back side and that makes them very opaque. The feel of that sticker is really close to a laminated paper or a vinyl, but it's not vinyl though.
Regarding the software to use, you can use Illustrator or Photoshop for best results. If you have hundreds or thousands of custom stickers to prepare then you might need to do a "reprint" for the names only (on a base already printed) or use a special software/plugin for that kind of variable data. In this case you should probably use InDesign or QuarkXpress instead. Excel works too but it's not a graphic design software and you'll need to import the graphics in it anyway.
So your question needs a bit more details about how many stickers you need, how do you want to "sell" them (eg. customer orders one and you mail them or do they order and they leave home with it), how much manual work you want to do yourself, what's your budget for a printer, etc. Sometimes people forget that cutting papers manually can be quite a lot of work and they'll need another machine to do this part, and it's very expensive... and you'll need someone to do all that work too. You need to be aware of all these details in your budget for your own little business print shop! That's why a lot of time, it's cheaper to simply go to a local print-shop or order online.