Material manufacturers of the plastic film used for stickers, labels, and decals use a thickness measurement called mil (plural mils) to measure the thickness of label material. This system makes it easy to compare the thicknesses between manufacturers and various types of material.
What is a mil?
A mil is a unit of measurement equal to a thousandth of an inch (1/1000″ or .001″) and is derived from the Latin term mille. Mil is a commonly used way of measuring the thickness of manufactured parts, valves, and plastic films in manufacturing environments.
Mil should not be confused with the similarly named term, millimeter. A mil is much thinner than a millimeter. 1 millimeter is equal to 39.3 mils.
What are the mil thicknesses for common sticker materials?
- Vinyl-calendared (Standard outdoor sticker material): 4 mil (.004″)
- Vinyl-cast (truck graphics and car wraps): 2 mil (.002″)
- Polyester: 2 mil (.002″)
- Static Cling: 8 mil (.008″)
- Heavy Duty Stickers: 12 mil (.012″)
- BOPP label material: 2 mil (.002″)
- Paper label material: 3 mil (.003)
- Laminates: range from 1 mil to 14 mil depending on the type
How does the mil thickness of stickers compare to other common items?
- Printer paper: 4 mil (.004″)
- Business card: 14 mil (.014″)
- Credit card: 32 mil (.032″)
Does the thickness of the sticker material make a difference?
The thickness of the material doesn’t play as much of a role in the quality of stickers as the average person would suspect. Polyester is one of the most durable sticker materials and also one of the thinnest at 2 mils thick. Polyester is used in high-temperature environments such as custom equipment stickers and is made to last outdoors for many years. The standard vinyl sticker material is 4 mil thick while a more premium vinyl product called cast vinyl is 2 mil thick.
It’s important to learn more about the intended use of the material before assuming thicker is always better.