I was recently just wondering why LEGO™ would use stickers in some cases and printed decoration in others. I understand it wouldn't be reasonable to put stickers on say, a 1-by-3 brick, but sometimes it appears to be just random. For example, on one of the smooth bricks in set 17101, there is a printed decoration of a code block but I recall seeing in other sets that such pieces related to it have you put stickers instead of printed decoration, such as in this image (with a sticker typo):
Also in set 31313, there are stickers you use on the white technic pieces, which I find quite reasonable unless I don't consider how in the world a factory machine is supposed to print on those curved parts. But now that I've thought about factory machines printing on curved bricks, I'm starting to wonder how they managed to print the decoration on that piece in set 17101.
Long story short, what circumstances cause LEGO™ to print decoration and what circumstances cause them to make stickers instead?? 🤔