STUCK ON YOU: Choosing the Right Materials for Your Labels

In our previous post on this series, The Beginner’s Guide to Label Printing, we gave you a brief overview of what labels are, why they’re important, and some examples of current innovations in label technology. But now, let’s dive deeper into a crucial factor that determines label durability — the material your labels are made of.

The Anatomy of a Label

All labels are composed of three or four layers.

  1. The release layer or backing where the label rests before application,
  2. The adhesive or glue that binds your label to where you want it, and which when combined with the right label material has a direct impact on its permanence and performance,
  3. Its face stock, the layer which contains your design on one side and your adhesive on the other, showcasing what you want users to know, and
  4. The laminate or film, an optional protective layer that improves a label’s lifespan.

Since labels need to comply with certain standards dictated by law, it’s vital that your label is readable, durable, and performs the way you expect, which means no tearing or smudging — and makes choosing the right label material more challenging than it has ever been before.

Generally, there are two categories of label materials: Paper and Synthetic, out of which numerous types are made. As we mentioned in our previous blog, paper is more eco-friendly, readily available, and cost effective, though it’s more easily damaged even with an overlay of laminate. Synthetic labels are waterproof and are more durable, capable of lasting even under a variety of environmental conditions.

But not so fast! There’s more to it than that…

Choosing a material for your labels isn’t just a matter of aesthetics or price; there are a variety of factors to consider before you pick one, namely:

  • The surface to which it will be applied (Is it smooth or textured? Wood, plastic, or glass?)
  • The method of application (by hand or by machine)
  • The environment to which it will be subjected (Will the label be exposed to the sun or to intense conditions like freezing temperatures or rough handling?)
  • The shape of your packaging (Is it straight or curved?)
  • The color of your packaging or surface (Will it be clear, colored, or opaque?)
  • The purpose it serves (Is the label for promotion? For conveying or updating information? To issue a warning or a correction?)

Printing agencies have professional-grade equipment, which not only ensures that your design looks good, and your labels high quality, but they can also recommend the right combination of materials that best suit your needs, taking into consideration the aforementioned factors.

The Most Popular Label Materials Available (for all of the above)

  1. Glossy and matte white paper labels

A white background not only makes great designs pop but can also utilize the white space to provide contrast to vivid colors. Both matte and glossy paper labels work on a variety of surfaces and can have a variety of applications.

Matte laminates are slightly more expensive but give your label a unique texture and a more natural look, while a glossy finish elevates the appearance of your labels and help your product stand out more in the shelves.

 

  1. Transparent and opaque polyester

Clear labels tend to blend against your surface or packaging, giving it a “no-label” or printed-on look, but without the technical processes involved. When your container is clear, or when the contents of your brand are an arresting color, clear labels may be a cost-effective choice to highlight its quality and give it a minimalistic and stylish appearance.

Opaque labels, on the other hand, block out everything that’s underneath – they can be used to cover up mistakes, update information or barcodes, or merely hide an existing label without needing to change the whole thing.

 

  1. Metallic labels

Can have a glossy or matte finish and be printed on both paper and film. Metallic labels give your products a premium look due to the light reflecting off the silver foil material it’s made of. Metallic labels are waterproof, UV-proof, oil, and moisture resistant. If printed on film, it even resists abrasion, making it the “Iron Man of all labels.”

 

  1. Static cling

Static cling labels are unique in that they require no adhesive at all, yet they attach to glass or windows effortlessly. This makes them easily removable and repositionable, enabling them to be reused as often as you want!

 

  1. Brown Kraft paper labels

Popular in recent years with the rise of organic and homemade products, brown Kraft  paper labels can reinforce your brand’s eco-friendly message. They’re 100% recyclable post-use, has a tactile texture, gives your brand a rustic, decadent look reminiscent of nature and natural products, and impervious to water to boot!

 

  1. Plain white uncoated and laminated paper labels

Paper labels have a variety of uses. Machine-coated labels are perfect for products which don’t require moisture resistance properties, like barcode labels and variable information printing. Unlike the smooth, glossy finish of laminated labels, uncoated ones can incorporate various textures, giving them a high-quality, vintage look.

 

  1. Specialized paper labels

Either made of vinyl or flood-coated on synthetic material, fluorescent labels are widely used for safety and come in multiple bright colors, mostly red, green, pink and orange. Foil labels can have different looks – dull or matte, silver, bronze, or gold. Reflective labels are not only useful for safety but can also be used to showcase custom designs that show off your brand’s creative flair.

Choosing the right material for your face stock combined with the proper type of “tack” or adhesive has a significant impact on the life and durability of your labels. Having faded, torn, or smeared labels can have a detrimental effect on how potential customers see your brand.

The Right Adhesive Plus the Right Material Equals an Unbeatable Label

Adhesives can be:

  1. Permanent, and ultra-aggressive. Both are designed to adhere harder to the surfaces to which they’re applied as time goes on. As such, they’re best suited for products that undergo heavy use, and should never be removed during the product’s lifetime.
  2. As the name implies, repositionable labels can be moved, but will stick on permanently after a specific amount of time, normally 48 to 72 hours.
  3. Removable and ultra-removable. While both will come off cleanly without tearing in the beginning, the main difference is that the former cannot be removed without intention and will also stick harder as time wears on while the latter can be glued to and removed cleanly even from more delicate surfaces like paper, with no increased adhesion over time.
  4. Specialized adhesive labels:
  5. Freezer or cold-temperature labels stick to products even if subjected to temperatures up to -40°C with increased tack throughout the product’s lifetime.
  6. Tamper-evident labels are used to protect products from fraud, theft or warranty, and will break if removal is attempted.
  7. High-tack. Best used for products with rough, abrasive, fibrous or dusty texture like carpets or tires.

From personal use to standard business settings to heavy industrial usage, having high quality labels is an integral aspect of brand identity, marketing, and business.

Depending on your needs, Pegasus Print Group will work with you to customise labels that’s fit-for-purpose and provide the professional printing services you require. You can call and order now at 0414265521 or email: tellmemore@pegasusprintgroup.com.au

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