Frequently Asked Questions
A label construction made up of three layers; a face material, a pressure sensitive adhesive, and a silicon coating on backing sheet as a release agent. The layers are laminated together and then die cut to produce the individual labels. The final product can either be in sheet, roll, or fan-fold form. Self adhesive labels use a pressure sensitive adhesive that is tacky in normal conditions, meaning the labels only need the pressure of a finger or hand to adhere to a substrate. This is why they are also known as pressure sensitive labels.
Product labels often have a number of important roles to play; they may carry important information about your product, carry barcodes or QR codes that contain vital tracking information, or quite simply might provide a significant opportunity to help make your products, brand, and company stand out from the crowd.
Getting the right product label is an important choice – especially if you’ve spent months or even years developing your product and you want your labels to work just as hard as you have to help get your product sold.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a hit list of decisions that you need to make when choosing your product labels.
Labels For Product Packaging:
Packaging labels need to remain firmly in place so you should make sure you choose a PERMANENT adhesive. If your packaging is made using unusual materials (especially plastic bags or boxes) you may find that standard permanent adhesives struggle to bond properly, which means you’ll need a stronger adhesive such as a HIGH TACK or MARINE adhesive. You may also be looking for a label that improves the security of your goods (especially for high value goods); we supply two “TAMPER EVIDENT” products, which can be used to provide evidence of tampering, to securely seal packaging, or to act as a warranty label or seal.
If it is of the utmost importance that your labels remain on the packaging, even if the items are to be moved around a lot, then you should consider choosing a POLYESTER or POLYETHYLENE label; these materials are much more durable than paper and offer protection against a variety of environmental factors including exposure to water and sunlight, which makes them perfect for use as long life tracking or asset labels.
Labels For Products (That Must Be Permanent):
Some product labels are used to add vital product information to items, which means the information must remain with your product for the lifetime of each item – so you must use a PERMANENT adhesive. If your products are made with unusual materials or have a curved or uneven surface you should consider choosing a stronger, more specialised adhesive (e.g. a HIGH TACK or MARINE adhesive) to ensure that your labels stay firmly in place. You may also want to apply one of our “TAMPER EVIDENT” label products to act as a warranty label or to indicate if an item has been tampered with. To create long life tracking or asset labels, you should choose one of our more durable materials; we have a range of POLYESTER and POLYETHYLENE labels, which are long lasting, waterproof labels that will survive in a variety of environments and conditions.
Labels For Products (That Must Be Removable):
It may be that the content of your labels is only required temporarily (e.g. pricing information) and so your labels should remove cleanly and easily from your products without doing any damage. In this case, you should choose labels made with a REMOVABLE ADHESIVE. If your items are particularly delicate (especially items made of paper or glass), then you may even want to consider a SUPER REMOVABLE ADHESIVE to ensure that your items remain undamaged when a label is eventually removed.
Depending on the type of products you are labelling, you may need to take into account the environments that your products will be stored or used in when picking a product label. Two of the most common examples are food and drink products and cosmetic products; the former are likely to be exposed to a variety of conditions in kitchens (including exposure to liquids and variations in temperature), while the latter are likely to be used in bathrooms where they may be exposed to water or other liquids.
If you know that your labels need to survive in conditions where they may get wet then you should make sure you select a WATERPROOF label (or, as a cheaper alternative, a SPLASHPROOF label). Likewise, if you’re selling food and drink products that need to be stored in freezer conditions then you’ll need to make sure you choose DEEP FREEZE labels, which are made using a special adhesive that is designed specifically to function efficiently in freezer conditions.
When designing labels for products, you’ll need to make sure that all of your information is clear and legible (especially for products that are required to show ingredients, allergen warnings, instructions for use, best before/use by dates, or health and safety warnings) AND that your branding looks attractive and professional.
A good tip is to make a note of everything you want to include on your labels (although actually typing it out is even better); if you find that you’ve got an awful lot of stuff to include but not a lot of space to add a label big enough to display it all neatly and legibly, you might want to consider breaking it up and using two or more smaller labels to create a cleaner appearance. This means you won’t end up compromising by either reducing your font to teeny tiny text or plastering a massive label all over your products and/or packaging.
If you’re trying to create a particular appearance or build up brand recognition, you’ll want to make sure that your labels fit in with the overall ethos that you’re aiming to promote. Simply plastering a standard paper label onto your products could undermine any special design features that you’ve worked hard to add to your products and packaging, so it’s always worth looking at different material options to find the one that best matches your brand image:
Gloss Labels: these labels have a shiny smooth coating that creates a finish that is both decorative and professional in appearance. Our gloss polyester labels are particularly popular for use on cosmetics products, while our photo quality gloss paper labels are perfect for printing detailed designed work at a high resolution, even if you’ve got photographic images as part of your design.
Premium Quality Paper: made of a premium quality paper that has been treated with a special coating to give it a supremely smooth finish, these labels can help to produce excellent high resolution print that is sharp and precise. Our MPQ material is particularly popular for creating a professional finish, especially for branding and marketing labels that should be smart and crisp.
Coloured Paper: coloured labels are a brilliant starting point if you want your labels to be bold and bright, whether you’re trying to create a fun, fabulous brand identity or you simply want to draw attention to your products. We’ve got a range of subtle pastel shades for those who prefer a gentle bloom of colour or a choice of five fluorescent colours to really give your product a kick start.
Kraft Paper: made with an unbleached, uncoated Kraft paper, these labels have a ribbed brown colouring, which creates a natural appearance with a subtle touch of pattern and texture. Our Kraft Labels are especially popular for use as product labels where the products are homemade/handcrafted or gift items, or where a company wants to promote their products as being natural, bespoke, or handmade.
Metallic Paper: available in gold or silver, our metallic paper labels have a very attractive semi-gloss textured finish, which makes them a popular choice for product labels that are promoted as luxury or gift items, or to create promotional or marketing labels.
Transparent Polyester: transparent labels are a perfect tool for creating decorative and professional product labels because they provide design opportunities that other labels simply cannot provide. For example, they are brilliant product labels for use on products or packaging that are made with transparent materials (especially glass or plastic bottles), a perfect way to avoid problems with exact colour matching, and a simple solution to the issue of adding additional information to existing print work (where non-transparent labels would end up covering up some of your existing print).
Silver Metallic Polyester: with a matt metallic finish, these polyester labels are often used as professional long life tracking or asset labels – particularly on high value goods and electrical or electronic appliances.
To ensure your label sticks, we strongly recommend you test a sample label.
My label is applied at room temperature but needs to go in a chiller/freezer do I need a special adhesive? Not usually, most standard permanent adhesive can go down to -20deg Celcius.
I've got trouble with my labels falling off my container, do I need a special adhesive? Possibly yes. There are many things that could be causing this, here are a few things to check...
- The composition of the container can affect the ultimate strength of the label adhesive. Labels made of like material to the container stick better and are more compatible for recycling.
- Plastics containing plasticisers (softeners) will degrade the adhesive bond strength. Certain colours can also have more plasticisers than others.
- Where possible, avoid sticking your label to a curved surface.
- What temperature is the container when the label is adhered, it may too cold or too hot for the adhesive type you have.
- Will your label withstand spillage from the contents of the container? High levels of humidity, moisture or sun light can also affect the adhesive bond of your label. What surface temperature will the container be exposed to over it's life cycle? Keep in mind the length of your products life cycle and the service temperature of the product, as they help to identify the most suitable and economical label material.
My label is going outside will this have an implication on the type of adhesive? Yes and the facestock too. Please let us know how long you would like your label to last outside.
I want my label to come off later without leaving a residue, what adhesive do I need? You will need a removable adhesive and possibly a synthetic face stock, depending of the surface the label is being adhered to.
Please contact us to discuss your requirements further, we are likely to ask the following questions to provide the right material to trial
WHAT FACE STOCK?
- Paper or Synthetic
- Gloss or Matt or Fluorescent
WHAT SORT OF ADHESIVE?
- Permanent (Chiller) or Removable or Freezer
WHAT TEMPERATURE DO THE LABELS NEED TO WITHSTAND?
- Application Temperature
- Service Temperature
NB// If applied at room temperature most permanent adhesives can be chilled/frozen down to -20deg Celcius.
WHAT ARE THE LABELS ADHERING TO?
- Corrugated Carton
- Metal / Glass
HOW ARE THE LABELS STORED AND SHIPPED?
- Are labels stored or shipped in a way that the labels are in contact with other labels?
IN ITS LIFE CYCLE WHAT DOES THE LABEL NEED TO WITHSTAND?
- Will the label be in contact with the contents of the container?
- Will the label be washed or in contact with any chemicals?
There are two thermal printing methods: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Each method uses a thermal printhead that applies heat to the surface being marked. Thermal transfer printing uses a heated ribbon to produce durable, long-lasting images on a wide variety of materials. No ribbon is used in direct thermal printing, which creates the image directly on the printed material. Direct thermal media is more sensitive to light, heat and abrasion, which reduces the life of the printed material.
Thermal label printers are ideal for barcode printing because they produce accurate, high-quality images with excellent edge definition. Thermal printers are engineered to print within tight tolerances and to produce the exact bar widths that successful barcode printing and scanning require. Each technology can produce one- and two-dimensional barcode symbologies, graphics and text at the same print resolutions and speeds.
The following sections will help you understand the differences between the technologies and how to select the appropriate print method for your application.
Direct thermal printing uses chemically treated, heat-sensitive media that blackens when it passes under the thermal printhead. Direct thermal printers have no ink, toner, or ribbon.
Their simple design makes thermal printers durable and easy to use. Because there is no ribbon, direct thermal printers cost less to operate than inkjet, laser, impact, and thermal transfer printers. Most mobile printers use direct thermal technology.
Thermal media images may fade over time. If the label is overexposed to heat, light, or other catalysts, the material will darken and make the text or barcode unreadable. For these reasons, direct thermal printing is not used for lifetime identification applications. The readability of direct thermal labels, wristbands, and receipt papers varies greatly, depending on the usage conditions, but the technology provides ample lifespan for many common barcode printing applications including shipping labels, patient and visitor identification, receipts, and ticket printing.
For example, direct thermal labels can easily remain scannable after spending six months in storage in a distribution centre, and direct thermal patient wristbands have a special coating that makes them water- and chemical-resistant. Common thermal printing applications include: shipping labels, including compliance labels; receipts; pick tickets; coupons; event tickets; citations and parking tickets; name tags; visitor passes; and more.
In thermal transfer printing, a thermal printhead applies heat to a ribbon, which melts ink onto the material to form the image. The ink is absorbed so that the image becomes part of the media. This technique provides image quality and durability that is unmatched by other on-demand printing technologies.
Thermal transfer printers can accept a wider variety of media than direct thermal models, including paper, polyester, and polypropylene materials. Thermal transfer printers can create extremely durable wristbands, asset tags, and certification labels, in addition to common labels, tags, and tickets. The specific label material and ribbon must be carefully matched to ensure print performance and durability.
By selecting the right media-ribbon combination, as well as specialty adhesives, users can create archival-quality labels to withstand temperature extremes, ultraviolet exposure, chemicals, sterilization, and more. Typical thermal transfer applications include: product identification; circuit board tracking; permanent identification; sample and file tracking; asset tagging; inventory identification; certification labels such as UL/CSA; laboratory specimens; cold storage and freezers; and outdoor applications.
Thermal Transfer Ribbon
When buying thermal transfer ribbons for your thermal printer, you’ll encounter the terms CSI (F/I) and CSO (F/O), which stand for Coated Side In (Face In) and Coated Side Out (Face Out). What do these terms mean and why are they important?
Thermal transfer ribbons are made from a base material that’s coated with ink and then wound onto a core. The ribbon can be wound one of two ways, with the ink coating on the inside or with the ink coating on the outside. Think of how a roll of tape is wound. The sticky side is wound inside. That’s comparable to a coated side in thermal transfer ribbon.
Most thermal transfer printer models take one or the other, though a few will work with both. The position of the ink on the ribbon affects how the ribbon roll is placed within the printer. The ink must face the substrate so it will be transferred once heated with the printhead. Thus, a CSI ribbon will unroll from the top while a CSO ribbon will unroll from the bottom. It’s important to know if your printer takes CSI or CSO ribbons so that you purchase the right ribbon type for your printer.
Thermal Ribbon Materials
In addition to knowing the difference between CSO and CSI thermal ribbons, it’s also important to understand the different thermal ribbon coating types which are:
- Wax Ribbons (inexpensive, general purpose ribbons) — Also called full wax or resin-enhanced wax ribbons, wax thermal transfer ribbons are the most economical choice. They have the highest percentage of wax and the lowest melt points. A small amount of resin is added to the wax to add extra durability. Because of their full wax composition, wax ribbons have a lower melting temperature, which results in a lighter print. These general purpose ribbons are suitable for use with most coated and uncoated paper materials and some low-end synthetics. Wax ribbons are commonly used for printing retail, warehouse, and shipping labels and are perfect for short-term use.
- Most common type of thermal transfer ribbon
- Recommended for coated and uncoated paper stock
- Softer image durability
- Good for shipping, shelf, bin, retail, and warehouse labels
- Ideal for short-term/temporary use
- Can hold up to indoor use
- Wax-Resin Ribbons (increased durability) — Wax-resin ribbons have a blend of wax and resin and can be used with synthetic label materials such as polyester or polypropylene. The wax-resin composition increases durability, providing resistance to water, abrasions, and, when used with appropriate synthetic label stock, some chemicals. Wax-resin ribbons are commonly used for printing barcodes, pharmaceutical labels, and shipping labels. Wax-resin ribbons print well on paper and synthetic materials. If you need to print weatherproof labels or labels likely to encounter moisture or scratches, wax-resin ribbons are a great choice.
- Ideal for both standard and weatherproof thermal transfer labels
- Harder printed area than full wax; more resistant to occasional heavy handling, moisture, and temperature changes
- Intermediate price bracket
- Good for barcode, shipping, prescription pharmaceutical, and shelf labels
- Ideal for medium-term/standard use
- Can withstand indoor use, moisture, handling, scratching, abrasion, sunlight, and moderate temperature changes
- Resin Ribbons (most durable ribbons) — Full resin ribbons feature a pure resin-based ink. The resin melts at a higher temperature than wax and completely dissolves into the label material upon printing, resulting in extremely durable labels, barcodes, and tags. As such, these ribbons are commonly used for chemicals, automotive, and healthcare applications along with applications where moisture, sunlight, water, chemicals, machinery, extreme temperature changes, abrasions, UV light, and other environmental conditions are likely. Resin ribbons are intended to be used on synthetic and high-end films.
- Most expensive ribbon type
- For use on non-paper, synthetic stocks
- Most durable of the ribbon types
- Good for medical applications, chemicals, textiles or garments, automotive, and flexible packaging
- Ideal for long-term/permanent use
- Can endure indoor use, moisture, handling, scratching, abrasion, sunlight, extreme temperature changes, water, chemicals, medical machinery, outdoors, and UV exposure
here are a couple of criteria to consider when selecting a thermal transfer ribbon size. They are:
Pick the ribbon width closest to that of your most commonly used label. For example, if you're printing 64mm wide label, you should purchase a 85mm ribbon as opposed to a 110mm one. Any unused ink on the thermal transfer ribbon will go to waste otherwise. You should also be conscious to buy a width that fits in your printer.
Typically, ribbons with a shorter length are intended for desktop thermal transfer printers while the longer lengths are intended for industrial ones. Our ribbons range from 74m to 450m
Smaller printers don't have as much space to accommodate larger ribbon cores. While a 1 inch core is standard, smaller printers use a 0.5 inch core.