Paper Printing Knowledge

Adhesive Labels | Non-Adhesive Labels

Adhesive Labels

There are two basic types of adhesive label stock. Dry gum label stock and pressure sensitive label stock. Each basic type can be made up of many different types of facestock.

Dry Gum Label Stock

Dry gum label stock is generally made from a 20 lb. to 24 lb. bond, or a 50 lb. to 60 lb. offset. A remoistenable glue is applied to the back. When moisture is applied to the back of the dry gum label stock, it activates the glue and allows you to stick the label to an object. This type of label is the least popular due to having to moisten the back of the label before applying it.

Pressure Sensitive Label Stock

Pressure sensitive label stock is made up of 3 laminated parts - the liner, the adhesive, and the facestock. See: Construction of Pressure Sensitive Labels. The facestock is what eventually becomes the finished label. They are called pressure sensitive because the adhesive will stick when pressure is applied. There are many different types of facestock and adhesives available.

Adhesive Label Stock




Usage Description

Dry Gum Wove Offset

50 lb.


Offset finish makes it suitable for offset printing and flexographic printing. Must be used in an environment where moistening the dry gum adhesive is not a problem. Used for applications such as shipping labels.

Cast-Coated/ High Gloss 60 lb. White Has a high gloss finish, excellent for retail products and decorative labels. Not recommended for use with a typewriter and some pens and pencils.
EDP/Gloss 60 lb. White Has a glossy appearance but is designed to provide printability on a typewriter or other non-laser printer.

Matte Litho

60 lb.


Has a dull smudge-proof finish which provides for high print quality and makes it good for typing or handwriting on. Requires more drying time than an uncoated stock. Used on indoor labels, point of purchase labels, package and carton labels.

EDP/Uncoated Offset

60 lb.

White, Canary, Blue, Orange,

A smudge-resistant stock with a suitable surface for offset and flexographic printing. It absorbs ink quickly. Great for computer labels. Economically priced.


50 & 60 lb.


Uncoated paper with high brightness and smooth surface that provides a sharp image. Designed to use with desktop and laser printers.


60 lb.

Red, Orange, Green, Pink, Chartreuse

Highly visible, used to draw attention. Used as warning labels, color coding, inventory and important notices.


55 lb.

Bright Silver, Bright Gold

Used primarily for advertising purposes, high quality packaging labels, cosmetics, and electronics. Surface not suitable for handwriting or typewriter use.


55 lb.


Thermal sensitivity coated for use in direct thermal printing. Available with various top coatings to provide different levels of environmental resistance.

Thermal Transfer

50 lb.


Specifically designed to work with thermal transfer printers. Used on applications that require small bar codes, high quality bar codes or high density bar codes.

Latex Impregnated Litho

60 lb.


Water-resistant, with high strength and durability. Conforms well to curved and small cylindrical surfaces. Suitable for offset, flexographic and letterpress printing. It is computer printable. Used for medical, automotive, industrial and outdoor applications.


1.5 mil. &
2 mil.
Clear Good clarity and printability. Recommended for indoor use only.


4 mil.

White, Clear

Highly durable and resistant to chemicals and moisture. It is high in conformability Excellent for outdoor use, such as bumper stickers, chemicals stored outdoors and outdoor signs.

Static Cling Vinyl   White, Clear Has a static charge that allows it to stick to smooth surfaces without the use of adhesives. Will stick to glass, baked enamel and plastic. Can be easily removed and repositioned. Not recommended for outdoor use.


1 mil. &
2 mil.


Clear film label that is durable and weather resistant. It can withstand high levels of abuse and abrasion. Resists most solvents and oils. It has high heat resistance and high tensile strength. Works well on outdoor applications for attaching to glass windshields. Also, works well for product identification.

Polyethylene (PE)   White

High in durability and has a high chemical resistance. It is tear and abrasion resistant. Its high conformability allows it to wrap around small diameters. Has fairly good printability.

Polyolefin 3 mil. &
4 mil.

Has good printability. Is very strong and has a high chemical resistance. Good for indoor and outdoor use. Excellent for drum label applications.

Polypropylene (PP) 1 mil., 2 mil., & 2.6 mil. White, Clear

Highly durable and resistant to most acids and alkalies. Is fairly conformable and has excellent tensile strength. Has good print quality. Good for glass labeling and other rigid containers. One of the most common film substrates used.

Polystyrene (PS) 2 mil. &
2.6 mil.
White, Clear Low in durability with medium rigidity which provides ease in converting and dispensing. Not recommended for outdoor use. Economically priced.
Kimdura 2.9 mil.,
3.2 mil. &
3.9 mil.
White Excellent printability. Top coated for excellent environmental resistance. Suitable for thermal printing.
Tyvek© Brillion™ 5.4 mil. &
6.7 mil.
White Very durable, chemical and tear resistant. Excellent print quality. UL approved product. Provides more accurate bar code readings. Used for warning, UL, apparel, drum and appliance labels.


Note: Not all facestocks are available with all types of adhesives. There are many different pressure sensitive stocks available to you in addition to the ones listed above. Consult with your supplier for availability of stock to meet your special needs.

Linerless Labels

Linerless labels are pressure sensitive labels that do not have a liner. The material that linerless labels are made of are basically the same as what is available for pressure sensitive labels that have a liner. See above for some of the common stocks used. For information on linerless labels, see Labels - Types - Linerless.

Heat Activated Adhesive Labels

Heat activated labels are used for in-mold labeling. The labels are produced using basically the same types of paper and film that are used on the pressure sensitive and non-adhesive labels. The difference is that they have a heat activated adhesive applied to the back which requires heat be used to activate the adhesive properties. The type of material used must be able to tolerate the temperatures used when molding the container.


Non-Adhesive Labels

Many types of labels do not have an adhesive coating applied to the back of the facestock. The non-adhesive labels have glue applied to them when they are attached to the product, or the type of labeling process used does not require the use of an adhesive. Some of the paper and film used on non-adhesive labels, and the label type they are used for, are listed below.

Non-Adhesive Label Stock


Label Type Usage Description
Paper Glue Applied

Non-adhesive paper labels are printed on basically the same type of stock as pressure sensitive labels, without the adhesive and liner layers. For details on the different types of paper, see Adhesive Label Stocks.

Metallized Paper and Film Glue Applied Vacuum metallized paper and film give a label a metallic or foil type look. The metallized layer is used for decorative purposes or as a barrier property. Used for decorative purposes, it portrays an impression of quality and is very eye catching. It is used as a barrier property to increase resistance to the effects of light and moisture. Vacuum metallized paper and film are available in various wet strengths and in variety of colors, but silver and gold are the colors most often used.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Glue Applied, Shrink Labels PVC is a high density film with an excellent shrinkage rate at a low shrink temperature. Its excellent shrinkage rate makes it a good choice for contoured containers. It has high impact strength and has excellent clarity and good print quality. PVC is grease and solvent resistant and has good weather resistance. It is tasteless, odorless and non-toxic but less environmentally friendly than some of the other films that are available, but it is one of the most used for shrink labels.
Polypropylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) Glue Applied, Shrink Labels PETG has a shrinkage rate comparable to PVC and is also a high density, high strength film with excellent clarity. It is a good dimensionally stable product and is abrasion resistant. It is more environmentally friendly than PVC but it is more expensive.
Oriented Polypropylene (OPP) Glue Applied, Shrink Labels A high strength label which works well in roll-fed labeling equipment. It is the least expensive type film used for shrink sleeve labels and is the most environmentally friendly. OPP runs well over a wide range of temperatures and has good clarity, good printability and is moisture resistant. Its shrink capabilities are substantially lower than PVC and PETG. Due to its low shrinkage rate, it is not recommended for full body sleeves. Because of its running efficiency, environmental friendliness and low cost, it is becoming more and more popular in the package labeling industry.
Kimdura® Glue Applied A synthetic paper that is uniform and opaque with an excellent print surface. It is water, chemical and abrasion resistant. Kimdura® is a very durable stock that withstands abuse that other stocks would not.
Polyethylene (PE) Glue Applied, Shrink Labels, Stretch Labels This film is tear, abrasion and weather resistant and is high in durability. It shrinks at low a temperature range. PE has a good print surface and has excellent conformability which makes it suitable for labeling on rigid packages and wrapping around small diameters.
Polypropylene (PP) Glue Applied, Shrink Labels, Stretch Labels PP is highly durable, has excellent tensile strength and high heat resistant. It is resistant to moisture and most acids and alkalies. It has good printability and is lightweight. PP is fairly conformable and resists stress cracking, making it good for labeling on glass and rigid containers. It is non-toxic and non-staining. It is one of the most common film substrates used.
Polystyrene (PS) Glue Applied, Shrink Labels

PS is low in durability with medium rigidity, which provides ease in converting and dispensing. It has a smooth surface that allows it to be easily printed. It is not recommended for use outdoors. PS is available in several thickness and is economically priced.

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Stretch Labels HDPE is tougher and more rigid than other polyethylene films. It also has a much higher tensile strength than other polyethylene films. It is a very stable material and has maximum chemical resistance. It has excellent abrasion resistance which prevents it from being scratched, gouged or scuffed easily. HDPE meets FDA guidelines that allow it to come in direct contact with food applications.


The liner material used on a pressure sensitive label can be paper or film. Paper liners are generally kraft paper, which is available bleached or unbleached and coated or uncoated. Film liners are available in polyester, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene and polyolefin. Both the paper and film liners are available in different thickness. A thicker liner is used for sheet and fanfolded labels to help them lay flat. Some high speed applicators require a stronger liner to run properly.

Most label material is manufactured with a standard liner for that product. If a special liner is required, it would have to be custom ordered. This may result in extended delivery and additional charges. Contact your supplier for special requirements.

Note: There are many combinations of facestock, adhesives, liners and coatings available for all different types of labels. If you are unsure of what will meet your requirements, contact your supplier. They should be able to help you select the materials that will best satisfy your needs. Be sure to do some testing of the label stock to ensure that it will work for your application.


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