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Adhesive Labels | Non-Adhesive Labels | Construction Considerations


Adhesive Labels

Construction of Pressure Sensitive Labels

Pressure sensitive labels are made up of several layers. The layers consist of the facestock, primer, adhesive, release coating, liner and top coating. Each layer has different material options, depending upon the intended use of the label. All pressure sensitive labels do not consist of all of the layers mentioned. They must consist of a facestock, adhesive, release coating and liner, except for the linerless label which is manufactured without a liner.

Facestock

There are many choices for the label's facestock. The most commonly used materials are offset, matte litho, high gloss, foil, vinyl and film. For a list of some of the available label stocks and their descriptions, see Label - Paper - Adhesive Labels.

The facestock, along with the adhesive, is the part of the label that is applied to the surface of the product or package you are labeling. Your need to evaluate your needs to determine what type of stock will work best for you. For information to consider when evaluating your needs, see Labels - Construction - Construction Considerations.

 
Primer

The primer has two key purposes, to help assist the adhesive in sticking to the back of the facestock and to prevent some adhesives from bleeding through or staining the facestock. It is only needed when using certain types of adhesives.

Note: Each layer can be made up of different types of material. The makeup of each layer will depend on the intended use of the label.

Adhesives

The adhesive is a tacky substance on the back of the label, that with slight pressure applied, makes the label stick to the substrate (the surface to which the label is applied). Adhesives types available are removable, permanent, and repositionable.

Release Coating

The release coating is usually a silicone material which is applied to the liner. This coating allows the liner to separate from the facestock. The type of release coating will vary according to how difficult it must be for the facestock to release from the liner.

Liner

The liner is a paper or film material that acts as a carrier for the label. The liner stays with the label until the label is ready to be applied to a substrate. The liner may be constructed of paper or film and will vary in thickness according to the intended use of the label.

 
Top Coating

The top coating is used to make the surface of the label more parintable, enhance the appearance of the label or to add a protective layer. Top coatings used are varnish, UV clear coat, or lamination. The protective coating provides protection against exposure to moisture, chemicals, freezing temperatures, scratches and abrasion. It does not protect color from fading due to sun exposure or protect paper and foil from outdoor weather conditions. For more information on coatings, see Labels - Inks - Coatings.


 
Construction of Linerless Labels

Linerless labels are made up of three layers. They consist of a release top coat, facestock and adhesive. With the use of certain types of adhesives, a primer may be required. Each layer has different material options available. The type of materials used depends on the intended end use. Linerless labels are available in roll form only. For more information on linerless labels, see Labels - Types - Linerless.

Top Coating

The top coating is made up of silicone which applied to the front of the facestock and is primarily used as a release coating. In addition to acting as a release coating, some types of top coating provide protection to the label by protect resistance to heat and UV light. The top coating is available as writable or non-writable and with a matte or gloss finish.

Facestock

The facestock is the part of the label that is applied to the surface of the product or package you are working with. As with a linered label, it can be made from various types of material. It can be printed on the front and the back side because the top coating and the adhesive are applied after the labels are printed. For more details on the different types of paper and film that are available, see Label - Paper - Adhesive Labels.

Adhesive

The adhesive layer is applied to the back side of the facestock. It is a tacky substance which makes the label stick to a surface when pressure is applied to the label. Adhesives are available in permanent, removable and repostionable types. When the labels are on the roll, the adhesive layer does not stick to the face of the label due to of the release top coating.

Linerless labels require special application equipment. The label applicator must have a cutting blade to cut the labels off the roll since the label cannot be die cut due to the absence of the liner. Another option is to add a micro perf between labels, along with a mark on the back of the label to indicate to the applicator where they are to be separated, allowing the labels to be easily torn off with a clean edge.

 
Construction of Heat Activated Labels

Heat activated labels are made up of three layers. They consist of a top coat, facestock and heat activated adhesive. Each layer has different material options available. The type of materials used depends on the intended end use. Heat activated adhesive is used for in-mold labels, which are available in sheet and roll form.

Top coating

The top coating is used to make the surface of the label more printable, enhance the appearance of the label or to add a protective layer. Top coatings used are varnish, UV clear coat, and lamination. The coating protects against exposure to moisture, chemicals, freezing temperatures, scratches and abrasion. It will not protect colors from fading from sun exposure or to protect paper or foil from outdoor weather conditions. For more details on the different types of coatings that are available, see Labels - Inks - Coatings.

Facestock

The facestock is the material that is applied to the container. It can be made up of many different types paper or film. The type of material used will depend on the desired appearance and the conditions that the label will be exposed to. Flat labels for containers can be made from most any type of stock but must be suitable to conform to the shape of the container. For more details on the different types of paper and film that are available, see Label - Paper - Adhesive Labels.

Adhesive

The adhesive layer is applied to the back side of the facestock. The adhesive is activated by heat during the in-mold label application process. A release coating is not necessary on roll labels, as on linerless labels, because the adhesive layer is not active until exposed to heat during application.

An in-mold label appears as if it is part of the container it is applied to. It is applied during the molding process, causing the label to become part of the wall of the container and resulting in a no edge look to the label.

 
Non-Adhesive Labels

Non-adhesive labels consist of any label that does not have a layer of glue as part of its construction prior to the application process. They have adhesive applied to them at the time of application or do not require the use of an adhesive. Non-adhesive labels generally consist of only facestock and top coating. Some of the types of labels in this category are shrink labels and stretch labels. Glue appled container labels can also fall into the non-adhesive category since they are manufactured without an adhesive layer, glue is applied during the application process. For more details on the different types of non-adhesive labels, see Labels - Types.

Top Coating

The top coating is used to make the surface of the label more printable, enhance the appearance of the label or to add a protective layer. Top coatings used are varnish, UV clear coat, and lamination. The coating protects against exposure to moisture, chemicals, freezing temperatures, scratches and abrasion. It will not protect colors from fading due to sun exposure or to protect paper or foil from outdoor weather conditions. For more details on the different types of coatings that are available, see Labels - Inks - Coatings.

Facestock

The facestock is the material that is applied to the product or package. It can be made up of many different types of material. The type of material used will depend on the type of label and its intended use. Flat labels for containers can be made from most any type of stock, where shrink and stretch labels must be made of the proper material to allow the label to fit to the container as it goes through the proper application process. For more details on the different types of paper and film that are available, see Label - Paper - Non-Adhesive Labels.

Examples of Non-Adhesive Labels

Shrink Labels - Shrink labels are available as individual cut labels or on rolls. Roll labels are cut apart by a cutting blade during the application process or a perforation can be added to allow the labels to be detached from the roll. The label is placed on the container and then heat is applied by running the container and label through a heat tunnel. The heat causes the label material to shrink and fit to the contour of the container.

Stretch Labels - The stretch sleeve is stretched and placed over the container. Once the sleeve is released, the elasticity of the sleeve's material causes the label to snap back to its original size and fit tightly to the container.

Glue Applied Labels - The glue applied label is manufactured without an adhesive layer. The label is glued to the container during the application process.


Construction Considerations

There are many types of facestocks, primers, adhesives, release coatings, liners and top coatings available to meet special requirements for your label use. Be sure to consider all factors when designing a label to fit your application. Let your supplier know the following requirements.

  • The properties of the substrate the label will be attached to, such as texture, material makeup and shape.
  • The condition of the substrate when the label is applied to it, such as the temperature, and the dirt and moisture contamination.
  • The environmental conditions that the label will be exposed to through its life cycle, such as moisture, chemicals, and extreme cold or heat.
     
  • The type of facestock material.
  • The application method and dispensing method.
  • Length of time the label is required to last.
  • Will the label need to have the ability to be removed and if so, how long a period of time before it will be removed.
  • How it will be imprinted, such as dot matrix, laser, ink jet or thermal.

Note: End use testing is recommended on any new label or any label that has specification changes.

Communicating with your vendor as much as possible about the intended use of the label will result in a product best suited to your needs.


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