Label Stock: An Essential Consideration

Whether you’re using labels for business or personal use, there are many things to consider. Among them, what colours to choose, what style of label you need and whether you should purchase a label printer or order labels to use in an existing printer. But of equal importance is the label stock you choose.

What is Label Stock?

The definition of label stock is any paper or other material that can be used to make labels. This could be anything from fabric to film to foil. Label stock can be used in the creation of coating, backing sheets and face materials that form the various parts of a label.

What Will You Use your Labels For?

Although this may seem like a no-brainer, thinking about what the label will actually be used for is something that often ends up at the bottom of the priority list. But really, how a label will be used is a critical element to consider when choosing the right stock.

You may need your labels for asset tracking, or you may be using them to identify and track components. And you must consider the ideal permanency for your labels as well. Will they need to be removable, or do you need to be able to reposition them? Once they’re applied, will they be permanent, or will they be removed at some point during the delivery process?

Another consideration for label use is whether or not the label will be applied automatically by machine or manually by individual, as this will also affect the stock of label you choose.

What Surface Will Your Labels Need to Stick To?

Adhesives definitely matter when choosing label stock. However, if the stock isn’t strong enough to handle being stuck to certain surface, it will rip and be illegible. Understanding not only the surface that the label will be applied to, but the characteristics of that surface is important. A label that’s stuck to a curved surface will require more strength and flexibility than one that is attached to a flat surface.

Environmental Conditions

Next, it’s time to consider the other side: the weather and temperature that your labels will be exposed to. Moist conditions will require label stock that will allow information to remain legible. The same is true of labels exposed to extreme heat or cold. Anything that will endure chemical exposure must be labelled using stock that won’t react with certain substances.

How Will They Be Printed?

Labels can be printed using several types of technology, all which produce different strengths of labels. Printing inkjet labels produces a product that’s ideal for adhering to boxes and bags, where direct thermal printing allows for labels that are durable in virtually any kind of weather.

Another element of printing to consider is whether to print the labels yourself or hire a company to print them for you.

Are There Legal Requirements?

Although the legality of your labels may not seem to involve stock, the stock you choose does matter. Some agencies have certain requirements for labels. For example, labels needing to meet SAE requirements must appear on certain areas of a container, but must also be made of certain materials, depending on what is being labelled and where the product will be stored.

It can be overwhelming to select the right label stock. But the above considerations can go a long way to helping you decide which label stock will work best for your business. And in choosing the right label stock from the beginning, your business can save a lot of time, money and frustration in the long run.

Outdoor Self-Adhesive Labels Continue to Enjoy increased Popularity

The market for outdoor products is enjoying continued growth. As a result, highly durable labels that can last as long as these products are also seeing increased use. These labels allow users to have access to product information like warranties, safety warnings, barcodes and lot numbers over the long term. The hallmark of outdoor labels is their ability to stay on products without losing colour or legibility, or becoming faded or scratched.

Outdoor Labelling Requirements

There are minimal requirements in place for outdoor labels, and they differ according to the industry. For example, companies which manufacture farm equipment will have different standards according to where the label will be placed on equipment, the underlying surface type they will be adhered to, and what kind of environmental conditions they will be expected to endure.

In general, most OEMs must consider three main factors for their outdoor labels: the surface onto which they will be attached, the level of weathering resistance, and the printing technology used to manufacture them.

Varnishing and Lamination for Protection

Printed outdoor inkjet labels can get adequate protection from all manner of weather when they are varnished or laminated. One method of protecting labels from sun, weather and chemicals is to place a transparent laminate film over the printed label. Adding this film can not only protect labels by absorbing and reflecting UV rays, but they also help to guard labels against damage from abrasion, chemicals, ozone and humidity and increase their overall durability. In addition to protecting labels from damage, varnishing and lamination can also protect light-sensitive inks from losing both colour and legibility.

Label Construction is Application-Specific

As stated previously, the requirements for outdoor labels are directly related to the situation in which they will be used. Therefore, no single testing method will work for all. Different labels will behave differently when affixed to particular substrates, as well as when they contain protective coatings. It is for this reason that the performance of a label’s components must be tested.

Conditioning Tests

There are several conditioning tests which can be performed on outdoor labels. Some of the most common conditioning tests include immersing labels in cleaners or chemicals, exposing them to salt spray (for labels being used in marine environments), oven and freezer ageing, and exposure to high humidity levels. Labels are also commonly tested for their response to water resistance, climate cycling and accelerated weathering.

Because these tests vary so widely according to the construction of each label, they can be expensive, taking months to complete. This is due to the fact that their resistance to abrasion, colour retention, legibility and adhesion must also be placed under scrutiny.

Lower Costs and More Success with Suppliers

Many companies choose to partner with a label supplier to help reduce their testing costs. Doing this also increases the chance of successful condition testing. Indeed, there is no substitute for an experienced supplier with the expertise to perform multiple tests across several substrates. Suppliers can also recommend those tests and materials which will most effectively meet end-use specifications. This has the added benefit of helping label converters to innovate and produce new label products.

Partnering with suppliers who can advise about better testing and materials can also lead to increased OEM investment into expanded testing facilities.

The requirements for outdoor labels continue to evolve, resulting in label manufacturers having to meet even tougher specifications for performance. In order to achieve these, OEMS must spend more on label materials that are more specialised. However, as long as OEMs continue to keep up with their understanding of different performance variables, the durability of outdoor labels will continue to increase, as will their life and cost-effectiveness.