Labels are typically an afterthought, until they start failing. What are the main problems with labels?

Cracking, peeling, illegible printing, and fading? High cost, hard to use? Most problems with labels occur because the liner, adhesive, facestock, printing method, and topcoat are not matched to meet the needs of the application. Instead of leaving label decisions to the last minute and then going with the cheapest solution, labels should be an integral part of the product design from the beginning.

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  • Mark R. White III

    Mark R. White III

    Printing Technical Sales Representative FABRICO To read Mark R.'s opening, click here
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    1. You ignore the importance of labels at your own risk. In every product, from solar panels, to electrical motors, to medical wound care dressings, labels must meet performance expectations for durability, long life, and readability. In addition, each industry has standards and regulations for labels in distinct applications. Labels provide critical installation and use information, traceability, branding for products, and more. It’s important to ensure that every component in the construction of a label meets the requirements of the application. Looking for a solar panel label? Then you will want to think about a film facestock or metal plate, strong adhesive, easy to remove liner, and over-lamination or image intensification that will allow the label to last 25 years even with exposure to UV radiation, heat, humidity, rain, snow, sleet, and ice. Working with a motor? A metal faceplate may best meet your needs in this application, attached by adhesive or mechanical means. Working with a materials converter with bonding, joining, and sealing expertise can help to ensure that your labels last as long as your product.

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12 Responses Below

  1. Fabrico has been developing new solutions for a variety of packaging label applications. Are you working on a new project that requires poly labels that we can advise you on? Please post your request for our technical team.

    by Craig C. McClenachan on April 19, 2012 at: 5:26 pm
  2. Can Fabrico make a label with the UL logo and have blank spots for Serial Number, Manufacturing Date and Product Number#

    by Richard Traver on January 19, 2012 at: 6:55 pm
    • Rick:
      Based on our current UL approval for 2mil white, clear, matte silver, bright silver or platinum color polyester we can provide a blank label and the customer can thermal transfer imprint all the information they’d like. If we did preprint a portion of the label with the UL logo we’d have to submit the label for UL approval prior to a full production run.

      by Mark White on January 20, 2012 at: 2:44 pm
  3. My labels are used on heavy machinery in a pretty rugged environment. They are paper based and start to peel after a couple of years. Is there something more durable, but not expensive, that I could use?

    by Dan Seyler on January 19, 2012 at: 10:02 am
    • Let’s start with the facestock. If you’re getting a “couple of years” out of your current paper labels in a “pretty rugged environment” then you are very fortunate. Depending on the application I would typically recommend looking at a polyester facestock but, if paper labels are performing as well as they are, perhaps you could get by with a BOPP. Bi-axially Oriented Polypropylene is a less expensive synthetic alternative to polyester labels. Next, I’d consider your adhesive requirements. Polyester, and BOPP, come in a wide range of permanent adhesive options. Naturally, the cost of the adhesive (and overall label construction) increases as you require more performance out of your label application.

      by Mark White on January 19, 2012 at: 10:03 am
  4. I work at a bottling company where we are using polyester roll-fed labels. We’re having some problems with the labels stretching during the application process. Any ideas?

    by Bill Destefano on January 19, 2012 at: 9:59 am
    • I’ve seen this phenomenon before, it’s most likely a tension issue. I typically see it when a label supplier has sent rolls of labels into a bottler with the incorrect unwind direction and they have to rewind the labels to the correct unwind direction. If there is too much tension on the table top rewinders the label will actually be stretched. You need to carefully QC the labels coming into your facility. If they are in spec when they arrive then your equipment probably needs adjustment to alleviate tension at application. If they are out of spec at arrival then your label supplier probably needs to reduce tension on press or, more probably, at rewind.

      by Mark White on January 19, 2012 at: 10:00 am
  5. I’m looking for a label on a solar panel that will stand up to heat, rain, snow, your typical New Jersey weather. Anyone have any recommendations?

    by Bruce Getz on January 19, 2012 at: 9:54 am
    • The answer depends on a number of issues, starting with whether you plan to print your information on demand or can use a preprinted solution. If the former, you’ll be limited to using a synthetic label and printing the information using a thermal transfer printer. I would also recommend applying a UV resistant polyester after printing for further protection. Depending on the synthetic label material and overlaminate used and the placement of the label in relation to the sun and other elements, your expected lifecycle will be limited. If a preprinted solution is appropriate I would suggest using a Photo Anodized foil or metal product. Fabrico offers a product in foil or metal with a Photo Anodized image that increases heat resistance and guards against UV rays, chemicals, abrasion and dirt. The adhesive is also heat and chemical resistant. The best thing is that they are rated for a 25 year lifecycle.

      by Mark White on January 19, 2012 at: 9:56 am
      • Anodized foil labels can also be laser marked at point of use. A complete laser system to do this can be had for under $20,000.

        by Terry Gansberger on January 19, 2012 at: 2:22 pm
  6. I’m working with a label I need to put on a motor. In the past, I’ve used a metal faceplate attached with screws. The motor temperature gets pretty hot. Is there an adhesive I could use instead of the screws?

    by Pamela on January 19, 2012 at: 9:49 am
    • Depending on the actual surface temperature and duration of that temperature, I would suggest photo anodized foil label with a high-temp, high strength acrylic adhesive that provides a very high bond to most surfaces, excellent bond to low surface energy plastics such as polypropylene and powder coating. In addition, it should have excellent adhesion to surfaces contaminated lightly with oil typically used with machine parts. There are a number of adhesive options that fulfill these requirements available on photo anodized foil labels.

      by Mark White on January 19, 2012 at: 9:52 am