Labels: Know your options and increase profitability

In its broadest sense, a label is the text printed on a product package and includes all written, printed, or graphic material on the containers of products that are involved in interstate commerce or held for sale.

The label is the text printed on a product package and includes all written, printed, or graphic material on the containers of products that are involved in interstate commerce or held for sale.

According to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1966, every product package or label must display the following information:

  • product type
  • producer or processor’s name and location
  • the quantity (if it so applies)
  • the number of and size of servings (if applicable)

So then, how do you choose how you are going to label your product? if even for internal usages?

The “label stock” is the carrier which is commonly coated on one side with adhesive and usually printed on the other side. Label stocks can be a wide variety of papers, films, fabric, foils, etc.

Label Stock Options

  • Litho – most common label stocks available.
  • Latex – of the litho stock with some added latex;  these labels are flexible and form perfectly around certain curved objects
  • Foil – has the shiny properties of a metalfoil.

Thermal Transfer Labels

Direct Thermal – direct thermal is a material that does not require a ribbon for printing.   A heating element can be used to create an image on the label.  Receipt printers, for example, use this technology. Custom labels can easily be made on location in this way.

  • Labels are printed only in black
  • Labels have a shelf life of 1 year or less
  • Commonly used in various markets including:  foods (eg. meats), shipping labeling within the transport and logistics industries, and prescription labeling within the healthcare industries.
  • Direct thermal facestocks can range from paper to synthetic with adhesives including permanent, removable and freezer grade options.
  • A disadvantage is durability, because another heat source can ruin or obscure the image, or it may fade completely over time.

Thermal Transfer Labels Ribbon Types

  • Wax is the most popular with some smudge resistance, and is suitable for matte and semi-gloss paper labels.
  • Wax / Resin is smudge resistant, suitable for semi-gloss paper and some synthetic labels.
  • Resin is scratch and chemical resistant, suitable for coated synthetic labels.

Thermal Transfer for applications that cannot use Thermal (Thermal Direct) label material because of heat source proximity or short label life, a more widely used material is Thermal Transfer Label printer.

Thermal transfer labels are commonly used in the transport and logistics industries, as well as any industry that requires a label with durability.  This material has the advantage of a much longer readable life and does not fade with time or heat.

Common uses for thermal transfer labels include:

  • shipping labels
  • inventory tracking and control
  • product identification
  • package identification
  • color coding is available  for warehousing products and separation of product lots

Most major manufacturers of Thermal Printers can be used for either Thermal Transfer (TT) or Thermal (DT) labels. A thermal transfer ribbon will be required to print the labels. The cost of the ribbons plus Thermal Transfer labels is similar to that of the direct thermal labels on their own.

Various plastics such as acetate, vinyl, and PET film allow a variety of features, such as greater strength, flexibility, transparency, resistance to tearing, etc. They typically require special equipment and printing methods (ultraviolet curing is common) as they do not normally print well with conventional ink.

The stock type will affect the types of ink that will print well on them. Corona treating or flame treating some plastics makes it more receptive to inks and adhesives.

IPS Packaging is a leading provider of packaging supplies, packaging equipment and packaging solutions. If you would like to know more about labels, call 800.277.7007 or email our Sales team.
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