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Label Printing 101

Label Printing 101

Labels are more than just a pretty sticker on a fancy new product. Labels are essential to conveying information as easily as possible and lasting as long as possible on whatever product they are needed on (and being easy on the eyes never hurt either). By simplifying the process and removing human error, through labels, a newfound quality can be achieved in the product that wasn’t available before. With the amount of customization that can be applied to a label as well, the possibilities are endless. It all starts with the four different layers of a label’s composition:
  1. Topcoat
  2. Face Stock
  3. Adhesive
  4. Liner
Typically a clear layer, the Topcoat’s purpose is to enhance ink or toner adhesion and lamination. If a product is frequently exposed to UV or other somewhat extreme conditions a Topcoat is recommended to avoid degradation. Or, for a change in aesthetics, a choice of either gloss or matte is available for a nice finish to the label. As the name suggests, the Face Stock is the face of the material; the place where the graphics and information are printed upon. The Face Stock has a wide range of different materials to be picked from, including papers, plastics and polyimides. How long and effective a label can be in its desired location depends greatly on the type of material chosen at this stage. Perhaps the most particular of the four groups is the Adhesive layer. An ideal choice for this layer can vastly vary depending on what the label is bonded to; such as cardboard, glass or plastic as well as what type of conditions the label with be succumbed to. Rubber, acrylic and silicone are the three usual chemical categories that Adhesives are grouped in. Liners are typically viewed as the throwaway material, but it still plays and important role in the feeding process when printing. Coming in 40, 50 & 60 pound thick sizes, Liners are the least customizable part of choosing your material. They can also be special ordered as clear film to allow for instant application by machine. 50 pound is the most common of the three sizes and can also be auto-applied like the clear film, as well as the 60 pound. When choosing a label for a product, a lot of research and planning needs to be put in to allow for optimal implementation. If not, the label can fade too quickly, fall off the product or wear off before even reaching a customer. After choosing a material is when the next step is needed: choosing the best way to print and cut labels. From digital label printers to laser die-cutters and laser finishers there is another well of information that is needed to be delved into to augment the label printing process.

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