What a self-adhesive label is and how it works
A self-adhesive label, before it is used, has three parts: the face material (what appears to be the label), an adhesive layer (which sticks the label onto whatever is being labelled), and the liner (the backing paper which the label is on before it is taken off and used).
Pressure-sensitive means self-adhesive
The adhesive on a label works when the label is removed from the backing paper, placed on an object, and then has pressure applied to it. Without this pressure the label will not stick on, so sometimes self-adhesive labels are called pressure-sensitive labels.
What choice is there for face materials?
Labels can be made from paper or film, with matt, semi-gloss, or gloss finishes. Most of the labels we produce are paper-based, with a semi-gloss finish, but all other options are available.
For example, we can produce blank labels on thermal paper that will be used with specialised printers when barcodes need to be printed on-demand at food counters in shops.
How sticky can a label be, and will it come off?
The proper term for this is ‘adhesion’.
A label can be high or low tack, and initial tack is used to describe how easily a label can be repositioned once it has been applied. Initial tack can be low, medium, high, or extremely high.
Permanent adhesive means that the label should remain in place for a long time and be difficult to remove. If the correct face material has been chosen, these labels are suitable for long-term marking of items. Most of the labels we produce use permanent adhesive.
Removable adhesive is used when the labels only need to be used for a short time, for example, with price stickers, promotional and special-offer labels. Modern adhesives mean that they will often come off an item without leaving any residue.
Ultra-removable adhesive is used for labels where it is great to be able to take them off easily. It is perfect for many price labels used on books, magazines, gifts, greetings cards, CD and DVD cases. This is sometimes called book peel adhesive.
We can also supply labels that use special adhesives designed for particular applications. Labels for tyres, for use at sea, or that use water-soluble adhesives can all be supplied.
How good is a label at covering up?
When you need to cover up the image beneath a label, whether that is an incorrect barcode, wrong text, or whatever, you will need a blockout label. This means that the face (the top layer) is more opaque than usual, and that nothing should be seen through it. Most blockout labels will be used with permanent adhesive.
Will the label withstand a wide temperature range?
The service range is the range of temperatures for which a particular adhesive will work well. Normal labels have a service range of approximately -20°C to 40°C, so if you know your labels will be used at much lower or higher temperatures, you need to specify this.
The application range is the range of temperatures at which the label can be applied, and this normally less than the service range.
Deep-freeze labels have a service range down to -60°C, and can be applied at temperatures down to -25°C.
Labels without adhesive
These are the labels you will typically see on shop or car windows. Some will use adhesives, but many rely on static cling, which is the natural attraction between two smooth surfaces. These labels can be used on clean and glossy surfaces such as glass, PET, PVC and lacquered metal.
Sometimes it is important to know if a label has been removed, so we can supply tamper-proof labels that use a special metallic and polyester face material with a permanent adhesive. If someone tries to remove the label, part of the face material remains attached to the object and this includes the message ‘VOID’ repeated across the backing.
"The advice on how to re-plan our label production, and use our in-house equipment more efficiently alongside Axicon printed stock has been a major help"
Axicon have helped us get out of numerous sticky situations with understanding, speed and good humour! They’ve made the whole process of getting our labels printed easy and it’s nice to know we can outsource something like this to the experts. We can’t recommend them highly enough!
Doisy & Dam