If you use the wrong materials and adhesives labels, you will meet a high risk for incorrect, damaged, or missing labels. Poor quality labels will damage your printing equipment, unclear and missing labels will make you face greater losses and even fines.

Here’s a brief guide on the different types of label materials and adhesives available, and how you can determine which is right for your business:

Label Materials
Choosing the right label material makes all the difference when it comes to printing your labels. There are many kinds of raw materials to choose from, Each raw material has different characteristics and available environment, so choosing the right option matters.

  • Metalized, Clear or White PolyesterRolls of label materials
    Metalized Polyester has a chrome or mirror-like finish which makes it look like stainless steel. Clear and white polyester are available in both matte and glossy surfaces. It is used both indoors and outdoors, as pipe labels or control panel labels, because of its dimensional constancy and its aptitude to bear harsh weather conditions. It’s normally used for tool marking and air-conditioning units. It generally comes with a permanent adhesive.
  • Industrial Vinyl
    Industrial vinyl is the go-to material for outdoor labels. With a rating of 9-11 years for UV fade resistance, it is weather and chemical resistant. This material has stretching characteristics that allow its application over rivets and sharp curved surfaces. Vinyl labels can be used for pipeline labels, fleet decals, rental equipment, tools, cable tray labels, etc.
  • Destructible Vinyl, Security, Tamper Proof
    Destructible vinyl cannot be peeled off in one piece, making them ideal for proprietary products. Security or tamper proof or tamper evident labels will leave words such as VOID or SECURITY or DANGER if removed. The materials of each may vary, depending on the surfaces being applied to. Common uses are seals for food containers, pharmaceuticals, electronics, warranty, safety, and law enforcement labels.
  • Clear or White Polypropylene
    Polypropylene is a substitute for vinyl and excellent for solvent resistance. It is also a cost effective in comparison with polyester labels. It’s usually available in clear or white with a gloss or matte finish. It has great flexibility and clarity. The type of adhesive depends on the application type.
  • Static Cling Vinyl
    Static cling vinyl is used to make window decals that do not require an adhesive. It uses static electricity to stick to a surface. It’s normally used for glass, metal and other smooth and even surfaces. A common use is for (windshield) oil change labels. It can be printed with laser or thermal transfer (ribbon) printers.
  • Fluorescent and Foil Paper
    Fluorescents can be brightly colored vinyl labels or those flood coated on synthetic material. Normally it is available in colors that stand out such as red, green, pink and orange. They are often used for safety labels because they alert people. Foil paper label material is available in both bright or dull, silver or gold. Both flourescent and foil types come with a permanent adhesive.
  • Litho, Semi-Gloss and High Gloss Paper
    Litho paper is uncoated and matte. It’s used in sheet fed laser printers, and computer pin fed shipping labels. Paper is often used through direct thermal label printers in offices for envelope labels. It comes with both permanent and removable adhesive. Semi-gloss paper and high gloss paper comes with rubber base adhesive and acrylic cold temperature adhesive. The later is used for food related labeling. Removable adhesive is also available for certain conditions.

Label Adhesive
While label materials are an important component in ensuring your labels are printed correctly, the right adhesive is just as important—what good is an accurate label if it can’t stick to the surface it was intended for? There are several different types of adhesives and, like the printer material, each is best suited for a different purpose.

Common label adhesive types:

  • Permanent: Exactly like it sounds, this adhesive works great for general purposes where a long-term application is needed, however it may not stick well to certain specialty materials and surfaces.
  • Removable: These labels come in a range of aggressiveness. Some can be removed and replaced over and over, and some can only be removed once or twice. It depends on the application and the purpose.
  • All-temp: For environments with extreme temperatures, this adhesive is ideal. Cold-temp and freezer label adhesives fall into this category as well.
  • Aggressive: While “permanent” is well-suited for most applications, sometimes specialty applications call for something stronger, which is where this type is used.

Choosing the right label material and adhesive will do more than just protect you from fines. The right media can protect your printer from aggressive wear and tear. While this guide can certainly help, it is also worthwhile to speak to your provider about your individual needs.