Pressure Sensitive Labeling

Pressure Sensitive Labeling: A Solution to Complicated Logistics

Pressure sensitive labels, also called adhesive-backed labels, are a huge part of the label market, and for good reason. There are 6 main benefits to using pressure-sensitive labeling equipment:

1. Compatibility for any container, regardless of size, shape or material.
2. Features that include resealable glue, perforations and dry peel layers
3. Flexible run sizes to match any product run.
4. Great for printing individual labels.
5. No need to apply glue or use light or heat to bond the label.
6. One labeling machine can be set up for a range of label sizes and container sizes, covering multiple product lines.

Here’s how businesses are leveraging this technology to improve their product labeling.

According to Transparency Market Research, the market for adhesive-backed labels will increase by 5.2% worldwide between 2017 and 2022. Most of this growth is concentrated in the transportation sector and the food and beverage sector. In both cases, a shift in logistics is warranting the use of additional labels to track packages through long supply chains. These labels can contain tracking information and ensure that packaging complies with local labeling regulations.

Print and Apply for Shipping

Individualized, high-quality labeling is critical for logistics, especially for ship-to-customer businesses. 

With a print and apply label applicator, labels for addresses, bar codes and dates can be created and applied rapidly. 

Adding printing capabilities to a labeling machine is simply a matter of mounting a high-speed print engine in line with the label reel. From there, the printer applicator can be linked with any outside logistics equipment to properly tag each container for tracking.

Applying Labels to Correct Pre-Printed Food Packaging

Food packaging is often designed to comply with the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service Compliance Guide, and changes in regulations and production can require label alterations to keep packaging compliant. Adding pressure sensitive labels allows you to change information without redesigning and replacing your entire packaging run. It’s also easier to comply with FSIS regulations with temporary labels than it is for all-new package designs.

Temporary label approval is not required by the FSIS as long as statements are truthful. However, sketch labeling approval is still required if stickers make “special claims,” including health benefits and nutrient content. These labels can cover false information on previously printed containers. 

For example, if you are packaging produce and the country of origin changes, you can add a label with the correct country over the one specified on the package. These labels are also OK to use if you already have blanket approval for a new claim. This is handy for listing new health benefits and other line-wide changes on older containers.

The Parts of a Pressure Sensitive Label

The flexibility of adhesive-backed labels comes from the variety of materials that can be used to produce them. Getting the right mix of components is important for getting the performance you need for your product labeling. There are five basic parts to a pressure sensitive label: liner, release coating, adhesive, face stock and top coat.

 The liner is the paper or plastic film that forms the backing material. It protects the adhesive and separates from the label during application. Most labeling problems can be traced back to the liner. If the liner doesn’t protect the adhesive or it released the label prematurely, the labeling machine may need to run slower to prevent application errors. 

 Linerless labels are also available, but for most applications, it makes sense to stick with liner-backed label spools from both a quality and price standpoint.

 The liner is covered in a release coat. This slick layer keeps the adhesive separate from the liner so that the label will peel cleanly during application.

 Next comes the adhesive. Formulas are available to match container material and environmental conditions including temperature and humidity. These can be divided into four main categories:

Permanent: Attempts at removal usually destroy the label. This reduces shipping damage and makes it easy to detect tampering.

Removable: These adhesives allow the label to be peeled in one piece from the container. Some adhesives allow the label to be reapplied. (This is handy for applications like data recording.)

Cold Temperature: These formulations stay flexible in cold and freezing temperatures. They’re mostly used for chilled food products, like wine and beer. Unfortunately, there currently aren’t any adhesives that work well for goods stored in sub-freezing temperatures.

Specialty: This option is perfect for situations that have unusual requirements, like labels that can survive high temperatures. There are a variety of specialty adhesives to meet various needs.

Face stock is the material that makes up the bulk of the label. Most face stock for adhesive-backed labels is made out of paper. However, plastic, foil, fabric and laminate stock are also available. Polymers (including PET, PVC and other plastics) are seeing increased use thanks to their superior durability and resistance to temperature and humidity. Here’s what you can expect from the most common stock materials:

Paper: Poor tensile strength, chemical resistance and heat resistance, but very cost-effective.

Polyethylene (PE): Good overall performance and excellent chemical resistance, while being the cheapest option next to paper.

Polypropylene (PP): Decent heat resistance paired with good tensile strength and chemical resistance. A little more expensive than PE or paper.

PET: Excellent tensile strength paired with good chemical and heat resistance, but pricey.

PVC: Strength varies depending on the formulation. Provides decent chemical and temperature resistance. Similar in price to PET.

Polyvinyl Fluoride: Pairs good temperature resistance with superior strength and chemical resistance. Expensive.

Polyamide: Superior performance in all categories and the most expensive option.

The top coat is the laminated layer (on the outer portion of the label) that serves two purposes. For pre-printed labels, it sits on top of the ink, protecting the label. For printable labels, the layer alters the ink receptivity of the face stock, ensuring clear printing and fast drying.

Features to Look For in an Adhesive-Backed Labeling Machine

Blow On Application for Flexibility

A blow on applicator holds the label in place with a vacuum. When the product container is in place, the airflow reverses, blowing the label onto the packaging. This ensures fast, accurate and wrinkle-free applications. 

Some machines may use a tamper or brush to finish the adhesion process after the label is blown on. The 360a Series FFS is a form, fill and seal labeler. It uses an adjustable snorkel to place the label institutions where a long reach is needed. These are used heavily on packaging lines where foil bagged products (like foods and pharmaceuticals) need to be labeled but the facilities have limited space to integrate a label applicator.

Loose Loop for Line Fluctuations

Production speeds can vary, and adding processes like label printing compounds the problem. Choosing a loose loop machine like the 360a Integrated Loose Loop Printer labeler can reduce these problems. 

The loop gives the label line some slack, allowing the applicator to work in time with incoming containers, not the printer. Need to apply pre-printed labels? The print engine can be turned off, letting this machine be used like a regular labeler.

We Can Help You Find the Right Labeling System for Your Products

Are you overwhelmed by your choices when it comes to pressure sensitive labeling options (or just labeling equipment, in general)? Contact CTM Labeling Systems to be directed to your local distributor. We are happy to help you find the right labeling system to fit your needs, whether you’re improving logistics, complying with food safety regulations, or just finding a more efficient way to label containers.