When a label fails, more than likely, the wrong material has been chosen for the application. Period. One place where things can go wrong during the design process is by failing to consider how the label will be applied in the field.
A myriad of factors can influence whether a label application is successful or not. Will labels be auto- or manually applied? Do the labels require a release liner? Who will be applying the labels? Do they need instructions for correct label placement? In addition, the surface the label is being applied to and the conditions to which it will be exposed can also have a big impact on label performance.
Label application often involves making trade-offs between speed and print quality. For example, some types of semi-gloss face sheets can cause inconsistent print quality. Many customers choose semi-gloss face sheets because they’re inexpensive and can provide good print results in certain situations. However, due to different topcoats, the print quality can vary greatly between semi-gloss materials when printing full color labels. The label converter must know which materials will yield the best results for the desired imprint.
For some high-production applications, customers prefer linerless labels, which are wound directly onto a core and result in very little waste. If a release liner is required, many customers specify 40# thickness for optimal performance on labeling equipment. If the liner is too thick, it can cause the label to not dispense. The thicker the liner, the stiffer it behaves and doesn’t provide enough of an “edge” going around the peeler plate to dispense the label.
Rolls, sheets or fan-fed labels?
Choosing between rolls, sheets or fan-fed labels also requires some careful thought. In most instances, the customer determines the format by how the label is going to be applied (by hand or auto applicator). If the customer is applying it by hand, the format is totally a matter of preference.
As a general rule, very large labels (such as drum labels) are sheeted. Small labels are usually roll form. The third option is fan-folded. Fan-folded labels are usually requested when the label is running through a high-speed laser or inkjet printer.
The finished format also affects price due to different run speeds and set up times. The cost difference from least expensive format to most expensive is roll form, fanfold and sheeted.
As you explore your labeling requirements with your converter, be sure to invest time discussing how your labels will be applied, and what this implies in terms of materials, performance and cost.