Labels or Tags . . . Which is the Best Choice? - Part 2

By Ron James, Senior Sales Executive - Adaptive Data Inc.

In Part 1 of this article, published on June 26, 2013, we covered tags. In Part 2 will get into LABEL choices.

As mentioned in last month's post, labels have adhesive.  Various types of adhesives are available, each with specific characteristics that allow them to adhere to specific materials under certain conditions.

Both tags and labels can come in either paper OR synthetics stocks. For paper labels, tearing is not as much of an issue as it is for tags, as labels are often applied to a substrate that provides the label some degree of strength. With synthetic labels you get tear resistance, as well as increased resistance to weathering (sun, rain, hot, cold etc.) and/or other exposure to chemicals, oil etc.

In addition to the material composition, a label is typically furnished in either Direct Thermal (no ribbons required) or Thermal Transfer (requiring a ribbon to image the material). Add to that the choices in adhesives, and it all adds up to a lot of questions that need to be asked to get the right material for the right job.

Factors in Choosing the Right Label:

Given all the choices in label materials, what should be considered when selecting your optimum labeling solution?

1. At what temperature will the labels be affixed to the item, and what substrate are the labels being ‘stuck’ to?

2. What temperatures will the labels be exposed to after the initial application?

3. How long will the labels be required to stay on after they leave your facility? Sometimes a permament adhesive is easier to source than a removable one, but you should answer this question before final selection of the adhesive.

4. How long are the images expected to last? If longer than a few months, then almost certainly you want to think about thermal transfer.

5. What will the labels be exposed to? If they will be exposed to sunlight, this could discourage the use of direct thermal labels. Chemicals, oils, and other demanding solvents may lead you to consider synthetic labels.

6. Does the application lend itself to a ‘combo’ label, such as a two or three part label where one part of the label might go on a box, the other on a document?.

7. Do you need a two part label for tracking purposes? If so – you’ll need to design the label around the perforation area.

8. How can you balance the aggressiveness of the adhesion with the speed at which the labels must be handled?

9. Will you be sensing the labels in the gap between them or do you need a black mark?

10. What is the max roll diameter of the printer you intend to use, and what core size must the labels be wound on?

11. Would fan-fold labels make sense? If you have the room to stack them behind the printer, they can lessen the frequency of changing media in the printer, and fan-fold labels also stack more readily, making them a good choice for ‘batch printing’ and carrying many labels at a time, where they will be applied in another location other than by the printer.

Answers to these questions, will ensure you have the right label for your needs.

We welcome your comments.