Adhesives Printing Knowledge

Permanent Adhesives | Removable Adhesives | Special Adhesive Requirements

The adhesive is the part of the label that makes the label adhere to an object. There are many different types of adhesives available. The adhesive can be water, rubber or acrylic based. Each having properties that affect the characteristics of the adhesives. A water based adhesive would not be used for an application that will be exposed to humidity or moisture. Rubber based adhesive have good quick tack and initial peel but will break down under extended exposure to UV light. Acrylic based adhesives are generally repositionable when the label has been first applied to a surface but will form a bond after a period of time. The adhesive layer is generally applied as an all over coat but can be applied in a pattern where only specific areas are coated with the adhesive.

The type of adhesive required is determined by the type of substrate it will be adhered to, the facestock of the label, the method in which it will be applied, the conditions under which it will be used and what it will be used for. There are two basic categories of adhesives, permanent and removable, each having a range of different types.

Permanent Adhesives

General Purpose Permanent A label with this adhesive cannot be removed without the label being destroyed or leaving residue on the object that it was applied to. This adhesive generally adheres well to most corrugated, paper and plastic substrates but is not guaranteed to work for every application. Labels with general purpose permanent adhesive can be applied at temperatures as low as 25° - 35°F. It has a service temperature range of -50°F to +150°F.
Aggressive or Extra Permanent An adhesive used when a general purpose permanent is not strong enough. It has more initial tack and superior adhesion strength. Works well on difficult to label surfaces, such as tires, batteries, and lumber.
Wide Temperature Wide temperature adhesives are made to adhere in temperatures as low as -65°F and as high as 150°F. They will adhere to vinyl and after 24 hours adhesion becomes permanent.
Opaque Opaque adhesive is used for blockout purposes. It is used to prevent show through when a label is used to cover up errors. The adhesive is generally permanent.
Pharmaceutical A permanent adhesive that is designed for excellent initial tack for applying labels to glass and plastic items, such as syringes and vials. It has dependable adhesion strength, which holds the label in place. Is FDA approved.

Removable Adhesive

General Purpose Removable A removable label can be removed from the substrate without pieces remaining on the surface. Depending on its level of tack, a removable label can damage the surface of some materials, such as wood and suede. After a period of time or exposure to weather, the removable label will become permanent.
Ultra-removable or Repositionable This adhesive allows a label to be removed from a surface without leaving any residue or causing any damage. The label can then be reapplied in another area and is not limited to the number of times it can be repositioned. This adhesive works well with paper and film products and is great for labeling crystal, china, sunglasses and other glassware. Ultra-removable and repositionable adhesives do not gain permanency over time.
Freezer Freezer adhesive is designed to work on hard to label surfaces in below freezing temperatures. It is generally removable at room temperature.
Textile Textile adhesive removes cleanly from fabric. If left on the fabric for extreme periods of time, staining may occur. Should not be used on velvet, furs, suede, leather or plastic. It may damage the surface of these materials. Testing is advised.

Special Adhesive Requirements

There are many types of adhesives available to meet special requirements for your label use. Be sure to consider all factors when selecting the type of adhesive that should be used for your application. Let your supplier know the following information.

  • The properties of the substrate the label will be attached to, such as texture, material makeup and shape.
  • The condition of the substrate when the label is applied to it, such as the temperature, and the dirt and moisture contamination.
  • The environmental conditions that the label will be exposed to through its life cycle, such as moisture, chemicals, and extreme cold or heat.
  • The type of facestock material.
  • The application method and dispensing method.
  • Length of time the label is required to last.
  • Will the label need to have the ability to be removed and if so, how long a period of time before it will be removed.
  • How it will be imprinted, such as dot matrix, laser, ink jet or thermal.

Note: Surface Testing
When a label has not been used for an application previously, it should be tested prior to application. Some of the surfaces that should be tested are listed below:

Injection molded surface (may contain anti-adhesive release chemicals)
Plastic surfaces - Wax surfaces - High density polyethylene
Very rough surfaces - Contaminated surfaces
Wet or damp surfaces - Frozen surfaces

Communicating with your vendor as much as possible about the intended use of the label will result in a product best suited to your needs.

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