All About Label Materials
There are many different types of materials and these all have there own different properties. Different materials will be better suited to different applications. Firstly we need to talk about different types of printing associated with labels as you need to know this to choose the material..
1. Direct Thermal - This is the most common type of printing in the labelling world. This is also known as thermal or thermal direct printing.
With thermal printing the paper is impregnated with a heat sensitive dye. Once the label printer heats selected areas of the paper then a black image appears. This type of printing is now also very common for printing shop receipts. The upside of this technology is there is NO ribbon required. the downside is that the labels will gradually brown out and start to look old after a time just like your shop receipts do. Depending on the exposure to heat and sunlight this can be a short time or a longer time. If you want a label for short term use like Freight labels or perishable food labels then this method isfor you. If you want something longer term then read on.
2. Thermal Transfer - This type of ribbon uses a thermal transfer ribbon. The label printer heats selected areas of the ribbon and the ink is then passed onto the label material. The label material can be lots of different material types as it only needs to be able to receive the ink from the ribbon. The upside of thermal transfer printing is that the print is a long term solution, it will not fade etc like direct thermal printing. The small downside is that it uses ribbons so this is an additional consumable to consider and to keep stock of. If you labels need to look good after extended periods both inside and outside then thermal transfer is for you.
Common Label Material Types
1. Direct Thermal Paper - This is paper stock impregnated with the heat sensitive dye as described above. This is ideal for short term labelling such as freight and shipping labels. There are also regularly used in shops where stock turns over regularly such as grocery stores, chemists, newsagencies, bookshops etc. This type of material is available in both permanent and removable adhesives. Being paper they are not suitable for use in the weather. You should try and use material which has a top coating to lengthen the life of the label printer printhead
2. Thermal Transfer Paper - Thermal transfer paper is a paper which is treated so that it best accepts the ink from the ink ribbons. This material produces great looking labels that last for many years even in the sun. They are still paper however so they will be affected by water. Thermal transfer paper labels are used everywhere due to their long lasting properties.
3. Thermal Transfer BOPP - This is a synthetic material which can be printed on using a thermal transfer label printer. BOPP stands for Bi-axial Orrientated Polypropylene. This means it cannot be torn easily at all in both directions and will only stretch a small amount if stretched. This is commonly used where labels have to go outside and be exposed to water. Common uses are plant nurseries, hardware stores, asset labels etc.
4. Thermal Transfer PET - This is a premium synthetic material which can be printed on using a thermal transfer label printer. PET basically means Polyester. PET is a stronger material and works better in extended periods of direct sunlight than the BOPP as it has better UV stabilisation. PET will not stretch at all so keeps it's shape longer.The difference between PET and BOPP really only show in extreme conditions. Common usage for PET is with jewellery labels (under hot lights) and long term usages under a hot sun.
5. Silver Mylar - Silver Mylar is a common term for a high strength polyester material which has a matt or satin silver finish. This material is also known as Chome Polyester, Chrome PET etc. This material has all the characteristics of the Thermal transfer PET but it's satin silver finish is perferred for labels applications such as Asset labellling, machinery labels, barcode labelling for mobile phones and other higher cost items.
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