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The Basic Components of a Pressure Sensitive Label

March 31, 2015

One of the most popular labeling methods is the pressure sensitive label. Pressure sensitive labels work well on a variety of container shapes and sizes and are an optimal choice for products in various markets including: food, beverage, wine & spirits, household chemicals and automotive. We previously discussed the benefits of utilizing pressure sensitive labels for your product, now let’s take a look at the components that make up a pressure sensitive label and the role they each play.

The Pressure Sensitive ‘Sandwich’

With pressure sensitive labels, unlike other label formats, there is more to the label than just a single material. The labels are actually composed of several different material components.

Pressure sensitive labels are composed of the following components: topcoat, facestock, adhesive, release coating and liner. The components that make up a pressure sensitive label are commonly referred to as the ‘sandwich’ because the label consists of several materials stacked or sandwiched in layers. The components chosen for each pressure sensitive label are based on the label application, performance and appearance requirements.

Pressure Sensitive Label Components
Topcoat
Topcoat can mean multiple things in labeling; we are referring to the final protective layer after the print. This layer is designed to provide physical properties to ensure acceptable performance on the filling line, during distribution and consumer use, and can be used to enhance the shelf presence of the final product. There are two main types of topcoats available:

  • Varnish: a coating applied (like an ink) to the surface; can be g loss, matte or both (multiple varnishes)
  • Laminate: a protective film that is applied to the top of the label and can provide a gloss or matte finish
Facestock
The facestock is the outer material or the top ‘face’ of the label and is the material that ultimately is applied to the container. When the label is printed, the ink is printed on the facestock material. There are many different paper and film-based materials available based on your appearance and performance criteria. For example, a specialty paper might be chosen for a product to reflect the quality of the product, whereas a film might be chosen for a product that needs to withstand moist conditions during its life.

Adhesive
The facestock is backed by an adhesive layer that allows the label to stick to the container at application. There are several factors taken into consideration when selecting an adhesive:

  • Container: the adhesive performance is related to the type of container surface (plastic, glass, metal). In the case of a plastic container, if it needs to be squeezable, the adhesive will need to accommodate squeezability.
  • Removability: will the label need to be repositioned during application or by the consumer or does it need to be permanent?
  • Application Temperature: will the labels be applied to warm or cold fill containers? The adhesive must be able to adhere to the container at the required speed on the filling line as well as through the products life.
  • Environment: what are the environmental conditions at the time of application as well as during distribution and consumer use? Does the label need to withstand a wet or dry environment? Is your product shelf stable or is it refrigerated or frozen? The adhesive must be able to allow the label to function at expected levels through its life.

Release Coating
The release coating is applied to the top of the liner providing the appropriate release level of the label from the liner during application to your container or package.

Liner
The liner is an important component of the pressure sensitive label sandwich. The liner backs the facestock material allowing for the label to be transported through the label applicator and onto the container. The liner also acts as the die-cutting base in the label manufacturing process. Liners are available in papers and films of various thicknesses and weights. The line speed during application (as well as the final label design) will dictate what liner options will be advised for use on a project.

As you can see, there are multiple considerations in choosing the best pressure sensitive ‘sandwich’ for your product. There are literally hundreds of combinations that are available so please use our Technical Services team to explore what recommendations we can make to maximize your shelf impact and label value.

To learn about our pressure sensitive label capabilities, you can visit the Pressure Sensitive Labels page for more information. If you have questions regarding your pressure sensitive label application, contact Fort Dearborn Company at (847) 357-9500 or contact us online.