Material Considerations

Our labelstock manufacturer partners have developed a range of different products which are used in the label industry to suit every application.

This summary provides a brief over-view of the main types of face materials and adhesives that are commonly used in the label industry. Should you require either a full written technical specification of a particular product or simply want to discuss your application further then please contact us at any time.

Face Materials

The first consideration when selecting a labelstock is the face material which very broadly splits between paper and plastic films.


The main advantage of paper is cost as its generally cheaper than film. However, paper provides limited resistance to moisture, temperature, and chemicals but can be protected to a degree with either a lacquer or laminating film. A wide range of label stock paper grades and weights are available to meet a variety of application requirements. As a generalisation, paper labels are suitable for short-term, indoor use and carton or pallet labelling but once the application becomes more demanding then plastic film becomes the more suitable material.

A number of different plastic films are widely used:

Polypropylene (PP)

PP is an excellent modern substitute for vinyl labels and is significantly more eco-friendly avoiding all the issues of chlorine that surround vinyl (PVC). The material is hard and rigid to the touch and is generally supplied with stretch in only one direction only, although bi-axially orientated polypropylene is available. The material is more rigid than Polyethylene, with good tear and UV resistance.

As with all plastic films its recommended for applications requiring a higher degree of durability than a paper label, and is suitable for applications requiring up to 6 months outdoor use in harsh environments or where tensile strength is needed. The film is suitable for applications of up to 180°C and has reasonable resistance to most solvents, blood, oil or alcohols and is moisture resistant.

Common applications include shelf / bin labels, warehouse rack labels, drum labelling, laboratory labelling, food or drink packaging and low-cost rating plates.

Polyethylene (PE)

PE is slightly softer and more conforming than PP with moderate stiffness and is generally well suited for applications where paper is not acceptable due to moisture ingress into the paper. The material is breathable and stretches in all directions but will tear quite easily. Its designed for a maximum of 6 months outdoor use and has an upper maximum operating temperature of 180°C. PE is useful for labelling products that expand and contract and common applications include; recyclable shrink wrap labels, garment label bin markings, shelf edge labels and warehouse rack labels.

Polyester (PET) (Polylaser)

Polylaser is available with either a gloss or matt finish and is our preferred face material. We carry a range of white, silver, translucent and clear but the film is also now available in a wide range of colours and is highly print receptive.

These tough, high-performance films provide excellent outdoor durability, chemical resistance, and heat resistance in a wide range of applications. Polylaser has excellent dimensional stability and high tensile strength. A polylaser label normally lasts outdoors for more than 2 years and resists temperatures up to 300°C. and withstands solvents, oils and most chemicals and passes the British Standards rub test whilst maintaining excellent image quality.

Popular applications include UL/CSA recognised nameplates, rating plates and fixed asset identification labels but we supply this material across many applications.

Vinyl (PVC)

The oldest filmic material available, vinyl (polyvinylchloride) is manufactured using either a calendering process or cast. The material in generally available in clear, coloured, black or white, matt or gloss facestocks in thicknesses of 85 to 100 microns, but is available in thicker films where the application requires a longer life and/or for exterior applications. These applications include point-of-sale material, outdoor promotional and warning signs, vehicle and fleet markings. Vinyl films have a high tear resistance and are perfect for end use situations where a high level of chemical and abrasion resistance is required. Vinyl films have major environmental issues surrounding chlorine and the use of the plasticers commonly used in their manufacture and are banned by the EU for many applications.

Tamper-Evident Vinyl

Tamper-Evident Vinyl is an ultra-thin, brittle PVC with an extra-strong acrylic adhesive. When any attempt is made to remove these labels, they break up into tiny pieces and can't be removed in one piece. The labels are weather and heat resistant and are suitable for either indoor or outside applications.

Void Polyester

Void Polyester is produced with a top coated matt silver finish. The labels leave a message on surfaces to which they are applied which becomes visible when the label is removed. Once removed, the labels cannot be re-applied. Typical applications are restricted area protections such as aircraft doors once a plane has been serviced and awaiting its crew, access to power plant rooms or to computer systems.


This is the manufacturers; Du Pont's trade name for Polyimide, which is a very tough material available in white or gold. The material is flame and radiation resistant and provides the highest levels of performance to meet the most challenging applications but with a price to match. It offers extremely high temperature and chemical resistance and superior tensile strength and tear resistance.


The second consideration when selecting a labelstock is the adhesive type which broadly splits between a permanent or removeable adhesive but within this categorisation there are many different types of adhesives available. The adhesive can be water, rubber or acrylic based which affect the characteristics of the adhesives. A water based adhesive would not be suitable for an application that will be exposed to humidity or moisture, whilst a rubber based adhesive has a 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 is been first applied to a surface but will form a bond after a period of time, usually 24 hours. The adhesive layer is generally applied as an all over coat but for specialist applications it can be applied in a pattern where only specific areas are coated with the adhesive.

Several factors will influence the type of adhesive required for the application such as the material the label has to adhere to, the method of applying the label; whether by hand or mechanical applicator, and the conditions under which the label will operate.

Permanent Adhesives

General Purpose Permanent

The most common adhesive used within the label industry. The label cannot be removed without the label being destroyed or leaving a sticky residue on the object that it was applied to. This adhesive generally adheres well to most corrugated, paper and plastic substrates but is not suitable for every application. Labels with a general purpose permanent adhesive can be applied at temperatures as low as 0°C and have a service temperature range of -20°C to +80°C.

Aggressive or Extra Permanent

An adhesive for applications where a general purpose permanent adhesive is not strong enough. It has more initial tack and superior adhesion strength. It works well on difficult to label surfaces, such as tyres, batteries, timber, plastics where the surface is dappled, timber and avocados.

Wide Temperature

Wide temperature acrylic adhesives have a service temperature range as low as -20°C and as high as 100°C and after 24 hours adhesion they become permanent.

Opaque Adhesive

Opaque adhesive is used in block-out applications to prevent show through when a label is used to cover up errors. The adhesive is generally permanent.

Pharmaceutical Adhesive

A permanent adhesive with an 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 and is FDA approved.

Removable Adhesive

General Purpose Removable

A removable label can be removed from an article without either pieces of the label or a sticky residue 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. However, after an extended period of time or exposure to weather, the removable adhesive 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 be removed and reapplied in another area. This adhesive works well with paper and film products and is great for labelling crystal, china, spectacles and glassware. Ultra-removable and repositionable adhesives do not gain permanency over time.


Freezer adhesive is designed to work on difficult to label surfaces in below freezing temperatures. It is generally removable at room temperature. Textile adhesive removes cleanly from fabric, but if left on the fabric for long periods of time, staining may occur. This adhesive should not be used on velvet, furs, suede, leather or plastic products as it may damage the surface of these materials. Testing is advised.

Special Adhesive Requirements

There are many types of adhesives available for specialist applications. Please contact us for advice on the selection of your labelstock.

It is important to consider all factors when selecting the type of adhesive that should be used for your application. Typical considerations include:

1. The properties of the material the label will be attached to, such as; texture, material makeup and shape.

2. The condition of the material when the label is applied to it, such as; the temperature, and the dirt and moisture contamination.

3. The environmental conditions that the label will be exposed to through its life cycle, such as moisture, chemicals, and extreme cold or heat.

4. The type of facestock material.

5. The label application method; hand or mechanical applicator.

6. The life cycle the label is required to last for.

7. Whether the label needs the to be removed and if so, how long a period of time before it will be removed.

8. Whether the label will be overprinted using say a dot matrix, laser, ink jet or thermal printer.

It is also worth noting that where a label has not previously been used in an application, we can supply sample materials to test prior to ordering labels.

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