Choosing the Right Material

I’ve heard it a lot from prospective customers: “My last label didn’t stick…it just peeled off” or “We can’t read our old label–it just didn’t hold up.” Why is this?

In a lot of cases, it was because the correct material wasn’t used. There are many instances where a label company funnels a project towards their “standard” material. This simplifies their production process, but can lead to situations where the material used isn’t quite right for you and your specific application.

Now fortunately if you need UL Recognized Component (UL 969 / CSA C22.2 No. 0.15) labels, you’re in good shape.  Constructions that meet those standards have already been tested and pre-approved by UL for use on a wide range of materials.1

The same can’t be said with Type L and Type R UL Marks. These type of labels don’t specify materials. Now in many cases this can be a good thing, as it will allow more choice and material flexibility. But it also means a little more vigilance.

So what’s the correct material? When it gets right down to it label substrates (material) perform differently depending on the situation. There is no one correct be-all solution.

So how do I determine what is correct? What you end up doing is working the product from the end result. Specifically how do you want the label to ultimately perform? Consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • To what surface are you sticking the label: flexible, rigid, smooth, rough, flat, convex, etc?
  • Are there high/low application and/or service temperature concerns?
  • How durable does the label need to be?
  • Do you need something that is very sticky right away (high initial tack) or would an adhesive with some early repositionability (low initial tack) be better suited?
  • Will this be an outdoor or indoor label?

Once you determine a performance criteria…Test! In the end, performance is in the eye of the beholder, so be sure to ask for samples to test how the material functions. Only in your environment can you truly evaluate the material against your performance expectations.

1 UL making things easier for once. Win! [return]