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17 Oct 2018

How Does Label Printing Work?

How Does Label Printing Work?

Label printing as we would recognise it today has been around since the 1930s when R. Stanton Avery, who went on to found Avery Labels, invented the first self-adhesive label in 1935. The product has been revamped and refined since then, especially in the 1980s with the advent of home printers for the first time, but the essential idea, a label with adhesive on one surface remains the same.

The standard self adhesive label is made of three separate and distinct layers. The first is backing paper which has been designed with a silicone coating to allow adhesive to stick to it but not permanently. This critical distinction allows the label to be removed when required and if being used with an automatic label applicator should be strong and not have any damaged edges.

The adhesive itself has one job and that is to adhere to any surface to which it is applied. There are different types available depending on the surface of the final application and its desire longevity. The label itself can be made from many different materials also and may even have a laminated top coat applied to ensure durability depending on the circumstances.

Manufacturing

The base label material itself is manufactured into large jumbo sized rolls made of specific backing paper, adhesive and label material. It then goes through a label press which takes the material and uses a set of special die’s and printing plates to cut it down into the desired size and/or pre-printing of the label.

Every die has to be the exact width and height required to repeat the cutting of the labels in horizontal and vertical directions.

How has label printing evolved today?

Some new modern labels now can come in two or three layer linerless style. In the printing stage the labels are like a giant roll of sticky tape. The continuous roll of label material is installed into a linerless label applicator which has been specifically designed for this purpose. This machine includes a thermal transfer printer that can print any data onto the linerless material and includes a cutter to cut the material to desired size after printing and an application head to apply the printed label to the product.

More companies are looking into this method of label printing as it can reduce costs on material and reduce weight and other outgoings. The larger size of the average roll length of linerless labels also increases efficiency. Without backing paper the roll can be much bigger so more labels can be produced in the same amount of time. There is also no backing paper to be disposed of or recycled and the reduced overall weight also means that shipping costs are reduced too.

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