by Melissa Donovan
Part 3 of 4
Consumer products necessitate labels for all sorts of reasons, detailing how a product should be used, cleaned, or stored for example. In many cases these labels must stay adhered for the long term so important information remains over the life of the product.
In this category, which we refer to as durables or harsh environments, digitally printed labels are often used. Examples might be lawn mowers or power equipment. While this segment may not necessarily require short runs of labels—thus negating a benefit of using digital—digital print is still a great option and media manufacturers offer labels just for this application.
Durability is the name of the game for both the facestock and adhesive. “The durables space often has high requirements for hard-to-hold applications, such as tire labels. These products may require ultra-aggressive adhesives to ensure they perform properly,” explains Ryan Chai, strategic solutions manager, Nobelus.
The Crux of It
Labels used in the durable/harsh environments space must be durable—in both facestock and adhesive. When it comes to the material, polyester (PET) and vinyl are great options.
“For durable/harsh environments, finding the right facestock and adhesive combination is key to ensure the end user gets the performance they expect out of the label. Many times, these labels are exposed to extreme conditions where sometimes standard label stocks don’t perform well,” comments Joel Ulrich, senior marketing manager, Mactac Spinnaker.
Mactac and Spinnaker offer a variety of specialty materials specifically designed to withstand the heat, cold, acid, moisture, UV light, or other chemicals. Many are UL and/or BS5609 approved. MP690 and PAT1 adhesives offer high-performance characteristics for applications such as appliances, nameplates, lawn and garden, and drum labels.
PET, as a biaxially oriented film, is most commonly used according to Jason Berthiaume, product manager – industrial and consumer durables, FLEXcon Company, Inc. It’s available in clear, clear matte, and white. Silver and silver matte versions can also be manufactured by vacuum depositing aluminum on clear or clear matte films.
“PET is dimensionally stable at high temperatures and offers durability in the form of excellent initial tear and puncture resistance. It provides good thermal and chemical resistance as well. PET is also available topcoated or print treated to enhance printability,” shares Berthiaume.
Especially for harsh environments like manufacturing facilities or product kept outdoors exposed to the elements, PET is ideal. “It withstands many outdoor stresses, such as temperature extremes, environmental conditions, and exposure to moisture,” he continues.
Vinyl is also commonly used because it offers great degrees of conformability and flexibility. “Vinyl is generally very weatherable, offering good resistance to UV light and exposure to other environmental conditions making it ideal for product identification and safety/hazard/instructional labeling for durable goods,” says Berthiaume.
While vinyl has long been popular in this space, its environmental impact leads to many looking for an alternative. “Vinyl may be fantastic from a functional standpoint, but there is much debate about its safety due to the toxicity of certain vinyl feedstocks, the byproducts of its production, and the many additives required to make it usable. In light of this, many customers gravitate toward polypropylene (PP) options in the industrial and durables market. From labeling power equipment to wire and harness wraps, these products are working great in areas traditionally dominated by vinyl labels,” admits Berthiaume.
The 30 products in the FLEXcon NEXgen portfolio consist of PET, vinyl, and UV-resistant PP and offer versatility to meet a range of applications, including compliance labels, brand identity labels, and warning and instructional labels. These products were designed with digital printing of industrial/durable labels in mind. They utilize FLEXcon’s two most dependable topcoats with cross-platform printability and three adhesive systems for adhering to the toughest variety of surfaces.
On the topic of security and counterfeiting concerns, Berthiaume says that FLEXcon offers VOID and destructible labels as well as a footprint adhesive. There are so many custom security solutions, it’s depends on whether it is needed for label or box destruction, evidence that a label was on the surface, or a confirmation that a product is legitimate.
The durables and harsh environments category of labeling is a bit different than traditional consumer items. Not benefitting as much from the short run capabilities of digital print, it is however utilizing digitally printed labels with label stock optimized for these challenging environments.
The final part in our series on label media looks at the healthcare/pharmaceutical sector.
May2023, DPS Magazine