How to choose the right adhesive for your labels
Selecting the right adhesive is a balance between the strength of the initial “tack” or “grab”, the final long term strength of adhesion (so the label will not fall off) and the ability to be removed if required. In addition, certain physical environments (e.g. freezers, book covers) demand special adhesives.
Permanent adhesives are the most common and are not designed to be removed once initial contact is made. They work on the majority of surfaces but can have difficulty bonding to some surfaces such as damp plastics. They are not re-positionable and will leave a residue on casual removal from most surfaces. They are very common and the default adhesive used by the majority of applications. Choose this adhesive if you have no reason not to, as it is cost effective and probably does what you want.
Peelable adhesives are designed to allow the label to be removed, but may leave a residue on the application surface. The longer the label is on the surface, the harder it is to remove and the more likely it is to leave a residue.
Ultra-peel adhesives are the weakest and are useful for marking up high value goods where the label must be very easily removed e.g. book covers, glass and fine chinaware. The adhesion strength is low though and if used incorrectly they will fall off.
Freezer adhesives are useful for products that are stored at cold temperatures as conventional permanent adhesives become ineffective below -10 degrees C, and freezers often drop to below -30 degrees C.
Marine adhesives can withstand protracted submersion under water and are principally used for chemical labelling.
Security adhesives have various properties that indicate tampering of the label.
Recommendations for applying adhesives
The adhesives on self-adhesive labels are sensitive to temperature and moisture, and we recommend that you apply them in accordance with the following conditions:
- Check that the application surface is smooth, clean, dry and free of dust, water, oils, waxes and silicone sprays and is preferably above 10 degrees C. If necessary and appropriate, clean the surface using a little Iso Propyl Alcohol, available as a fluid , available from Dischem, Clicks or similar stores.
- Make sure that the storage, application and service temperature / humidity are correct for the adhesive being used. Most correctly stored labels should have a shelf life of 2 years. The most common problems that we face are the label storage temperature being too cool (less than 10 degrees C) which detrimentally affects the label adhesive. In general, warmer storage and application temperatures give better results.
- Remember that the adhesive takes at least 24 hours to “set” and gain its full strength. If the label does not stick for any reason, then check conditions in step 1 again as it is most likely that there is a problem with the application surface.
- Do not clean the labels with any organic solvents, cleaners or anything but a gentle wipe with a damp cloth. The use of organic chemicals may harm the label material, adhesive or print.