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What are the Materials Used in Pressure Sensitive Labels?

Found on almost every household shelf, pressure sensitive labels are a market favorite for
sellers and business owners. From wine bottles to confectionaries, aromatic oils to cooking
essentials, there isn’t a packaging that is complete without pressure sensitive labels.

In this article, we cover what pressure sensitive labels are, their functionalities across product
packaging, and the materials used in the manufacturing of these label styles.

What is a Pressure Sensitive Label?

Pressure-sensitive labels are labels whose facestock is pre-coated with adhesives that can
be used on different consumer products. These labels are usually flexible and commonly
used on products with different shapes and sizes.


However, it is to be noted that pressure-sensitive labels are not the same as self-adhesive
labels. The adhesive in pressure-sensitive labels are easy to stick on to surfaces but hard to
remove from.


Most ideal for branding and product labeling, pressure-sensitive label’s top layer can be
customized to any form like printed, embossed, etc, based on the packaging requirements.
These labels are usually applied by a labeling machine in order to achieve smooth,
bulge-free finish.

The Components & Materials of a Pressure-Sensitive Label

Though it sounds simple, there are a lot of materials that go behind the making of a
pressure-sensitive label. Here’s describing the different components that comprise one.

1. Facestock

Facestock is the top layer of any label whose rear is coated with an adhesive of any kind to
be able to stick on to a surface. Usually facestocks can be anything from paper, film, or other
synthetic materials. In pressure-sensitive labels, the most common facestock material is
paper and film.

  • Paper

The most sustainable option when it comes to being a facestock material. Paper as the top
layer can be customized affluently for branding and marketing without limits. It also helps
bring the naturality of a product, especially when it is handmade or derived from nature like
honey, natural oils, or other organic supplies. When coated with pressure-sensitive adhesive,
paper covers a wide range of applications, whereas, it is best to avoid paper if you are keen
on long-lasting labels and durability.

  • Film

Made from polypropylene, films as a facestock are highly durable, long-lasting, and are often
weather-resistant. They don’t easily tear or wear off and are most preferred for household
product packaging like detergents, toiletries, and more. Films needn’t necessarily be
see-through, brands can customize it to be opaque or translucent based on packaging
requirements. Film based pressure-sensitive labels are also the first preference when it
comes to packaging/ branding chemicals and other reactive materials for which paper
labeling is most unsuitable with.

  • Textured Facestock

The best part about pressure-sensitive adhesive is that it can easily be coated on to other
speciality materials such as embossed, metallic, and fabric facestocks as well. For brands
that look for unique product packaging or aim to give a luxurious look and feel opt for these
kinds of textured facestock with their pressure-sensitive label manufacturing.

2. Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive

Adhesives form the most integral part of any pressure-sensitive label and, based on the
product surface, the kind of adhesive coated on the facestock differs. PSAs form a strong
bond on smooth surfaces and don’t require additional activators. When used with a machine
applicator, the labels stick so efficiently that it makes it difficult to wear off or get torn during
storage and transit.
The different kinds of adhesives include:

  • Permanent PSAs

As the name indicates, permanent PSAs form a strong bond on the product surface and are
hard to remove from. Product labeling and branding for the food and beverage,
pharmaceutical, household toiletries, cosmetics, and chemical industries are mostly
permanent labels. Permanent pressure-sensitive adhesives are rubber-based, acrylic, solvent-based, or
thermostatic.

  • Removable PSAs

With moderate adhesion strength compared to permanent pressure-sensitive adhesives,
removable PSAs serve a variety of applications in the market. Duct tapes, peel-off tags,
shipping labels, etc are usually made with removable adhesives since it doesn’t leave behind
residues after removal. Removable pressure-sensitive adhesives can be water-based, acrylic, or rubber-based depending on the application.

  • Repositionable PSAs

These adhesives are often used in labels that require to be repositioned in products like wet
tissue packaging, food and confectionaries, healthcare sectors, and more. Unlike permanent
or removable labels, these repositionable labels are highly convenient for use to open and
close packaging whenever necessary. It doesn’t leave adhesive residue and is effortless to
use with different kinds of packaging

3. Release Liner

The release liner is a thin layer made of silicon or other non-sticky films on which the
pressure-sensitive labels are stuck on to. The release liner protects the labels from being
stuck to each other or to any other surface. The labels are removed from the release liner by
a machine and then pasted on to product surfaces. Release liners may be single or double
sided.
There are 6 different types of release liners namely:

  1. Silicon Liners
  2. Polyethylene Liners (PET)
  3. Glassine Release Liners
  4. Clay Coated Kraft Liners
  5. Thermal Liners
  6. Film Liners

4. Printing Supplies

Each brand has different branding, labeling, and packaging requirements. Depending on
each of the printing demands, the materials, inking, and printing technology used might
differ. While it is usually digital or flexographic printing methodologies that come handy for
durable pressure-sensitive label printing, there are other means like thermostatic printing as
well. Besides branding with catchy images and text, the label printing also includes
expiration dates, ingredients list, nutritional value, supply chain tracking numbers, barcode,
etc. And when it comes to choosing the ink for labeling, it is majorly water-based,
solvent-based, or UV inks with required pigmentation based on brand colors and themes.

5. Topcoats & Laminates

Now, once the label printing is done, topcoats and laminates are added to give the labels an
extra layer of protection. While these laminates protect from water, solvent, chemicals or
other weathering conditions, it also boosts the appearance of the product labels for a more
rich and luxurious finish that buyers find appealing in a shelf full of similar products. These
topcoats may be chosen to be glossy or semi-glossy in appearance based on packaging
demands.

BottomLine

If you are a brand or a business striving to make it big with your branding and labeling, it is
essential you identify the right kind of pressure-sensitive labels for your marketing.

With the diverse types of materials used in the manufacturing of these labels, choose the right one
that most aligns with your industry, target market, branding, informational, and ease of use
for the consumer. The right adhesives and facestock is most important as it can make or
break a product look, labeling, and selling power.

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