Materials and Adhesives

This is a brief summary of the main types of face materials and adhesives that are used in the label industry.  Should you require a full written technical specification of a particular product please contact us at any time.

Face Materials


Less expensive than film, paper provides limited resistance to moisture, temperature, and chemicals. A wide range of label stock paper grades and weights is available to meet a variety of application requirements. Auto ID paper applications are generally for short-term, indoor use and carton or pallet labelling.

Polypropylene (PP)

Excellent substitute for vinyl labels. Hard and rigid to the touch. Stretches in only one direction. More rigid than Polyethylene. Good tear and UV resistance. Recommended for applications requiring a higher degree of durability than a paper label. Designed for 6 months outdoor use and harsh environmental applications or where tensile strength is needed. Withstands up to 180 degrees. Has reasonable resistance to most solvents and is moisture resistant. Popular Applications include shelf / bin labels, warehouse rack labels, drum labelling, laboratory labelling, food packaging and low-cost rating plates. Resistant to blood, oil and alcohol. Better than PE for Print & Apply applications.


Slightly softer than PP with moderate stiffness. Breathable. Stretches in all directions but will tear quite easily. Designed for 6 months outdoor use. Withstands up to 180 degrees. It is slightly softer and more conforming than polypropylene and generally well suited for applications where paper is not acceptable due to moisture. Useful for labelling products that expand and contract. Popular applications include recyclable shrink wrap labels, garment label bin markings, shelf edge labels and warehouse rack labels.

Polyester (PET)

Gloss or matt finish. Usually white, silver or clear but now available in a wide range of colours. Highly print receptive. These tough, high-performance films provide excellent outdoor durability, chemical resistance, and heat resistance in a wide range of applications. Polyester has excellent dimensional stability and high tensile strength. Polyester is usually matched with high-performance resin ribbons for a finished label that is highly durable. Normally last outdoors for more than 2 years and resist temperatures up to 300 degrees. Popular applications include UL/CSA recognised nameplates, rating plates and fixed asset identification. Withstands solvents whilst maintaining excellent image quality.


Vinyl is available as cast or calendered materials in clear, coloured, black or white, matt or gloss facestocks.  Most grades have a thickness of 85 to 100 microns, but may be much thicker for long life and/or exterior applications.  These include point-of-sale material, outdoor promotional and warning signs, vehicle and fleet markings.  Vinyl films have a high tear resistance and are perfect for end use situations where a high level of chemical and abrasion resistance is required.


Tamper-Evident Vinyl is manufactured using white, ultra-thin, brittle pvc with an extra-strong acrylic adhesive. When any attempt is made to remove these labels, they break up into tiny pieces. These labels cannot be removed in one piece. Weather and heat resistant, they can be used indoors or outside.
VOID Polyester has a top coated matt silver finish. Labels leave a message on surfaces to which they are applied which becomes visible when the label is removed. Labels cannot be re-applied.


Du Pont trade name for Polyimide. A very tough material in white or gold. Flame and radiation resistant. It provides the highest level of performance to meet the most challenging applications. Offers extremely high temperature and chemical resistance and superior tensile strength and tear resistance. Both Kapton and the lower-spec Polyetherimide, when used with the right topcoat/ribbon combination, are unaffected by the processes used in printed circuit board production.


The adhesive is the part of the label that makes the label adhere to an object. There are many different types of adhesives available. The adhesive can be water, rubber or acrylic based. Each having properties that affect the characteristics of the adhesives. A water based adhesive would not be used for an application that will be exposed to humidity or moisture. Rubber based adhesive have good quick tack and initial peel but will break down under extended exposure to UV light. Acrylic based adhesives are generally repositionable when the label has been first applied to a surface but will form a bond after a period of time. The adhesive layer is generally applied as an all over coat but can be applied in a pattern where only specific areas are coated with the adhesive.

The type of adhesive required is determined by the type of substrate it will be adhered to, the facestock of the label, the method in which it will be applied, the conditions under which it will be used and what it will be used for. There are two basic categories of adhesives, permanent and removable, each having a range of different types.

Permanent Adhesives

General Purpose Permanent

A label with this adhesive cannot be removed without the label being destroyed or leaving residue on the object that it was applied to. This adhesive generally adheres well to most corrugated, paper and plastic substrates but is not guaranteed to work for every application. Labels with general purpose permanent adhesive can be applied at temperatures as low as 25° – 35°F. It has a service temperature range of -50°F to +150°F.

Aggressive or Extra Permanent

An adhesive used when a general purpose permanent is not strong enough. It has more initial tack and superior adhesion strength. Works well on difficult to label surfaces, such as tires, batteries, and lumber.
Wide Temperature

Wide temperature adhesives are made to adhere in temperatures as low as -65°F and as high as 150°F. They will adhere to vinyl and after 24 hours adhesion becomes permanent.

Opaque Opaque adhesive is used for blockout purposes. It is used to prevent show through when a label is used to cover up errors. The adhesive is generally permanent.

Pharmaceutical A permanent adhesive that is designed for excellent initial tack for applying labels to glass and plastic items, such as syringes and vials. It has dependable adhesion strength, which holds the label in place. Is FDA approved.

Removable Adhesive

General Purpose Removable

A removable label can be removed from the substrate without pieces remaining on the surface. Depending on its level of tack, a removable label can damage the surface of some materials, such as wood and suede. After a period of time or exposure to weather, the removable label will become permanent.

Ultra-removable or Repositionable

This adhesive allows a label to be removed from a surface without leaving any residue or causing any damage. The label can then be reapplied in another area and is not limited to the number of times it can be repositioned. This adhesive works well with paper and film products and is great for labeling crystal, china, sunglasses and other glassware. Ultra-removable and repositionable adhesives do not gain permanency over time.


Freezer adhesive is designed to work on hard to label surfaces in below freezing temperatures. It is generally removable at room temperature.
Textile Textile adhesive removes cleanly from fabric. If left on the fabric for extreme periods of time, staining may occur. Should not be used on velvet, furs, suede, leather or plastic. It may damage the surface of these materials. Testing is advised.

Special Adhesive Requirements

There are many types of adhesives available to meet special requirements for your label use. Be sure to consider all factors when selecting the type of adhesive that should be used for your application. Let your supplier know the following information.

The properties of the substrate the label will be attached to, such as texture, material makeup and shape.
The condition of the substrate when the label is applied to it, such as the temperature, and the dirt and moisture contamination.
The environmental conditions that the label will be exposed to through its life cycle, such as moisture, chemicals, and extreme cold or heat.
The type of facestock material.
The application method and dispensing method.
Length of time the label is required to last.
Will the label need to have the ability to be removed and if so, how long a period of time before it will be removed.
How it will be imprinted, such as dot matrix, laser, ink jet or thermal.
Note: Surface Testing
When a label has not been used for an application previously, it should be tested prior to application. Some of the surfaces that should be tested are listed below:

Injection molded surface (may contain anti-adhesive release chemicals)
Plastic surfaces – Wax surfaces – High density polyethylene
Very rough surfaces – Contaminated surfaces
Wet or damp surfaces – Frozen surfaces