Choosing the Right Label for the Right Application

September 9, 2013
Selecting the right barcode label for your application will help insure maximum productivity is achieved while selecting the wrong label can cause a number of problems down the line. Here are some things to consider when choosing your label:

Thermal Transfer Vs. Direct Thermal

Thermal Transfer utilizes a ribbon that applies a heat transfer process to your label material to increase durability and readability. Thermal transfer labels give increased resilience to water, chemicals, body fluids, heat, and sunlight and can be used in a wide variety of applications.

Direct Thermal uses a heat activated material to transfer your image to the label. This type of label is primarily used in applications where long term durability or readability of the label is not required such as package labeling for point to point shipping.

Application Environment

The product your labels will be applied to and the environment in which they are applied are critical factors in the selection of labels. Product surface, indoor or outdoor usage, moisture, and temperature range are questions that you will need to answer to determine the correct barcode label.

Usage Environment

Will your labels be exposed to extreme conditions? Will they be used in a situation where they need to withstand chemicals, direct sunlight, dirt, grease, heat, cold, water, food or some other potential threat to the labels lifespan. Each of these conditions needs to be considered in order for your labels to perform at their best.


Some labels need to last for extended periods of time. Whereas, others only need to last for a short period (e.g., during the shipment). Not only do the labels need to endure, but the information printed on the labels as well.

Face Stock

The right face stock is crucial. Choosing between direct thermal and thermal transfer is only the first step. Next, you need determine if your application requires a paper label, or some sort of synthetic material. Once you get into synthetics you then need to choose from a variety of offerings ranging from vinyl to polyimide with several levels in between.


Finding the right adhesive for your application makes all the difference in label performance. Some of the factors to consider are application environment, temperature range to be used in, and level of permanence.

Other Factors

In addition there are many other factors to consider. How would the use of color impact my label? Can I use a stock label or does my label need to be custom manufactured? What is the core size and outside diameter (OD) required by your thermal transfer printer? Would your application be best served with piggy backs, kiss cuts, or other special die cuts? What type of wind direction and corner radius is required for my label?

As you have read, choosing a label can be an overwhelming task, but we are here to help answer any questions and help you find the right label for your application.

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