Label Materials Information

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Image Credit: 3M

About Label Materials

Label materials are blank film, paper or other backing used for the display of printing, lithographing, embossing, hot stamping, stickers, seals, or other written, printed or graphic matter.

Examples of labels and printing products include,

  • Printed tape is a cloth or paper tape designed for packaging or sealing purposes.
  • Ribbons are thin, flexible printing and label stock made of cloth, plastic, or metal.
  • Label supplies also include label printers, label inks, color ribbons, and label software.
  • Stickers adhere to containers such as boxes, bags, or bins.

Selection Criteria

The GlobalSpec SpecSearch database allows industrial buyers to select label materials by material, performance specifications and features.


Label Materials

There are a variety of materials used in label and printing applications. Each material has a unique application as well as advantages and disadvantages,

  • Cloth or fabric materials incorporate cloth or a nonwoven fabric layer(s) for reinforcement, improved strength, heat resistance, or electrical properties. Cloth labels are often found in the textile industry for clothing.
  • Metal foil tapes have aluminum, aluminum-reinforced, and lead backings. They are used for a variety of applications such as protecting plastic appliances and wires from heat sources, seal against moisture, and dirt, and seal thermally-conductive shield over heating or cooling elements. Metal foil tapes can be flame, chemical, and environmental resistant. They also have reflective properties and resistance against tearing and puncturing. Their long life expectancy is enhanced by the thermal and electrical conductivity properties.
  • Paper labels are inexpensive and easy-to-use, but less durable than other products. Paper labels are designed for one-time use and may be difficult to remove from the material to which they are attached.
  • Plastic or film labels incorporate one or more plastic layers, or consist of plastic film or sheets that can be clear or colored, printed or plain. They can be single-layer or multilayered by combining them with other materials such as aluminum and paper. Plastics come in two general categories,
    • Thermoplastics become easier to mold and shape when they are hot, and melt at a specific temperature.
    • Thermosets are crosslinked materials that do not melt.
  • Rubber is often used as a backing for tape, film, or laminate. Rubber is usually water-proof, impermeable to gas and effective in a wide range of temperatures. This material is used when the surface labeled needs to remain in good condition.


Label Materials

Material Features







Paper Labels







Matte Paper Labels

  • Economical matte paper label stock.
  • Permanent adhesive sticks to corrugated boxes, plastic drums, metal or Tyvek.

 • Printed flexographically with light fast inks.






Gloss Paper Labels

  • Label is flexographically printed with color-fast inks for durability.
  • Permanent acrylic adhesive.
  • Scuff and scratch resistant. Labels have a gloss finish.






Fluorescent Paper Labels

  • Fluorescent labels are hard to miss.
  • Write on this paper label material using a pencil, typewriter or ball-point pen.
  • Acrylic adhesive keeps labels in place. Yet, you can remove this label cleanly.



Removable Paper Labels

  • Printed flexographically with light fast inks. Labels are weather and sun resistant.
  • Write on this paper label material using a pencil, typewriter or ball-point pen.
  • Acrylic adhesive keeps labels in place. Yet, you can remove this label cleanly.





→ Plastic Labels







Vinyl Labels

  • Permanent acrylic adhesive.
  • Weather and sun resistant.
  • Flexographically printed.
  • Good conformability.



Self-Laminating Plastic

  • Polyester label material offers good water and weather resistance.
  • Over laminated for superior chemical and weather resistance. Permanent acrylic adhesive is 1 mil thick. Liner is removable.
  • Screen printed for extra durability. Good outdoor life.





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Performance Specifications

Product specifications and features are important factors to consider when selecting label materials,

  • Adhesion is the ability for the label to stay on the object
    • Adhesive labels stick to the surface of the object and depending on the backing, may or may not be removed without damage.
    • Non-adhesive tapes, films or laminate do not have an applied

adhesive, but may be self-adhering. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) thread sealing tape is a type of non-adhesive tape.

  • Pressure-sensitive label stock consists of a laminate with an adhesive backing. Thermal transfer techniques can be used to leave a permanent image on a label. They adhere firmly to a variety of dissimilar surfaces upon contact, requiring only the application of finger or hand pressure. PSAs do not require water, solvent, or heat activation in order to exert a strong adhesive force on materials such as paper, plastic, glass, wood, cement, and metal.
  • Thermal bond tape is heat activated and becomes tacky or sticky when heat is applied. The adhesive may soften, but not necessarily melt.

Design Specifications

Label materials are available with additional design specifications to consider,

  • Adhesive thickness is the thickness of the adhesive material. Thicker adhesive have a longer lifespan but are heavier.
  • Liner type is based upon application. Liners support the adhesive layer and generally peel off upon application.
    • Liner thickness
  • Adhesion to Metal such as aluminum.
  • Adhesion to High surface energy (HSE) plastics such as PVC
  • Adhesion to Low surface energy (LSE) plastics such as Tefflon
  • Max/Min temperature determines the range of temperatures the material can function properly in.


Label material is available with a variety of features including,

  • Pre-printed film may contain a protective layer that can resist water or weathering.
  • Permanent
  • Removable
  • Repositionable
  • Safety/Warning labels
  • UV and weather resistant
  • Chemical resistant
  • Waterproof


Some printed tapes contain a company's logo for identification or branding purposes.

Label materials are used in many applications. Some label supplies are used to identify laboratory specimens or the contents of containers. Others are used in the production of labels pipes, racks and panels. Printing and label stock that is designed for food processing applications must meet regulatory requirements and quality standards for cleanliness. Ribbons and stickers used in packaging, clothing and decorative applications.




3M Metal Foil Tapes Application Success


Butyl Tape (Mastic Tape, Putty Tape)