Adhesion: What you need to think about

29th September 2014 - Fine Cut

When it comes to ordering your label, there's a lot to think about. 

From the size and shape of it to what material you use, the most important thing is to think of every possible variant that could impact on how cost-effective and long-lasting your end product it.

Of course, a key component to this process is determining the correct adhesive that should be used to attach the label to its intended target. If the wrong decision is made here, it could result in the entire batch needing to be replaced much sooner than expected.

So, what do you need to think about when considering what adhesive is best suited to your order?

The environment

"The first thing we ask anyone is 'is it inside or outside?'," says Simon Wood, business development manager of our nameplate division.

"Is it going to be weather attacked? Is it a metal nameplate going onto playground equipment - will kids be trying to pull it off? Will the adhesive be stuck onto a nice flat surface or is it slightly rounded?"

Ultimately, the environment the label is likely to be exposed to can have a significant impact on what sort of adhesive is appropriate.

Say, for example, you operate a small business that services lawnmowers. After picking the devices up and taking them back to your store to work on them, you want to send them back with a label attached that informs the customer of your contact details, business name and when their next service is due - all with the aim of achieving repeat annual custom.

However, what you need to consider is whether or not all the dirt a lawnmower picks up will affect the quality of the print over time. In this instance, a polyester lamination over the top is an ideal solution as it should adequately protect the information on the label from being compromised.

Meanwhile, you may need an adhesive that can bond with the product's surface at a faster rate - another thing to think about.

What the label's purpose is

If this isn't information that has already been provided to us, we need to know where the label is actually going, as this can impact on a range of different qualities that may be required of the adhesive.

"Is it a nice, smooth aluminium surface thats been cleaned? Or is it a rough casting? Or is it a surface that's had powder-coated paint applied?," Simon says.

"Adhesives have a silicone-based backing liner and powder coating has an awful lot of silicone in it, so standard adhesives don't like that and tend to drop off," he explains.

It's detail like this that can be the difference between receiving a batch of labels that do their job properly or a batch that you realise needs to be replaced as soon as you attempt to apply the first few samples.

Similarly, you need to think about whether the function of the product receiving the label will be exposed to any hazards that can put stress on the adhesive. 

If, for example, the label is designated for use in the catering industry, will it come into contact with grease? High temperatures? Alcohol-based cleaning products? All of these can have a negative effect on the label's quality if it doesn't possess the qualities required to last long in such circumstances.

What the label is made of

As well as thinking about where the label is going, you also need to consider the characteristics of the label itself.

The more give in the material, the more malleable it is to stick onto difficult surfaces - but that might not mean it's the best material for the application.

Say you've got a material which is a polycarbonate - quite a rigid, tough product that is very good for overlays of electronic equipment or medical equipment. If it's got to form around some kind of receptacle - a glass jar for lab equipment - it is likely to ping back and try to find its flat state again when you attempt to bend it around.

While this can impact on what adhesive you choose to use, it can also affect whether or not you might be best suited to choosing a better material altogether.

Does size matter?

In a nutshell, no. The only difference the size and shape of your labels will make to your adhesive is how much you need of it (and ultimately how much it will cost), but this shouldn't be taken into account when deciding which adhesive you should be using.

Details matter

If you haven't realised by now, details matter in our business - no matter how small!

As a result, we know how important it is to make sure we're always asking the right questions to help us determine what the best possible labels are on an individual basis. Sometimes, just working from a brief isn't the right approach and we'll always try to go the extra mile to ensure everything's perfect.

Simon admits: "You can supply a fantastic set of labels quoted to spec and then they don't quite work out in the way you were expecting."

Thankfully, our vast experience across a broad range of industries means we know exactly what to ask, so the labels you receive not only provide excellent value, but optimal quality.

The next time you're thinking of ordering labels for your business, there's probably a lot more to your end product than meets the eye!

Posted by Simon Tourle

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