Pressure Sensitive Labels

Do You Mean Stickers?

Pressure Sensitive Labels, or PS labels; is a label with adhesive which forms a bond when pressure is applied to marry the adhesive with the adherend. No solvent, water, or heat is needed to activate the adhesive. That is a lot of words that basically say, this is a piece of paper or vinyl,  with glue on the back, and it is applied by putting pressure on it. So, yeah it’s a type of sticker. However, there is a lot more that goes into these labels than you might imagine. You probably  haven’t stopped to think about it, but PS labels are everywhere, they are on food, shampoo, medicine, toothpaste, beer and wine bottles; they are our stamps and shipping labels. Odds are you have at least one in front you right now. So what is so special about these little stickers?

Pressure sensitive labels are on just about everything, but that also means they need to stick to those things under a lot of different conditions. Pressure sensitive labels have to be on the shelf in the grocery store, and in your freezer. They have to stand up to moisture, cold, heat, and sunlight. They will be stretched, squeezed, torn and peeled and after all that they still need to function properly.  If there is a label on your product, it doesn’t do much good if it doesn’t stay on your product. That is why choosing the correct PS labels is key, and this will be determined by what you are putting your label on and what type of environment it is going to be in. 

Versatile Little Sticker

Pressure sensitive labels are the most common way companies label their products. One of the reasons PS labels are used so frequently is their versatility. Because they are printed on a flexible substrate(vinyl or paper) they can curve and bend with whatever you are putting them on, essentially taking the shape of the item you are labeling.  Trying to print onto the product itself can be challenging, and require special equipment. With the curves and angles on a lot of products the lettering and logos may not lay properly, making it hard to read. Printing on a flat surface and then placing the label is much easier, faster, and a substantial cost savings. 

These labels are also applied without the use of solvents, water or heat. This is especially important when you are talking about delicate products, like food, electronics, or medicine. With these types of products adding any outside contaminants can be problematic. With some items, like electronics, it might not be the solvents, but the heat or water that is needed to activate other types of labels. With a pressure sensitive label you avoid these issues.  Basically you can use pressure sensitive labels anywhere, on pretty much anything.


Because PS labels have such versatility they are placed in a lot of different environments. This means they have to work in a lot of different climates. Think about the  label on a package of chicken. The label is first applied in the factory in a hot and wet environment. Then, when it is being transported it is in a very cold, maybe even frozen environment. After that it gets to the grocery store where it needs to be stacked and moved. At last you get it home where it might get frozen, or it may start to thaw. Throughout this entire process that label needs to stay in place and do its job(a PS label is often used for the bar code), and it has to do it wet, dry, frozen, or hot. How does the label stay on going through all that?


The paper or vinyl your pressure sensitive label is printed on plays an important part in how your label holds up, but what it really comes down to is the adhesive, or glue, that you use. Using the right adhesive is what allows these labels to perform in a multitude of climates. Fortunately(or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), there are many, many different adhesives used in pressure sensitive applications. They can range from sticky notes, which doesn’t have much hold, but can be used over and over again, to duct tape, strong hold but does not reapply as well.  Each has a place, and when dealing in labeling world choosing the right glue can be the difference in having a product that stands up in the elements, or one that has labels falling on the floor. 

Finding the right adhesive can be tricky, but what it really comes down to is what are you labeling, and what do you need it to do. If you want a label on a beer bottle, being able to withstand temperature changes and moisture is key. If you want it on a tube of toothpaste, then the ability to bend, and be squeezed without falling off is more important. Each of these require a different label and adhesive. It is also important to know what type of environment the label is in while being applied.  There are some glues that work very well in wet environments and others that won’t stick at all. You might have the perfect adhesive when it is dry, but if it can’t get it to stick in the first place it won’t matter.

All of these variables will come into play when dealing with labeling, and getting just one of them wrong can cause problems. If you have questions about what types of labels would work in various environments, and on what products a label printer is a great resource. Having someone with experience walk you through the process will eliminate much of the trail and inevitable error.


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