Today there is a wide variety of labels and tags available for many different purposes which can make choosing the right label a confusing process. Barcode labels and tags are used to collect, store, and organize data for many different jobs such as retail, shipping, health care, and even rugged product lines. Whether labels or tags it is important to find the right media that meets the requirements of your application. When deciding on what you need it is important to think about the media type, the material, size variants, and whether or not you need it to be adhesive.
Here are some questions that will help determine what kind of labels or tags you will need for your application:
• How long do you need the print on the media to last?
• What will you be tracking through these barcodes? Will it be Inventory, Products, or People?
• What will the media be attached to? Will it be attached to a certain surface? (adhesive)
• What environment and chemicals will the media be exposed to? Will a more rugged label be required?
Continue reading for more information regarding the different types of media, materials, and features that you may need in your line of work.
Print Method: Direct Thermal vs Thermal Transfer
Thermal labels are available in two distinct formats; "Thermal Transfer" and "Direct Thermal". Each method uses a thermal print head that applies heat to the surface being marked. Thermal transfer printing uses a heated ribbon to produce durable, long-lasting images on a wide variety of materials. No ribbon is used in direct thermal printing, which creates the image directly on the printed material. Direct thermal media is more sensitive to light, heat, and abrasion, which reduces the life of the printed material.
• Indoor and outdoor use
• Medium to long term lifespan
• Excellent chemical resistance
• Required ribbon to print
• Does not use ribbon to print
• Primarily indoor use
• Short to medium term lifespan
• Minimal chemical resistance
• Sensitive to light, heat, and abrasion
• Lower cost
Media Type: Labels or Tags
Labels: All labels have some kind of adhesive on the back of them and are meant to be directly stuck to what you a trying to track. Labels are a very common barcode media type because they are easy to design and can be used on just about anything. Labels came in many different size, material, and adhesive options that make them applicable in many different environments.
Tags: The main differences that separate labels from tags are that tags do not have adhesive and the material tends to be thicker on tags. Probably the most common use for tags is in the clothing industry where retailers attach tags to clothes with either string or staples. The benefit of tags is that they can be removed without leaving any adhesive residue which makes it great to use in stores.
Other Media/Wristbands: Although Labels and Tags are the most common media types there are also less common types such as wristbands. Wristbands work well when keeping track of people and their information, in a hospital for example. Wristbands work well for this because you do not have to worry about them falling off like a normal adhesive label.
We carry labels and tags in a wide variety of colors and also in various shapes and many sizes.
Material Type: Paper, Polypropylene, or Polyester
There are three main types of materials that are used for tags and labels. Depending on what environment the media will be in is how you choose what material to use. When using a thermal transfer printer it is important to take into account that each material requires different ribbons. Using the correct ribbon will give you the best print quality and a longer lasting print.
Paper - Wax Ribbon: Paper is the most common material used because it is easy to use and is very low cost. Although it is not durable and can rip, it is still a great option for indoor jobs that don’t have high levels of moisture or require ruggedness. Paper media is widely used in shipping. When printing with a thermal transfer printer a wax ribbon is required.
Polypropylene - Wax/Resin Ribbon: This plastic material costs a little more than paper, but what you get out of it is added durability that will keep it from ripping and is also water resistant. This is a more rugged material than paper, but still not meant for the outdoors or for exposure to chemicals. When printing with a thermal transfer printer a wax/resin ribbon is required.
Polyester - Resin Ribbon: Polyester is the most expensive out of the three but it is also the most rugged. This material can withstand even the most rugged environments including the outdoors and exposure to chemicals. This material is rarely printed in direct thermal, and with a thermal transfer printer a full resin ribbon is required.
Adhesive Type: Removable or Permanent
Removable: Removable labels make it possible to remove the label from the product without damaging it or leaving any residue behind. These labels do not have as much strength and stickiness but are useful in situations that require removing them, such as price changes in retail.
Permanent: Permanent labels are good for a wide variety of surfaces with the intention of not removing the label. Once the label is bonded to the surface it will be hard to remove it without ripping it or leaving residue.
If there is not a label on the market that fits all of your requirements we can make a completely custom label for you at a low cost! You can choose your custom label size, shape, color, material, adhesive type, and liner and backing material that meets your needs. Contact us for a FREE quote and to get started on your custom label, these labels are cheaper than you think!
If you have any questions please feel free to call or email our team of experts!