We receive this question in a lot of different ways, but the end result is; I need help deciding what label I should use. On the surface you would think that this would be an easy question to answer, however, we need to get a lot of information in order for us to make a recommendation. Once we do make a recommendation, and if it is a difficult solution, we will strongly recommend you test a sample before you make the purchase. Below are the questions we ask and the reasons we ask them in order for us to make a recommendation on what label to use.
We need to know what label printer you will be using. We need to know this so that we know the core size and maximum diameter of the roll of labels. The 2 most common core sizes are 1” & 3”, and a few printers can handle both core sizes, but for the most part, they only handle one of them. Also, some printers work better with an inside wind versus outside wind roll of labels.
We will need to know what size of label you are printing, and if you are going to print multiple sizes with one printer. When defining a label, the first number is the width and the second number is the length. Example a 4.0” x 2.0” label is 4.0” wide across we and travels 2.0” as it is printed. We need to know this in order to see if what you are requesting is a stock or custom label.
We need to know what you will be using the label for. By that, we need to know what you are labeling; cardboard, glass, metal (painted-not painted), or any other type of surface. We need to know if that surface is smooth or does it have a rough texture, is it clean or dirty, and we need to know how long the label will need to stick to the item. We need to know this so we can recommend a surface material as well as what adhesive should work best.
Once we know what you will be labeling we will know if we are dealing with a label (one with adhesive) or a tag (one with no adhesive) material. Most of the questions will pertain to both materials, but in the case of tag stock, we need to know some other information. We need to know how you are going to attach it to your products. Will you staple it, do you need one or more than one hang holes, will you glue it, or do you just need clean edges. Some materials will tear if you puncture them with a staple, so we need to make sure we recommend the correct tag stock.
We need to know what the environmental conditions the label will be exposed to. We need to know the temperature extremes and for how long the label will be exposed to those extremes, both the high and low temperature. Like the previous information, we need to know this so we can recommend a surface material as well as what adhesive should work best. For example, we have labels that will survive -80c and others over 200c for long durations.
We need to know how many labels you will be printing at any given time. We also need to know what you will be printing on the label. The reason we need to know this is because some label material can handle high speed printing and others cannot. If you are printing barcodes, we need to know if you will be printing like a picket fence, or like a ladder. The reason we need to know this is because printing labels in the picket fence orientation will allow you to print at higher speeds. If you need to print a high volume labels and your label is small enough, you may be able to put 2 or more across the web, thus doubling or tripling the number of labels you print at one time.
We need to know if you are going to want to have a pre-printed portion of the label and what you want printed on them. Many of our customers want to have a pre-printed portion of the label then use the printer to fill in the blank spaces, like ingredients, weight, expiration date etc. A mistake some people make is to find a label manufacturer that does not understand thermal transfer printing. They create a label that looks good, but will not accept the ink transfer from the ribbon. You need to make sure the person you are working with knows how to make labels that will not only look good, but that you can use in a label printer.
If you are going to have pre-printed labels we need to know the wind and direction of the pre-print. This is less critical when you are creating a new label and have to setup the print temple from the beginning; however, it is critical if it is a repeat order. There have been times when a pre-printed label was mistakenly wound on the roll backwards which meant that the print template had to be changed, and in some cases, the labels had to be sent back and re-wound.