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Label facestock and its types

Label facestock is the upper layer of the label, which is the substrate for printing. Many materials may be used to produce this layer. The available facestock types can be grouped into three main categories:

  1. paper,
  2. synthetics (polyesters, polypropylene, vinyl),
  3. special synthetics (laminates, aluminum foils, heat-shrinkable plastics, composites and biodegradable materials).

During label production, facestocks made of paper with special properties are most often used. Paper is the most economical and highly modifiable material – it easily adapts to various label printing methods. Paper facestocks are usually used indoors and in dry conditions.

However, poor paper resistance to external factors does not disqualify it from being used for outdoor use. A protective laminate is used to protect the paper-based label, which partially reduces the risk of damage to the label.

Despite the use of a protective coating, paper facestock often does not have the desired high durability. In the case of labels intended for outdoor use, it is much better to use a facestock made of synthetic – a waterproof material, resistant to dirt, harmful substances, harsh environment or changing weather conditions.

It is also desirable for its high susceptibility to refinement – cold and hot stamping, varnishing, metallization and laminating. As part of the paper facestock, we can distinguish between:

  • coated paper,
  • uncoated paper,
  • decorative paper (also called structural paper),
  • metallized paper,
  • thermal paper.

For production of popular labels that do not require high quality of applied print, uncoated paper is most often used. For production of high-quality labels, coated paper is preffered. Structured paper and metallized paper, however, are great for labels where it is important to achieve a specific visual effect.

Despite the fact that paper is still most often used in the production of label facestock, technological progress paves the way for other materials. One of them is a polymer material, which appears most often in the form of a ribbon or a heat-shrinkable sleeve. Although labels are created on such a facestock are a kind of novelty, they are undoubtedly gaining more and more followers. The polymer substrate has a high level of shrinkage during the heating process. Thanks to this, this material successfully copes with demanding shapes that cannot be printed with other methods.

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