How to Select the Right Substrate
for Durable Labels
Do Your Labels Lack Durability?
David Daffner, Vice President — Managed Services
From lipstick and lotion to lawn mowers and ladders, product labels are meant to last the entire lifespan of the item to which they are applied. That includes anticipated usage and potential exposure to the elements and harsh conditions. What happens when labels lack durability? Information is lost, putting safety and brand reputation at risk. Consumers might assume that a damaged or illegible label is a sign that the product itself is crafted of cheap or subpar materials. Or worse, miss important safety information that increases the risk of injury.
Product label design starts with a clear picture of exactly how a product will be used. Ask yourself these questions:
- How will the product be used?
- What is the life expectancy of the product?
- How will it be stored?
- To what will the label be adhered?
- Will it come into contact with chemicals or solvents?
- What conditions will the label be exposed to (i.e., sun/UV, rain, snow, heat, humidity)?
- Will the customer need to write on the label after it is applied?
- Will the product undergo any further processing after the label is applied?
Be thorough. Collect as much information as possible to give your supplier a complete picture of your label expectations. Only communicating that a label might be exposed to chemicals is not enough. A complete list of every possible chemical and environmental condition the label will likely encounter helps determine how the label will be constructed.
Be specific. Let’s consider lawn equipment as an example. These tools typically face a range of weather conditions, including sun/UV and extreme heat if stored in a garage or warehouse without air conditioning. There’s also the potential for extreme cold depending on location. Provide your supplier with full disclosure of every potential scenario.
Select the right substrate. Substrates can range from less-expensive paper with varnishes or laminates to more durable and expensive vinyls and polyesters, up to polycarbonates and retro-reflective, pressure-sensitive materials. It’s important to specify the right substrate for the durability you need — so your labels can be right engineered.