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What are the Different Types of Label Adhesive?

Cassie L. Damewood
Cassie L. Damewood

There are two basic types of label adhesive: permanent and removable. Each type can be made from a variety of materials; which material to choose depends on the surface being labeled, the conditions the label will have to endure, the required longevity of the label and its purpose. The most popular types of label adhesive are acrylic, rubber and water-based.

If a label will be exposed to a very moist environment, such as a freezer, refrigerator or cooler, water-based adhesives are not practical. They break down, and the labels can fall off the products, regardless of the surface to which they are applied. Water-based adhesives should only be used in dry environments.

Adhesives mainly composed of rubber are preferred for their tackiness. They are prone to failure when exposed to UV rays over extended periods of time. If the labels will not be exposed to sunlight, this type of adhesive works fine.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Acrylic-based bonding agents are easy to work with during application, as they can be easily moved around. Once acrylic glue dries, however, the bond is permanent. This type of label adhesive is suitable for long-lasting products that need labels to withstand time and frequent handling.

Depending on the surface to be labeled and the lifespan required of the label, there are six types of adhesives commonly used. Some types can be purchased at stationery or office supply stores. Other more specialized labels and adhesives must be special ordered based on the specifications of the items to be labeled.

The six major types of adhesive labels include permanent, peelable, ultra-peelable, freezer or frost fix, high tack and static cling. Before a label adhesive is chosen, many factors must be considered. These include the size of the label, the texture of the façade to be labeled and the mobility level required; some, such as retail labels, must be removed at some point, and others, such as shipping labels, can be left intact indefinitely.

If a label is attached with the intent of it never being removed, or if only a solvent would remove it, it is called permanent. In some cases, before a label attains permanent status, it has a short period where it can be moved. These labels are often referred to as repositionable.

A peelable label is just that: it can be peeled off a surface ease. The surface exterior is not marred, and no adhesive residue is left behind. This type of label can normally be used two or three times and not lose its stickiness. An ultra-peelable label is popularly used on book jackets and glass, where no residue is acceptable. These labels can only be used once before the adhesive is gone.

For labels that will be exposed to freezing temperatures, freezer or frost fix adhesives are preferred. They withstand extreme cold without peeling or cracking. If a label is required to securely stick to a dirty, misshapen or rough surface, a high tack glue is needed. Static cling labels do not use a traditional adhesive but cling to very smooth surfaces such as glass using only a static charge.

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      Woman holding a book