Pressure Sensitive Labels and Label Liners

POSTED 10/10/2014

One aspect of the label printing process that’s largely overlooked is the decision of what label liner to use. Depending on the application process being utilized by your business or co-packer, there are many different liner types that could be used to deliver the results you want, from semi-calendered and poly-coated Kraft to lay flat liners and polyester film.

This article will go over the differences between these types of label liners (also known as carrier, backing, or release liner) so you can make the best decision for your needs when printing custom labels with EHG!

Label Liners are Important for Pressure Sensitive Labels

Even though the consumer will likely never see the label liner you choose for your custom-printed pressure sensitive labels, they’re still a very important part of the label printing process. The label liner has the important job of carrying the labels to the applicator and ensuring an easy release of the label onto your product. If the liner you choose can’t perform these two jobs efficiently, the whole label application process slows to a crawl, resulting in lost time and wasted material.

Just as there are a multitude of label materials, inks, adhesives, and finishes to consider, there are also many different kinds of label liners that all serve varying functions. Depending on the process you or your co-packer are using to apply your pressure sensitive labels to your products, you’ll need a label liner that’s meant for that specific process.

Label Liners Performance Criteria

Breaking it down, there are 5 criteria that measure any given label liner’s performance:

  • Die-cutting: This is the ability of the material to efficiently release die-cut labels during the application process.
  • Cost: Obviously this is a factor. Some liners are more expensive than others due to their increased performance in a given application method.
  • Layflat: This is a measure of the label liner’s ability to resist curling after it’s been sheeted.
  • Strength: This is a measure of the liner’s overall strength, as well as its durability.
  • Dust: Some liners have higher particulate levels that can affect performance during some application methods.

Types of Liners for Pressure Sensitive Labels

Not every label liner will perform the same way in every application method, so choosing the correct type for your process is essential for the best results. Here’s a list of commonly used label liner materials and what they’re good at!

  • Semi-calendered Kraft (SCK): This is a low-cost, good quality liner for paper materials. It provides very good die-cutting but poor layflat. SCK has moderate particulate levels.
  • Poly-coated Kraft (PK): This Kraft liner is aided by a poly layer that improves die-cutting and strengthens the liner. These improvements come at a higher cost than SCK, with a lower dust particulate.
  • Lay Flat Liners (LF): These liners are especially stable and resistant to curling, which makes them great for sheeted applications. They also have a moderate dust level and cost a bit more than SCK.
  • Polyester film Liners (PET): These plastic film liners are more expensive than paper due to their exceptionally low dust levels. They’re also very durable and good for high speed die-cutting and stripping. However, they don’t sheet very well.

Contact Epsen Hillmer Graphics at (402) 342-7000

As you can see, there’s no one label liner for pressure sensitive labels that can do everything, so it’s necessary to understand what each one’s strengths are to make the best decision for your situation. We hope that these definitions help you on your way to choosing the best label liner for your pressure sensitive labels project. If you have any questions about label liners or the custom label printing process, give our team at Epsen Hillmer Graphics a call today at (402) 342-7000!