Quick Guide to Blank Label Materials & Types

When it comes to industrial labeling, label materials really matter. For example, helping employees work more safely with GHS labels, safety signage and other OSHA HazCom requirements or optimizing your facility for efficiency and productivity.

Using durable label materials in your facility ensures that your important safety signs, GHS labels, asset tags and other types of labels stay in place and intact— no matter how tough the job gets. It’s important to understand the properties of different label materials, the best ones for creating different types of labels and how durable label materials are tested.

What material are labels made of?

Every blank label is made of three to four basic components: substrate (the actual material, also called facestock), adhesive, liner and often a top coat. When it comes to industrial labeling, these components need to be very durable, with substrates made from polypropylene (PP), polyester (PET) and other synthetic label materials as well as specific adhesives.

Traditional office-grade labels are generally made with paper facestock. While not suitable for heavy-duty use, paper labels with premium adhesives, top coats and other label material technology are ideal for streamlining office, mailing and shipping needs in your facility.

Printable industrial label materials at a glance

Below is a very brief summary of our most popular industrial label materials, including the adhesives used, durability, printer compatibility and other key properties.

  • Durable white film – PP label material; permanent adhesive; water-resistant; laser/inkjet compatible
  • Ultra Duty white film (Laser) – PET label material; strong adhesive and substrate are waterproof; abrasion, tear, and chemical-resistant; laser compatible; BS5609 Section 2 and 3 compliant with approved printers
  • Ultra Duty white film (Inkjet) – Synthetic label material; strong adhesive and substrate are waterproof; abrasion, tear, and chemical-resistant; inkjet compatible; BS5609 Section 2 and 3 compliant with approved printers
  • Surface Safe white film (Signs) – PET label material; clean-removal secure adhesive; water, chemical, abrasion and tear-resistant; laser/inkjet compatible
  • PermaTrack™ metallic film – Aluminum-fortified PET label material; strong adhesive; waterproof; chemical, tear and abrasion-resistant; laser compatible; resists accumulating static build up while printing (available by the package only)
  • PermaTrack white film – PET label material; permanent adhesive; water and tear-resistant; laser compatible (available by the package only)
  • PermaTrack destructible film – Security film label material; strong adhesive; laser compatible; designed to discourage theft and switching labels; breaks apart upon removal and cannot be reapplied (available by the package only)

Best blank label materials for common labeling needs

GHS & Chemical Safety. All UltraDuty label materials are engineered to help you meet OSHA labeling requirements for hazardous chemicals. Because that means meeting BS5609 standards, UltraDuty label materials are also great for creating labels for marine equipment.

Safety Signs – Surface Safe label materials are ideal for indoor safety signage needs, especially on surfaces where you need to avoid damage or leaving behind residue.

Asset Tracking – Permatrack metallic label materials are specifically designed for printing your own barcode asset tags. The durable metallic label material works for heavy-duty asset tracking applications, white film labels for light duty, and destructible labels for security asset tags.

Barcode & WarehouseSurface Safe ID label materials work exceptionally well for barcode warehouse rack and bin labels. Permatrack white and durable white film provide great scan quality for short term inventory needs in warehouses.

How label materials are tested for industrial applications

Most testing performed on blank label materials for industrial use has to do with durability— how will the materials hold up in heavy-duty environment. Common tests performed by label material manufacturers to evaluate industrial labels includes:

1) Tensile strength. Label materials are tested with specialty machines that measure the pounds of force required to cause breaking due to structural strain.

2) 90-degree peel adhesion. Tensile-testing machines are also used to pull adhesive label materials from a variety of surfaces at exactly 90 degrees to measure the pounds of force required for removal

3) Taber® Abrasion. Taber Abrasion machines are the industry standard for testing how well label materials resist damage from abrasion (e.g. scratching, scraping and rubbing).

4) Chemical resistance. Heptane, HCL 37%, and pH3 buffer performance are examples of tests performed on industrial blank label materials in order to determine the level of chemical resistance.

5) Printing performance. Print-yourself blank label materials for industrial use are tested for the overall printability of the sheet, print quality and print durability on a range of 35 common laser and inkjet printers.

6) GHS BS5609 testing. Label materials used for GHS chemical labels have additional requirements that must be met if hazardous chemicals are being shipped overseas. The blank label materials and adhesives (unprinted) must withstand a three-month salt water submersion test which also includes artificial salt spray and sunlight weathering tests.

Additional BS5609 label material testing extends to how well the printed labels maintain the integrity of the print. This includes exposing the printed labels to the same artificial salt spray and sunlight weathering plus additional tape removal and abrasion resistance testing. Read more about GHS compliance.