Are Pressure Sensitive Labels the Same as Self-Adhesive?

Are Pressure Sensitive Labels the Same as Self-Adhesive?

If you’re new to industrial labeling equipment, the difference between pressure sensitive and self-adhesive labels might be confusing. The truth is, the only difference is the name.

Pressure sensitive labels are the same type of product as blank labels you can print at home. The label has a pre-applied adhesive with a removable backing. All the consumer—or the labeling machine—needs to do is remove the backing and apply the label. Consumers refer to them as self-adhesive: that name conveys that they won’t need additional products, like tape or glue, to apply the labels to an item. Pressure sensitive refers to the industrial application method, which is what a manufacturer focuses upon.

Here’s everything you need to know about pressure sensitive, self-adhesive labels.

The origin of self-adhesive labels

Self-adhesive labels have pre-applied adhesive on the back. Over a century ago, pre-applied adhesive typically needed something to activate the glue, like licking an envelope to make it stick. In the 1930s, Avery created the first self-adhesive labels that did not require an activator. These new labels had a waxy removable backing to help keep the adhesive fresh and tacky until applied.

Over the next couple of decades, Avery and its competitors experimented with different types of glue. This helped solve problems like “flagging,” which occurs when a label bulges around the edges. This usually occurs when the adhesive isn’t strong enough, or the label isn’t designed for curves and tapers. By the end of the 50s, advances in technology had made adhesives stronger and more flexible than ever.

Today’s pressure sensitive labels can resist light, chemical exposure, oxidation and even extreme temperatures. This makes them versatile and perfect for consumer product packaging. There are dozens of options for each layer of the label, allowing manufacturers and packagers to choose the right kind of adhesive, paper, liner and more for each package type.

Because pressure sensitive labels need to be applied to smooth surfaces, they won’t work for every packaging type.

How pressure sensitive machines apply labels

Pressure sensitive labeling machines can apply labels in three main ways: tamp/blow, air blow and merge.

The tamp/blow process dispenses a label onto a tamp pad, which uses negative air pressure to hold the label in place. Then a strong air jet pushed the label onto the product, allowing the label to adhere.

Air blow machines simply uses an air jet to push the label onto the container. As soon as the container is in place, the label is applied.

Merge applicators “wipe” the label onto the container at the same time the label is peeled off its backing. This requires the conveyor and applicator to work at exactly the same speed.

Choose your own pressure sensitive labeling system

Quadrel prides itself on manufacturing high quality, durable and precise labeling machines. Our pressure sensitive labeling systems take full advantage of modern pressure sensitive adhesive technology. Browse our selection online, or reach out with any questions. Our team is happy to help you find the right labeling system for your needs.