Blank labels

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Linked Table of Contents

  1. Blank labels: Applications
  2. Types of blank labels
  3. Thermal transfer labels: white
    1. Thermal transfer labels: neon
    2. Thermal transfer labels: metallic
    3. Thermal labels: direct
    4. Blank labels for inkjet printing
  4. Label printers


1. Blank labels: Applications

Immediately after being produced in the factory, blank labels of the same kind are identical and only become individual upon printing. Did you happen to look at the label on your most recent order from Amazon? That was an individually printed blank label, of course. Whether in the office, in the IT sector, health care, or at the ticket office, blank labels and mobile label printers are used in many industries and at home and fulfil the need to provide information.

Two typical applications where the ability to custom print blank labels is needed:
  • Blank labels in the supermarket
Large retail chains depend on rolls of unprinted labels. Without blank, white labels, supermarkets could not function at the high volumes that they do. Individually printable blank labels record the time, date, product, weight, and price at meat, seafood, and cheese counters, for example. The same applies to the produce departments many supermarkets where customers are expected to weigh and label their own fruit and veg.
  • Blank labels used in storage and logistics
The second major application for blank labels is in warehousing and logistics. Shippers, moving companies, and massive goods and spare parts warehouses could not function without blank labels to print their bar codes for tracking, shipping labels, delivery instructions, shelf labels, and postal labels. 
Blank labels can be differentiated according to many criteria:
  • Materials
Among the materials used for the production of self-adhesive blank labels are facestocks (surface materials) made of normal label paper, plastics such as PP, PE and PVC, as well as thermal papers with and without protective coatings.
  • Printing process
The printers needed to print the data onto the blank labels primarily function on the direct thermal and thermal transfer principles. Blank labels can also be printed with laser and inkjet printers. 
  • In roll or sheet format
For industrial, food, and office labelling, blank labels are most often ordered in rolls. Sheet labels are more appropriate for home or small business use as they can be fed into any standard A4 printer.

2. Types of blank labels 

2.1 Thermal transfer labels: white

  • Blank labels printed with thermal transfer printers are also called thermal transfer labels. In the thermal transfer method, a thermal transfer ribbon is heated to melt the ink onto the label paper. Thermal transfer printing is not only very durable, but it can also be used on many different label materials.
  • To produce white thermal transfer labels, we use a high-quality white label paper without a special heat-sensitive coating. This paper is available in a matte and a glossy version and with permanent or removable adhesives. Opaque labels or a special glue for especially low temperatures are also available.
  • Thermal transfer labels made of plastic (PE, PP, PVC) are more appropriate for use in outdoor applications since they have a high resistance to external influences such as moisture, UV radiation, chemicals, and fats, and are much more robust and durable than paper labels.

2.2 Thermal transfer labels: neon

  • A special form of thermal transfer paper labels are blank labels with a fluorescent pigment coating. These papers glow in neon green, red, orange and yellow. Neon blank labels stick securely in a temperature range from -40°C to +100° C. They are often for promotional purposes, such as for special offer labels.

2.3 Thermal transfer labels: metallic

  • Another special form of thermal transfer labels are those made of metallised paper with a layer of fine-laminated aluminium foil which is applied to the paper surface during the production process. This film has a metallic gloss like silver or gold. The metallic adhesive labels adhere securely in a temperature range from -40°C to +100°C. The aluminium layer of the unprinted blank labels is good at blocking grease, oil, and liquids and is therefore suitable for food packaging.  

2.4 Thermal labels for direct printing

  • The second common thermal printing method is direct thermal printing. Printing is done with a thermal print head directly onto a special thermo-sensitive paper that blackens when exposed to heat. A thermal ink ribbon is not required in this printing technology. 
  • The blank labels for direct thermal printing are made of a universal thermal paper. This paper has a so-called thermal coating applied during production. In addition, the surface of the thermal labels is provided with a protective layer to prevent premature actuation of the thermal coating by sunlight or ambient heat. The thermal labels for direct printing are excellent for printing EAN codes and other barcode systems. They are well suited therefore for pricing and other retail applications. The adhesive labels adhere securely in a temperature range from -30°C to +80°C.

2.5 Blank labels for inkjet printing

  • Not all blank labels are printed with thermal printers. Inkjet printers are found in many homes and offices. These devices have the advantage of being able to offer photo-realistic printing of images. Blank labels for inkjet printing have a surface to which the water-based ink droplets adhere very well and do not blur. Blank labels for inkjet printing can be used as folder labels or address labels.

3. Label printers

Blank labels are printed using direct thermal printers, thermal transfer printers, inkjet printers, and laser printers. For direct thermal printers, only blank labels with a thermo-sensitive coating may be used. Since direct thermal printers require no additional ink or toner, they are very inexpensive to purchase and operate. However, their acquisition only makes sense when razor-sharp prints or colours are not needed. The receipt printers at grocery stores work with this effective, low-cost, and low-maintenance type of printer. There is a wide range of thermal label printers: standard printers, industrial printers, mobile printers, textile printers, colour printers, card printers ...
Especially popular are the inline labelling machines used in packaging production lines, used to print labels with best-before dates, production numbers, ingredients lists, or batch numbers on various types of packaging. These industrial cluster printers are installed, for example, in packaging machines and use the thermal transfer method since the printed image is high quality and durable. To print blank labels using thermal transfer printers, ribbons of wax, resin, or a combination of both materials are necessary.

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