What Materials Are Self Adhesive Labels Made From?

What Materials Are Self Adhesive Labels Made From?

All of us are fairly familiar with self-adhesive labels or stickers that are convenient and easy to use.

These types of labels are made from a variety of different materials to meet varying requirements and come in all types of shapes and sizes. 

Also called pressure sensitive labels, each label consist of 3 layers of differing materials:

  • The face material or front of the label which is what your customers will see when they first pick up your product.

  • The adhesive layer that contains the sticky surface.

  • A backing layer to protect the adhesive layer which is peeled away when the label is ready to be used.

Let's look at each layer and the materials that are commonly (and sometimes not so commonly used) in producing self-adhesive labels:


1. The Face Material

The most common face materials are paper and polypropylene (PP).

Each comes with its own pros and cons and will be carefully selected by our team when quoting your requirements.

Paper can come in a variety of different finishes such as coated (glossy) or uncoated (matte). Uncoated papers also often come with specials textures. There are also special types of papers specifically designed for overprinting batch dates, barcodes or other information. These are either a Direct Thermal paper or a Thermal Transfer paper, depending on the type of overprinting machine you're using.

Polypropylene also comes in a wide range of different looks such as white, clear or metallic. The clear PP is perfect for giving your product a "no-label" look whereas the metallic has become increasingly more popular in the craft beer, beverage and beauty care industries for a foil-look finish that does not incur the costly foil-plate tooling charges of a standard foil label.

Lastly there are some papers that are generally used for premium products such as wines which are known as premium uncoated papers. They have a very textured feel to them and often appear like a thicker, matte parchment paper.

2. The Adhesive Layer

There are two basic types of adhesive that are used for labels - Acryclic based and Rubber based. 

Acrylic based adhesive is by far the most commonly used and is suitable for a wide range of products that are used or stored in different conditions such as refrigerators, freezers, microwaves/ovens and even outdoors in the elements.

Acrylic based adhesives do not provide as strong adhesion as rubber base labels. However, acrylic is age, heat and solvent resistant and rubber is water resistant. 

Rubber based adhesives, also knows as "Hot melts" or "Super Permanents, are more suitable for the application of labels to rough or uneven surfaces.

They are incredibly agressive and work well for chemicals and other products where the label must not be removed, however they do not hold up as well in very cold or very hot environments where the rubber aspect then freezes and cracks, or melts causing the labels to become unstable and potentially peel or fall off the product.


3. The Backing Layer

The most commonly used backing liner for self-adhesive labels is called a Glassine liner.

All backing liners have a silicone release layer which allows the label to peel away easily for use.

Some manufacturers or bottlers require labels to be supplied on a special clear PET backing liner. This type of liner is also used for clear labels and allows for a crystal clear look where a normal glassine liner could cause some clouding to the clear label.

Generally the adhesive and the backing liners are not aspects of your label that you need to be too concerned about. Our job in providing you with the best possible solution for your label requirements is to take into consideration all the elements of your brief including whether they need to withstand a variety of different environmental conditions such as cold, heat, humidity, moisture, sunlight etc. and to put together a label that is perfect for your needs and will function well under varying conditions.

If you'd like to learn more about the different materials we have available, please give us a call or visit our website for a sample pack!


Onpack is an Australian owned company offering a personalised digital printing service which caters  to each individual brief and label requirement. Call us today on +61 3 8388 8100 for all your digital label needs!