Label Tip #3 Label Performance & Temperature

Label Performance & Temperature

Several months ago, we discussed removable adhesives. This month, we’ll cover a bit about how label performance & temperature affects your application process.

Most base material manufacturers use two specifications around temperature performance measures. Those are Minimum Application Temperature (MAT) and Service Temperature Range.
Service Temperature Range is typically easier to define and usually seems to be less of a factor in whether or not a label will perform in its intended use. Typically when a label fails because of temperature issues, it is due to the application temperature factor, not the service range. That said, the service range is just that – the temperature range that the label can or should function properly within, after it is applied and functional. So for example, a standard service range for a permanent adhesive with a paper face stock might be -65º F to +200º F. As you can see, most label uses are likely going to fall into this wide range. Any hotter and the face stock may begin to discolor or even burn, and any colder….well, there doesn’t seem to be that much call for labels that far North.

Minimum Application Temperature is a different animal, but is also what it says it is. The minimum temperature that a particular adhesive can be applied to the intended substrate and properly adhere. However, this aspect of the application introduces a number of other factors that can influence functionality. For example, a food product that is packaged and labeled at room temperature, and then immediately stored in a freezer. As you probably guessed, this application would call for a freezer grade adhesive. Even though the label is applied at room temperature, not enough time has elapsed to allow the adhesive to become permanent. So while you applied this at room temperature, the immediate requirement was freezer conditions, and thus a freezer grade adhesive – also referred to as an all temperature adhesive.

Now lets’ say you have an item that doesn’t require any refrigeration. The product is labeled, warehoused for a day or two and then loaded on a truck in Minneapolis on a non-global warming winter day. Freezer grade adhesive or not? Probably not necessary. The key difference in these two examples is not only in the actual application temperature, but with what happens immediately afterward – for around 24 hours or so. If those 24 hour conditions would necessitate an all temperature type adhesive, then your best bet is to use one. Numerous All-Temp. adhesives available today have minimum application temperatures of -20º F. A standard permanent adhesive MAT might be +40º F.

All of this is due to the way adhesives work. That is by cold flow. In other words, adhesives to an extent are liquid and need to flow to work properly. This liquidity is impacted by temperature. Especially extremely cold temperatures. Increase the cold, decrease the flow = failure. Unless you’re using the proper adhesive.

Cold temperatures can also introduce other factors like frost and condensation. All temp. adhesives are typically “softer” and may work if these type conditions exist. Or, what to use in a blast freezer. Temperature is -80ºF. Outside the service range and MAT. What to do? These applications can be a bit tricky and each of these circumstances will likely require its own solution rather than broad brush.

So why not simply use an “all temperature” adhesive all the time? From a pure temperature perspective, you probably could. However pricing and other performance needs will play on this decision. Pricing on general purpose and all temps can be similar, but depending on the manufacturer and performance requirements, there might be significant differences. Furthermore, specific performance requirements may necessitate something other than an All Temp. adhesive.

As usual, there are too many examples and instances that can’t all be covered here. The key to helping your label supplier make a good recommendation for your application is to simply advise them what you want the label to do, and how you will be doing it.

While labeling may not be rocket surgery, it can have its nuances. You’ve invested your time and energy into your product, do you really want or need to be a label connoisseur as well? Let our experts guide you through the labeling process to help ensure that What we make, helps what you make, get noticed. Purchased!