Demystifying the next generation performance labels

Ruchi Pandey, senior technical manager, Industrial Adhesive and Tape Division, 3M India writes to WhatPackaging? about its latest performance labels and various products at its disposal

11 Feb 2022 | By WhatPackaging? Team

Performance labels are mostly used for tracking, branding, security, and safety instruction applications across the industries. Industry norms are getting more and more stringent for labels that are used in all these applications and demand for these labels are increasing.

Performance label has four layers of construction: topcoat, facestock, adhesive and liner. Each layer plays a very important role in the performance. We must select the right combination of material considering the end application and requirements. For several applications labels must apply smoothly for a bubble-free appearance and long-term adhesion. Labels can be applied on a variety of surfaces: bare metals, powder-coated metals, glass, and plastics and can be printed with various printing platforms such as thermal transfer, screen printing, flexographic and digital.

Ruchi Pandey of 3M India 

For example, in the automotive industry there is huge demand for performance labels for various applications. For this industry, the label requirement is very much stringent, and it should last longer. Every part of designing a car is important, down to the instruction and warning labels. 3M Automotive-Ready Durable Labels keep the parts you’ve engineered looking sharp for the long haul. They stay put no matter how tough the conditions, including extreme cold and heat, grease, chemicals, moisture and much more. Our solutions offer high solvent and chemical resistance when printed on a range of 3M PET, PP and vinyl label materials, allowing sequential labelling of parts without the need for over lamination.

Labels for protective overlaminate applications

3M innovations in durable label
3M durable label solutions are delivering information in the toughest environments. Durable labels need to last for a long time, so they keep providing end users with vital messaging through scorching sun, bitter cold, harsh chemical environments and much more. At 3M, our world-class experts work with industry-leading converters to solve evolving marketplace challenges from design to production, then deliver innovative solutions that perform with different print methods, substrates, and ink systems.

3M Label Materials offer supreme image durability in harsh environments. Examples are polyester and vinyl label stock utilising 3M adhesive, which is designed to permanently bond to high and low surface energy plastics, textured and contoured surfaces, powder coatings and slightly oily metals. Topcoat provides image protection for most applications without a protective overlaminate. Topcoat offers high abrasion resistance combined with excellent chemical resistance including gasoline and brake fluid.  Adhesive offers excellent chemical and gasoline resistance and holding strength, even at high temperatures making it suitable for use in branding and graphic applications.

In 3M we are continuously working on changing customer needs and driving our efforts in the newer market trends. Example. The future of labels is sustainable label solution. 3M launched versatile print label material that works with more inks on more printing presses. It is the single topcoat that lets you print the label using different printing techniques with confidence. It prints water-based flexographic on gloss films and runs more jobs per batch on digital presses, creating labels that last longer and look more vibrant than ever. critical needs like durable protection of variable data and barcodes to customer specifications for more vibrant, brand-matched colour, streamline your workflow.

3M's tamper evident label material FMV22

Another innovation is durable label materials with structured adhesive. Label with structured adhesive that helps bubbles escape that are caused by entrapment or outgassing.

Unique microchannels are created throughout the structured adhesive. Labels go on bubbles and wrinkle free and stay that way. When used on injection moulded parts, bubbles that form from plastic outgassing can be smoothed to maintain a clean appearance. It is resistant to solvents, chemicals, moisture, and extreme temperature conditions.

Technology approach
3M has developed a range of label portfolios that have unique adhesive, facestock and topcoat combinations that work in extreme chemical and temperature environments, too. Most of the polymer-based adhesives will be affected by moisture, temperature, chemical and fuel and their combinations in various degrees, depending on the molecular and bulk structures of the adhesives. Most of the materials will normally be affected more by both chemical and moisture at higher temperatures than at the lower temperature.

Most of the common adhesives are generally unsuitable for applications in a fuel and chemical exposure environment. This can be readily understood with the fact that fuel materials generally, consist of both aliphatic and aromatic molecules which are generally good solvents, along with the fact that most of these materials have relatively low Tg, and thus, large free space within the polymer network for easy penetration by these types of solvents. Most of these adhesives will fail either in an adhesive or cohesive manner, depending on the type of adhesive, total duration, or temperature of exposures. 

3M's thermal transfer label material OFM2902

3M adhesive, which is designed to permanently bond to high and low surface energy plastics, textured and contoured surfaces, powder coatings and slightly oily metals. The adhesive chemistry is tailored to meet the performance as to align with the industry requirements. Excellent outdoor durability along with resistance to many chemicals and fuels that encounters the label during its application and use. Topcoat offers great features that eliminates the need of overlamination on top of label material for most of the applications. The 3M label product has a range of topcoats that can be selected based on the appearance, performance requirements and printing methods.