Pressure Sensitive Adhesives: the Sticky Situation That’s Right for Your Application

Adhesives play an important role in your label application. The type of adhesive, the environment the labels will be used in and how permanent you need your labels to adhere are critical factors in selecting the right adhesive.

In a pressure sensitive (PS) label “sandwich”, adhesives put the sticky in sticky papers and films. However, they are not one-size-fits-all and adhesive selection is crucial to your project success.  This article covers our abbreviated Adhesive 101:

Rubber based vs. Acrylic adhesives

Rubber-based adhesives are made of natural or synthetic rubbers and are an economical choice for many applications. These adhesives generally exhibit higher initial tack, but struggle to adhere to solvent coated products as polymers degrade. Acrylic adhesives may not appear as tacky or sticky but form stronger bonds over time and typically perform well under extreme heat or cold temps.

Acrylic adhesives may not appear as tacky or sticky but form stronger bonds over time and typically perform well under extreme heat or cold temps

Application temperature considerations

Products packaged in ambient conditions can use a wide variety of adhesives. Frozen meats, for example, require labels that can withstand sub-freezing or, possibly, sub-zero conditions to ensure labels have initial tack and long-term adherence to ensure proper identification.

Initial Tack and Desired Permanence

Initial tack refers to how strong the adhesive bonds upon initial application. High initial tack may be required for dusty, powder coated substrates where adhesives need to bond through the particulates. Customers may also prefer tackier adhesives as these are difficult-to-remove or reposition and could serve as tamper-evidence in retail and security applications.

Removable and Repositionable Adhesives

Not all customers need permanent adhesion, though, and some require removable or repositionable adhesives. Work-in-process applications, for example, need to be scanned at various steps in production and the label needs to be cleanly removed before the finished good is shipped out to the customer. Others may require labels to be removed cleanly and reapplied or repositioned to another job jacket for process traceability.

Adhesives need to be fit for purpose and let our label specialists help you. For further reading, the following article offers a deeper dive in selecting pressure sensitive adhesives for your applications.


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