There are a few common reasons that labels may not apply properly to your bottles and plastic containers. To help serve you better, your label printer will typically inquire about the type of container the label will be applied to, if the labels are applied by hand or machine, the environmental conditions where label application will take place, transport and storage conditions, and more depending on your specific needs. Using this information, your printer will advise you on the best material, adhesive, and printing options available when you place your order. It is always a good idea to test your label material on your container with your first order and with any changes you might make to avoid costly label application problems down the line.
If issues do arise with your custom labeled products, the following steps will help determine the cause of the problem:
Inspect Your Labels
Carefully inspect the label liner for die cut-through, label curling, or a torn release liner. Damage to the label liner or labels that are pulling away from the liner before application can be very problematic during auto or hand application. Also be on the lookout for adhesive that is either too aggressive (is difficult to remove from the liner) or not aggressive enough (easily pops off or slides around on the liner or container once applied). Adhesive problems are rare with advances in technology but they do sometimes happen. Your label application problem could also be caused by something as simple as a label that is too large for your container.
Check Your Containers
Be sure to check the condition of your container. The surface should be clean and dry and free of debris and oils. Containers that have been handled with bare hands are often the culprit when labels fail. Discount containers may have pronounced seams or uneven surfaces that affect label application. Plastic and glass bottles and containers can be inconsistently formed or asymmetrical, causing some labels to fail. If you are using a plastic container it is good to know the type of plastic. Some adhesives and plastics "disagree" and this can cause the labels to lift off of the container.
Consider the Environment
Often it's not the label causing the problem, but the environment. Cold or damp bottles will not allow the adhesive to adhere to the bottle and set up. As winter bottling has become more common humidity, condensation, and cold weather issues occur more frequently. Apply your labels in dry, room temperature conditions when possible. In addition, it is important that your containers, ingredients, and labels are all brought to about the same temperature before application for consistent performance.
A few common issues with label application include:
Folds or ridges in your labels are indicative of wrinkling. There are a number of reasons labels wrinkle, but the most common is using the wrong material for the container. It is very important to let your label printer know if your container is glass or plastic, squeezable or rigid. Improper application or irregularities in your container might also cause wrinkling.
A label might tear if you try to reposition it after application, especially paper labels. There is a range of materials available that offer repositionable adhesives. These adhesives take longer to set up on your container and allow you to make small adjustments. Durable label materials, including films such as vinyl or polyester, are a good solution for label products that require tear resistance.
A bulge along the edge of your label is called flagging. This occurs when your label is too large for your container or if it isn't the right shape for a curved or irregular container. Your label printer can help you design a custom label that is the right size and shape for your container. Working with your printer to ensure the correct material has been specified for your container can also reduce the chance of flagging.
Peeling or Curling
Peeling can occur when labels are applied in cold and/or damp environments or when your bottles are damp, dirty, or greasy. Clean bottles are imperative to successful label application. Peeling or curling can also occur if you don't allow enough set up time for your labels. Making sure your labels have enough time to properly set up and adhere to the bottle before they are refrigerated (typically 24 hours) can help prevent this easy to avoid problem.
Your labels say just as much about you as they do about your product. We want to make sure your labels apply to your container perfectly, stay on, and meet your expectations for representing and promoting your brand. Keep the issues above in mind and you and your printer can prevent any label application problems you might encounter.