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Not all labels are the same: an introduction to durable labels

Research laboratory

There are many different types of durable labels and varying levels of durability.

In this blog you will begin to understand why label durability matters, including the benefits of using correctly matched labels for your laboratory labware and processes.

What is a durable label?

A durable label is synthetic carrier of information/data with an adhesive layer, which is typically affixed to laboratory plastic and glassware.

Durable labels for use in laboratories are designed to resist elements such as:

  • chemicals
  • freezing temperatures
  • moisture
  • sterilisation
  • repeated handling

There are many uses for durable labels within a lab including providing important information such as:

  • Patient or sample ID
  • Safety & Hazard Warnings
  • tracking information

Depending on the adhesive, materials and print protection used, durable labels can be permanent, removable, made to last the duration of a research trial or for a specific process duration.

Durable labels are widely used within various types of laboratories such as research, cryogenics, pathology and drug discovery to accurately identify labware, including vials, cap and tubes, slides and reagent kits.

3 key elements which impact label durability

  • Adhesive: must be correct for the surface of your product
  • Material: must be durable enough for the lifetime of your product/application
  • Printing: must resist the labels end use environment and processes

Why label durability matters 

Virtually every process will have a traceability requirement and the need to hold data that can be easily accessed. This can be quickly and cost effectively fulfilled by using a computer printable durable label. 

A correctly specified durable label, matched to the challenges of its end-use environment, is the ideal way to:

  • meet identification specifications
  • enhance productivity
  • meet regulations, legal compliance and W.H.O best practise
  • prevent  time wasted when samples are rendered unidentifiable

Low spec labels in laboratories will let you down!

Ordinary stationery paper labels or low specification durable labels are not designed to withstand the range of conditions found in laboratory processes such as, solvent use and low temperature storage, to chemicals and high temperatures used in autoclave sterilisation. This can result in incorrectly specified labels peeling, falling off or becoming illegible.

Label failure can cause:

  • decreased productivity
  • non-compliance to regulations,
  • loss of product traceability
  • sample wastage and ruined research
  • a compromise in safety
  • increased costs and time loss

What is a durable computer imprintable label?

Most companies print durable labels themselves, as it is efficient, cost effective and keeps inventory to a minimum. 

Durable computer imprintable labels can be printed using an office laser printer or Thermal transfer printer and the print is remarkably durable.

As an example, laser toner can resist 99% IPA and there are thermal transfer ribbons that will resist Xylene, provided the correct label is used.

How to find the right label for you

Think about whether you want a fully printed label, a blank label to print yourself, or a hybrid version of both, and what your labels will need to withstand.

Speaking with a computer imprintable label specialist is recommended, as they will help you define more clearly your durable label need and be able to navigate you through the option best suited to you. 

It is always best to work directly with the label manufacturer as they will have first-hand knowledge of which adhesives, materials, print method and print protection works best across industrial applications so that you can label with confidence.

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