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Clinical trial sample identification labels

A low-temperature durable alternative to handwritten labels

Laboratory customers that specialize in research, clinical and commercialization services for pharmaceutical companies regularly ask us to recommend alternatives to handwritten specimen labels that can be used on vials and tubes during trials.

They typically look for a more legible and durable solution to handwritten labels for two reasons:

  • To speed up the process of labeling hundreds of specimens
  • To withstand storage at low temperatures

One customer came to us because they could no longer source the pens to handwrite the labels with.

The biggest challenge with handwritten labels is that writing patient information on them is extremely time consuming and laborious, and samples can easily become compromised by human error or illegible writing.

Over the past 30 years, we have switched thousands of laboratories over to labels by recommending the best label solution for their application and durability needs.

Our recommended alternative to handwritten sample identification labels

Computer imprintable laboratory labels can be produced pre-printed by a label manufacturer like ourselves, with single patient labels or in sets with multiple labels per patient, or they can be manufactured by ourselves and supplied to laboratories to print sample data onto the labels on-site.

Printing on-site requires a combination of the right label material with either a laser printer or a thermal transfer printer.

Most laboratories already have office laser printers, and provided these are used with the manufacturers’ original toner, the printed labels will have the required durability.

Thermal transfer printers, used with the requisite print ribbon, produce print that has excellent resistance to laboratory processes such as freezing, transportation or storage in liquid nitrogen, autoclaving, and immersion in solvents such as the Xylene used in histology, etc.

When additional adhesion is required

When samples are stored at very low temperatures, additional label adhesion is required.

CILS has a specific range of self-laminating labels with excellent adhesion during ultra-low temperature storage. 

With service temperatures as low as -196°C and as high as +150°C, self-laminating labels have a white or colored printable area and a clear wraparound tail that protects the print from extreme temperatures so the sample data always remains clear and legible.

Self-laminating labels are our most popular laboratory label and are ideal for long-term tube, vial and straw identification with liquid nitrogen (LN2).

This video shows how to apply a self-laminating label to labware.

How can we help you?

Whilst every laboratory follows different protocols and procedures, we are able to guide laboratory managers and end-users to make the most appropriate labeling decisions based on the unique requirements of the laboratory and the trial being conducted.

If you tell us what you are labeling, the data you wish to print, what the labels will come into contact with, size and quantity – we will guide you to the correct label for your application.

Contact us today to speak to one of our labeling experts.


Oliver StocktonWritten by Oliver Stockton, Managing Director, CILS


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