August 28th, 2017

Durable Labels: 3M Shares Insights and 5 Top Applications

As the market potential for durable labels continues to expand, more converters are adding the product to their portfolio. 3M, a longtime leader in the segment, provided us with an overview of durable labels, including the five applications that can drive your marketing efforts.

Our partnership with Domino on the integration of the N610i 7-color digital UV inkjet label printer on our machines has opened the realm of possibility to durable label printing for many of our current customers.

To help you understand more about the market opportunities, we reached out to Ryan Faber,  Durable Labels Marketing Manager with 3M, for a strategic look at this market segment.  It includes what applications 3M focuses on, and how you can work with them to innovate new solutions.

Ryan Faber, 3M

Ryan Faber, Marketing Manager, 3M

3M has helped us in a previous post on choosing the right transdermal patch materials, and continues to provide us with insights on various topics.

5 Areas of Emphasis to Consider Durable Label Applications

Faber explained that when it comes to durable labels, there are five applications to consider. These include:

1. Track and trace: Durable labels allow for the tracking and tracing of a product in a demanding application, such as a bar code label in chemical resistant or high abrasion applications.

2. Branding: Durable labels can be used to communicate the brand of a company.  Important considerations involve ensuring that the appearance of any brand attributes, such as a logo, is consistent.  A logo’s color must withstand fading against UV and other environmental factors, for example.

Brand attributes must remain consistent.

3. Security: A durable brand label can help protect your brand from counterfeit products or selling unsafe products that could have been tampered with after leaving the OEM’s facility.

4. Protection: Durable labels must persevere over time.  This would include a warning label on a lawnmower that has to last a certain number of years, and be able to withstand the elements.

5. Safety: Durable labels that resist abrasion so they stay easy to read when needed. A warning label describing the recommended usage of a power tool is a good example.

From an application standpoint, Faber said that “If information needs to hold up to abrasion, chemical, etc., there is a need for a durable label.”

Different Types of Durable Label Stocks

There are primarily two different types of durable label facestocks — polyester and vinyl.  

Polyester provides the highest level of outdoor durability.  Its attributes include high temperature resistance, and it adheres well to a flatter surface.

Vinyl provides more conformability, and is able to bend around curves and corners.

Faber notes these are functional labels, unlike a paper-based label such as a mailing label, for example.  Attributes of a durable label include:

Longevity: Must be able to last a long time

Temperature: Must be able to withstand high and low temperatures

No fading: Colors and text cannot fade over time with exposure to chemicals or abrasion

Adhesion: Must be able to adhere to a surface and hold

How Do You Know How to Select the Proper Materials?

For converters just entering the market, Faber emphasizes collaboration with their supplier.  “When we train on our label products, we usually start with the printing or converting equipment that our partners are using and work hard to tailor a solution that will fit into their process,” he said.  

Once your supplier has an understanding of your equipment, they can provide insights on what materials can work best with your project.

A supplier who understands can recommend.

When we asked what sparks innovation from a materials perspective, Faber circled back to the partnership.  “We have a customer-first focus. We want to know what’s the need of the customer in the marketplace,” he said.

New Industry Trend: Increasing Demand for Durable Labels

In terms of new industry trends, Faber notes the durable label sector changes in increments. With every new regulation, every brand relaunch, every need for enhanced security, durable labels become increasingly more valuable.

Incremental change occurs by pushing boundaries and keeping track of ongoing trends. Converters who see industry shifts to products like electric cars, for example, can find a specific niche and establish a beachhead into a particular vertical.

Equipment innovations can also spark change. For example, our collaboration with Domino on the N610i allows in-line die cutting on a digital inkjet press. That opens the doors for all kinds of opportunities — for 3M, for Delta ModTech, and most importantly, for you.

If you’d like to learn more about 3M™ Durable Label Materials, click here.

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