Choosing the Right Label Facestock for Your Barcodes – A Complete Guide

Barcode labels are vital supplies that facilitate accurate inventory and asset management and tracking for numerous industries, from healthcare and IT to construction, education, retail, and beyond. Businesses, organizations, and institutions have begun to embrace the adaptability and reliability of barcode labels.

You will find various barcode label facestocks in the market. Choosing the correct barcode label from such a wide variety will be a hectic task. Selecting the wrong type of label can prove costly and annoying if you’ve chosen a product incompatible with your business needs or your barcode printer.

barcode label facestock

Barcode Label Facestock

In this article, we have listed a few essential factors regarding barcode labels that you must consider while choosing the correct label for the job. The most significant things to check while selecting a barcode label are:

  • Printing technology
  • Label’s material

Printing Technology

Inkjet, laser, and thermal technologies are all used to generate barcode facestocks and tags. Thermal technology is the most widely adopted by those making their barcode systems. Thermal technologies are usually the finest choice regardless of how durable and long-lasting you desire your barcodes to be. 

The two main types of thermal technology are described here:

Direct Thermal

This technology heats chemically treated label facestock with a particular print head, causing parts of the stock to darken in the shape of a barcode. Direct thermal printing generates clear, clean, high-definition graphics without ribbon, toner, or ink. It creates the image directly on a paper label. 

But this means the facestock has limited durability and tends to yellow or fade over time and, as such, isn’t suitable for long-term use. Direct thermal printing is designed for applications that require a shorter lifespan, such as printing labels for office use or shipping.

Thermal Transfer

This technology also uses heat, but it does so to bond a film of resin or wax to the label. These printers may be more costly to maintain over time, but the barcodes they generate are perfect for surviving long periods in harsh conditions, such as extreme light or weather.

Thermal transfer uses a thermal print head to heat a printer ribbon. It melts ink onto the label, forming a much more durable image. If you need a long-lasting and durable label image and protection against temperatures, abrasion, or chemicals, you need to use thermal transfer. Thermal transfer printers allow you to make colorful, professional-looking BOPP labels.

Thermal Printing

Thermal Printing

Barcode Label Material

Numerous materials are used for manufacturing barcode facestocks. Each type of barcode label material has pros and cons that dictate its intended, ideal purpose. The right facestock will ensure excellent print quality and minimize darkness setting adjustments. Barcode facestocks materials are selected based on the following points:

  • Label longevity
  • Print speeds
  • Environmental concerns, such as extreme temperatures
  • Solvent and water resistance
  • Smudge, scratch, and tear resistance

It would be best if you kept in mind that the barcode label you chose must match its correct ribbon type in the case of thermal transfer printing. Failure to do so can result in an inability to print or label smearing. 

The most widely used materials for making barcode labels are:

  • Paper barcode labels
  • BOPP barcode labels (printable BOPP film)
  • Polyester barcode labels
  • Vinyl Barcode labels
  • Polyimide barcode labels

BOPP barcode labels are the most widely used among the materials mentioned above due to their high durability and reasonable prices. Let’s discover the features of BOPP barcode labels.

white BOPP barcode facestock

White BOPP Barcode Facestock

BOPP Barcode Labels

BOPP has unique properties that make it a good material for packages, labels, office supplies, etc. BOPP labels, in particular, are versatile, hence their diverse applications. Many retail companies use them in their branding strategies.

BOPP is a good facestock material for different types of labels. BOPP labels are durable, neat, and affordable. A polypropylene barcode label is a synthetic option that can endure harsher conditions than paper barcode labels. 

Mostly Printable BOPP film is selected for making barcode labels. Printing polypropylene labels with a wax/resin printer ribbon gives a high-quality result that can come in a clear or matte finish.

Barcode BOPP labels are weather, scratch, tear-resistant, and in some cases, chemical and oil-resistant. Printable BOPP film labels are best for non-flexible materials. And while they’re water-resistant, polypropylene labels are not waterproof. 

If your products will be squeezed or stretched, submerged in water, or continually exposed to humid/wet conditions, this barcode label is not the ideal choice. These labels have a lifespan of six months to two years. They are more expensive than standard paper barcode label materials.

Printable BOPP film barcode labels are suited for the following products.

  • Barrel
  • Machinery
  • Floors
  • Retail shelves
  • Pallets and cartons
  • Electronics
  • Baggage

Printable BOPP Film Labels

BOPP film has excellent printability. Printable BOPP film is often equipped with a topcoat that anchors the ink to the surface of the film better. Machines can run BOPP films at high speeds with optimum printing performance. 

Multiple printing options are available for BOPP labels. Polypropylene film has a higher thermal resistance. Polypropylene labels, adhesives, and packaging do not melt as quickly as other plastic films.

Aside from thermal transfer technology, you can handwrite on these labels or have them custom-printed. Of course, handwritten stickers do not appear businesslike, while custom-printed ones can be expensive. Consider your business needs and resources when choosing a BOPP label printing method.

barcode labels and tags

Barcode Labels and Tags

Applications

Barcode labels play a central role in managing assets, inventory, and maintenance activities for businesses of all sizes. You can use printed barcodes in many ways to make your business run more efficiently, with suggestions for what you would need to create those labels using the parameters discussed above:

Inventory Management

Retailers often apply barcodes to their incoming inventory as part of a more extensive stock control system, allowing them to know various things about their stocks like:

  • How much do they have on hand?
  • Where it’s located in their warehouse?
  • When will more be needed to meet an incoming surge of demand?

Companies can print barcode labels on paper using a desktop or industrial printer to track a product from receiving the WIP goods to the finished product on a customer’s front door.

barcode tracking for inventory management

Barcode Tracking for Inventory Management

Fixed Asset Management

Manufacturers and government offices often find themselves short on fixed assets, the long-term pieces of property that help create income, such as laptops or vehicles. 

Barcodes can help create a check-in/check-out system for fixed assets, so they don’t go missing due to forgetfulness or theft, which can create costly ghost assets, not to mention slowdowns in the workflow. 

By printing asset labels with a desktop printer on acrylic materials, companies can apply barcodes to items often used outdoors (such as cameras or machinery) and rest assured that they’ll stand the test of time.

Ticketing and Other Identification

Hospitals may find that crucial information about a patient or their medication can get lost or contain errors if it is not recorded correctly. 

Another less critical but similar situation is companies that print out tickets for sporting or music events; it’s essential to create something quickly that contains information, such as what levels they have access to.

Hospitals and arenas can create small, readable barcodes on paper or polyolefin for short-term but durable use with a mobile printer.

In security management, printable BOPP film is an excellent choice for making security tags, personal badges, barcode labels, etc.

Barcode Labels

Barcode Labels

Conclusion

Understanding barcode printer options and label materials are essential to selecting the correct barcode label. This blog is a great starting point for outlining and determining how your requirements and environment can guide your choice.

Printable BOPP film is best for making a barcode label of all the label materials mentioned above. If you want high-quality printable BOPP film, you can contact our experts at Kingchuan.

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