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Roll-Fed vs. Pressure-Sensitive Labels


The roll-fed labels and pressure-sensitive labels used for consumer packaged goods (CPG) offer different benefits depending on the label application.

Printed labels are estimated to be a nearly $7 billion market annually in the U.S. and many of those labels end up on the consumer packaged goods (CPG) we use each day. The sports drink in your fridge, the bottle of olive oil in the pantry and the bathroom cleaner in the hall closet are all decorated with one or more labels. Odds are, they are either roll-fed labels or pressure-sensitive labels. But what’s the difference between the two?
This blog will compare roll-fed labels and pressure-sensitive labels. Along the way, we will describe how they are used in the product decoration process and identify the types of applications that are generally the best fit for each type of label.

Roll-Fed Labels Explained

Roll-fed labels are commonly used in the manufacturing or decoration of bottles, jars, cans and other containers. The label construction is just like it sounds. Roll-fed labels are printed on long, continuous rolls. These label rolls are fed into labeling machinery on the production line and then cut and wrapped around the container with the help of glue or heat.
In terms of the materials used, roll-fed labels are most commonly made from one of a variety of plastic films including polypropylene, polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate.
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 The advantages of roll-fed labels

·       Roll-fed labels are easy to produce, making them especially cost-effective for large production runs. 
·       They are ideal for high-speed labeling processes such as those used in the food and beverage industry. The next time you have a bottled water or soft drink, stop to look at the label. It’s most likely a roll-fed label. 
·       They are well-suited to cylindrical or tapered containers and can accommodate complex shapes.
·       Roll-fed labels enable 360-degree coverage of the container, creating an eye-catching look that really “pops” on the retail shelf.
·       Because they don’t incorporate a backing or release liner, roll-fed labels reduce the amount of waste generated by the decoration process.
·       The use of plastic film as a substrate adds an element of durability to the finished label.

Pressure-Sensitive Labels Explained

Pressure-sensitive labels, also known as self-adhesive labels, are manufactured with an adhesive backing. They are applied by peeling off the release liner and using pressure to adhere the label to the product or package. Highly versatile and available in nearly any shape or size, pressure-sensitive labels are commonly used for food packaging, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and more.
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Similar to roll-fed, the substrates used for pressure-sensitive labels include both paper and synthetic options. However, because they also incorporate adhesives, liners and (optionally) laminates and topcoats, pressure-sensitive labels are typically more expensive to manufacture than roll-fed labels.

The advantages of pressure-sensitive labels

·       Pressure-sensitive labels can be applied to a wide range of surfaces including glass, plastic, wood and metal.
·       Their versatility is unbeatable and allows them to be used on objects with flat, curved or irregular shapes.
·       Ready to go with the adhesive already manufactured into the label itself, they can be applied without the need for extra glue or special machinery.
·       For added brand-building appeal, pressure-sensitive labels can accept special finishing embellishments such as die-cutting, foil stamping, embossing, gloss coatings and more.
·       Paper substrates can be made more durable through the application of special laminates and topcoats. Synthetic substrates like polypropylene, polyester, vinyl and polycarbonate result in pressure-sensitive labels that can stand up to the harshest environments.

Which Is Best?

When choosing between roll-fed and pressure-sensitive label constructions, it isn’t a matter of which label technology is better. Rather, the key is to choose the construction that is best for your particular application.
Depending on the shape of the item being labeled, the volume of the production process, the environment in which the finished product will be used and other factors, an argument could be made for either type of construction.
·       Roll-fed labels are at their best when used for large volumes and high-speed production equipment.
·       Pressure-sensitive labels are best for lower-volume applications and are your only option if the labels are to be applied manually.
·       Roll-fed labels offer the potential for eye-catching 360-degree coverage. On the other hand, pressure-sensitive labels can incorporate luxurious finishing embellishments that are impossible to replicate in a roll-fed construction.
·       Roll-fed labels are linerless and generate fewer waste byproducts. Then again, pressure-sensitive labels can be applied to nearly any shape or type of surface, making them more versatile overall.
·       Pressure-sensitive labels are more complex to manufacture (e.g., pre-applied adhesives and release liners) and generally cost more per unit than roll-fed. However, they require less sophisticated equipment to apply and offer a wider variety of uses than roll-fed labels.

Labels for the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry

Taylor is a recognized leader in the labeling industry, manufacturing more than 50 billion labels each year. We use our in-house materials science expertise and diverse manufacturing capabilities to create both roll-fed labels and pressure-sensitive labels for nearly every industry imaginable – including consumer packaged goods.
Looking for the best labeling solution for your product? Contact a Taylor representative to learn more.
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