Marin County, San Francisco North Bay, Ca. , California, USA Labels
Marin County, San Francisco North Bay, Ca. USA

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  A label

is any kind of tag attached with adhesive to something so as to identify the object or its contents. Labels come in many forms and can be differentiated by the type of base material, called stock, that they are printed on, and by the adhesive type that they use. The most common type is made with a paper stock and a colloquial term for it is a sticker.

All About Labels

Labels have many uses, from product identification to name tags. A special type of labels, digital labels (printed through a digital process) can also have special applications such as; RFID tags, security inks, and sandwich process labels.

Litho - one of the most common base stocks
Latex - a litho stock with some added latex allows the label to be much more flexible and form around certain curved objects more easily than standard litho.

Various plastics such as acetate, vinyl, and PET film allow a variety of features, such as greater strength, flexibility, transparency, resistance to tearing, etc.





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28 Packaging Inc
28 Brookside Ct, Novato, CA 415 209-9890

Joanne's Print Shop
2000 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 415 332-1344

1611 Lincoln Ave, San Rafael, CA 415 892-3250

Marin Labels
20 Pimentel Ct # A6, Novato, CA 415 883-2785

Paragon Label Co
3810 Cypress Dr, Petaluma, CA 707 773-4363

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They typically require special equipment and printing methods (ultra-violet curing is common) as they do not normally print well with conventional ink. A bumper sticker is usually a vinyl label with a very strong, durable adhesive and Lightfast Inks.

Foil - has the shiny properties of a metal foil.
Thermal - direct thermal label stock will change color (usually black) when heated. A heating element in the shape of letters or images can be used to create an image on the label. Custom labels can be easily be made on location in this way. A disadvantage is durability, because another heat source can ruin or obscure the image, or it may fade completely over time
The stock type will affect the types of ink that will print well on them.

Corona treating or "zapping" makes a substrate more receptive to inks.

Adhesive types

Permanent - Typically not designed to be removed without tearing the stock or using solvents. The adhesion strength and speed can also be varied. For example, full adhesion can be nearly instant, or the label can be almost removable for a short period with full adhesion developing in minutes or hours. This is considered the most popular and cheapest option by many self-adhesive paper manufacturers. Permanent labels may also be referred to as "pressure-sensitive", as a slight amount of pressure will cause a label to immediately bond to almost any surface.
Removable - Adhesion is fairly strong and will not fall off in normal circumstances, but the label can be removed relatively easily without tearing the base stock or leaving adhesive behind on the old surface. The adhesive is usually strong enough to be applied again elsewhere.
Semi-permanent - aka repositionable - Adhesion strengthens fully after application (approx 48-72 hours), allowing the label to be removed easily if placed incorrectly and still be a permanent label.
Freezer permanent- special type of removable adhesive that remains fully permanent under certain temperatures. This is useful for labeling objects that are to be stored in a freezer for any length of time.
Tamper evident- special types of label-stocks that comes in different guises; example 1 is a weak material, that breaks into tiny pieces (Frangible) or example 2 could be a material that uses a two-stage adhesive that will reveal any attempt of removal or replacement.


Ink and base stock color choices commonly conform to the Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors. The Pantone system is very dominant in the label printing industry. Additionally specialty inks such as metallic, UV ink, magnetic ink, and more are available. Ink is usually transparent however it can be made opaque. It has been known for certain companies to patent "their own" color.  Digital labels use process colors to replicate Pantone solid colors.

Special labels:

Piggyback labels are made from combining two layers of adhesive substrate. The bottom layer forms the backing for the top. The label can be applied to any object as normal, the top layer can be a removable label that can be applied elsewhere, which may change the message or marking on the remaining label underneath. Often used on Express mail envelopes.
Asset Labels / Tags are used for marking fixed and non-fixed assets. They are usually tamper-evident, permanent or frangible and usually contain a barcode for electronic identification using readers.
Blockout labels are not see-through at all, concealing what lies underneath with a strong gray adhesive.
Holographic stickers are used for authentication and protection against counterfeit. They can be used on ID cards, credit cards, products such as CD/DVD's, etc.
Radioactive labels The use of radioactive isotopes of chemical elements, such as carbon-14, to allow the in vivo tracking of chemical compounds.
Laser Labels are generally die cut on 8.5" x 11" sheets, and come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. Laser label material is a nonporous stock made to withstand the intense heat of laser printers and copiers.
Inkjet Labels are generally die cut on 8.5" x 11" sheets, and come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. Inkjet label material is a porous stock made to accept ink and dye from your inkjet printer. 

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