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  1. Direct Thermal Labels vs. Thermal Transfer Labels

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    Thermal labels on rolls

    There are multiple types of thermal labels, each relying on heat from a printhead to create images. However, slightly different processes are used to create each type. Direct thermal labels and thermal transfer labels and ribbons each feature unique characteristics and are used in different types of applications. When selecting a label for your application, it is important to know the strengths and limitations of each type to ensure your label effectively fulfills its purpose.

    What Are Direct Thermal Labels?

    Text and images on direct thermal labels are created by applying heat to the label’s surface which features a special surface coating that reacts to heat from a printhead. Images can be printed on direct thermal labels using heat alone.

    Each type of thermal label features differing print quality, longevity, and durability. Both paper and synthetic materials are used as thermal facestocks to create labels. Paper labels can be coated or uncoated are best suited for indoor, short-term use. Synthetic materials, such as polyolefin, polyester, or polypropylene, do well in extreme temperature environments and can last up to several years, depending on the material.

    Thermal labels have a wide variety of uses, from printing barcodes, receipts, shipping labels, and food packaging.

    What Are Thermal Transfer Labels and Ribbons?

    Thermal transfer labels are a widely used type of thermal label that features many benefits. In thermal transfer printing, a special ribbon is passed between the printhead and label to create the printed images. Thermal transfer ribbons are made from a thin film featuring a black coating on one side. The coating, typically made from a resin or wax, is heated by the printhead and transfers onto the label. Thermal labels and ribbons are available in many sizes and diameters. The ribbons are sold in wound rolls that come in many color options.

    Key Features: Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer Labels

    Direct thermal labels and thermal transfer labels and ribbons are created differently, feature different characteristics, and are better suited to different uses and environments. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of each type.

    Thermal Labels:

    Thermal labels are useful for printing information on demand. Ingredients, dates, and barcodes are just some of the many uses for these labels. Direct thermal labels are typically used in short to medium-life applications, where they will not be exposed to moisture or heat after application. Direct thermal labels are highly cost-effective and create clear, consistent images that can be easily read and scanned.

    In comparison to the longer-lasting thermal transfer labels, direct thermal labels can fade in as little as 6 to 12 months. They also do not stand up well to high levels of abrasion. However, they are well suited to applications such as shipping and logistics, price tags, meat labeling, and more.

    Thermal Transfer Labels and Ribbons:

    Thermal transfer labels and ribbons are useful for creating barcodes, QR codes, and sequential numbering applications. In comparison to direct thermal labels, they have the unique benefit of being chemically resistant. These labels can be exposed to substances ranging from water, oil, bleach, and even acetone due to the highly durable resin ribbon with which they are made. They are also resistant to UV light.

    Thermal transfer labels and ribbons are well suited to long-life applications and are available in a large selection of materials to meet the demands of many environmental challenges. They can also be backed with an adhesive if required by the application.


    Due to their inherent differences, direct thermal and thermal transfer labels are better suited for different applications.

    Thermal Labels:

    Direct thermal labels are best suited to industries that don’t involve exposure to high heat or moisture levels. They do well in chilled environments, such as labeling frozen foods, and are used throughout applications spanning many industries including:

    • Event ticketing
    • Coupons
    • Healthcare industry applications, including visitor passes
    • Name tags
    • Barcodes for retail products and shipping labels
    • Receipts
    • GHS-compliant labels

    Thermal Transfer Labels and Ribbons:

    Thermal transfer synthetic labels perform well in outdoor applications as well as those featuring high moisture and abrasion exposure. They are an excellent choice when direct thermal labels are unsuitable or when high print quality is desired. They are used in applications such as:

    • Creating high quality, long-lasting images
    • Medical applications involving chemical exposure
    • Warehouse shelf labels
    • Chemical and industrial labels
    • Laboratory labels
    • Applications requiring color, such as for branding or promotional uses

    FOCUSales: Your Source for All Label Solutions

    FOCUSales stocks an extensive selection of direct thermal and thermal transfer labels and ribbons. We carry thermal transfer ribbons for all the leading thermal printer manufacturers, as well as hundreds of ribbon varieties. To learn more about our products or talk to an expert about finding the best solution for your application, contact us or request a quote today.

  2. What are Pressure-Sensitive Labels?

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    Dickey's brisket rub with label on display

    There is a good chance that most of the products you purchase and the packages you receive have pressure-sensitive labels (PSLs). PSLs are incredibly versatile and make up over 80% of the labels on the market. PSLs can be found on almost every type of product, from medicine to toys to shipping boxes. They identify products, decorate bottles, and display branding.

    PSLs are constructed from paper, film, or foil and are compatible with various inks. One of the advantages of PSLs is they don’t require water, glue, or heat to activate. Light and pressure are the only elements needed to adhere them to a product or surface. They come in large rolls or sheets and can be applied by hand or machine. Pressure-sensitive labels offer a range of benefits from saving time and labor to creating visually appealing packaging.

    Components of a Pressure-Sensitive Label

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    Components of a Pressure-Sensitive Label infographic

    Pressure-sensitive labels are fairly simple in construction with only five basic components:

    • Liner: The liner is a sheet of paper or plastic film that covers the adhesive backs of the labels, allowing them to be stored without sticking to each other. It is essential in the machine application process as it carries the label to the applicator and releases the label, placing it on the product. The liner protects the label until it’s to be applied. Once a label has been removed, it can be discarded or recycled.
    • Release Coat: The release coat is applied to the top of the liner and is designed to resist the adhesive to allow the liner to easily slip away from the PSL during the application process.
    • Adhesive: The main benefit of pressure-sensitive labels is that you only need to apply pressure to adhere them to surfaces. The type of adhesive used is determined by several factors, including desired label texture, the storage temperature of the product, the material to which the label will adhere, the environmental conditions the label will need to withstand, the amount of residue left after removal, the amount of pressure needed to apply the label, and if the label is intended to be permanent or removable.
    • Face Stock: The face stock is where the ink is applied and what people will see when the label is applied. It can be made of paper, foils, laminates, plastic films, or fabrics. Brands work with PSL manufacturers to find suitable materials and textures that will enhance the artwork on the face stock.
    • Topcoat: The topcoat is added to the face stock to protect it and improve clarity and legibility. Top coats help the printing on the PSL stand out and can have a UV coating to ensure the label doesn’t fade.

    How do Pressure-Sensitive Labels Work?

    Earlier forms of label required solvents, heat, or extreme pressure to make it stick to the product. The reason PSLs are the preferred label is because they only require a light or moderate amount of pressure to apply, and they come in rolls, so they are easy to store.

    Since pressure-sensitive labels have the advantage of pre-applied adhesive, they can be simply peeled away from the liner, either by hand or machine, and applied directly to the product or package.

    Pressure-Sensitive Label Applications

    PSLs are versatile and can be applied to almost any product you can imagine, from wine bottles to toys to shipping boxes. They can also be applied to virtually any surface, including glass, plastic, and cardboard. Some of the most common applications include:

    • Automotive Labels: Automotive labels need to withstand extreme environments and tough surfaces. Selecting adhesives and materials that are corrosion resistant and durable is key.
    • Chemical Labels: For products containing harsh chemicals, it is important to clearly list product information to meet industry regulations and standards.
    • Household Product Labels: Labels on household products need to withstand frequent handling and provide clear information about their intended use.
    • Food & Beverage Labels: Food and beverage labels need to be eye-catching to stand out on the shelf. Die-cutting and specialty prints can help these products engage consumers. They also need to be temperature and moisture resistant.
    • Wine & Spirits Labels: Like food and beverage labels, wine and spirits labels need to stand out and convey important brand information.

    Contact FOCUSales for a Quote on Pressure-Sensitive Labels

    FOCUSales specializes in pressure-sensitive labels and can create one to perfectly suit your product. From prime labels to extended content labels to domed labels, FOCUSales can customize a label solution to your specifications. To learn more about our pressure-sensitive label offerings, request a quote from us or contact us for today.

  3. Custom Label Options for Breweries

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    Custom Label Options for Breweries

    Custom label solutions for breweries

    With breweries selling numerous brands at retailers, consumers have a seemingly endless choice of beer to choose. The increasing competition has made it hard for products to sell without proper branding and packaging. The shelf space is at an ever-increasing premium and package differentiation is the key to retain consumer attention. A custom brand label that tells the story of your personalized brand is vital to the success of your brewery. Here are some of the options you have while selecting the right material and finish for your label.

    Choosing the custom label base material


    The white semigloss paper material is great for cold beverage labeling. It acts as a perfect canvas for the label design as it has ideal opacity and brightness. The drawback of the white paper base is that it does not hold on well in ice buckets or damp conditions. Because it’s economical, you can opt for this if your brewery is just starting out.

    White film

    The white flexlyte film is a great choice because of its durability. Apart from being a great base for the label design, it offers better abrasion resistance and improved moisture resistance. No matter it’s a bottle or can, this material works well on both.

    Metalized silver paper

    The metalized silver paper is one of the premium base label material option that you have. Specific areas in the label can be provided more shine while offering matted effect on others. If you want to make an impact on the shelf, this is the perfect choice for you.

    Choosing a custom label finish – Either varnish or overlaminate

    Gloss clear UV varnish

    This is a protective coating with additional shiny effect. On top of the primary coating, it offers durability and protection from moisture. No need to worry about your brewed products that are placed in damp conditions.

    Matte UV varnish

    This is also a protective coating with a matte and dull effect. This is a great base for the printing and also offers durability to moisture.

  4. What to Look For in a Label Printer

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    What to Look For in a Label Printer

    Thermal Transfer Label PrinterIn case you are considering buying a label printer for your business, you are certainly on a right track to gain more independence and control over your business. There are many issues that arise while using an outside printing source. Delayed shipments and the costs could really go out of control. Now the real question is what you really have to look for in a printer.

    Every business has its unique labeling needs, which means that the perfect printer for every business will vary. However, there are certain requirements and specifications that your printer must meet if you want your products to be competitively placed among others.

    Size of the labels

    Printers come in all shapes and sizes, therefore, it is important to identify the right size before making the buying decision. The width and length of the labels depend on the type of products they need to be used for. A label for an e-liquid bottle of e-cigarettes will require a printer that can print a smaller label of up to 2.48 inches in width. Similarly, a label for a beer bottle would be considerably larger in size.

    Meeting Regulations

    There are certain requirements by FDA that your labels must comply with. Depending on the type of your business, the requirements may change and you must check with the associated government regulatory authority to see the regulations. Nutrition facts, warnings, expiry dates and other alerts are an integral part of labels, which must be complied with. Your label printer must be able to clearly print this information over designated space without interfering with the creative element of your design.

    Do you have to print barcodes? 200dpi or 600dpi

    Retail products mostly come with a bar code as it is prerequisite to have one printed. A 600dpi barcode label printer is for sure better than a 200dpi as it has a higher quality print and consumes less space on a label because of a smaller print. However, these can be expensive, which makes the 200dpi printer to come into play. You can improve its quality by printing a larger label but of course, this will result in overutilization of space. You can do your own cost-benefit analysis and choose the right option for yourself.

  5. Why Choose Custom Printed Labels?

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    Reasons to Choose Custom Printed Labels

    Custom Printed LabelsIt does not matter if you are an established organization, entrepreneurial venture or an NGO, there are convincing reasons to use a custom printed label for your products. Creating a custom label means that you will have to spend some time into research as designing a perfect logo involves great creativity. Branding your products the right way is of utmost importance in this day and age where competition demands you to be unique.

    Here are some reasons that might convince you to opt for a custom label design.

    Custom printed labels increase sales

    Sales are the ultimate goal of every business as every other operation of the business aim to achieve this specific purpose. Custom printed labels on your products have a better chance to entice the customers as they have a unique selling appeal about them. An eye-catching label can totally change someone’s perception of a product. It is the first attribute anyone notices before buying a product, therefore, it must be spot on. You can highlight the core values of your business in the label and increase sales based on positive brand perception.

    Brand awareness

    Because the attention span of the average consumer is getting shorter and shorter, it is vital for you to strengthen your brand awareness. Your labels represent your business and buy creatively designing a custom label, you can add the subtle details that add to increase brand identity. You can also just five away printed labels on brochures highlighting the value your product offers to the customers.

    Discounts and promotions

    Often times the best way to attract is a customer is through a discount offer on the label. With custom printed labels you are offering customers a chance to recognize and avail the discount. Larger packing size at the same price with a label highlighting the access is a great way to boost food product sales. Similarly, many other products can be sold just by creatively expending the custom label design.

  6. What Should You Look for in a Bottle Label?

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    What You Should Look for in a Bottle Label

    Bottle label

    When you are comparing the power of different senses such as taste or sight, you will conclude that taste is something that would make the customer come back and get the product again, however, sight is what drew them the product in the first place. By sight, we mean the style of the bottle or a jar and the label that is placed on it. While color and design of the label are vital, right shape and size can also make a considerable difference. Finding a perfect bottle label can be a challenge for manufacturers, however, with these tips in mind, you can make the right choice.

    Bottle label styles

    There are many label styles available for bottles, which range from a full wrap to just the front wrap. Based on your preferences, you can choose the right style for yourself.

    Full wrap

    This is a large rectangular label that wraps around the bottle completely. They are perfect when you need to incorporate a lot of information.

    Half wrap

    A half wrap label has enough space for your logo and the information that must be on the logo according to the law. Customers can also see the enchanting color of your product through the transparent bottle.

    Neck labels

    With an added touch of neck label along with the half wrap, you offer our customers an added sense of style.


    Label Shapes

    From traditional to custom label shapes, everything is available for your convenience. Through these shapes, you offer a unique appeal to your consumers.

    Square and rectangular labels

    These are the most common label shapes and offer your bottle a simple, traditional look that typically pays off. You can choose to have square or rounded corners to go along with standard labels.

    Triangle labels

    Triangle labels are dynamic and energetic. Along with signifying superiority, it’s also a sign of caution, which actually influence consumers positively.

    Circle or oval labels

    A round or oval label is timeless and has an exclusive appeal. Best for the flavors that stick with the drinker.