Advantages and disadvantages of Linerless label printing

Published: 08th January 2010
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Although linerless label printing has been available for many years, it is still seldom used in the modern marketplace. However, as the world becomes increasing environmentally aware, manufacturers and producers are adopting linerless label printing to aid sustainability and to reduce costs.

Linerless label printing involves printing pressure sensitive self adhesive labels that do not have a release liner. A release coating is applied to the front of the label roll facestock on which the printed labels are wound, thus preventing the adhesive on the underside of the facestock from attaching itself to the label below. This completely eliminates the need for the release liner and drastically cuts down on label liner by-product. The advantages of linerless label printing are clear - label liner waste cannot be recycled or burned and is harmful to the environment but without the need for label liner, waste reduction when using linerless label printing is greatly improved. With over 360,000 tonnes of liner waste produced annually in North America alone, its clear that this is a growing problem.

Another advantage of linerless label printing is the amount of labels that can be applied to individual rolls - without the use of label liner, quantities per roll can be increased by up to 40%! This also reduces the amount of packaging needed and can cut down shipping costs.

However, although the advantages are evident there must be some disadvantage to linerless label printing? Why else has it still not been adopted as the industry standard? Put simply, linerless label printing becomes a limited technology once the produced labels need to be cut. Without the liner to hold the label in place when it is die-cut, the shape of the label is limited and producers are effectively only able to use square or rectangular shaped labels. This means elaborately designed labels so often seen on today's products simply cannot be produced with linerless label printing and as a result the attraction of the technology is significantly lowered.

Another disadvantage of linerless label printing comes with how the finished labels are applied to products. When introducing linerless label printing to its workflow a company will more often than not have to invest in new labelling machinery to apply the linerless labels to its products. All this results in an increase in spend that businesses see as non cost effective and counter productive in these times of economic recession.

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