Label Printing Glossary

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

A

ANSI
The American National Standards Institute. A non-governmental organization responsible for the development of voluntary industry standards.

ASCII
The character set and code described in the American National Standard Code for Information Interchange, ANSI X3.4-19777. Each ASCII character is encoded with 7 bits (8 bits including parity check). The ASCII character set is used for information interchange between data processing systems, communications systems, and associated equipment. The ASCII set consists of both control and printing characters.

ABRASION RESISTANCE
The degree to which a label surface – including printing and protective coatings – is able to resist rubbing or wearing away by friction.

ABRASIVENESS
The tendency of a paper, coating or ink to abrade or wear away die edges, slitting blades, printing type, etc., by friction.

ACETATE
A plastic synthesized from cellulose dissolved in acetic acid which exhibits rigidity, dimensional stability and ink receptivity. Transparent or matte films, sometimes used for label stocks.

ADHESION
A measurement of the force required to remove a label from a substance.

ADHESIVE (Glue, Gum)
A substance capable of holding materials together by surface attachment. (American Society for Testing Materials).

ADHESIVE, COLD TEMPERATURE
An adhesive that will enable a P.S. label to adhere when applied to refrigerated or frozen substrates…generally 1°C or colder.

ADHESIVE, HIGH TEMPERATURE
An adhesive that will enable a P.S. label to withstand sustained elevated temperature (93°C or higher).

ADHESIVE, PERMANENT
An adhesive characterized by relatively high ultimate adhesion. Sometimes it can be removed when the degree of force used overcomes its bonding ability but generally it is not removable.

ADHESIVE, PRESSURE SENSITIVE
A type of adhesive which in a dry form is aggressively tacky at room temperature. It has the capability of promoting a bond to dissimilar surfaces on contact, with pressure.

ADHESIVE, REMOVABLE
An adhesive characterized by relatively high cohesive strength and low ultimate adhesion. It can be removed easily from most surfaces. Some adhesive transfer could take place depending on the affinity of the adhesive to the surface.

ADHESIVE STRIKE-THROUGH
When adhesive penetrates through the face material of a pressure-sensitive lamination.

ADHESIVE RESIDUE (Adhesive Deposit, Adhesive Transfer)
The adhesive remaining behind on a substrate when a P.S. label is removed.

ADHESIVE SPLITTING
Condition where part of the adhesive remains on the face stock and part on the substrate when the label is put under stress or removed.

ALIGNMENT
The relative position of a scanner or light source to a bar code.

APPLICATION TEMPERATURE
Temperature of a substrate or label material at the time the label will be applied. All adhesives have a minimum application temperature rating.

APPLICATOR
A device that automatically feeds and applies pressure sensitive labels to a product.

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B

BACKING
Refers to the carrier sheet of material in a pressure sensitive lamination as opposed to the face material. Usually has a release coating applied so that the adhesive will not stick too tightly to it. Release liner, backing paper, carrier, etc.

BAR
The dark element of a printed symbol.

BAR CODE DENSITY
The number of data characters which can be represented in a linear unit of measure. Bar code density is often expressed in characters per inch.

BAR CODE
An array of rectangular bars and spaces which are arranged in a predetermined pattern following unambiguous rules in a specific way to represent elements of data which are referred to as characters.

BAR CODE READER
A device used to identify and read bar code symbols.

BAR LENGTH
The bar dimension perpendicular to bar width.

BAR WIDTH
The thickness of a bar measured from the edge closest to the symbol start character to the trailing edge of the same bar.

BAR WIDTH REDUCTION
Reduction of the nominal bar width dimension on film masters or printing plates to compensate for printing gain.

BARRIER COAT
A coating applied to the face material on the side opposite the printed surface to provide increased opacity to the face material and/or to prevent migration between adhesive and the face material and/or to improve anchorage of adhesive to face material.

BLEED
When the printed image extends beyond the trim edge of the label, it is called bleed.

BUTT CUT LABELS
Rectangular labels in continuous form separated by a single knife cut to the liner across the web. Also face cut, knife cut.

BUTTED RECTANGLES
Die cut rectangles butted to each other with no around and/or across matrix to remove.

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C

CALIPER (Thickness, Gauge)
Thickness, usually measured in mils or thousandths of an inch. A mil is sometimes called a “point.” A 10 mil tag might also be called a 10 point tag stock.

CAST VINYL
Vinyl sheeting manufactured by coating a liquid vinyl acetate or similar ester onto a casting paper and curing in a heated oven.

COATED PAPER
General term applying to all papers which have been surface coated with pigments.

COATING
In printing, an emulsion, varnish or lacquer applied in-line or off-line, often over a printed surface to give it added protection.

CONTINUOUS LABEL
Fan-folded labels manufactured from a continuous web of label stock which is not cut into units prior to execution. Continuous labels are mostly used for data processing applications.

COPIER LABEL
A label designed for overprinting by a plain paper photo-copier.

CORNER RADIUS
Describes the arc or curvature of the die blades where they meet so that they can impart a rounded corner to a die cut label.

CROP MARKS
Marks made on the outer edges of artwork to designate the area to be printed.

CURL
The tendency of material by itself or in a laminate to bend or partly wrap around the axis of its directions. Curl is often caused by humidity or improper tension.

CYLINDER
In flexography, most rollers in the printing press are called rolls with the exception of ones on which the rubber plates are mounted, and the one which receives the impression. These are usually referred to as cylinders, i.e., plate cylinder, impression cylinder.

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D

DEBOSSED

An indent or cut in design or lettering of a surface.

DELAMINATION
The separation of a material into layers in a direction approximately parallel to the surface. The partial or complete separation of the layers of a laminate.

DIE
Any of various tools or devices used for imparting or cutting a desired shape, form or finish to or from a material. A device in converting machinery used for cutting only the face material of a pressure sensitive laminate or for punching out shapes from the entire laminate or any other material.

DIE ADAPTER
A device used to modify a die station of one type of press so that it will accommodate dies originally designed to be used on different presses.

DIE BLADES
Sharpened, thin steel blades used in flat or rotary dies. Also refers to blades on machine engraved or EDM manufactured rotary dies.

DIE CUT
To cut labels with a die. A term used to describe a label formed by die-cutting.

DIE CUT LABEL
Pressure sensitive labels mounted on a release liner from which the matrix has been die cut and usually removed.

DIE-CUTTING
The process of using dies or sharp steel rules to cut any shape for labels.

DIE LIFE
Mileage expected from a new die and that expected following a resharpening of a die.

DIE LINES
A hand drawn or computer generated layout of the die cut shape or shapes on a clear or matte finish acetate or mylar.

DISPENSER
A device that deeds pressure sensitive labels, either manually or automatically, making them ready for application. It can serve as a package for the labels as well (dispenser boxes).

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E

EDGE LIFT
The tendency of the edge of a label to rise off the surface of the substrate. This condition occurs most frequently on small diameter curved surfaces. Resistance to edge lift is dependent on the bond strength of the adhesive and the flexibility of the face stock. (Butterflying, Wing Up)

EDP
Electronic Data Processing – Pressure sensitive labels, usually blank, for use on computer printing equipment. Webs are usually perforated, fanfolded and hole-punched ( “line holes” ) for pin-wheel feeding.

EMBOSSED
Condition in which the image is raised above the surface.

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F

FILM
Acetate, polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene, vinyl, and other polymeric materials used as face stocks.

FINISH
The surface property of a paper or film determined by its texture and gloss. A gloss finish, for example, can be shiny and highly reflective, while a matte finish is generally dull and reflects little light.

FLEXOGRAPHIC PRINTING
Method of rotary printing which employs flexible plates, rotary die cutting, rapid-drying inks, in-line laminating and other converting operations.

FOIL
A very thin metal sheet that can be used as a face stock material in label production.

FOIL PAPER LAMINATE
A foil laminate to a sheet of paper used as a face stock. The foil is usually topcoated to improve ink receptivity.

FOUR-COLOUR PROCESS
Printing with yellow, magenta and cyan inks plus black, using screens to create full colour images.

FREEZER ADHESIVES
Adhesives that can be applied and will function at temperatures below the freezing point. They are usually removable at room temperature.

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G

GRAM
Unit of weight in the metric system; the weight of one cubic centimeter of water at standard conditions. 28.35 grams equal one ounce.

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H

HOT STAMPING
A printing process in which the image is transferred to a label material by a combination of heat and pressure.

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I

IMPRINTING
Technique which applies variable copy to blank or pre-printed labels with a secondary device.

INK JET
A method of printing using liquid ink projected a drop at a time against a substrate.

INTERLEAVED BAR CODE
A bar code in which characters are paired using bars to represent the first character and spaces to represent the second.

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K

KISS CUT
A die-cutting operation which cuts through the face sheet to a liner but not through the liner.

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L

LABEL
The functional portion of a pressure-sensitive construction compromising the face material and adhesive, die cut into various shapes.

LABEL STOCK
Pressure-sensitive laminate from which labels are produced, usually refers to roll stock.

LABELING MACHINE
Dispensing apparatus that, by means of driving or pulling the backing, delivers a pressure-sensitive label and applies it to a product.

LAMINANT
An adhesive for combining and bonding a combination of films, foils, plastics, papers or other materials. Pressure-sensitive constructions are often called laminants.

LAMINATE
A web material formed by bonding two or more materials together as in pressure-sensitive construction. To apply one layer of material over another.

LAMINATION: A plastic film bonded by heat, adhesive, and/or pressure to a printed web for protection or appearance. Two or more materials bonded together functioning as one.

LASER PAPER
Paper suitable to accept laser printing.

LASER SCANNER
An optical bar code reading device that uses a low energy laser light beam to illuminate the code.

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M

MATTE FINISH
A low-gloss or no-gloss finish. A UV-curable clear coat may also be used to produce a matte or textured finish.

MICROMETER
A mechanical device for measuring thickness (usually in thousands of an inch).

MICRON
A unit of measure. On millionth of a meter or about .00004″ (25 microns = 0.001″).

MIL
Unit of thickness measurement used for thin materials. 1 mil=0.001 inch=100 gauge.

MYLAR
Dupont’s trademark for clear, tough polymeric polyester film.

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N

NEGATIVE
A photographic image of originals on paper, film or glass in reverse from that of the original copy. Dark areas appear light and vice versa.

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O

OEM
Original Equipment Manufacturer. One who produces a component or components used in the making of a finished assembled product.

OFFSET PRINTING
Process of indirect printing in which an impression on a flat plate is printed on a rubber-blanketed cylinder, from which it is impressed, i.e. offset, upon the surface to be decorated.

OPACITY
The measure of the amount of light that can pass through a material. The hiding property of an ink film; property of film allowing printed material to show through in varying degrees.

OPAQUE INK
An ink that is not transparent and reflects only its colour regardless of what colours it overprints.

ORIENTATION
The alignment of bars and spaces to the scanner. Often referred to as vertical (picket fence) or horizontal (ladder).

OVERLAMINATING
Applications of a clear film to a label stock for the purpose of protection or to enhance graphic quality, usually done in-line on the press.

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P

PLATE
The image carrier in letterpress and flexographic printing.

POLYESTER
A strong film having good resistance to moisture, solvents, oils, etc. Usually transparent, although available with opaque ester formed by polymerization or condensation. Excellent strength, clarity and dimensional stability.

POLYESTER LINER
A polyester film that is silicone release coated. It provides an excellent die cutting surface and is also used on overlaminating films to provide a smooth, glass-like surface of adhesive.

POLYETHYLENE
A tough, stretch plastic film having very good low temperature characteristics, also used a great deal for producing semi-rigid recyclable bottles.

POLYPROPYLENE
Similar to polyethylene but stronger and having a higher temperature resistance. Various thermoplastics are polymers of propylene; excellent clarity. Also used in various thickness in the printing of labels as well as backing or liner materials.

PRESSURE SENSITIVE LABEL (Self-adhesive Label)
A label product that is processed through roll or sheet fed equipment utilizing a P.S. material which has a protective backing. The manufactured product is generally in the form of rolls, sheets, or fanfolded packs.

PRESSURE SENSITIVE LABEL STOCK
The combination of face material, pressure-sensitive adhesive and release liner from which pressure-sensitive labels are manufactured.

PRIMARY LABEL
Label that acts as the main identification of a product. Often designed to attract attention and contains information to appeal to a buyer and is usually applied at the time of its manufacture.

PROCESS PRINTING
Multi-colour printing utilizing a variety of printing screens, depth of etch, etc., and usually using yellow, magenta, cyan and black inks to give an optical effect of all colours and hues being present in a composite picture.

PROTECTIVE COATING (Overcoat, Overprint Coating)
Coating that protects printing on and the face material of a pressure sensitive label from abrasion, chemicals and moisture.

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R

REAM
Five hundred sheets of paper.

REAM WEIGHT
The amount which one ream of paper weighs.

REGISTER MARKS
Symbols attached to original copy prior to photography, used for positioning films in register, or registering two or more colours when printing.

REMOVABLE ADHESIVE
A pressure-sensitive adhesive characterized by low ultimate adhesion and clean removability from a wide variety of surfaces.

REMOVABILITY
A relative term to describe the force or condition under which a P.S. label can be removed from a substrate. A removable label is one in which no damage or staining occurs to the substrate or face material and no adhesive residue is left on the substrate upon removal.

RESOLUTION
1. The dimension of the smallest element which can be printed using a particular technique.
2. The narrowest element dimension which can be distinguished by a particular reading device.

ROLL LABEL
Pressure-sensitive labels that are produced in a continuous roll form.

ROTARY PRESS
A press that in normal use features a roll-to-roll operation.

ROTARY PRINTING
Accomplished by means of a cylindrical impression cylinder and a cylindrical printing plate.

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S

SCREEN PRINTING
Method of printing in which the ink is forced through a design on a taut screen and onto the object to be printed. This process results in a heavy ink deposit that provides excellent outdoor durability.

SELF-ADHESIVE LABEL
See pressure-sensitive label.

STATIC
Electrical charges generated in handling materials which cause materials to cling together. Can jump to humans or equipment causing shock or fire if solvents are present. With reference to films, causes them to cling to one another or to other insulating surfaces.

STATIC CLING
An induced property of a film which enables it to grab onto a smooth clean surface without using a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Static cling is a phrase applied to both mechanical grabbing and grabbing by electrical static.

SUBSTRATE
The surface to which a label is applied; adherend. Converters also refer to the face stock being printed as the substrate.

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T

TAMPER-EVIDENT LABEL
A pressure-sensitive construction made of materials which will partially destruct upon removal, indicating that a package, label or container has been tampered with.

THERMAL
A printing system where dots are selectively heated and cooled and dragged upon heat-sensitive paper. The paper turns dark in the heated areas.

THERMAL TRANSFER
A printed system like thermal except a one-time ribbon is used and common paper is used as a substrate; eliminates the problems of fading or changing colour inherent in thermal.

THERMAL TRANSFER PAPER
A face paper specifically designed to accept heat-activated ink from the ribbon of a thermal-transfer printer.

THERMOGRAPHIC PAPER
A label paper having a heat activated coating that will accept an image from a thermal graphic printer.

TOLERANCE
Dimensions within a given range of preset standards.

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U

U.L.
Underwriters Laboratories.

ULTRA-VIOLET RESISTANCE (UV)
The ability of a material to withstand extended exposure to sunlight (ultra-violet) without degradation, hardening, or excessive discolouration.

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V

VARNISH (Lacquer, Clear Coat)
The vehicle or carrier component of an ink that can be applied over printed labels to form a clear protective or durable film.

VARNISH
A clear protective coating, usually glossy, applied to a printed label just prior to die cutting.

VINYL
Synthetic plastic products which can be made in film, sheet or other forms. Vinyls can be manufactured in rigid or flexible constructions. Generally more flexible and formable than polyesters. Also known as PVC or polyvinyl chloride. A tough durable plastic film having excellent resistance to oils, chemicals and many solvents. It has excellent abrasion-resistance, and can also be coloured. Its high stretch is due to the addition of plasticizer.

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W

WEATHERABILITY
Capability of a label to withstand the effects of outdoor conditions such as sunlight, heat, cold, humidity, rain, snow, and time.

WEB
The paper, foil, film or other flexible material, from a roll, that moves through the machine in the process of being formed, converted, printed, etc.

WRAP-AROUND LABEL
Label that extends completely around the labeled surface.

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