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Barcode Labels 101: 5 Little Known Facts About Blank Labels


Let’s face it. Barcode labels are everywhere.  Barcode labels, shipping labels, thermal transfer labels and direct thermal labels are what get our packages from point A to point B, track inventory and save time at the checkout. But how much do you really know about blank labels? Let’s dig into the science behind what makes blank barcode labels a ‘must have’ for modern tracking and inventory systems.

Thermal Transfer Barcode Labels vs. Direct Thermal
Barcode Labels

We all know there are two major types of blank labels, but what is the difference between these dominant players that we use to produce our barcode labels? Direct thermal barcode labels work by using heat sensitive paper. A thermal printer applies heat to the blank label.  In response to the heat, the blank label paper turns black. Because the label paper is heat sensitive, direct thermal labels react to sunlight, heat and other chemicals. For this reason, direct thermal labels tend to be used for short term barcode labeling needs, like shipping labels. Thermal transfer barcode labels require the use of a thermal transfer printer. A thermal transfer printer melts ribbon ink onto blank thermal transfer labels. Thermal transfer barcode labels are considered more durable and can withstand a greater variety of environmental conditions.

2. What is PSA?
PSA is label industry lingo for “pressure sensitive adhesive,” which means if you apply pressure, it will stick.  There are varying degrees of stickiness based on environmental factors like temperature and whether you want the label to be ‘peelable.’  Most blank labels have permanent pressure sensitive adhesion.  Once they are pressed on, they can’t be easily removed.

3. What makes Labels Stick?
Most barcode labels are treated with an acrylic-based solution with solvent-based adhesives.  Be careful with labels at really low temperatures.  Most labels will lose their ‘stickiness’ at  –10 degrees Celsius.

4. What is Auto ID Data Capture (AIDC)? AIDC is another blank label industry buzzword.  Put simply, AIDC is what happens when a barcode label is scanned and information is retrieved from it. It means Automatic Identification and Data Capture. Without AIDC technology systems (barcode labels, barcode printers, and barcode scanners), we’d still be entering this information into ledgers, painstakingly, by hand. Not only does manual data entry cost time and money, it is easily subject to mistakes or ‘human error.’

5. What is the back of a barcode label called? This is a common question. The smooth backside of a blank barcode label that is peeled off and discarded is called a release liner. Release liners have to be ‘sticky enough’ to protect the adhesive surface, but not hold too firmly to the back of the barcode label. 



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