Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For other uses of the term label see: Label (disambiguation)
A label is any kind of tag attached with adhesive to something so as to identify the object or its contents. The most common type is made with a paper stock and a colloquial term for it is a sticker. Labels have many uses, from product identification to name tags. Labels come in many forms and can be differentiated by the stock, or base material they are printed on, and by the adhesive type that they use.
- 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 mylar allow a variety of features, such as greater strength, flexibility, transparency, resistance to tearing, etc. They typically require special equipment and printing methods as they do not normally print well with ink. A bumper sticker is usually a vinyl label with a very strong and durable adhesive.
- Foil - has the shiny properties of a metal foil.
- Thermal - direct thermal label stock will change color (often to 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. The disadvantage is durability, since another heat source can ruin or obscure the image.
The stock type will affect the types of ink that will print well on them.
- 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.
- 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 and the adhesive is still strong enough to be placed again somewhere else.
- Freezer permanent. A special type of removable adhesive that becomes permanent under certain temperatures, such as when the label is in a freezer, but is removable when the object is warmed to room temperature for example. This is useful for labeling objects stored in a freezer, but where the label needs to be exchangeable for another.
Ink and base stock color choices commonly conform to the Pantone Matching System 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. 
Piggyback labels are made from a double layer of adhesive stock. The bottom layer forms the backing for the top. The label can be placed on an object and the top layer removed to change the message or marking that the label is used for.
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