Industry Terms

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

Accelerated Aging – Test procedures for subjecting pressure sensitive label stock to special environmental conditions in order to predict the course of natural aging in a far shorter period of time.

Acrylic Adhesive – Pressure sensitive adhesive based on high strength, acrylic polymers.  Can be coated as a solvent or emulsion system.

Adhesion – A measurement of the force required to remove a label from a substrate.

Adhesive (Glue, Gum) – A substance capable of holding materials together by surface attachment.

Adhesive, Cold Temperature – An adhesive that will enable a pressure sensitive label to adhere when applied to refrigerated or frozen substrates(generally +35 F or colder).

Adhesive, High Temperature – An adhesive that will enable a pressure sensitive label to withstand sustained elevated temperature (+200 F or higher).

Adhesive, permanent – A pressure sensitive adhesive characterized by having relatively high ultimate adhesion. The label either cannot be removed intact or requires a great deal of force to be removed.

Adhesive, removable – A pressure sensitive adhesive characterized by low ultimate adhesion. The label can be removed from most substrates without damaging the surface or leaving a residue or stain.

Adhesive Residue (Adhesive Deposit) – The adhesive remaining behind on a substrate when a pressure sensitive label is removed.

Adhesive Splitting – Condition where part of the adhesive remains on the facestock and part on the substrate when the label is put under stress or removed.

Alignment – The relative position and orientation of a scanner to the symbol.

Ansix12 – The American National Standard’s Institute standard for two way electronic transmissions of data between trading partners.

Ascii – The character set and code described in the American National Standard Code for Information Interchange. The ASCII Character set is used for information interchange between data processing systems communication systems and associated equipment (press).

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. Testing is recommended when approaching minimum application temperature.

Art – All illustration copy used in preparing a job for printing.

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Back Splits – Linear cuts put in the liner during coating or on press to meet specialized end-use requirements.

Backcoating – The thermal transfer coating that comes in contact with the printhead. The backcoating provides heat protection and lubrication while aiding with static resistance designed to prolong printhead life.

Barcode – An array of parallel or rectangular bars and spaces that together represent a single data element of character in a particular symbology.

Barcode Character – A single group of bars and spaces that represent an individual number, letter, punctuation mark, or other special character.

Barcode Density – The number of data characters that can be represented in a linear unit of measure. Barcode density is often expressed in characters per inch.

Bar – The darker (or most non-reflectant) element of a printed barcode symbol.

Bar Length – The bar dimension perpendicular to the bar width, also called height.

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.

Bleed – An extra amount of printed image that extends beyond the trim edge.

Bleedthrough  – Migration of materials from an adhesive or substrate into a face material, resulting in a mottled appearance of the facestock and possibly detrimental effects to the adhesive.

Blocking – Condition where the labels in a roll of material stick to the backside of the liner above them. Usually due to adhesive cold flow, incomplete die-cutting of the adhesive, improper drying of inks or improper drying or curing of coatings.

Butt Cut Labels – Labels separated by a single cut to the liner. No matrix area exists between labels. Butt cut labels are not suitable for automatic dispensing.

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

Check Digit – A character included within a symbol whose value is used for the purpose of performing a mathematical check to ensure the accuracy of the read.

Chemical Resistance – The resistance of a pressure sensitive label to the deteriorating effects of exposure to various chemicals under specified conditions.

Clear Coat (overcoat, protective coating, varnish) – A coating that protects the printing and the surface of a pressure sensitive label from abrasion, sunlight, chemicals, moisture, or a combination of these.

Coated Paper – Paper having a surface coating which produces a smooth finish.  Surfaces may vary from matte to glossy.

C1S – Coated one side.

C2S – Coated two sides.

Cohesion (Cohesive Strength, Internal Bond, Shear) – The internal strength of an adhesive, its resistance to flow, and the resistance to failure or splitting when labels are removed or under stress.

Cold Flow (Ooze) – The flow of a pressure sensitive adhesive under pressure or stress.

Conformability – The ability of a pressure sensitive material to yield to the contours of a curved or rough surface

Continuous Barcode – A barcode symbology in which the spaces between the bars are part of the code. An example of a continuous code in Interleaved 2 of 5. In the symbology, the bars represent the first character, while the intercharacter gaps (the spaces between bars) represent the second, and so on.

Coupon Base – A splittable film product with adhesive and protective liner. When used in combination with another pressure sensitive coated facestock affords the label converter the capability of manufacturing on press a redemption coupon that has a lift tab and is printed on both sides. A clear film remains on the labeled item after the coupon has been removed.

Crazing – The network of small cracks that can appear in a varnish coat or plastic facestock. Usually caused by a combination of expansion and contraction during weathering or excessive solvents in an ink system.

Crockmeter – A piece of equipment used to measure scratch and smear resistance of print quality.

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Delamination – The separation of a material into layers in a direction approximately parallel to the surface. For instance, a facestock separating from the liner during processing.

Die – Any of a variety of tools or devises used for cutting material to a desired shape.

Die Cutting – The process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes. The line of severance between a pressure sensitive label and its matrix, made by the cutting edge of a rotary die.

Direct Thermal – A specialized printing technology using rapidly heated pins that selectively activate a heat sensitive coating applied to the facestock thus forming the desired image.

Dots Per Inch (DPI) – A measure of the resolution of a printed image.

Dwell (Residence Time) – (1) The time during which a pressure sensitive material remains on a surface before testing for permanence or removability. (2) The time during which a hot stamp, embossing head, or thermal die remains in contact with the surface of a pressure sensitive material.

Edi (Electronic Data Interchange) – The exchange of business data between two parties via computer.

Edge Lift (Butterflying, Wing Up) – 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 facestock.

Emulsion Adhesive      (Aqueous, Water Based) – A dispersion of fine particles or globules in another liquid. Many pressure sensitive adhesives are emulsion systems.

Exposure Temperature (Service Temperature) – The temperature that a labeled product is exposed to.

Extraneous Ink – Ink located in an area where it should not be (often a result of tracking and splatter).

Face Material (Facestock) – Any material, including paper, film, fabric, laminated or solid foil, suitable for converting into pressure sensitive label stock.

Fan Fold – Labels produced with perforations in the release liner so the finished labels can be folded into flatpacks rather than wound in rolls. Generally done where labels will be fed through data processing equipment.

Films – Acetate, polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene, vinyl and other polymeric materials used as facestocks.

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.

First Read Rate – A percentage of how often a code can be successfully read on the first scan.

Fish Eyes – Round or oval deformations in an adhesive, coating or ink.

Flexibility (Conformability, Pliability) – Property of facestock material that indicates how readily it conforms to curved surfaces.

Flexographic Printing – Method of rotary printing that employs flexible plates and rapid drying inks.

Foil – A thin metal sheet used as a facestock material.

Font – A complete assortment of letters, numbers, punctuation marks of a given size and design.

Format – The size, style, margins, printing requirements.

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Heat Resistance – Property of a material that inhibits the occurrence of physical or chemical changes caused by exposure to high temperatures.

Haloing – When a shadow inadvertently appears around an entire printed image, or around its leading edge. Haloing is caused by excessive pressure on the printing surface from the printing plate.

Holding Power (Shear, Adhesion) – Ability to withstand stress, as in holding rigid label materials on small diameter cylindrical objects. Involves both adhesive and cohesive strength.

Horizontal Barcode – A barcode symbol where the lines are imaged in the same direction as the printing path. Also known as a picket fence style.

Hot Melt Adhesive – A pressure sensitive adhesive that is applied to the release liner at an elevated temperature and then cools into a conventional highly viscous pressure sensitive adhesive.

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

Ink – Thin, highly fluid, colored liquid used to print on labels and tags.

Ion Deposition – An electronic printing process, whereby a static charge is created on a printing cylinder, attracting toner that is subsequently transferred to a printable surface through high pressure, creating an image.

Kraft – A paper or board containing unbleached wood pulp (brown in color).

Label Stock (Pressure Sensitive) – The combination of face material, pressure sensitive adhesive and release liner from which pressure sensitive labels are manufactured.

Lamination – A plastic film bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.

Leader – The first few feet of a ribbon before ink coverage begins, used to thread thermal transfer ribbons in a printer.

Liner (Backing, Lining, Release Lining) – The component of the pressure sensitive label stock which functions as a carrier for the pressure sensitive label. Prior to application, it protects the adhesive and readily separates from the label immediately before the label is applied to the substrate.

Logo – The name of a company or product in a special design.

M – thousand in the label industry.

MSI – Thousand square inches.

Matte Finish – Dull finish without gloss or luster.

Opaque – The property which makes it less transparent.

Overlay – In artwork, a transparent covering of the art and layout.

Overrun – Labels or tags printed in excess of the specified quantity.  (10% over).

Pigment – In printing inks, the fine solid particles used to give color, transparency or opacity.

Pixel – In electronic imaging, a basic unit of digital imaging.

Plate Cylinder – The cylinder of a press on which the plate is mounted.

Polyester – A strong film having good resistance to moisture, solvents oils and many other chemicals.

Polyethylene – A tough, stretchy plastic film having very good low temperature characteristics.

Polyproplene – Similar to polyethylene, but stronger and having a higher temperature resistance.

Print Quality – The measure of compliance of a barcode symbol to the requirement of dimensional tolerances, edge roughness, spots, voids, reflectance, quiet zone and encodation.

Also refers to overall quality of printed area of label.

Printability – Refers to surface characteristics on the face stock that relate to printing quality and is an indication of which face stocks are the best choice for the print quality desired.

Proof – A reproduction, drawing of the label or tag to be printed in advance of the production run. This proof is sent to the customer for their approval and used by production as a standard for producing the job.

Pressure Sensitive Paper – Material with an adhesive coating, protected by a backing sheet until used.

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Quiet Zone – A clear space, containing no conflicting marks, that precedes the start character of a symbol and follows the stop character in a barcode.

Rotated Barcode – A barcode symbol where the lines are imaged in the opposite direction as the printing path. Also known as a ladder or rotated (vertical) style.

Scanner – An electronic device that converts the optical information from a barcode into electrical signals.

Score – To impress or indent a mark with a rule in the paper to make folding easier.

Service Temperature (Exposure Temperature) – The temperature range that a pressure sensitive label will withstand after a 24 hour residence time on the substrate. The range is expressed in degrees Fahrenheit.

Shear Strength – The internal or cohesive strength of the adhesive.

Sheeting – Process whereby rolls of pressure sensitive or tag stock are converted into sheets of finished labels or tag by cutting them to the desired length in the sheeting stations on a press.

Shelf Life (Storage Life) – The period of time during which a product can be stored under specified conditions and still remain suitable for use (normally one year).

Silicone (Lacquer, Release Coat) – A unique polymer system that can be used as a release coating.

SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) –  A number assigned to a specific item of merchandise.

Smudge Resistance (Smear Resistance) – The degree to which a facestock surface, including printing and protective coatings, is able to resist rubbing or wearing away by friction.

Solvent Adhesives – Adhesive components are dissolved in a variety of organic solvents for coating. Rubber or acrylic based systems can be coated this way.

Solvent Resistance – The resistance of a pressure sensitive label to the action of specific organic liquids.

Space – The lighter (or most reflectant) element of a barcode usually formed by the background between the bars.

Stock – Paper or other material to be printed.

Substrate – The surface to which a label is applied. Converters also sometimes refer to the facestock being printed as the “substrate.”

Symbol – A combination of characters including start and stop pattern, quiet zones, data and check digits required by a particular symbology.

Symbology – Barcode language.

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Tack (Quick Stick, Quick Tack, Touch tack) – The property of a pressure sensitive label, which causes it to adhere to a surface instantly with a minimum of pressure and contact time.

Take Up Core – Mechanism to rewind a thermal transfer ribbon after it has been used (can be fiber or plastic).

Tamperproof Label (Destructible Label, Tamper Evident) – A pressure sensitive construction having a low strength face material and aggressive permanent adhesive.  Attempted removal of the label will result in its destruction.

Thermal Transfer – A Thermal printing process utilizing a temperature sensitive ribbon that through heat and pressure is selectively transferred to a printable surface thus creating the desired image. The ink is transferred from the ribbon to the print surface thus the term “thermal transfer”.

Trailer – The last few feet of a ribbon, after the ink coverage, used to complete the ribbon thread through the printer.

UCC (Uniform Code Council) – An organization formed to administer the UPC symbol and other retail barcode and EDI standards. This council is responsible for the assignment of UPC vendor numbers

U.L. – Underwriters Laboratories.

UPC (Universal Product Code) – The barcode symbol that is the standard in the retail marketplace. It uniquely identifies a product and the manufacturer.

Ultimate Adhesion – The resistance to removal of a label after adhesion has been allowed to build for a period of time. The time required to reach ultimate adhesion varies with the adhesive, substrate and labeling conditions, but is approximately 24 hours.

Ultra Violet Resistance (UV) – The ability of a material to withstand extended exposure to sunlight (ultra-violet) without degradation, hardening, or excessive discoloration.

Varnish (lacquer, clear coat) – The vehicle or carrier component of an ink that can be applied over printed labels or tags to form a clear protective or durable film.

Verification – The process of verifying a printed barcode within specifications.

Verifier – A piece of equipment that takes measurement of a barcode to determine whether or not it has met the appropriate specifications for print quality.

Vertical Barcode – A barcode symbol where the lines are imaged in the opposite direction as the printing path. Also known as a ladder rotated (vertical) style.

Viscosity – In printing inks, a broad term encompassing the properties of tack and flow.

Void – The absence of ink in a printing area where ink should appear. A void creates an area of white space that can interfere with the first-read rate of a printed barcode and, depending on the size and location of the area, may even render the code unreadable.

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

Yellowing – Gradual color change in the original appearance of a material, characterized by the development of yellowish and brownish hues.

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