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Glossary of Terms Related To Label Printing

As a premier label printing company, there is a variety of technical terms and industry jargon we may use when strategizing on the optimal way to meet our clients’ label printing goals.

We are pleased to partner with Avery Dennison and share this valuable glossary with our customers. Here you will find definitions of frequently-used terms, as well as other resources related to label printing.

A-D Terms


ABC: Anti-Block Coating applied to the back side of the liner to prevent label transfer to the liner back when rolls of labels are unwound. Generally used with film facestocks or heavy adhesive coat weights.

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

Absorption: In paper, the property which causes it to take up liquids or vapors in contact with it. In optics, the partial suppression of light through a transparent or translucent material.

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

Acetates: Transparent and matte case triacetate films used as facestocks.

Acrylic Adhesive: PS adhesives base on acrylic polymers. Can be coated as a solvent or emulsion system. Noted for excellent stability in outdoor exposure.

Activate: To change an adhesive film from a dry stage into a useful tacky state.

Additive Primaries: In color reproduction, red, green and blue. When lights of these colors are added together, they produce the sensation white light.

Adhere: To bond; to cause two surfaces to be held together by adhesion.

Adhesion: A measurement of the force required to remove a label from a substrate. Several test methods normally characterize this force at various time intervals after application to various substrates.

Adhesion Build-Up: An increase in the peel adhesion value of a pressure-sensitive adhesive tape, after it has been allowed to dwell on the applied surface. Result of the adhesive “wetting out” on the substrates.

Adhesive: A substance capable of holding materials together by surface attachment.

Adhesive Failure: A partial or total lifting of the label from the substrate.

Adhesive Residue: The adhesive remaining behind on a substrate when a PS label is removed.

Adhesive Sandwich: A pressure-sensitive adhesive sandwiched between two release liners with a differential release coating so the adhesive can be exposed on one side allowing it alone to be applied to a surface.

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.

Adhesive Transfer: The transfer of adhesive from its normal position to the surface from which it was unwound. Transfer tapes demonstrate this phenomenon because of the differential release on the release liner.

Adhesive, Cold Temperature: An adhesive that will enable a PS label to adhere when applied to refrigerated frozen substrates, generally +35 degrees F or colder.

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

Adhesive, Permanent: A PS 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 PS adhesive characterized by low ultimate adhesion. The label can be removed from most substrates without damaging the surface or leaving a residue or stain.

Ambient Temperature: Normal fluctuating temperatures in an environment which are not closely controlled, e.g. in a typical warehouse, boxcar, office building, etc.

Anchorage: The degree of adhesion to a surface. Insufficient anchorage results in the adhesive transferring to another surface when the tape is removed. This is distinct from splitting where only a layer of adhesive is transferred.

Application Temperature: Temperature of a substrate or label material at the time the label will be applied. All Fasson adhesives have a minimum application temperature rating. Testing is recommended when approaching minimum application temperature.

Aqueous: Adhesives that use water as the carrier system.

Autoclave (Steam): Most commonly used sterilization process which utilizes steam heat to destroy micro-organisms. Actual sterilization takes place in a sealed chamber where a vacuum is drawn, the internal temperature is elevated and pressurized steam is injected.


Back Splits: Linear slits through the liner put in during coating or converting to meet specialized end-use requirements.

Backing: An inexact term used in the pressure-sensitive adhesive industry. When referencing double-coated tapes and single coated products, it is the release liner. When referencing self-wound tapes, it is the material to which the adhesive is bonded.

Basis Weight: The weight of a ream of paper. Traditional version is given in pounds per ream. The modern version is given in grams per square meter.

BG: Bleached Glassine

BI: Blue image

Biaxially Oriented Films: A film which is extended and stretched in both the machine and cross direction. This stretching improves physical properties over non-oriented polypropylene.

Bleed Through: See PENETRATION.

Bleeding: The undesirable penetration of the adhesive onto the surface to which the tape is applied.

Blocking: Condition where the labels stick to the back side of the liner above them. Usually due to adhesive flow, incomplete die cutting of the adhesive, improper drying of inks or improper drying or curing of coatings.

Bond: The adhesion of a pressure-sensitive adhesive tape to the surface to which it has been applied.

Bond Strength: The amount of force required to separate the joined surfaces.

BOPP: Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene

Buckling: A deformation of a layout of tape which appears laterally across the roll causing an opening between layers.

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

Butt Splice: A splice made by joining tape end to end without overlapping. The splice is assembled by a thin single coated tape centered on both sides.


C1S: Coated One Side

C2S: Coated Two Sides

Calender Rolls:  A set or stack of horizontal cast-iron rolls at the end of the paper machine. The paper is passed between the rolls to increase the smoothness and gloss of its surface.

Caliper: See THICKNESS.

Carrier: When referring to double-coated tapes, it is the thin medium to which the adhesive is anchored to on both sides.

Cast Coated: Coated paper dried under pressure against a polished cylinder produce a high-gloss finish to the paper.

Chalking: In printing, a term which refers to improper drying of ink. Pigment dusts off because the vehicle has been absorbed too rapidly into the paper.

Chemical Pulp: In papermaking, treatment of wood chips with chemicals to remove impurities such as lignin, resins and gums and to separate the wood fibers. There are two types, sulfite and sulfate.

Chemical Resistance: The resistance of a PS label to the deteriorating effects of exposure to various chemicals under specified conditions.

CK: Calendered Kraft

Clear Coat: A 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: General term applying to all papers which have been surface coated with pigments.

Coater: A machine composed of an unwind stand, coating devices, rollers, ovens and wind-up stand used to apply adhesive to backing and or carriers to produce a pressure-sensitive tape.

Coating: A material, usually liquid, used to form a covering film over a surface. Its function is to decorate and or protect the surface from destructive agents or environment.

Coating Weight: The amount or weight of coating (normally adhesive) per unit area. This can be expressed as grams per square meter or pounds per ream.

Cohesion: The internal strength of an adhesive, its resistance to flow, and the resistance to failure or splitting when labels are removed, or under stress.

Cohesive Strength: The internal strength of an adhesive and its ability to resist splitting caused by external forces. It is measured by its resistance to forces parallel to the surface. Good cohesion is necessary for clean removal.

Cold Flow: The flow of a PS adhesive under pressure or stress.

Color Separation: In photography, the process of separating color originals into the primary printing color components in negative or positive form. In lithographic platemaking, the manual separation of colors by handwork performed directly on the printing surface. An artist can pre-separate by using separate overlays for each color.

Conformability: The ability of a PS material to yield to the contours of a curved or rough surface.

Contact Print: A photographic print made from a negative or positive in contact with a sensitized paper, film, or printing plate.

Contact Screen: A photographically-made halftone screen on film having a dot structure of graded density, used in vacuum contact with the photographic film to produce halftones.

Continuous Tone: A photographic image which contains gradient tones from black to white

Contrast: The tonal gradation between the highlights, middle tones, and shadows in an original or reproduction.

Core: A honeycomb or variegated structure used in sandwich panel construction. The innermost portion of a multi-layer adherent surface.

Core Plugs: Metal wood or compressed paper pulps which are driven into the paper core of the finished roll to prevent crushing or the damaging of the core.

Corrugated Board: Kraft or jute board consisting of two sheets of flat board glued with one sheet of corrugated board between.

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.

Creep: The small slow movement of the adhesive caused by continuing stress due to low cohesive strength.


Dandy Roll: In papermaking, a wire cylinder on paper making machines that makes wove or laid effects on the texture, as well as the watermark itself. Used in the manufacture of better grades of business and book papers.

Deboss: Condition in which the image is depressed below the normal surface of the label stock. Positive printing generally has a debossed effect.

Degradation: The deterioration of a film over time, which is evidenced by cracking, chalking, blistering, color fading, etc.

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.

Destaticization: Treating plastic materials to minimize their accumulation of static electricity.

Deterioration: Undesired change in properties of an adhesive caused by aging, weathering, etc.

Die: Any of a variety of tools or devices used for cutting material to a desired shape.

Die Cut: The line of severance between a pressure-sensitive label and its matrix or adjoining label made by the cutting edge of a die.

Die Cut Label: Pressure-sensitive labels mounted on a release liner from which the matrix has been removed.

Die Load Monitors: Gauges that indicate the amount of pressure exerted on rotary dies.

Dimensional Stability: The property of a material which relates to the degree of its growth or shrinkage under various environmental conditions.

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.

Doctor Blade: An adjustable knife-like bar which controls the amount of adhesive on the glue wheel.

Dot: The individual element of a halftone.

Double-Sided: A double coated tape incorporated with two release liners.

Double Coated: A pressure-sensitive product consisting of a carrier material with similar or dissimilar adhesives applied to the two surfaces.

Dry Back: A non-blocking adhesive which has been precoated on an adherent and is ready for bonding by solvent reactivation at anytime.

Dry Seal Adhesive: One which is non-blocking except to itself. Two adherents may be precoated, dried then bonded at any time using only nominal pressure.

Dry Tag: A 9 pt. uncoated tag facestock designed to separate from a liner with no functional adhesive on the tag. Typical uses are clothing tags, temporary I.D. cards, and hang tags.

Dryers: Steam-heated cylinders over which paper in the web is passed to be dried.

DT: Direct Thermal

DTC: Digitally Topcoated

Dwell: The time during which a PS material remains on a surface before testing for permanence or removability

Dyes: Synthetic or natural organic chemicals that are soluble in most common solvents. Characterized by good transparency, high tinctorial strength and low specific gravity.