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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.

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Radiation: Sterilization using either gamma rays or an electron beam to destroy micro-organisms. Radiation sterilization normally takes place in a sealed irradiator unit.

Rate of Set: The time required for an adhesive, under a specific set of conditions to arrive at a fiber tearing bond.

Ream: Five hundred sheets of paper.

Recycle: Ground material from flasit and trimmings which after mixing with a certain amount of virgin material is fed back into the blow mold machine.

Register: The exact corresponding placement of successively printed and/or successively die-cut pressure-sensitive labels.

Release: The force required to remove the release liner from the facestock at a specified speed and angle.

Release Coat: Release lacquer. The release liner treatment material that allows pressure-sensitive labels to release from the release liner.

Release Liner: Backing. Liner lining. The portion of the label that receives the release coating. Prior to application, it protects the adhesive and provides support for the facestock during the die cutting operation and allows the label to be transported to a label applicator or through a computer printer.

Release (Mold): A substance applied to pressure-sensitive labels so as to prevent sticking when the molded object is removed from the press or mold.

Removable Adhesive: A pressure-sensitive adhesive characterized by low ultimate adhesion to a wide variety of surfaces, that can be removed without damage to either the label or the substrate.

Repositioning: The relamination of labels to a different location on the backing paper following die cutting.

Residue: Adhesive left on a substrate when a label is removed.

Resilience: Capability of a sealer or coating to return to its original size and shape after deformation.

Resin: A general term applied to natural and synthetic polymers, amorphous in structure and without fixed melting point characteristic.

Reverse Roll Coating: The coating is premetered between rolls and then wiped off on the web. The amount of coating is controlled by the metering gap and also by the speed of rotation of the coating roll.

Rewind Slit: A slitting process where a roll of tape is unwound and run through a set of shear or score knives to be slit and then wound up into individual rolls.

Rewinder: A machine which takes rolls from the winder, slits or rewinds into smaller rolls.

Rewinding: The operation of winding the paper from the reel on to a core to produce rolls of the desired width, diameter and tension.

Rotary Press: A printing press using plates formed to fit rolls and using paper in continuous rolls. Newspapers use rotary presses.

Rubber Base Adhesive: A pressure-sensitive adhesive based on natural or synthetic rubbers.


SAFT: Shear Adhesion Failure Temperature. This test measures the cohesive strength of a product when subjected to heat. A shear test is conducted in an oven that gradually and continuously rises in temperature. The temperature at which the product finally fails is called its SAFT temperature.

Scanner: An electronic device used in the making of color and tone corrected color separations.

SCK: Super Calendered Kraft

Screen Printing: A method of printing in which the ink is forced through the image area of a properly stretched fabric, by the use of a squeegee, or in some cases air pressure directly on to the substrate to be printed.

Sealer: Continuous film that prevents the passage of liquids or gaseous media: a high-bodied adhesive generally of low cohesive strength to fill voids of various sizes to prevent passage of liquid or gaseous media.

Self-Wound: A roll material with a single liner which is coated on both sides with a release lacquer and a carrier having pressure-sensitive adhesive on both sides.

Self Extinguishing: A somewhat loosely used term describing the ability of a material to cease burning once the source of flame has been removed.

Service Temperature: The temperature range that a PS label will withstand after a 24 hour residence time on the substrate. The range is expressed in degrees Fahrenheit.

Set: The interval of time required for adhesive bonding; relative bonding speed of an adhesive material.

Set-Off: In presswork, when the ink of a printed sheet rubs off or marks the next sheet as it is being delivered. Also called offset.

SG: Semi-Gloss

SGE: Semi-Gloss Elite™

Shear Adhesion: The time required, under specified test condition, to slide a standard area of pressure-sensitive label from a standard flat surface in a direction parallel to the surface.

Shear Cutter: A slitting machine that slits tape with two rotating knives duplicating a scissor action.

Shear Strength: Internal or cohesive strength of the adhesive.

Shear Test: A method of separating two adhesive bonded materials by forcing (either by compression or tension) the interfaces to slide over each other. The force exerted is distributed over the entire bonded area at the same time. Strengths are recorded in pounds per square inch.

Sheeting: Process whereby rolls of PS base stock are converted into sheets of finished labels by cutting them to the desired length in the sheeting stations on a rotary 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.

Shives: Uncooked wood particles which show up in the finished sheet.

Shrink Wrapping: A technique of packaging in which the strains in a plastic film are released by raising the temperature of the film thus causing it to shrink over the package.

Shrinkage: Reduction in any dimension of a tape.

Silicone: A unique polymer system which can be a very effective release coating, or pressure-sensitive adhesive capable of functioning effectively at extreme temperatures.

Silicone Adhesive: Adhesive compounds of this base have remarkable stability through a wide temperature range. Chief limitations in use are their high temperature cure, sensitivity to and aromatic fuels and relatively high cost.

Single-Faced: The adhesive is applied to one side of the backing only. Most Pressure-sensitive tapes are of this type.

Size: A chemical substance, such as rosin or a synthetic polymer, coated on an adherent surface so as to reduce water absorption, scuffing, and oil penetration.

Sizing: See SIZE.

Slip Sheet: A release treated sheet used to protect the edges of rolls from sticking to each other while stacked.

Slitter: A sharp disk which cuts paper into pre-determined widths.

Smoothness: The relative flatness of the tape backing.

Smoothness Test: The relative smoothness of a sheet is determined in an instrument, which under close control, measures the length of time for a specified volume of air to pass the surfaces of the samples being tested. The result is expressed in seconds and fractions.


Tack: Quick adhesion. The property of a pressure-sensitive label which causes it to adhere to a surface instantly with a minimum of pressure and contact time as measured by TLM Tester or equivalent equipment.

Tack Range: The time during which an adhesive film remains tacky.

Tackifier: A material such as rosin ester added to synthetic resins or adhesives to improve the initial tack of the adhesive film.

Tamper Proof Label: Destructive label. A pressure-sensitive construction made with a face material having a low strength so that attempted removal of a label made from this stock will usually result in destruction of the label.

Tape: Usually gummed paper in strip form and wound on spools for use.

TAPPI: Technical Association of the Paper and Pulp Industry.

TC: Topcoat

Tear Strength: The force required to tear a specimen under standardized conditions in an instrument designed to simulate in a general way the tearing encountered under use conditions.

Tearing: Breaking or slivering of a tape during unwind.

Telescoping: A sideways sliding of the tape layers, one over the other, such that the roll looks like a funnel or telescope.

Tensile Strength: The force parallel to the plane of the specimen required to break a given width and length of paper under specified conditions.

Thermal: Adjective describing the effects of temperature or heat, e.g. thermal effects.

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.”

Thermoplastic: A substance capable of being melted by means of heat repeatedly.

Thermoplastic Adhesives: Adhesives which become softer as temperature increases, regardless of the number of heating cycles to which they are exposed.

Thermosetting Adhesives: An adhesive coating that becomes rigid or non-meltable when heated with or without pressure and remains set regardless of subsequent temperature cycles.

Thickness: Caliper. Distance from one surface of either a tape backing, or adhesive, to the other, usually expressed in mils or thousands of an inch. This is usually measured under slight pressure with a special gauge.

Tie Coat: One layer of a coating system used to improve the adhesion of adjacent or succeeding coats.

Tissue: Typically referred to as a carrier in a double coated product. A tissue carrier can make slitting and die cutting easier, by preventing adhesive flow. Tissue differs from film carriers in that it does allow for some elongation and permits more conformability.

Titanium Dioxide: A white pigment manufactured from titanium ores and used as such or mixed with barium or calcium sulphate as a loading or coating material. These are characterized by great whiteness and brightness. Also used as a paint pigment.

Toner: Imaging material used in electrophotography. In inks, dye used to tone printing inks, especially black.

Tooth: A characteristic of paper, a slightly rough finish, which permits it to take ink readily.

Toxicity: A term referring to the physiological effect of absorbing a poisonous substance into the system, either through the skin, mucous membrane or respiratory system.

Transfer: Normally refers to “adhesive transfer.” Any tape component which moves from its proper place to some other position during unwind or removal.

Transfer Tape: A pressure-sensitive adhesive unsupported applied to a two-sided release coated liner.

Translucency: Ability to transmit light without being transparent.

Transparency: That property of a material which transmits light rays so that objects can be distinctly seen through the specimen.

Transparent Label: A pressure-sensitive label whose face material, adhesive and protective coatings, transmit light so that objects can be seen through.

TT: Thermal Transfer

Tunneling: A condition occurring in completely bonded laminates, characterized by release of longitudinal portions of the substrates and deformation of these portions to form tunnel-like structures.