Water: Cool, refreshing, essential … and very, very destructive. The rain that falls from the sky nourishes crops, keeps rivers flowing, and shreds paper to pulp.
Water can be a product label’s archnemesis. But the destructive power of moisture can be defeated. Just like you put on a raincoat when the clouds are threatening, you can take measures to protect your product labels from the harshest of elements.
Waterproof stickers are growing in popularity as brands seek solutions for maintaining their identities, the attractiveness of their packaging, and the integrity of the information on their labels throughout changing conditions.
Who Needs Waterproof Stickers?
Since water is everywhere, waterproof and water-resistant product labels have a wide range of applications. Here are a few of the many situations that call for waterproofing:
Food and Beverage Packaging
Imagine descending into your damp cellar to retrieve a prized bottle of pinot noir, only to discover a peeling, mangled label. Or, think about how unpleasant it is to pick bits of soggy label off a craft beer bottle.
Food and beverage makers know the outward appearance of their products is just as crucial to their brand identities as what’s inside the packaging. Water-damaged labels convey a shoddy, low-quality image most brands would rather avoid.
Health and Beauty Products
Your bathroom is the wettest place in your house. Steam and water combine to wreak havoc on the labels of hair products, body soap, skin creams, perfume, and other health and beauty items.
Consumers choose health and beauty brands that make them feel good and look good. Peeling labels and runny ink betray that promise. Waterproofing is a must in this industry.
Rain, snow, hail, sleet, ice – outdoor equipment must endure a non-stop barrage of precipitation (not to mention direct sunlight and extreme temperature changes). And outdoor equipment labels have essential jobs to do, from keeping people safe on construction sites to making children’s toys come to life. They can’t let a little water get in the way.
Bumper Stickers and Outdoor Marketing
Have you ever seen a car bumper advertising a political candidate from three elections ago or a concert tour from the last decade? Somebody decided to invest in waterproof stickers years ago, and those stickers have been making impressions ever since.
What Makes a Label Waterproof?
The construction of a waterproof sticker starts with the label material, or face stock. We’ve all seen how easily damp paper deteriorates. This is because water dissolves the hydrogen bonds that hold the wood fibers in paper together.
Synthetic materials such as polyethylene and polypropylene repel water and are more durable than paper, making them good choices for wet, abrasive environments.
Vinyl is also waterproof and is “multidimensionally stable,” meaning it can stretch in multiple directions and return to its original shape without distortion. Vinyl is an excellent material to use for outdoor applications.
As for ink, it’s important to choose oil-based options, as water-based ink will drip and smudge when exposed to moisture. A protective varnish – or even a clear film laminate – can offer an additional layer of protection between a printed image and the environment.
The third factor in the waterproofing equation is adhesive. Different types of adhesive react differently to different surfaces and face stocks. An adhesive that works well with porous wood and paper may work poorly with non-porous glass and polypropylene.
The right adhesive for your product label will come down to the complex interplay between your product’s surface, the label material, and the environment (including factors such as moisture and heat). An expert label printer will be familiar with the properties of all these elements and help you choose the adhesive that fulfills your performance requirements.
How to Choose a Waterproof Sticker
The best tool for protecting your product label from water, sunlight, heat, or anything else the world might throw at it is not any particular material, ink, or adhesive. It’s knowledge, specifically, the knowledge only an experienced label printer can provide.
Talk to your label printer about the environment your label will encounter. If your printer knows their stuff, they will guide you through your options and help you make the right choices for a label that can not only withstand a deluge but look good doing it.