Packaging Material
DEC 20, 2017

Top Triggers for Testing Your Packaging Material

One of the most important aspects of planning and purchasing your labels is the testing process, to determine if the material of choice actually meets all packaging performance expectations for your specific application. While there are many applications that may not require material testing, it is very important to understand that there are just as many that do. Even the most deliberate material selections should be tested. Time spent testing can save you both time and money. 

Why test?

When it comes to label materials, there are many available options, and your label provider can help guide you in the proper selection.  Experienced label converters should have an in depth knowledge and understanding of the numerous container types, label materials, adhesives, treatments and varnishes, application environments, and application methods available. Of course, this information needs to be communicated clearly to the label printer early in the pre-production planning process to avoid potential pitfalls. But even the best planned label can still fall short of expectations and fail for any number of reasons. This is why we encourage testing the specific substrate prior to producing your entire production order. 

What to test for? 

There are a number of test methods designed for the purpose of exposing potential material issues.  Some of the most common issues with materials include proper label adhesion to the container and print integrity such as scuffing and scratching. With print integrity, for example, proper label protection is the solution. Label samples may need to be tested to insure direct contact with your product will not cause a failure and determining whether a varnish or a laminate is required. 

Your containers, label construction, environment, and label application methods are all important

Custom label materials, adhesives, and treatments may not perform well with your specific container in your particular environment. Bottles, jars, and tubes that are visually similar but originate from different suppliers may perform differently – even drastically so. If you have changed container suppliers since your last production order, your previous label construction should be tested on your new container or bottle. 

Why? Bottles and jars may have hidden imperfections, subtle taper differences, or more pronounced seams that may inhibit proper label adhesion. Tubes may be more flexible than before, or have a release coating residue from the bottle molding process that was not present with your last supplier. 

Consider this: There are infinitely more environmental conditions under which a label may be exposed to than there are label materials and adhesive combinations themselves. This is primarily why labels fail and why testing is so important. 

Keep in mind that your labels are likely to be exposed to harsher conditions than simply sitting on a retail shelf. Label application, shipping and transport, product usage, and even storage can wreak havoc on labels that were not engineered to withstand your specific conditions or the overall abuse they will experience in the supply chain. 

A label doesn't need to fall off to fail, either. For instance, a label can stick to a bottle for dear life and still completely fail cosmetically. Labels that are not tested can wrinkle, flag, peel, scratch, scuff and tear – leaving your brand with a flawed appearance and creating a marketer’s worst nightmare. 

The following are key indicators that you should test your labels before going to press.  And remember…when in doubt, always test!

  1. Squeezable containers, such as plastic tubes
  2. Machine or semi-auto application where equipment may conflict with labels or containers
  3. Tight diameter packaging, where label sizes are at the absolute minimum a container will allow
  4. Labels in cavities, such as recessed lids or custom molded bottles, where tolerances are tight
  5. Unique shapes that may adversely affect label adhesion by application or container shape
  6. Extreme environments, such as high moisture or humidity, damp, or cold that may affect adhesives
  7. Pasteurization of labeled containers where unprotected labels may be destroyed
  8. Any change that has occurred in your process – e.g.  container supplier, storage conditions, shipping and handling, etc. 

Better safe than sorry

Keep in mind, your labels are an investment.  They tell a story and send a message.  They sell your product and are arguably the most important part of your product packaging. Take the time, or rather make the time, to adequately test your label material before problems arise. 

At Gintzler International, a Resource Label Group Co., we are more than happy to provide guidance and raw material samples for you to test on your containers.  The importance of material testing cannot be emphasized strongly enough.  Reach out to a packaging specialist at sales@gintzler.com for assistance on your next packaging project. 

The original version of the article is available at http://www.advancedlabelsnw.com/blog/top-7-triggers-for-testing-your-label-material.

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