Way back in time, I had written about linerless labels and how the market for them has never really developed. It is interesting that, although I don’t recall the last time we were asked to quote any of these, the article is one of the most visited at Labeling News. There is clearly a level of interest.
As I see it, there are three major reasons to use linerless labels:
- No waste, since there is no liner material to deal with after using the labels
- More labels on the roll – about 60% additional for the same diameter roll
- Potentially lower costs
On the downside, the biggest issues are:
- Less buying choices – not so many ways to buy linerless
- Printers need to be able to deal with the linerless material (basically a roll of tape) and cut the labels to the correct length
- The cutter is usually the biggest source of maintenance problems on a printer
- Actual higher costs
- Only available as direct thermal material (can’t print thermal transfer on the silicon coating on the face of the label
If you do decide to take the plunge and go linerless, there are several printing options available.
If the labels need to be applied automatically, there are linerless label print apply solutions, such as our Model 250L. This provides all the functionality one would expect in a modern printer applicator but is a little more compact than normal because no liner rewind is needed and the print engine doesn’t have ribbon handling capability.
For high volume print and apply applications, the extra labels on the roll combined with not having to mess with taking the waste liner away, seem to make a lot of sense for reducing downtime. Of course, that label cost issue is going to be a factor here too though.
Another application where linerless labeling has made some headway is with mobile printing. Most of the manufacturers of mobile printers such as Datamax and Zebra have linerless options for their small printers.
This makes a lot of sense for me; the small mobile printers are limited in the diameter of the label rolls they can use, so the additional labels on the roll will be a big help.
Combine this with the fact that the labels are usually used right away (don’t want to have sticky linerless material hanging around before adhering in position) and that the operator no longer has to deal with the waste liner while walking around and a linerless mobile solution could be perfect.
We don’t see many linerless label printing options for the industrial stationary printers.
I’m sure this is because it makes sense to have labels with a liner on labels that might be printed and used later – would be tricky to manage a lot of linerless labels with the adhesive exposed. The cost factor is a disadvantage here as well.
So far, the mobile applications seem to be the ones where linerless has made the most headway – the additional cost of the labels makes it hard everywhere else. Of course, were the volumes to increase, the price of the specially coated label material would become more competitive with conventional pressure sensitive labels. We have not reached that point yet.
What do you think? Do you use linerless labels in your organization or have you considered doing so?
What could label and equipment manufacturers do to make this concept more attractive for you?
Feel free to leave a comment or call me at 603-598-1553 x237