frequently asked questions

LABELS
To start with - we will ask a number of questions (at least 10 usually). First and foremost - knowing the end use or application of your labels will make the process of choosing much easier. The end use of the label will have an impact on the performance of the face stock, adhesive and liner and must be considered when choosing the right solution for you. The printing method, press type, colours chosen, embellishments, finishes and shape of the label then need to be considered. Here are some of the questions you can expect and how it helps to give you the best possible solution: (detailed information is noted below)
1. Where is it going and what do you want to achieve?
2. What is the size of the label?
3. How many labels do you want or use & over what period of time?
4. How is it being applied?
5. Do you want labels on a roll and what core size
6. What is the roll direction?
7. Is the label going through a printer?
8. Do you have a sample of your current labels?
9. Will I be able to get a sample to check before ordering?
10. What is your budget or current price for labels?

1. Where is it going and what do you want to achieve?
Details of the end-use and application of the label help establish what label stock and adhesive will best suit. Some stocks are not suitable for certain applications but sometimes there will be a range of alternatives. Application includes the material/substrate you are putting the label on and the temperature of both the product and contents during application and use.
2. What is the size of the label?
Labels are quoted in mm with the leading edge first (also referred to as the ‘width’ or ‘across’ measurement). This is very important for labels that are machine applied as it determines the way the labels are printed and affects die choices and plate directions. We also need to know if the size is critical or are they flexible (and to what mm) with the sizing to match existing die sizes.
3. How many labels do you want or use & over what period of time?
What is the practical volume of labels to quote on eg. 5,000 / 10,000 / 20,000. For many labels the cost per 1,000 decreases as the volume increases. By quoting on a range you will be able to determine where the quantity breaks become more economical. Sometimes a quote is requested only for a 1 month supply when it would be much more economical to get a 3 month supply quote.
4. How is it being applied?
Is the label being applied by hand or through a labeling machine or applicator? This helps establish the roll direction and backing sheet requirements.
5. Do you want labels on a roll and what core size?
Labels can be supplied as singles, sheeted or on rolls. Each option may result in a different price so it is important to clarify this. Generally the higher the number per roll, the more cost effective it is in finishing time. Eg. A job of 100,000 labels with 1000 rolls of 100 labels will take longer in finishing than 100 rolls of 1000. Our stock core sizes are 25mm, 38mm and 76mm. Other sizes can be catered to. The core size and roll quantity is particularly important for machine application or if the labels are going through a printer.
6. What is the roll direction?
Label sizes are quoted with the leading edge first. Roll directions are not based on an industry standard so please use the QLM Label Makers roll direction form to check.
7. Is the label going through a printer?
Labels that go through thermal printers, laser printers or dot matrix printers all have special requirements in terms of face stock, backing and sometimes the need for sprockets on the side. The heat of certain printers (esp. laser printers) demands special stock or the labels will not work.
8. Do you have a sample of your current labels?
Providing us a continuous strip of your current labels is helpful when determining how we will print the labels and on what press. The sample can show us what print cylinder was used and allow us to replicate the current draw of the label (including the gap) where necessary.
9. Will I be able to get a sample to check before ordering?
Generally No - Press labels require significant amounts of time and expense in set-up (for plates, dies and preparation). Depending on the circumstances we can provide a digital sample of the ‘look’ but please be aware that the colours are representative only and a PMS book should be checked.
10. What is your budget or current price for labels?
We aim to be cost competitive so any information on current pricing (even a rough idea) helps ensure we achieve this. Providing a budget or expectation for new labels also ensures the estimator understands and can take this into consideration when quoting or recommending alternatives.
The face stock is the top surface of the label and will have an impact the final appearance of the label. Face stocks come in a vast range of colours, opacity & textures. When choosing the face stock for your labels you will need to consider a range of things:
• your budget (balance between price & performance)
• final appearance (do you want a glossy finish, a matt textured feel or a shiny metallic look)
• printability (will the label be overprinted or what quality of print will work with the face stock)
• end use (the shape and material of the packaging & temperatures it will be exposed to)

Label Face Stocks come in many variations of 2 main types: Paper or Synthetic

Paper Based Face Stocks
The family of face sheets made of material converted from wood to paper. Suitable for most dry environments where the intended use will not be exposed to the elements nor required for an extended period of time. Paper based labels are very popular for fast moving items in office and retail environments such as consumer goods and office labels. Paper face materials are highly versatile, economic and can achieve outstanding print results, particularly when combined with other embellishments.

Synthetic (or Filmic) Face Stocks
The family of face sheets which are plastic or filmic in construction. As a general rule – if you can’t tear the stock both ways it is usually a synthetic stock. Used in applications where durability of the label is an issue such as in wet areas, or where the label needs to be of the same plastic construction as the bottle for recycling. They are popular for beverages, cosmetics and personal care items as well as for chemical and electronic packaging that may be subject to variations in temperature and environmental conditions.
There are 3 main types of synthetic material:
PE: Polyethylene (where squeezability is required)
PP: Polypropylene (durable and available in clear)
PET: Polyester (used when resistance to water, oil or chemicals is required)
After the face stock, the next step is to consider the adhesive properties that will best meet your requirements. The initial adhesion or ‘tack’ during application will influence the performance of the label during its intended lifespan and a poorly applied label or the wrong choice of adhesive can have a significant effect on how your label stands up to its intended use. QLM Label Makers utilise a range of environmentally sensitive adhesives to achieve the right outcome for your application. The application or end use of the label will have an impact on the performance of the adhesive and must be considered when choosing the right label for you. Different options you will need to consider include the removability of the adhesive as well as the formulation of the adhesive. The options are as follows:
Adhesion: Permanent - Removable - Repositional
Formulation: Acrylic - Hotmelt

Permanent adhesives mean just that – they are designed not to be removed. They should stay ‘stuck’ for the life of their intended use. This is the most common adhesive used and is applicable across all paper & filmic face stocks. Permanent adhesives can be acrylic or hotmelt formulated and are available in a range of options that allow adhesion to even the most difficult substrates or surfaces (including moist or frozen objects, curved surfaces, even tyres!). Any attempt to remove or reposition a label with permanent adhesive is likely to create surface damage to the face stock and/or leave adhesive residue on the substrate applied to.
Removable adhesives are designed to allow long-term removability from a variety of substrates. They are popular for use with glass containers and laboratory applications where residue is not desired.
Repositional Adhesives offer short term repositionability (usually within 48 hours) and can be used for refrigerated or wet conditions. They are commonly used where automatic labelling is difficult due to the shape of the object being labelled or the conditions under which items are labelled. They give the person an opportunity to remove the current label and reposition it to the correct or desired location without noticeable damage to the face stock. Unlike permanent adhesives, repositional adhesives are easy to remove directly after labelling but do become permanent over time.
Food grade adhesives are also available for labels that will be applied directly to food products including dry, moist and non-fatty foodstuffs as well as for meat labelling.
Acrylic adhesives -All filmic face stocks utilise an acrylic adhesive. Acrylic adhesives achieve excellent clarity, UV-stability and water resistance. They have excellent tack and adhesion properties on moist or hot surfaces and are suitable for refrigerated conditions.
Hotmelt adhesives - a general multi-purpose adhesive used for heat tolerant substrates, curved moist substrates and very rough substrates. Very good adhesion to non-polar surfaces. Good low temperature performance once labelled. Especially suitable for applications where the initial adhesion and moist surface adhesion offered by dispersion adhesives are not sufficient. Also recommended for use in cold environments, particularly if the application surface is moist or if very high initial adhesion is required. Limitation: Heat resistance is inferior compared with dispersion/acrylic adhesive.
Freezer Grade Adhesive – generally only required when applying labels to products that are frozen or at very low temperatures (not when applying to a product at room temperature that will be refrigerated or frozen)
he backing material (or liner) for a label is usually coated with a silicon layer on the upper side (closest to the label stock adhesive) to allow the face stock to release from the backing as it is applied to the end product. The backing material choice may matter depending on whether you require clarity or visibility through the backing (such as when overprinting) or the strength needed for particular types of machine applicators.

Backing materials come in 3 main types: glassine, kraft or filmic.
Glassine Backing: This is a general purpose uncoated transparent backing paper that comes in a range of colour and weight variations (though usually white, yellow or a faint blue). Most popularly used for labels being overprinted as sensors can detect gaps between labels.
Kraft Backing: Kraft backing paper is coated on one side and is commonly used when extra stiffness is required. Kraft comes in a variety of weights and colours and is popularly used for sheeted or A4 laser labels as it maintains good rigidity when fed through laser and ink-jet printers and copiers.
Filmic Backing: (or clear backing) comes in either clear polyester (PET) or polypropylene (PP) and is used when the backing needs to be clear and very strong for high speed applicators.
Finishes & embellishments are the ways we enhance the aesthetics of a label, but can often also have a pragmatic purpose to improve the performance or life of the label. There are many options available to create stunning effects: special inks, varnishes, laminates, foils and embossing. Check back here regularly for updates and also see the innovations section for other interesting options available.
varnish: the application of a clear ink over a label designed for added protection and/or to give a higher gloss finish. Varnishes come in a matt, gloss or satin (a mix of the two) finish. There are also Thermal Transfer Varnishes in Matt or Gloss for use with label stocks that will be overprinted through a thermal printer.
raised screen varnish: a special varnish that creates a textured or high-build finish to highlight specific areas on a label. Used extensively in wine and cosmetics it is also becoming popular with general labelling to create a high-end finish.
overlaminate: the application of a clear plastic film onto a label, generally for added protection and better presentation of a high gloss finish.
There are 2 types of laminate: a) Laminating Film (commonly referred to as Shorco) & b) Self-adhesive clear laminate.
a) laminating film (shorco) is a lower cost clear plastic non-adhesive film (usually around 15 micron) which is applied to the label after a coating of laminate glue has gone down, and then the whole lot is ‘cured’ through a UV lamp.
b) self-adhesive clear laminate is a film that has a self-adhesive backing and is applied by the use of a pressure roller squeezing it onto the face stock. It is a thicker finish (usually around 40 micron).
foil: foiling or 'hot foil stamping' is the process of applying a metallic foil finish to labels. QLM Label Makers utilise both hot and cold foiling techniques. Popular as a way of creating highlights, it is a premium approach to creating metallic finishes (the other option is to use ink over metallic stocks). Available in a range of popular colours including gold, silver & bronze but there are also a range of colours and holographic patterns available for specialty finishes.
embossing: a technique for creating texture or a 3-dimensional raised finish on a label. The finish is achieved by pressing the label stock onto an embossing block or plate to literally push the stock out from the original position. This 'bruising' of the paper gives it a dimensional feel that is popular with insignias and logos or for certain styles of text.
light fast ink: a term used to describe inks which when applied to a label remains stable in the outdoor elements for a period of time up to around 9 months. If you require a longer application period than this for outdoor then you may need to consider screen print as an option.
Our pre-press team utilises programs on a Macintosh platform. Artwork can be proofed and approved via email, postal mail or in person. All new label designs require art approval before we proceed to having plates made.
Artwork can be supplied in the following file formats:
From Vector Drawing Programs: Illustrator CS 5.1 (Adobe Creative Suite 5.1)
From Pagination Programs: InDesign CS 5.1
Other Formats: pdf, eps, ArtPro

When sending artwork or art files please be aware of the following:
• When sending artwork that is from a pagination program (InDesign, Quark Express), please also save it as a print ready pdf file or eps file (we can edit pdf files).
• If you have an updated or later version than the programs shown above, please re-save supplied files to suit these versions, or alternatively save as print ready pdf files.
• If required please supply all necessary links and fonts or convert all fonts to outlines.
• Please supply images as high resolution, minimum 300dpi.
Whilst we take a lot of care during the proofing process, additional charges will be incurred should extra time be needed to process files, particularly from files not provided in the above formats (like Microsoft Publisher of Word). Customers are asked to check proofs thoroughly before authorising print runs as we will not accept responsibility for errors that have been incorrectly approved.
4 Colour Process (CMYK): A process similar to photography whereby the image is made by layering 4 colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). The final result can be stunning images but specific colour matching is not guaranteed in terms of consistency between runs or for spot or PMS colours.

digital print: All digital printing is 4 colour process (CMYK). Digital Print is based on minimum 300dpi resolution and is not suitable for all applications or artwork. Where necessary a trial or sample should be printed for approval.

Spot Colours: Spot colours are specific or nominated colours chosen from a PMS colour chart. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System and means that colours are specifically matched to a colour standard printed on the charts. There are some variations in colour depending upon the substrate or face stock being printed on and/or the finish of the label - but generally there is a strong consistency for colour standards. For company logos where colour is critical a PMS colour would be chosen. PMS or spot colours are usually chosen as an option for labels where only 1-3 colours are chosen. Spot colours can be added to labels with 4 colour process images as well.

Inkjet/Digital Proofs: When reviewing a proof please be aware that all digital proofs (particularly when viewed on a computer screen) are representational only. Colours vary from screen to screen and a PMS book should always be consulted to confirm the actual colour that will be printed. An inkjet proof can be provided for 4 Colour Process labels (at a nominal cost) to obtain a closer representation.
Preparation is often noted as a separate line on quotes for labels or printing. Preparation costs can be made up of a number of associated costs including: printing plates, dies or artwork/design. Usually preparation is incurred only once for new labels. Exact repeat printing does not usually require any modifications and will use previous printing plates and dies.

Plates: Press Printing is achieved by using printing plates made of a flexible material with the image impression formed on it. This is then coated with ink and laid on the face stock to create an image. When undertaking a job for the first time there is a requirement to purchase the plates. Where there are multiple styles, you can look to minimize the cost of preparation (or plates) by having ‘common plates’. This requires the information on that particular plate to be exactly as it is on other plates.

Dies: A die is the cutting tool that cuts out the shape of the label on the face stock. Die sizes vary depending on your requirements and QLM Label Makers have an extensive range of standard die sizes. If you are flexible with the size you may be able to use an existing die size otherwise a new die may be required to be purchased.

Artwork/Design: Our pre-press department has an in-house fully equipped graphic design studio. We provide artwork for a set rate per hour at very competitive rates. Artwork charges may apply for new designs or modifying existing artwork. Our knowledge of the printing process ensures that designs are able to meet the requirements of printing techniques or presses being considered, as well as ensuring the print looks its best on the substrate chosen. Ask your Sales Executive about current rates for artwork.
PRINTERS
Helpful information on maintaining your printers (by Printer Brand/Model):

Toshiba B-EV4T
Toshiba B-EV4T - Sensor Calibration

Toshiba B-472
Toshiba B-472 - Replacing the printhead
At QLM Label Makers we are all about print systems that work. Well maintained equipment is essential for keeping productivity up and waste down. A Service Agreement that covers your thermal printers gives you the peace of mind of knowing our Service Technicians will keep your equipment operating in peak condition with thorough maintenance and cleaning, and are there to help when you need it with:
* unlimited phone support
* maintenance
* highly skilled technicians


Contact us now to ensure your printers are covered:
phone: 1300 792 782 or email: qlm@qlm.com.au

sign up to receive our newsletter

join our conversation on one of our social platforms below!