Linerless labels, while not a new technology, is a segment that is seeing a rise in relevancy and usage. While there are limitations, these labels provide a host of advantages for certain markets.
A typical pressure sensitive label features a facestock, adhesive and release-coated liner. By definition, pressure sensitive linerless labels do not utilize a silicone-coated release liner or a dispensing agent for application. According to Baudry Bayzelon, international sales manager for Canada-based ETI Converting Equipment, a linerless label is essentially a tape. "It is a mono web product with silicone (release coating) on one side and adhesive on the other," explains Bayzelon. "Obviously, if it is a printed product, printing must be done prior to any coating, so the web will be printed, silicone will be applied on one side, and the adhesive on the other side. Then, this coated material is wound on itself."
UK-based Ravenwood Packaging is a leader in linerless labeling technology and commonly sees usage in food markets such as produce and meat. Jeremy Woodcock, technical consultant for Ravenwood, notes, however, that the company is constantly striving to break into new markets, including those outside of food.
For I.D. Images, a label converter headquartered in Brunswick, OH, linerless labels are useful in a wide range of applications, from health and beauty and food services to hospitals and medical markets. Linerless labels are suitable for aisle shelf labeling, price tags and receipts in the retail space, as well.
Release liners can be costly and are the source of a significant amount of waste. According to AWA Alexander Watson Associates, liners account for 19-20% of the total applied cost of a pressure sensitive label. AWA notes in AWAreness Report: Linerless Labeling 2017 that printers and end users can experience a 60% cost savings on each label reel. In total, linerless labels represent about 4% of the total current pressure sensitive label market. AWA also notes that variable information print serves as the largest market for linerless labels. This includes functional uses such as warehouse tracking and logistics.
According to Ravenwood's Woodcock, there are two different types of linerless labels: the logistics form using Chemi-Thermal paper, which has little or no printing on it, and the decorative header label market, which Ravenwood supplies.
ETI's Bayzelon adds that linerless products are common in the logistic and retail label markets, where they are thermal paper applications. Most direct thermal desk printers and hand printers will accept linerless materials, he says.
Hub Labels, a Maryland-based label converter, specializes in linerless labels. Although the company is exploring new markets, proteins such as fish, poultry and meat occupy the lion's share of its work. In addition to sustainability and cost savings, John Doyle, linerless specialty segment...