Screenprinting Dominates in Durability
A long-established printing technique, silkscreen reigns supreme over the durable label market.
Ancient Egyptians were using papyrus stencils and pigments to duplicate images as early as 2300 B.C. However, modern screenprinting likely stems from patents applied for in the early 1900s. And except for the introduction of photographic stencils around that time, and the impact of computer technology in the '80s, the process remains relatively unchanged.
So does the fact that a screenprinted label is the most durable product on the market. "The key," explained Mike Evans, marketing manager for Omaha, Nebraska-based Lancer Label, "is that compared to other printing techniques, screenprinting lays down the thick deposits of ink for unsurpassed durability."
While over-laminates will strengthen a substrate and offer protection from moisture and abrasions, they will not prevent inks from fading due to sunlight. Yet, even without a protective layer, colorfast ultraviolet (UV) screenprinting inks—combined with polyester or vinyl substrates and permanent adhesives—can weather the harshest environments.
Said Bob Roeda, president of Screentech, South Holland, Ill., "Manufacturers usually guarantee screenprinted labels for one year, but these products typically last up to four or five years."
Roeda noted that not all screen inks are UV-cured. Some conventional inks air dry and will fade over time. Ultraviolet inks, on the other hand, are innately rich and glossy and the curing power of the UV dryer ensures the durability of those vibrant colors.
Evans reminded distributors that when selling these products they must take into account whether the customer needs roll or sheeted label products. "If the label will be auto applied, a roll format is necessary to accommodate the application machine. These labels must be produced with special attention to the die cuts in order for them to come off the liner properly," he said.
Labels, decals and stickers that are more consumer oriented or promotional in nature are typically sheeted applications, and require a thicker liner. "With sheeted products it's essential to select the correct liners to prevent the sheets from curling," Evans said.