Weathering the Storm
Weather- and water-resistant labels withstand harsh elements
By Stacey Wenzel
You wouldn't dare go to the beach without sunscreen, would you? Or brave winter's snow and cold temperatures without wearing a hat and gloves? We all know that we need to protect ourselves from such extreme elements.
The same holds true for labels. If a label can't survive harsh conditions, then it can't perform its job properly. However, with the right protection, labels can withstand some of the most demanding environments.
According to Carl Gerlach, director of marketing for Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based Gill Studios, the outdoor durability of a label or decal typically is affected by two main factors
1. Weathering. This refers to such outdoor conditions as rain and snow.
2. The sun. According to Gerlach, the sun is one of the most damaging elements a label or decal can face. "The sun will fade an ink faster than all the rain you can put on it," he said.
"One of the simplest ways [to make a label weather- or water-resistant] is to use what we call a self-wound, clear polypropylene material," said John Abbott, national marketing manager for Metro Label, Garland, Texas. "If you saw a roll of this, it would look like a large roll of Scotch tape. We laminate this material over the top of the label and the printed graphics. This protects the label from the elements."
Abbott also suggested applying a UV varnish, which is done using a print station on press. "The varnish starts out as a liquid," he said. "It is flood coated over the entire printed label and then rapidly cured using an ultraviolet exposure unit. This cures or hardens the varnish. The cured varnish becomes a very capable protective shield for the label."
A third method Metro Label uses to protect its products is a special catalyzed ink that is resistant to moisture and chemicals. "This ink is printed on a polyester or vinyl material that will withstand exposure to the elements," noted Abbott.