Automatic Identification and Data Collection is an essential part of any business, regardless of where it is in the supply chain. These practices help a business gather information on its products and functioning, allowing it to optimize its operations. One such commonly used technology is a barcode. These help users identify the product group of items and give them some asset identification & tracking capabilities. With a variety of products available in the market, you cannot hope to use a singular type of barcode label on all of them.
That is why, there are a variety of labels available for use, Today, we are discussing the difference between polyester and polypropylene labels. Hopefully, this blog will help you understand the different characteristics, pros, and cons of these two.
What are Barcode Labels and Why Are They Made Using Different Materials?
There are two methods of creating barcodes for AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Collection) applications, namely – Direct Thermal, and Thermal Transfer Printing. When talking about labels, let’s put aside direct thermal, since they don’t use labels. Thermal Transfer Printing (TTP) refers to the process of printing barcodes, where we use a thin film, known as a ribbon to print codes on labels. The ribbon contains a layer of wax/ribbon and adhesive on one side, which is melted and imprinted on the label to create codes.
There are several different materials that we can use to make a label. This is done to provide the label with different material properties, suitable for different applications. The choice of material also affects the durability and cost of printing. Today, we will talk about the two most commonly used label types, namely – polypropylene, and polyester.
Comparison Between Polyester and Polypropylene Label
A factor that affects the properties of a barcode like its durability, resistance, etc, depends on the ribbon coating. However, another thing that greatly affects this, is the label material. So, let us discuss the pros and cons of both polyester & polypropylene labels.
Durability Compared to Other Labels
When compared to other types of labels like polyimide and paper, polypropylene labels provide a great deal of durability. On the other hand, polyester labels, are by far the most durable type of barcode labels there are in the market.
Vulnerabilities & Resistance
When it comes to protecting against damage, polypropylene is a good choice, as it provides good resistance against scratches and is even resistant to water and chemical damage to some degree. However, it lacks any degree of flexibility & will start to fail under constant exposure to water, and chemical and physical abrasions. On the other hand, polyester labels provide a good level of resistance against chemical and water damage. It is also extremely resistant against abrasions.
In terms of lifespan, the polyester labels are the clear winners, they can remain functional for more than 10 years in good condition. Polypropylene labels, however, have a lifespan of 6 months to 2 years at most.
Cost becomes a huge factor when implementing any technology into a business, especially as the scale of a business increases. With the increase in the volume of items, you can see an explosive increase in the cost of barcode use. Polypropylene can cost on average, 3 times more than paper and polyimide labels. On the other hand, polyester labels are the most expensive amongst barcode labels, they can cost as much as 10 times that of paper. However, in the end, you will have to choose the label that is most compatible with your item and the environment it needs to operate in, regardless of the cost.
Lastly, the ability of a label to withstand stretching and warping can lead to a variety of suitable applications. For example, vinyl provides the best flexibility among any label material. Polypropylene doesn’t provide any level of flexibility, polyester provides some flexibility, making it perfect for rugged environments.
Applications of Polyester and Polypropylene Labels
As we discussed above, these two materials provide varying degrees of properties and capabilities to labels. These characteristics can make them suitable for some applications while making them unsuitable for others. So, below is the list of applications for both of these types of labels.
4. Retail Shelves
1. Electric Motors
6. Automobile Parts
7. Industrial Tools & Equipment
The purpose of implementing different materials while manufacturing similar products is to harness different material properties. As we’ve seen in the blog above, both polyester and polypropylene provide different sets of benefits and disadvantages for users. In conclusion, there is no clear answer for which type of label is better than the other. Instead, when selecting a label, you need to factor in its material properties and costs to deduct the best option for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Are polypropylene labels waterproof?
Ans - No, polypropylene labels provide a good degree of water resistance, but they are not waterproof. In addition, constant long-term exposure to water will most probably damage these labels.
Q2. What is the difference between PE and PP labels?
Ans - As the names may suggest, these two labels are made from different types of materials. Giving them separate material properties, and certain advantages & disadvantages over each other in terms of application.
Q3. What are barcode labels made of?
Ans - Barcode labels are a component used in Thermal Transfer Printing to make barcodes for AIDC solutions. Due to their vast applications, they are made of different materials to make them suitable for a variety of industrial use. There are five common types of labels in use today, named after the material used to make them – Paper, Polyester, Polypropylene, Polyimide, and Vinyl Labels.
- Last updated on May 24, 2023