Bar Code Labels Can Take The Heat

WincoID_polyimides_at_hi_tempMany everyday labeling applications such as on printed circuit boards require printed bar codes, safety and warning labels with legibility and adhesive bonds that must survive high temperatures – upwards of 500 degrees F. Labels that fail are visible by your customers and can mean costly interruptions in production or shipping. 

(Shown here are the effects of time and temperature (315oC / 600oF for 50 minutes) on a "standard" polyimide label from a competitor, compared to a new generation, lead free polyimide label TT407. These new polyimide labels are designed for the higher temperatures required for lead free soldering processes.)

What do you need to know to avoid this?

Labels exposed to higher temperatures are subject to shrinkage, discoloration, peeling, lifting, and cracking.  Shrinkage can distort bar codes and produce an adhesive halo on the substrate. Bar codes may not scan correctly, information is lost. The adhesive bleed may interfere with how labels come off the liner, apply to the product or attract dust/dirt. 

Resistance to discoloration is another important feature of high temperature label materials to protect the clarity of printed information, product identification, and bar code scanning. High temperature labels are matched with adhesives that perform without lifting, peeling or drop-off.

Having the right balance between “shear”, “tack” and “peel” assures proper adhesion when applied, during expected use, and at removal for best performance of the adhesive at high temperatures.

Assessing The Variables

One of the key factors to consider is the maximum temperature and duration of that temperature in which the label will be expected to perform. These two factors are key to determining the correct label material for your application and will assure excellent performance.

Will the label face the high temperature when the labeled product is in the manufacturing process? If your label faces a combination of heat, abrasion and chemical exposure you may need an overlaminate to protect the label performance.

What about labels subject to both high and low temperatures? Certain durable label materials are designed to go from one extreme to another. It’s always best to know this up front.

Will variable information be added to the label?  This may impact the selection of label material, overlaminate areas or ribbon choice. In some instances, a topcoat is added to the label surface for best printability and durability.

Making the Right Choice

Working with your label converter up front will address key questions to determine the right pressure-sensitive labeling product for your WincoID_pcb_2Dapplication.

Often, a simple polyester will provide the performance required. Polyester has very good thermal resistance, along with excellent clarity, chemical resistance, and durability.

White polyester is a popular choice for material tracking labels, safety/hazard/instructional labels, and product identification labels, and clear polyester is often used as an overlaminate.

When temperature-resistance demands are more robust – such as in an aerospace or automotive application – it may be necessary to look at a higher performing product such as Kapton®.

Although a higher priced solution, Kapton does offer superior heat resistance, along with excellent dimensional stability, and physical, electrical and mechanical properties. It is very popular for printed circuit boards.

Selecting the right label for high temperature or durable labels doesn’t have to be complicated. Let Winco ID walk you through the process of selecting the label for the harshest environments, handling, time, chemical exposure and more.  Contact David Holliday at 603.598.1553 for more information about services and products from Winco ID. 

Above: 2D barcodes can store more data in smaller spaces than linear barcodes

About the Author:

David Holliday, Sales Manager for Winco ID, is author and creator of LabelingNews, The Labeling, Barcode, and RFID Magazine. David has extensive technical experience with barcode equipment and labeling for many industries. LabelingNews was created to deliver the latest bar code and labeling industry news, product reviews, and ideas you won't find anywhere else.

About Winco ID:

Founded in 1980, Winco ID delivers innovative labeling, bar coding, and RFID identification systems. Their bar code and label solutions are used in real-world applications that serve the electronics, manufacturing, healthcare, defense, pharmaceutical, food distributions, and consumer goods industries, among others. As a leading label manufacturer, Winco ID understands the process and details to produce labels that won’t fail even in the most challenging applications.

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