CCL Industries Corp., 161 Worcester Road, Suite 603, Framingham, MA 01701 U.S.A.

Your Perfect Label: Paper or Film

Deciding whether to use paper or film on your custom label can be confusing. CCL has information to help you make the right decision.
Your Perfect Label from CCL

Your Perfect Label: Paper or Film

Printing custom labels allows you to design the label to fit your specific needs, and this includes using the appropriate substrate, or material, for your label. The pressure sensitive label is created with either a paper or film label material (substrate). It can sometimes be confusing and difficult to know which is best for your label. We hope this information can help!


What is pressure sensitive?

First, we need to identify a pressure sensitive label. In the simplest terms, pressure sensitive labels have a sticky side that allows it to be stuck on your product. As the chart shows, a pressure sensitive label has multiple layers, including the facestock (paper or film), adhesive, and release liner.

Let’s talk about the substrate options.


Paper Substrate

A paper substrate is exactly what it sounds like; it’s paper, just like your everyday paper in a notebook. Of course, there are lots of options with thicknesses and coatings that make it more suitable for the printing process and your label.

As one of the most economical substrate options, typical paper for label making will be 54lb – 65lb with the most common being 60# semi gloss. Most paper is a cream white or blue white color.

Coated paper has an excellent ink holdout, which allows for brighter, sharper, and higher quality printing. Uncoated paper will not have the same benefits.

Custom labels often require a special ink or varnish to be used. Paper is great for accepting these various printing technologies.

The major downfall to paper substrates is exposure to weather. Water can cause the ink to run and ruin. Booklet label pages can get stuck together – almost fusing together – when exposed to water. Paper is also more likely to yellow, fade and break down when exposed to sunlight.

Using lamination can help make paper more durable but it’s not a fix-all solution. Paper is not the best option for labels exposed to weather elements.

Metallized Film rollsFilm Substrate

Film is a substrate made from plastic polymer pellets that have been melted and pumped through flat rollers. The three main types of film are Polyethylene (PE), Polyolefin, and Polypropylene (BOPP). We won’t go into the science of how each are made; all you need to know is these types provide a variety of options dealing with thickness, stretch, tear direction, tensile strength, and appearance. CCL has the experience and knowledge to help identify the best type of film for your label.

All film substrates offer durability to UV, heat, chemical, abrasions, and autoclave exposures. This durability typically last for about 6 months of exposure to these conditions, making film one of the longest lasting label making substrates.

Film also has durability in tear resistance that come in handy for tamper evident labels and allows resealable labels to be opened and resealed multiple times without damaging the film substrate.

Polyolefin film is very flexible and conformable. This feature makes it great for multi-curved containers.

In situations of water exposure, film substrates are a great option since they can resist water/moisture without ruining the printed inks. Film can last much longer than paper when exposed to harsh weather elements. Although, there is a price to pay for this durability – film is typically more expensive than paper.

Films are available in a white, hazy clear, and clear appearance; making them the obvious choice for “no label look” on clear containers.

CCL Label is a leader in both paper and film label printing and innovations. For more information and help deciding whether paper or film is right for your custom label, contact us here.