What Are Durable Labels?

A durable label is any label that is a permanent and functional part of the final product. These labels serve to identify and protect the product for its lifetime, and they are often tasked with some type of unique performance. Whether it be security, track-and-trace, or holding up in harsh weather or chemical environments, durable labels have a job to do and it is critical that they perform their best.

Durable labels must withstand the test of time in varying conditions. Typically, their lifespan is 6 months or longer, and during this time they must continually perform. Outdoor exposure brings UV rays, moisture, and humidity. Extreme temperature environments or changes may also be a factor, as well as the need to resist exposure to certain chemicals or oils. And finally, many industries must meet UL Certification standards with these types of labels as well.


What Affects Durability?

The durability of a label is impacted by two main factors: adhesion and ink anchorage. If a label fails to remain securely fastened to the surface on which it has been applied, there is risk of the label peeling away from the surface or disengaging completely. On the other end of the spectrum, if the label continues to adhere but the printed information on the label becomes compromised, either through wear-and-tear or environmental exposure, the label can no longer serve its purpose and may create an unsafe environment for the end user.


Anatomy of a Durable Label

Basic label construction includes these key elements: topcoat, facestock, adhesive, release coat, and liner.

Image Courtesy of 3M™

There are many material options for each layer of a durable label, and specific combinations based on a project’s unique circumstances will yield the best label performance for that situation.


Durable Label Project Considerations

It is important when scoping a durable label project that you consider more than just the price. While price is of course an important factor in every project, there are several other considerations in a durable label project that will ultimately drive your decision making.

Consider the big picture to set parameters for your project. Understanding the expected lifespan, journey, and end user will add valuable insights to your label material selections. Before you pick a material, print method, etc. you should answer several questions in partnership with your trusted Packaging Advisor.

Durable Labels Project Planning Sheet Free Download

Durable Label Planning Questions

  • How long will the label be in use?
  • What environment will the label be stored in?
  • What environment will the label be applied in?
  • Will the labels be applied by hand or machine?
  • If applied by auto-applicator, what rewind and artwork direction do you need?
  • How many labels per role do you need?
  • What core size and maximum outer diameter is acceptable?
  • What kind of surface is the label being applied to?
  • What is the end-user environment?
  • What is the label size and shape?
  • How many labels do you need?
  • How frequently will you need to update or revise your artwork?
  • Are there any UL or other certifications that must be met?

Answering these questions with a qualified sales representative will determine your range of label substrate, finishing options, and print method.

For more detail: Download our Durable Label Project Planning Sheet Here


3M™ Durable Label Adhesives

3M offers a variety of durable label adhesives to meet the needs of your unique project. These products range in cohesion and adhesion levels to fit the needs of any situation.

  • 350 Perfectly Balanced Acrylic
  • P1480 Quick Tack LSE Acrylic
  • 320 High Holding Acrylic


3M™ Durable Label Facestock Materials

Depending on the application and level of durability desired, 3M offers several facestock options for durable labels.

  • Application-Specific: Styrene, Acetate, Paper
  • Product Leadership: Vinyl, PP, PE
  • Extreme Durability: PET, Acrylate


3M™ Security Label Solutions

Did you know? Counterfeiting is expected to grow at a rate of 3% annually. Tamper-evident durable label materials are available to ensure brand protection and product traceability.

Image Courtesy of 3M™


To learn about these materials in detail, watch our webinar on Durable Labels for Critical Applications:

Watch Webinar On Demand

Getting Started with Durable Labels

The BoxMaker is your Pacific Northwest resource for durable labels. As a 3M™ Associate Converter, our team of Packaging Advisors are uniquely positioned to evaluate your durable labels project and consult on the best materials mix for you.