Label media has many features that make it a good fit for a particular application. Media material such as paper, polypropelene, polyester or vinyl, will have a particular finish, such as glossy, satin, matte or something in between. The facestock coating of a media provides the excellent image quality when combined with ink and can provide chemical resistance. And the adhesive on the media can vary from permanent to easily removable. All these factors are part of any media roll order.
There is another media variable that is critical for the NeuraLabel 300x printer. This is the release liner, the layer that causes the media with its adhesive to stick to the media backing or liner. The release agent used in the labeling industry is often silicon. For the end user the release agent is an invisible substance that sits between the label with its adhesive and the label backing or liner.
NeuraLabel 300x printers require label materials to have a medium to tight release liner. Medias with loose liners are at risk of pre-dispensing within the printer itself, resulting in damage to the printhead. Release can be measured in grams of force, but there are many factors that contribute to a specific media release. The trick is to determine exactly what makes for a tighter release for a particular media. Here’s what we learned.
There are many factors that contribute to release, in addition to the amount of release agent (silicone) added to the label.
- Thickness of label material. Thicker media may release easier.
- Stiffness of label material and/or backing. Stiffer media may release easier.
- Adhesive used (permanent or removable) which is different than the release layer. The adhesive may react with the release layer and affect the release.
- Size of the Label; smaller releases easier.
- Speed of Media Movement. Faster printing may cause the media to release easier.
While each of the above factors can influence the release measurement, we don’t often know whether the manufacturer has accounted for these factors and adjusted the release liner. Paper media generally is thinner and will release easier than synthetic; but the manufacturer may or may not have adjusted the liner to account for that fact. One vendor explained that a normal release polyjet might be 10-18 grams, while a normal release paper might be 2-5 grams. This particular paper example would not be a good fit for the 300x. Another vendor offers paper with a normal release of 15-40 grams. A tighter release for the same product would be in the 40-60 gram range. While release is measurable, the point is that the terms normal and tight have different definitions not only based on media, but depending on the media manufacturer as well.
The best way to ensure your media is compatible with the NeuraLabel 300x printer is to specify tight release to your media provider. Tight release media means that the labels will not tend to pre-dispense inside the printer, resulting in the dreaded “stuck label.” Of course we cannot guarantee the elimination of stuck media completely. Damaged or crooked media almost certainly puts the printer at risk. But using this tight media best practice will greatly increase the probability of printing success.
NeuraLabel continues to research medias and works with many media manufactures and label conversion companies. Our goal is to provide a list specific tight release products and sources and we are in the process of understanding and organizing this list.
A special thanks to these companies for assistance with our tight release research to date. Please contact us if you are a media maker or converter and want to be a part of this project.
Please watch for more information on tight release in upcoming blogs. For a list of recommended medias based on facestock visit our Qualified Media web page.