Waterproof labels are used to protect against environmental hazards that pose a risk for exposure to moisture or water during manufacturing, transport, or storage. You can find waterproof labels being used heavily in industries such as food and beverage, marine, bath and body, and apparel where protection from moisture is a clear market requirement. Many shipping and logistics companies also rely on waterproof labels to ensure that marked drums, containers, and products arrive at their destinations with their identifying information intact.
The demand for waterproof labels has grown rapidly and is expected to continue, with an annual growth rate of 5% for the market through 2025. Waterproof materials not only reduce the risk of damage to labels from moisture but also typically provide resistance to other environmental factors as well. A number of label substrates are well-suited for resisting moisture including polyester, stainless steel, and aluminum. Additional processing can make these labels not only waterproof, but also heavily resistant to harsh chemicals, temperatures, or physical conditions. One example is Teflon-coated Metalphoto® Aluminum labels, which have a surface sealed with a Teflon layer to provide added resistance to caustics, acids, and moisture.
When considering specifications for a new label design, here are a few important reasons why waterproof labels are often chosen.
The primary reason most customers seek out a waterproof label is to protect against harsh conditions. Especially for labels that will be affixed to assets that will be transported outdoors, it’s likely that they will eventually encounter rain or snow. They are also often chosen for items that may be stored in a non-controlled warehouse environment where humidity could cause moisture to build up at certain times. In any extreme outdoor environment, many consumers will seek out a label that offers strong UV and abrasion protection and many of these options, such as highly-durable Metalphoto® Aluminum Labels, also offer excellent resistance to chemicals, abrasion, and solvents.
Especially in marine applications where the ocean presents a whole host of challenges, waterproof labels are a must, particularly labels that can withstand exposure to salt spray. Given the necessity for safety in these conditions, there are a number of federal and international regulations for the identification of hazards and information on a vessel. Waterproof labels are often selected as a means to ensure compliance and have confidence that the important data and information will remain readable for the expected lifetime of operation.
An environment that may contain water or moisture is likely to have other hazards that may pose a risk to the readability of a label. Selecting a label that is resistant to abrasion or extreme temperatures but is susceptible to corrosion could pose a risk over time. Even if a label that remains intact, if it is no longer readable, it would need to be replaced.
The strongest label possible is not going to matter if it does not remain attached to the asset. In addition to considering durability, you should also consider all materials of construction for the label and attachment options. This includes the substrate, adhesive, printing, and any finishing coating applied to the surface.
- Substrate. A number of label materials are available such as vinyl, polyester, brass, aluminum, and stainless steel. As mentioned above, each of these offers different levels of resistance to particular hazards. Always match your intended applications to these material specifications first to ensure that your substrate is waterproof or water-resistant enough based on the expected conditions.
- Printing. There are many printing processes used to create label designs including ink, laser, and etching. If you are procuring pre-fabricated labels from a trusted supplier, they can inform you of any potential risks to the printed surface itself. The substrate and any finishing can have a dramatic impact on the overall protection of the label, but it is always a good idea to confirm this, especially when expecting very harsh conditions.
- Finishing. A surface that is finished with a protective layer, such as Teflon-coated aluminum, can create a greater degree of waterproofing. Reviewing the finishing options available for labels can reveal any added or negative benefit to the ability to withstand exposure to water or moisture.
- Adhesive. The adhesive attached to labels can have a different thickness or material composition based on the intended use. Always check the suitability of the adhesive for waterproof applications and inquire about mechanical attachment, if desired, which may be available in many cases.
Ultimately, using a waterproof label reduces the risk of label loss in the event of exposure to moisture or water. Even items that will be kept in dry environments such as offices, warehouses, and laboratories may come into contact with moisture at some time. Waterproof labels have risen in popularity because they provide the peace of mind that the label will remain intact even in the unlikely event of exposure to harsher conditions.
Waterproof, weatherproof, and durable labels are becoming increasingly important for many industries that require labels that can withstand harsh environmental conditions. There are many reasons why you may require waterproof labels, and luckily, there are various label materials and design options available that can meet the requirements of nearly any application.