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Mastering Label Application

A comprehensive guide to troubleshooting 7 common issues.

Choosing high-quality label materials with UV-resistant properties can prevent fading. Photo courtesy of Chicago Tag & Label.

Contributed by: Chicago Tag & Label

Label application is a critical phase in the packaging process, serving as the gateway for conveying vital information to consumers. The seamless integration of labels not only enhances the visual appeal of the product but also ensures that essential details are communicated accurately. However, like any intricate process, label application comes with its set of challenges.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into seven common label application problems, providing in-depth insights and practical solutions to empower manufacturers and packaging professionals.


Problem: Labels that curl can cause significant issues with loading and printing. Curling can typically be traced back to issues with the material, adhesive or environment.

Solution: To avoid issues with the label adhesive, talk to your supplier to make sure you’re using the correct adhesive for your application. Adhesive can also weaken or harden over time, so be sure to use your labels within the manufacturer-suggested timeframe. An overly dry or humid environment can also cause curling of the labels during storage and use. For example, with less than 20% humidity in the air, the labels have a higher likelihood of curling. To avoid curling, store your labels flat in a temperature-controlled environment, ideally between 62-77 degrees Fahrenheit.


Problem: Bubbling and wrinkling can significantly detract from the aesthetics of a product, leading to an unprofessional appearance.

Solution: Begin by thoroughly cleaning and drying the surface before applying labels. Utilize label applicators with built-in air expulsion mechanisms to minimize the occurrence of air pockets. Implementing controlled pressure during application can further mitigate bubbling and wrinkling.


Problem: Labels that are misaligned not only compromise the visual appeal but can also impact the functionality, especially in barcode scanning.

Solution: Invest in label applicators equipped with precision alignment features to ensure accurate placement. Introduce robust quality control measures at various stages of production, verifying alignment to uphold standards. Regular calibration of label applicators is crucial to maintaining precision.

Clean surfaces and following recommended application temperature and pressure settings will help prevent adhesion issues. Photo courtesy of Chicago Tag & Label.


Problem: Inadequate adhesion can lead to labels peeling off, diminishing the overall quality and reliability of the packaging.

Solution: Select an adhesive that aligns with the surface material characteristics. Prioritize cleanliness by thoroughly preparing surfaces and eliminating dust or oil residues. Adhere to recommended application temperature and pressure settings provided by the label material manufacturer for optimal adhesion.


Problem: Labels that tear during application or use can result in a negative customer experience and impact brand perception.

Solution: Choose label materials designed for durability. Factors such as material thickness, tensile strength and tear resistance should be considered. Adjust application speed and tension settings to prevent tearing during the labeling process.


Problem: Labels that fade or smudge over time detract from the overall quality of the packaging, affecting brand image.

Solution: Opt for high-quality label materials with UV-resistant properties to prevent fading. Utilize inks that are resistant to environmental factors such as moisture and oils. Additionally, ensure proper storage conditions for labeled products to maintain the longevity of the printed information.


Problem: Static electricity can lead to dust and debris accumulation on labels, impacting their appearance and cleanliness.

Solution: Incorporate anti-static measures into the label application process. Explore static-resistant label materials and consider the use of ionizing devices to neutralize static charges. Regularly clean equipment and implement preventive measures to minimize the effects of static electricity.

Effectively troubleshooting common label application issues requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses material selection, equipment calibration and process optimization. By investing in quality materials, implementing precise application techniques, and incorporating preventive measures, manufacturers can elevate the overall presentation and reliability of their product labels. Regular audits, quality checks and continuous improvement initiatives will contribute to a seamless and professional packaging experience, ensuring that products stand out positively in the market. WMHS

This article first appeared on the Chicago Tag & Label blog.

Chicago Tag & Label is a leading provider of innovative print solutions, including forms, labels, form labels, tags and more. With 70+ years in the industry, the U.S.-based manufacturer offers creative print solutions, competitive pricing and exceptional service. Learn more at

Four Types of Warehouse Labels

  1. Permanent labels can be used with structures or in areas that are not likely to change or be rearranged.
  2. Removable labels of vinyl or paper offer flexibility, so that when product types are moved or racks reassigned, they can easily be relabeled.
  3. Specialty labels are designed to withstand certain environments, like cold temperatures in refrigerated units or weather conditions, for products stored outside.
  4. Retroreflective labels are used for products stored at height and in dimly lit areas. Operators can effectively scan them at a distance.

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