What is a Pressure Sensitive Label? – A Complete Explanation 

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Pressure-sensitive labels, also known as self-adhesive labels, are adhesive labelling solutions that secure to surfaces upon applying Pressure, bypassing the need for heat, water, or solvent for activation. 

Pressure-sensitive labels are made of a flexible material – such as paper, film, or foil – and are coated on one side with a sticky substance (adhesive) that allows them to stick to various surfaces. The adhesive is protected by a backing or release liner removed at the time of application.

In this article, we’ll cover the essentials of pressure-sensitive labels, including their components and how they work. We’ll also highlight their benefits and various applications, clearly understanding why they’re a popular choice across industries.

For an in-depth exploration and insights into the multifaceted aspects of labelling, refer to our article, What is Labelling? 

What are the Components of a Pressure Sensitive Label?

Four components of a pressure-sensitive label

Pressure-sensitive labels comprise three essential components.

  • Face stock
  • Adhesive
  • Liner

Let’s explore each pressure-sensitive label component in detail. 

Face Stock

The face stock is the primary canvas for the label’s visual and textual content. It is the most visible component, which is directly printed with the label’s design, branding, and informational content. 

The choice of face stock material is crucial, influencing the label’s aesthetic appeal, functionality, and durability. Face stock materials vary widely to accommodate different product needs and packaging designs, including paper, film, and metallic foil options. 

In addition to these materials, face stocks can receive various treatments or coatings to enhance their properties. 

For instance, a topcoat or laminate might be applied to protect the printed artwork from wear and tear, improve resistance to external factors, or add a specific finish (matte, glossy, textured) to the label. 

Let’s explore each face stock material in detail. 

Paper Facestock

Paper face stock offers a classic and versatile option for various applications. It provides an excellent surface for printing, resulting in clear and vibrant graphics. Paper face stock is commonly used for products that do not require moisture or tear resistance. However, it’s not suitable for products exposed to moisture or oils, such as beverage bottles or bath products, where its lack of water resistance could be a drawback.

Dry goods packaging like cereal boxes and office supplies such as file folders and notebooks are perfect for paper face stock. 

Film Facestock

Film face stock, composed of synthetic materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester, boasts exceptional durability and resistance to environmental factors. It effectively withstands moisture, chemicals, and the harmful effects of UV light, ensuring prolonged product lifespan and integrity. 

This makes film face stock ideal for labels on personal care products like shampoo bottles, body washes, and food packaging that requires refrigeration, including meat and dairy products. However, it is not the best choice for products where a natural or matte appearance is preferred, such as organic food items or eco-friendly products.

Metallic Foil Facestock

The metallic foil face stock adds a premium and eye-catching finish to labels. It is often used for luxury products or items that need to stand out on the shelf. This type of face stock is commonly chosen for high-end wine labels, luxury cosmetics packaging, and specialty chocolate boxes, where its reflective quality can attract consumer attention. 

However, the glossy finish of metallic foil face stock is not ideal for products requiring a large amount of text or detailed instructions, as it can affect readability.


The adhesive layer is the critical component that enables a pressure-sensitive label to adhere to a product or packaging surface. This layer’s composition is tailored to the label’s specific application requirements and the environmental conditions it will encounter. The right adhesive ensures the label remains securely attached to the surface throughout the product’s lifecycle.

Pressure-sensitive label adhesives are of two types: rubber adhesive and acrylic adhesive. 

Rubber-Based Adhesives

Rubber adhesives are particularly effective on plastic surfaces and are known for their excellent long-term adhesion. However, they may exhibit a yellowish tint over time, which is less desirable for transparent containers. 

Additionally, rubber adhesives are not the best fit for extreme temperatures or prolonged exposure to sunlight, as their performance can degrade under such conditions.

Acrylic-Based Adhesives

Acrylic adhesives boast a superior temperature range and resistance to UV light, ensuring durability and longevity even in challenging environments. While they also provide strong long-term adhesion, their effectiveness is somewhat reduced on plastic surfaces compared to rubber adhesives.

Adhesives are categorised further based on their properties and intended use. They include:

  • Permanent adhesives
  • Removable adhesives
Permanent Adhesives

Permanent adhesives create a robust attachment that is challenging to sever without harming the label or the product’s surface. They are crafted for scenarios where a label’s bond must last as long as the product itself. 

This type of adhesive is crucial for safety labels on industrial machinery, branding on outdoor equipment, and identification labels on electronics, where enduring adhesion is non-negotiable for reliability and compliance.

Removable Adhesives

Removable adhesives allow labels to be detached cleanly without leaving behind residue or damaging the item’s surface. This feature is particularly beneficial for retail settings, enabling easy updates to price tags on clothing and promotional stickers on books. 

Removable adhesives cater to dynamic marketing needs and inventory changes, providing a practical solution for temporary labelling requirements.


The liner serves as the protective backing that holds the label until it’s ready for application. Its primary function is to prevent the adhesive from sticking to anything before usage. Liner is usually made from silicone-coated paper or film.  

Coating Technologies for Liner Adhesive Application

The application of adhesives involves sophisticated coating technologies, each tailored to optimise the adhesive’s bond and performance. Here are the key methods used to apply adhesives to the liner. 

  • Hot Melt Application: This cost-effective method directly applies rubber-based adhesives in a molten state onto the liner, offering a quick and efficient solution for labels requiring rubber adhesives.
  • Emulsion Technology: Primarily used for acrylic-based adhesives, this technique suspends the adhesive in water before applying it to the liner, allowing for a uniform and consistent coating that enhances the adhesive’s performance.
  • Solvent Coating: Suitable for both rubber and acrylic adhesives, solvent coating dissolves the adhesive in a solvent solution before application, resulting in high clarity and performance.

How do Pressure Sensitive Labels Work?

Pressure-sensitive labels work in the following manner. 

  • Adhesive Activation: Pressure-sensitive labels activate through direct pressure without needing heat, water, or solvents. This method ensures a strong, immediate bond to various surfaces, simplifying the labelling process.
  • Label Construction: Each Pressure-sensitive label is a composite of three essential layers: the face stock, which displays the label’s design and information; the adhesive layer, which bonds the label to the surface; and the liner, which protects the adhesive until the label is ready for use. 
  • Application Process: Applying a pressure-sensitive label involves removing the liner to reveal the adhesive, positioning the label on the desired surface, and applying pressure to secure it in place. This straightforward process can be performed manually or with automated equipment, making it efficient for various product labelling needs.


Automating the application of pressure-sensitive labels not only streamlines the labelling process but also significantly boosts operational efficiency. Labelling machines emerge as crucial tools in this context, offering precision and speed that manual methods can’t match. To learn how these machines can become a game-changer in your production line, delve into our article on What are Labelling Machines?

What are the Advantages of Using Pressure-Sensitive Labels?

Eight benefits of using pressure-sensitive labels

Below are some benefits of pressure sensitive labels. 

Versatility in Application

Pressure-sensitive labels excel in versatility, securely adhering to various materials, including glass, plastic, metal, and paper. This adaptability is crucial for brands, enabling consistent branding across diverse product lines. 


Pressure-sensitive labels are designed to withstand environmental challenges, including moisture, temperature fluctuations, and exposure to UV light. Their resilience ensures that the label remains intact and legible throughout the product’s lifecycle, from the shelf to the consumer’s hands. 


The design flexibility of pressure-sensitive labels is unparalleled, allowing for customisation in shape, size, material, and finish to align with brand identity perfectly. This level of customisation supports unique branding opportunities, enabling products to stand out on the shelf. 

Printing Options

Pressure-sensitive labels are compatible with various printing technologies, including thermal printing, digital printing and flexographic printing. This flexibility in printing options ensures that brands can choose the most suitable method for their needs, balancing cost, quality, and production speed.

At Triton, we excel as your ultimate destination for thermal printing solutions, offering an expansive selection of thermal printers from top-tier brands like Epson, Element, Senor, Honeywell, Zebra, and TSC, as well as vibrant colour label printers from OKI

Our collection is meticulously designed to cater to various business needs, featuring industrial printers, desktop printers, direct thermal printers, thermal transfer printers, barcode label printers, mobile printers, and receipt printers.

Understanding that a printer plays a critical role within a broader operational framework, Triton Store’s offerings extend to an extensive array of accessories and premium thermal printheads from renowned manufacturers like  Zebra, Honeywell, TSC, Intermec, Datamax, SATO, and Bizerba.

Our accessory inventory has spare printer parts and accessories, waterproof printer enclosures, cables and cleaning wipes, all curated to enhance your printing processes and deliver consistently high-quality results.

Moreover, Triton stands as a prime source of essential thermal printer consumables vital for crafting standout labels. Our diverse product range encompasses thermal transfer ribbons, a variety of thermal labels, thermal carton labels, specialised thermal carcase tags, food-compliant thermal inserts, receipt rolls, and tailored shipping & freight labels

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current system or embark on a new venture, Triton Store is your comprehensive resource for thermal printing innovations. Don’t hesitate to contact us via our live chat feature. Our dedicated team is ready to provide exceptional service and support customised to meet your unique requirements.


Pressure-sensitive labels are economically advantageous, offering cost savings for both short and long-production runs. 

Their straightforward application process eliminates the need for additional equipment or materials, such as solvents or heat tunnels, reducing upfront costs and minimising waste. This efficiency translates into lower overall production expenses, making pressure-sensitive labels a cost-effective choice for businesses of all sizes. 

No Additional Equipment Required

Pressure-sensitive labels do not require special machinery for application. This feature starkly contrasts other labelling methods that may need heat, water, or solvents, along with the associated equipment for activation. 

The simplicity of pressure application means that businesses can apply these labels manually for small-scale operations or use basic labelling machines for higher volumes without significant capital investment. 

Sustainability Options

Pressure-sensitive labels offer options for sustainability-conscious brands looking to minimise their environmental impact. With advancements in material science, eco-friendly face stocks made from recycled content, biodegradable materials, or renewable resources are increasingly available. 

Additionally, adhesives that facilitate easier packaging material recycling by allowing clean label removal are being developed. These sustainable label options support brands in achieving their environmental goals, such as reducing waste and improving the recyclability of their packaging.

Security Features

Pressure-sensitive labels can be engineered with advanced security features to protect against tampering and counterfeiting. Options such as void patterns, which leave a residue when the label is removed, and destructible materials that break apart if tampered with provide visible evidence of interference. 

Additionally, covert features like micro text, watermarks, or UV-fluorescent inks can be incorporated for authentication purposes, making it easier for brands to safeguard their products. These security measures are crucial for industries where product integrity is paramount, such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and luxury goods. 

To dive deeper into the world of secure labelling and explore the full range of tamper-proof solutions, visit our detailed guide: What Are Tamper-Proof Labels? This resource provides an in-depth look at how tamper-proof labels work and the ways they can fortify your product security. 

Applications of Pressure Sensitive Labels

Seven industries for the application of pressure sensitive labels

Pressure-sensitive labels have carved a niche across a wide array of industries thanks to their versatility, ease of application, and compatibility with a diverse range of materials. Below are some of the primary applications of pressure-sensitive labels:

  • Packaging and Branding: Pressure-sensitive labels are widely used in the packaging of food and beverages, cosmetics, healthcare products, and household goods. They offer a high degree of design, shape, and size customisation, allowing brands to create distinctive and attractive packaging that stands out on the shelves. 
  • Pharmaceuticals: Pressure-sensitive labels provide product information, instructions, expiration dates, and batch numbers. Their ability to adhere to various container shapes and materials makes them ideal for bottles, vials, and boxes.
  • Automotive: Pressure-sensitive labels are used for labelling parts and components. They are designed to withstand harsh conditions, such as high temperatures and chemical exposure, ensuring that important information remains legible over time.
  • Electronics: The electronics industry relies on pressure-sensitive labels for identifying components and providing instructions and warning notices. These labels are engineered to adhere to surfaces without interfering with the functionality of the electronic device.
  • Logistics and Shipping: Serving a critical role in logistics and shipping, pressure-sensitive labels are used for addressing, tracking, and handling instructions. Their robustness guarantees that they withstand the rigours of transport, maintaining legibility and adherence throughout the journey.
  • Retail: In retail settings, pressure-sensitive labels facilitate pricing, barcoding, and product description tasks. Their straightforward application and removal process aligns perfectly with dynamic pricing strategies and efficient inventory management.
  • Wine and Spirits: The wine and spirits industry favours pressure-sensitive labels for their premium look and feel. They allow for creative designs and textures, enhancing the product’s appeal and conveying brand identity. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How are Pressure-Sensitive Labels Applied?

Pressure-sensitive labels are applied by removing the liner to expose the adhesive layer, positioning the label on the desired surface, and then applying pressure to secure the label in place. This process can be done manually or with automated equipment, making it efficient and versatile for various packaging needs.

What Materials are Used in Pressure-Sensitive Labels?

The materials used in pressure-sensitive labels include paper, film, and foil for the face stock, with silicone-coated paper or film as the liner. The adhesive layer can be made from various substances, including acrylic and rubber-based adhesives, tailored to specific application requirements.

Can Pressure-Sensitive Labels Withstand Environmental Conditions?

Yes, pressure-sensitive labels can be designed to withstand various environmental conditions, including moisture, extreme temperatures, and UV light exposure. The choice of materials and adhesives plays a crucial role in determining the label’s resilience to these factors.

How Do Pressure-Sensitive Labels Differ From Traditional Labels?

Pressure-sensitive labels differ from traditional labels in their method of application and adhesive properties. They do not require heat, water, or solvents for activation, relying instead on applying pressure to adhere to surfaces. This makes them more versatile and easier to use across various applications.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, pressure-sensitive labels are a pivotal component in the packaging and labelling industry, offering unmatched versatility and efficiency across many sectors. 

From enhancing brand visibility on retail shelves to ensuring the safety and integrity of pharmaceutical products, these labels adapt to meet the diverse needs of modern businesses. Their ease of application, durability, and customisation options make them an indispensable tool for companies looking to combine practicality with aesthetic appeal. 

As industries continue to evolve, the role of pressure-sensitive labels in facilitating effective communication, compliance, and branding is set to grow, solidifying their place as a cornerstone of packaging solutions.

We hope this article was useful. 

Thanks for reading! 

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