Wasp Barcode Technologies: The Barcode Solution People

Scanning Labels for Extreme Temperatures

Gloved Hand Scanning Labels designed for Extreme Temperatures

Whether you keep your inventory in small, temperature-controlled warehouses, or your inventory is subjected to harsh environments filled with extreme heat, freezing temperatures, sunlight, sand, chemical interaction, or abrasion, there is a scanning label, or barcode label, built to withstand such extreme conditions.

If you expect your inventory or other important assets will be exposed to harsh conditions like extreme heat or weather, scanning labels created with thermal transfer technology are likely your best option to ensure long-lasting durability.

Labels for Extreme Heat

Thermal transfer technology is a type of barcode printer technology that uses heat to bond a film of resin or wax to the label. These printers may be more expensive to maintain over time, but the barcodes they create are ideal for surviving long periods of time in harsh conditions.

When using thermal transfer technology, synthetic materials are often used. Synthetic materials that are built to withstand harsh environments and extreme conditions include:

  • Polypropylene: A 3-millimeter thick label with a plastic film and aggressive adhesive backing, this material is temperature-resistant up to 175°F and stands up well (i.e., little scratching or smearing) under chemical resistance.
  • Polyester: This material, while thinner than polypropylene, is often used for long-lasting labels that can withstand up to 270-300°F and is highly chemical- and solvent-resistant.
  • Polyimide: These industrial labels can withstand high temperatures (up to 500°F) as well as wave soldering, fluxes, chemical washes and cleaners -- great for circuit boards.

If abrasion is not an issue, premium polyester labels are often seen as one of the best and most economical choices for durable labels on the market. They are often sub-surface printed, which provides an extra layer of protection against low-level abrasion and things like caustics and acids.

However, if you’re in the market for the most durable and extremely long-lasting labels out there, and are comfortable investing more to ensure your barcodes withstand anything thrown at them, consider these even stronger options:

  • Anodized aluminum foil labels: These labels are made of .003” aluminum material and can conform to curved surfaces, which is particularly helpful when applying labels to tools and other assets. The barcode is sealed within an anodic layer (anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts a metal surface into an anodic oxide finish that makes the label durable and corrosion-resistant) of the aluminum. After applying the label to a surface with an aggressive adhesive, the barcode should survive all levels of temperature, chemicals, and abrasion.
  • Metal tags: Environments of the most extreme measure, where temperatures can reach up to 1000°F, may require metal barcode tags. These are made up of .008” thick aluminum, but other thicknesses are possible as well (up to .063”). If the tags are intensified, the tags can withstand high temperatures and even improve image resistance against environmental conditions like UV rays. Because they are tags and not traditional adhesive labels, producing them with holes that allow businesses to fasten the labels to their assets is an option.

Labels for Freezing Temperatures

Frigid environments require freezer-grade adhesive labels. This includes all temperatures below 32°F and subzero temperatures.

Scanning labels ideal for cold storage and other cold-temperature applications are designed with a specialized freezer or deep-freeze adhesive to ensure they adhere to the item in cold temperatures as well as fluctuations in temperature when goods are transported from regular temperatures to cold temperatures.

When they have a heavier coat weight or thickness of adhesive, they’re able to deal with the highs and lows of frost accumulated in freezers and refrigerators. More glue means better contact with the surface area and a stronger adhesion overall.

The freezer grade formula of the hot rubber adhesive can be applied at -15°F and maintains its stick in the temperature range of -65°F to 120°F. There are even heavy-duty freezer labels designed to withstand temperatures as low as -320°F.

Freezer-grade adhesive scanning labels consist of a thermal transfer polypropylene label with a cold temperature permanent acrylic adhesive offering low temperature performance. The material is designed to resist moisture that often occurs from repeated freeze and thaw cycles.

The labels are durable and adhere well to plastic as well as to cardboard storage boxes. Freezer-grade adhesive labels are especially helpful to companies in the frozen food industry that have a need for dates, sales tracking, or identification.

Not only are labels with freezer adhesive stable in ordinary temperatures, but they are able to handle severely cold temperatures rarely encountered in the natural environment, such as those found in blast-freeze processors, industrial freezers, and cryogenics labs.

Products like ice cream and certain medical materials need to be stored in a freezer or cryogenic settings.

When selecting a freezer label, it's important to know the difference between your MAT and STR needs to maximize your use of the product.

  • Minimum Application Temperature (MAT): Lowest temperature at which the adhesive will function at the time of labeling.
  • Service Temperature Range (STR): Temperature range over which the adhesive will function while the label is in-use after the label has been applied and allowed to build to ultimate adhesion.

How We Can Help

Our durable scanning labels maintain their integrity under extreme heat or freezing temperatures and are perfect for component identification where tracking through harsh production and manufacturing processes is critical.

Our Wasp label team can help identify the best possible label for your specific application and environment at a fair price. To learn more, request a label consult with one of our experts today.