Kieran Label Corporation: Print Resource Guide

For over 32 years Kieran Label Corporation (KLC) has worked with clients of all backgrounds to create high quality, multi-functional labels to enhance a product’s image in the marketplace. We collaborate with our customers on all the details involved in making the perfect label.

Since this is such a creative process, we’ve created this Resource Guide with tools and tips as we work to build and print your custom labels.

bugs life label image windows xp image logo image

Label Types Available

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Pressure Sensitive Labels (Self Adhesive Labels)

An adhesive label with a sticky back to bond to surfaces using only a small amount of pressure. Its convenient application is often a top choice for customers, due to its simple use and minimal machine modification, preparation or cleanup.

Unlike labels requiring wet glues, heat seal or water remoistened labels, pressure sensitive labels bond to a multitude of surfaces such as plastic, corrugated containers and packaging films.

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Cut-And-Stack Labels

A non-adhesive label that can be adhered later. This popular labeling method is an economical and efficient option for many beverage, food, household and private label products.

Customers can choose from a variety of materials, coatings, inks and finishes to make your cut-and-stack label unique and affordable. Precisely cut labels and uniform label stacks reduce production problems and waste.

*Also ask about our static cling labels and Instant Redeemable Coupons (IRCs) that peel off cleanly, with no tacky feel.

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Promotional Tags

A non-adhesive label printed on various paper stocks. Tags are often permanently attached to a final product or used to temporarily identify stages in the manufacturing process. Other types of tags include discount cards and loyalty tickets.

As one of the largest manufacturers in the county, Kieran’s tremendous sourcing power for raw materials translates into significant savings for your promotional tags.

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Flexographic & Digital Printing Options


flexographic digital imageAs the only vertically integrated label manufacturer in the Western United States, KLC leads the industry in technological innovation and cost-effective printing options.

Flexographic Printing uses a flexible relief plate, perfect for printing on almost any type of material including plastic, metallic films, cellophane and paper.

Flexo print also allows for printing with a wider range of water-based inks, versus oil-based inks used in lithographic printing. These low viscosity inks allow for faster drying and quicker production times. Plus, much of our flexo printing is an inline process, which allows us to print and die cut in one efficient, cost effective process.

Digital Printing is an ideal solution for short-run, die-less labels on demand. The Digital Label System from AXXIS prints pressure-sensitive, four-color process labels and laminates – in virtually any color, shape or size in minutes.

A versatile option for customers with seasonal products, promotion items or private labels who can’t always afford to wait for die acquisition or plating. Digital printing allows for quicker print times so you can ship products faster.


Checklist for Labels & Tags

To ensure the perfect label, we offer these initial checklists to help focus on the type of label or tag you envision. And following the checklists is more information on each characteristic. Plus, we’re always available to discuss any label questions you might have.

Labels Checklist – Overview

  • Stock: Paper or synthetic, color, coatings
  • Printed one side or two
  • Number of ink colors
  • Size or shape
  • Quantity
  • Type of adhesive
  • Numbering, barcoding
  • Format: die or butt cut roll, single sheet, die-cut pin-fed, fanfold
  • Roll specs: roll size, core size, unwind direction, labels/roll
  • Special finishing: perforate, score, lamination, UV coating, etc.
  • Artwork to be supplied

Tags Checklist – Overview

  • Stock: Paper or synthetic, color, coatings
  • Printed one side or two
  • Number of ink colors
  • Size or shape
  • Quantity
  • Numbering, barcoding
  • Format: single or manifold, fanfold, ganged, roll form
  • Reinforced hole: Fiber patch, metal eyelet, mylar strip; location and size
  • Special finishing: Perforate, score, lamination, etc.
  • Wiring, stringing, hooks
  • Double stick tape
  • Artwork to be supplied
These next checklists help refine label characteristics by asking, “How will your label be used?” The answers help determine the best face, adhesive and liner materials for your project.

Machine Applied or Machine Imprinted Checklist

Important questions to ensure the label works with your application/imprinting equipment.

Bar Code Label Checklist

  • Type of symbology being used?
  • Number of characters per inch?
  • Identify and specify the check digit (if needed)?
  • Bar code tested before printing to ensure accuracy?

Intended Use/Performance Checklist

  • Permanent, removable or repositionable labels?
  • (Can read more on Permanent or Removable Label Considerations here.)
  • Expected life span of label after application:
  • Less than one year? One to three years? More than three years?
  • Is the expected life span inside or outside?
  • Surface label applied to:
  • Paper, metal, glass, wood, painted surface, corrugated box, plastic or shrink wrap?
  • Smooth, rough, cylindrical, flat, curved, flexible or pebbled?
  • Wet, dirty, dusty or oily surface?
  • Outside temperature labels applied at:
  • Moderate (40 to 80 degrees)? Freezer (less than 32 degrees)?
  • Temperature of product at time apply label? (Minimum and maximum temps)
  • For lifetime of label, what temps will label be exposed to?
  • Environments labels exposed to:
  • Placed in ovens, freezers, microwaves?
  • Exposed to sunlight, chemical baths, abrasives, petroleum products, chemical solvents?
  • Food use:
  • Compliant with FDA requirements?
  • KLC offers FDA adhesives approved for direct and indirect food contact.
  • Compliant with 21 CFR 175.105.
  • Require food and produce traceability?
  • KLC is a Certified Partner for Harvest Mark food traceability program, providing immediate traceability through unique code printed on a pressure sensitive label.
  • Busan-free heat seal labels:
  • Targeted to needs of environmentally conscious consumer product manufacturers.
  • Read more about Adhesive Performance Factors here.

Label Considerations –

Label Specifications:

Dimensions– Start with an accurate label drawing including width, length and corner radius. Can also note orientation to roll or sheet and position and diameter of interior cuts.
* If you send a sample, we’d be happy to check all dimensions, color and other details.

How to measure label:

1. Width
2. Length
3. Repeat: Top of label to top of next label
4. Carrier: Full width of label, including gap around

For rolled labels also measure:
1. Core Size: Diameter of inside core, typically 3”, 15.” or 1”
2. Labels Per Roll
3. Label Wind: In or Out
4. Rewind Setup: Use image to right to determine.

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Material– Match label performance with criteria noted in previous checklists. Some circumstances require testing before choosing materials. See the “KLC Quote PDF” for common label and tag materials.

Design – Design images and write copy to print on label. Be aware of copy’s orientation to label width, length and roll or sheet. If you have multiple copies provide a number (or code) in copy to reference for future use, if applicable. A PDF proof will be provided for final approval.pantone image

Colors and Color Breaks – Verify all colors being used on label. Use a Pantone book to view the appearance of the PMS colors on coated or uncoated stock. PMS colors will also look different on various background colors and materials such as films, fluorescents and foils.

Please note: Digital printing does not match PMS books. PMS books can be used as a reference only for the digital range of colors.

Coatings – We recommend a protective coating if your label is frequently handled by human hands or exposed to extreme temperatures, moisture or chemicals. Please note: Coatings can’t stop color fading from sunlight or protect paper labels from moisture or extremes in weather.

Coatings to choose from:
UV Clear Coat: Liquid coating provides hard, glossy finish that helps resist fingerprints, certain chemicals and surface moistures. Apply as flood coat or select areas as required.

Lamination fused to label. Provides high gloss finish and resistance to chemicals, abrasions and handling.

Permanent or Removable Labels

Both label types are applied best in temperatures between 55 degrees to room temperature.

Permanent Adhesives – Label permanence is determined by adhesive, face material, surface applying to, environment and time. Most permanent labels cannot be removed without damaging the label, although no label is truly permanent… just less easily removed than others.

Removable Adhesives – A removable label requires a certain adhesive and face material that will adhere to a surface and still be removable later. The period of time for removing the label depends on: 1) Adhesive power over time and 2) Surface adhere to, causing the label to build adhesion over time and creating a permanent label. The rougher a surface, the easier to remove the label but also the more difficult to adhere.

Acrylic and Rubber-Based Adhesives
Acrylic adhesives are mostly synthetic and sensitive to pressure. Rubber-based adhesives are mostly synthetic or natural rubber. Certain mixtures can be added to change the pressure sensitivity of a label.

Comparing Acrylic and Rubber-Based Adhesives
Acrylic Rubber-Based
Tack Low to Medium High
Initial Adhesion Low High
Ultimate Adhesion High Medium
Clarity Good to Excellent Poor to fair
Service Temperature High Medium to High, depending on adhesive type.
Durability Excellent resistance to plasticizers in plasticized products (such as vinyl). Excellent resistance to most solvents. Poor resistance to plasticizers and most common solvents (such as gasoline, oil and other petro derivatives.)
Stability Excellent stability over long periods of time, especially outdoors. Short-term outdoor use only.
UV Resistance Excellent Poor
Cost More costly if not in emulsion class of adhesives. Economical

Pressure Sensitive Labels:


Kieran manufactures pressure sensitive label material using a proprietary process involving a highly calibrated synthesis of nitrogen, silicone, adhesive, face stock and liner.

Four layers make up a pressure sensitive label. Starting from the top…

Face Stock:
Surface material such as paper, foil, film or cloth materials.
Designed to print on and convert to pressure sensitive stock.

Coating layer designed to adhere to variety of surfaces.
Can be permanent or removable.

Release Coating:
Special coating applied to liner.
Regulates adhesion release (peel strength from release liner.)

Release Liner:
Keeps adhesive from getting contaminated.
Remove prior to label application.

Some surfaces are better suited to pressure sensitive labels than others. Testing the label on the actual surface prior to ordering labels is the best way to ensure success.

How an adhesive performs is dependent on:
1) Tack – Degree to which an adhesive will stick to a surface on first contact. Tack is higher on smooth or heated surfaces and lower on rough or cold surfaces.

2) Specific Adhesion – Adhesive’s ability to stick or adhere to a surface after letting fully set (typically 24 to 72 hours). An adhesive may bond well to a surface like glass but poorly to a surface like polyethylene.

3) Cohesiveness – Internal strength of an adhesive to its cohesiveness. The cohesive strength must be stronger than the specific adhesion, to prevent a label from splitting when removed from a surface.

High Surface Energy Substrates Low Surface
Energy Substrates
Metals Plastics
Copper Kapton® (Polymide) ABS PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate)
Aluminum Phenolic Polycarbonate Polystyrene
Zinc Nylon PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Acetal
Tin Alkyd Enamel Noryl® EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)
Lead Polyester Acrylic Polyethylene
Stainless Steel Epoxy Paint   Polypropylene (BOPP)
Glass Polyurethane Paint Polane® Paint Tedlar®
Values provided as a guide. Modifications to formulations can substantially alter surface energies.
Kapton®, Tedlar® and Teflon® are registered trademarks of Dupont.
Noryl® is a registered trademark of General Electric.
Polane® is a registered trademark of Sherwin-Williams Company.

Busan-Free Heat Seal Labels

KLC also offers busan-free heat seal labels, targeted to the needs of environmentally conscious consumer product manufacturers. KLC's solution can produce busan-free heat seal labels in a variety of die-sizes, colors and graphic formats.

Working with Bostik, a global leader in the adhesives industry, KLC has perfected incorporation of busan-free adhesive with high-gloss and semi-gloss paper materials suitable for pressure sensitive applications. These applications support a variety of flexographic printing processes, up to 6 colors using KLC's in-house wide-format presses and up to 8 colors on narrow web presses.

Adhesive Performance

Several factors determine successful adhesion for labels. We recommend thorough testing to ensure proper adhesion and label stock.

Composition – The substrate you apply the label to can affect the bonding strength of the label. Plastic substrates (such as polyethylene or polypropylene) are not easily compatible with straight acrylic-based adhesives and may not provide the durability of a rubber-based adhesive.

Texture – Pressure sensitive labels need good contact with the substrate surface to adhere. Rough textured substrates provide less surface area for the adhesive to contact, offering less of a bond. Pebbled plastic computer cases, rough corrugated boxes and wooden pallets are some examples of surfaces needing extra adhesion. Labels with a heavier coating weight or more aggressive adhesive can help address these different textured substrates.

Shape – Consider the substrate’s shape and the label’s size and stiffness. Pressure sensitive adhesives need a short amount of time to flow into the substrate surface and create maximum adhesion. If a stiff label is applied to a curved or rough surface, the stiffness of that label may cause the label to lift from the substrate before the adhesive can fully adhere to the surface. Often a more aggressive adhesive or more flexible label will solve these issues.

Cleanliness – All substrates should be clean and free of contamination. Contamination (dirt, oil, frost or other foreign elements) prevent the adhesive from fully contacting a surface. Other contaminates introduced in manufacturing of a substrate, including mold release agents on blow-molded plastic and plasticizers in vinyl products, can affect adhesion and reduce the life of a label adhering to substrate. If contaminants are inherent in manufacturing, special adhesives may overcome the problem.

Temperature at Application –The substrate’s temperature at time of label application can affect how the label adheres. Pressure sensitive labels need the adhesive to flow into the substrate’s pores. If the temperature during application is below the adhesive’s freezing point, the label can edge lift or fall off. Typically 40 to 50degrees is the minimum application temperature. Special adhesives are available for application temperatures to -10 to -20 degrees.

Environmental Conditions – Paper labels can be affected by moisture as humidity in the air or through direct contact, causing the paper to deteriorate and to lose print contrast and barcode

Readability. Special materials can help label durability, i.e. resin and latex impregnated papers for limited exposure conditions to vinyls, polyesters and other plastics for maximum exposure conditions. Several label materials can be laminated with a clear polyester to increase durability of the label and printed image.

Expected Use Life – Consider the environment your label will be exposed to throughout its product life. For example, labels used in the automotive industry require resistance to oils and grease and may need a latex impregnated paper or vinyl label. Or labels exposed to high levels of abrasion may need a stronger paper or plastic. Long-term exposure to high heat (above 120o) may require a sturdier product to last longer.

Imprinting Tips

To ensure successful imprinting of your labels, choose a label face stock compatible with the imprinting method you’ll be using.

Laser Printing– This printing works by focusing a laser beam through a lens directly onto a photosensitive drum. Charged toner attaches itself to the drum, and the end result is toner heated and fused to the paper.

Strengths Limitations Best Label Stocks
High level of print contrast
Prints high density bar codes nicely
Works well with wide range of paper and film face stocks
Low noise
Produces high volumes at high speeds
Excessive heat may shrink/distort some face stocks
Paper can jam or curl
Possible problem with thick caliper label stocks
Thermal Printing– This printing process uses a wax- or resin-based ribbon to apply text or graphics to the surface of labels by means of heat and pressure. Thermal printing will not smear and is water-resistant. Always match ribbon to face stock.
Strengths Limitations Best Label Stocks
Good resolution, particularly for high density barcodes
High print contrast and multi-color ability Dual ribbon use: wax for general purpose, resin for high performance
Print head protected from contact with stock by ribbon
High printer reliability, few moving parts
Quiet operation

Smooth face stocks only
Printer width up 6” or less
Ribbon limited to single pass
Resin ribbons expensive

Thermal Transfer
Thermal Transfer Blockout
Gloss Thermal
Matte Chrome Polyester
Bright Chrome Polyester
Brushed Chrome Polyester
White Polyolefin
Ink Jet– This printing technology uses a system that produces images directly on paper from digital information, using streams of very fine drops of ink. Main types include continuous and drop-on-demand.
Strengths Limitations Best Label Stocks
Dots can have different color combined to create photo-quality images
Dot positioned very precisely, resolutions up to 1440 x 720 dpi
Fairly inexpensive
Specialty papers available, from adhesive-based labels to stickers, to business cards to brochures

Printer can cost less than more expensive replacement ink cartridges
Manufacturer-recommended paper is more expensive


Direct Thermal – This printing uses chemically treated, heat-sensitive media that blackens when it passes under the thermal printhead. Direct thermal printers have no ink, toner, or ribbon.
Strengths Limitations Best Label Stocks
I.R. or visible light readable
Accommodating image format
No ribbons, quite, reliable
Colored face stock options
Printer width usually 6” or less
Restricted to temperatures below 140o
Direct Thermal
Dot Matrix– This printing option works with a computer-controlled print head creating a chain of dots to form printed characters. Dots form from pin strikes on an inked ribbon. The ink applied dries by absorption or evaporation.
Strengths Limitations Best Label Stocks
Compatible with large range of film face stocks and paper
Abrasive resistant
Indents on various materials like foils Ribbons can be used repeatedly
Flexible formats

Resolution may not be suitable for certain applications (small type or high density barcodes)
Ribbon required
Highly noisy
Matte Litho

Die-Cutting& Finishing Tips

die cuttingKLC can accommodate a wide range of dies depending on the labels final use. We can also help eliminate expensive tooling costs and turn-around time with an inventory of almost 6,000 dies.

We can also help determine the best number of labels to run on a roll or sheet based on cost needs and machines using for final application.

Die-Cutting Tips

Die-Cut Labels – The most common label cut, typically provided in a roll. (Machine applied and most machine imprinted labels are die-cut) Includes round-corner rectangle, circle, oval, burst or other special shapes. A steel die with multiple cavities is created to cut through the face stock and adhesive but not the liner. The waste around the label is removed, leaving the label on the liner and ready to use. Die-cut labels are easily removed from the liner and less likely to lift in extreme environments.

Butt-Cut Labels – Rectangle-shaped, square-corner label, typically provided on a roll. Labels are separated from each other by straight blade cut with no gaps or extra liner around label. Butt-cut blade cuts through face and adhesive but not the liner. Does not accommodate bleeds.

Die-Cut Pin-Fed Labels –Commonly used to add variable, computer-generated information. Can be fan-folded or on rolls. These die-cut labels have pinfeed holes in the liner for use with a dot-matrix printer. Die-cut pin-fed labels need 3/8” to 1/2" space on each side of the label and minimum 3 1/2" of liner width for use with the printer.

Sheet Labels – Rectangle-shaped, square-corner label delivered in individual sheets. A sheeter blade cuts through the face stock, adhesive and liner. A top score or back score is used to allow easy removal of the label from the liner. Does not accommodate bleeds.

Finishing Tips

The most common finish forms include rolls, sheets or fan-folded.

Rolls – Spooled or rolled on a core. Typically 1,000 labels rolled on a 3” diameter core but other sizes and labels per roll available. Common types of rolled labels: shipping labels, product and promo labels, thermal transfer and direct thermal labels.

Sheets – Single sheet labels usually contain back or top score. Can be bulk packed, poly bagged or shrink wrapped. Often used for bumper stickers or laser labels.

Fan-folded – Die-cut labels with a perforation across the liner are folded back and forth, in the appearance of a fan, to create a stack of labels. Typically used for computer pin-fed labels.

Artwork Guidelines & Formats

KLC offers several ways to submit your artwork. All files are run through FlightCheck 2.3 to check for possible problems. Due to the complexities of process files, our quoted pricing assumes your project meets the following criteria:

Printing Capabilities
KLC prints using flexographic printers. As we must build traps and distortions into the art forthis process, we prefer art in digital format. KLC offers multicolor capability of 150 line.

Computer Specifications/Capabilities
We use a Power Macintosh G4 running OS X and accept both Macintosh and PC formatted media (prefer CDs or FTP for large files.) Our preferred line screen is 150 line.

Software Compatibility
The following computer programs produce 4-color process at KLC:
– Quark Xpress 6.0
– Adobe Illustrator CS3

We also have the following computer programs but do not use them for producing 4-color process artwork because of the critical step-and-repeat and distortion needed for the flexographic process:
– Adobe Photoshop CS2
– Aldus FreeHand 8
– Aldus PageMaker 6.5
– CorelDraw 9

File Specification
We prefer files in:
– Encapsulated postscript files (.eps) so we can edit them.
– Fonts included in the file (or outlined for final output.)
– Traps (overprinting of one color over another) at least .5 point wherever close registration of two colors meet. Otherwise, we can’t be responsible for art not registering perfectly.
– Color scans must be higher scan resolution of at least 150 dpi.(72 dpi files are not usable.)
– Bitmap files must be in CYMK format and not RGB.

Note: Word Processing files (Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc...) are not suitable for quality art and cannot be used as artwork.

Negatives and Hard Copy
We can only accept computer files for use with 4-color process.
Negatives and hard copies lose too much detail in the distortion process.

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