What Are Linerless Labels?

Group of Zebra Supplies

What Does Linerless Mean?

Unlike standard labels, linerless labels or liner-free labels are labels that do not have a liner or backing paper. Liners normally have a release coating that enables the label to easily peel away without destroying the adhesive underneath the label so that the label can still adhere to an object like a box or envelope. On the other hand, linerless labels feature a silicone release coating on the top layer of the labels and special adhesive that enables them to peel away from labels underneath. The silicone-coating allows linerless labels to essentially act as their own liners.

What are the key benefits of linerless labels?

Implementing linerless solutions to your business can provide many benefits from faster operations to decreasing costs. Here are some of the reasons to switch to linerless labels:

  1. Reduce waste: Linerless labels have no liners, which reduces disposal costs and waste. This will decrease your business or warehouse footprint and can positively impact the environment. In addition, this can also support waste-reduction efforts and compliance with government environmental directives.
  2. More labels per roll: The media rolls of linerless labels contain 50% more labels, which can help save on transportation costs and storage.
  3. Improve productivity and manufacturing efficiency: Another potential benefit to using linerless labels is helping improve productivity and output. Lineless labels will require fewer media roll changes between print runs, which means less downtime; thus, helping increase your manufacturing efficiency and saving costs for your business.
  4. Speedy processing: Linerless labels eliminate the need for additional steps of peeling the label from the liner and disposing the liners, allowing for faster processing.
  5. Cost savings: Linerless printing decreases the weight in mobile printers and reduces label roll shipping costs, as linerless rolls weigh up to 40% less than traditional labels with a liner. Not only will you be able to save on shipping costs but also on storage costs. This is because linerless labels tend to contain more labels per roll, which means you do not need to buy and store as many rolls as you would have with standard labels. Also, since lineless labels lack liners, it eliminates the need to dispose liners. As a result, choosing linerless labels can also reduce your disposal costs.
  6. Reduce safety hazards: Linerless rolls will also reduce workplace slip hazards from liner piles that accumulate beneath printers.
  7. Flexibility in size: Linerless labels enable flexibility for printing varying label lengths.
  8. Flexibility in applications: Linerless can be used for a wide variety of applications. Linerless labels can be used in different industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceutical labeling, retail, parcel delivery, and more. You may have encountered linerless labels in packages as many businesses use them for shipping and mailing. Many warehouse workers and retailers also use mobile printers with linerless labels to easy label objects and change them. At the grocery store, you may have seen linerless labels being used in the deli or butcher section where linerless labels are used to accommodate lower temperatures.

What are the challenges to linerless printing solutions?

Bringing linerless labels to your business has its share of challenges as implementing this solution can be tricky. First, you will need to ensure that the linerless labels are compatible with the printers you currently have. One key factor is to ensure that your linerless labels have been fully tested with your printers in use. It is important to know that regular thermal desktop and mobile printers do not accommodate linerless labels. Desktop and mobile linerless printers feature a special platen roller with a non-stick surface to reduce the instances of the label adhesive sticking to the platen roller. As labels are printed, the adhesive comes into direct contact with the platen roller because there is not a liner to serve as a buffer. Desktop linerless printers feature a special cutter to cut the labels to size as they are produced in contrast to a regular desktop printer.

What are the top considerations when implementing a linerless solution?

Print Performance

Linerless labels typically require a higher print darkness setting than standard direct thermal labels. The heat generated by the printhead must penetrate through the release coating to activate the direct thermal chemistry to create a readable and durable image. To ensure the release coating does not build-up on the printhead, extended print quality testing is required.

Proper Manufacturing

To ensure a proper fit in the printer, linerless labels must be carefully manufactured and precisely wound on the core. Unlike standard labels, linerless labels cannot be easily adjusted on the roll because of the absence of the liner. To prevent printer feeding issues or jamming, it is important that the label release coating has cured properly during manufacture and the adhesive chemistry is compatible with the platen roller.

Testing and Maintenance

To minimize cleaning and maintenance, linerless media needs to be extensively tested in compatible printers to ensure minimal adhesive build up, optimal print quality, and smooth label throughput. This goes along with having to replace printheads and platen rollers.

Learn More About Zebra's Range of Labels