Printing glossary

Label printing houses use their own, specialised terminology. We have compiled a printing glossary that covers much of the essential and useful terminology used in the industry. The glossary may be helpful when discussing your printing needs with a printing house. Please contact us if you have any questions. We are happy to help you.

A

Application of adhesive. The layer can be permanent or removable.


Label glue.


In the printing industry, augmented reality is typically used for referring to printing labels with codes that can be read with mobile devices. Such codes can be embedded with, for example, URLs of websites that provide additional product information. The websites can also feature videos, games, raffles or other information.


B

Also known as base or protective paper. It can also be made of plastic. This is the material from which labels are peeled off before application.


C

Method featuring adhesive cured with UV light and an offset or flexo printing machine and traditional plates. The method allows for high resolution application.


D

Material is electronically transferred into the printer’s computer, which then converts the data into a printing template.


E

To press an image so it lies above the surface.


F

Labels are delivered in a roll that is perforated and folded according to the predetermined number of labels.


Method of printing on a web press using rubber or plastic plates with raised images. Previously, the method was used for simple package printing applications, but today the technique is competitive due to its offset characteristics and raised printing technique.


Label sheets folded in a stack.


G

Used for creating accents on labels, e.g. Braille or decorations. 


H

Digital printing plate manufacturing method. The technique produces higher quality prints compared to digital printing plates.


Method of printing that releases foil from its backing when stamped with the heated die. Can be used with various shiny materials, including gold, silver, copper, as well as holograms, which is difficult to achieve with other currently used printing methods. The foil and the material are combined with pressure and heat.


Method of printing that releases foil from its backing when stamped with the heated die. Can be used with various shiny materials, including gold, silver, copper, as well as holograms, which is difficult to achieve with other currently used printing methods. The foil and the material are combined with pressure and heat.


The process of applying metallic foil to printed materials. Typically featuring gold or silver, but foil comes in many other colours as well. The technique is used for hot or cold embossing featuring a tool or a printing plate.


The use of several printing methods on one object.


I

Label, which is moulded onto plastic material with heat instead of adhesives. IML’s advantage is that the label can cover a larger portion of the packaging, enhancing the message.


L

Always indicated in millimetres; width x height. Width = lateral width of the label strip, Height = length in printing direction).


A thin transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to stock. An alternative to lacquering.


Multi-page labels. Used for large quantities of printable material.


Linerless labels are self-adhesive labels with no backing paper. They come in rolls with a protective coating on the front preventing them from sticking onto one another.


N

Labels can be equipped with special RFID chips that are compatible with NFC technology. 


O

Commonly used printing technique that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket (rubber cylinder) to paper instead of directly from plate to (typically) paper.


P

The label is only partially treated with adhesive.


Perforated line, which is easy to fold and tear.


R

The ability of the label to be removed from the backing paper.


Label covered with an embossed lacquer creating a three-dimensional appearance. Somewhat similar to embossing.


Repeating a previously placed order without changes.


Repeating a previously placed order with changes.


Wireless technology that allows logistics communications. Located on the adhesive side of the label. 


Also known as winding. The rolling direction will determine how labels are rolled for delivery. Labels can be on the inside or the outside of the roll.


Distance between two labels. This can significantly impact pricing, as the figure determines the number of labels laterally.


S

Printing method where colour is passed through a screen to the label. Typically not suitable for small, square-shaped labels or large print quantities.


Applied to the backing paper in order to prevent the label from sticking to the material.


A label type also known as shrink sleeve. The sleeve is pulled on top of a package like a sock.


Empty space between labels.


Also known as the hub.  A cardboard spool around which labels are coiled.


Backing paper width.


T

Thermal transfer printing involves melting a coating of ribbon so that it adheres to the label. The print can include letters, numbers or symbols. The technique is suitable for durable applications in demanding conditions.


Technology that is used for printing additional information on a pre-printed label. The method features colourless resin powder that takes on the colour of underlying ink. The technique is suitable only for short-term labelling, as the label is sensitive to heat and light.


U

Indication of which way the label should come off the roll. Typically refers to the direction the text is laid out on the label. 


W

Wet-glue labels require application of adhesive before the labels are applied to a bottle, glass or jar. Main applications include beer, beverage and food labels.


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