“Service Life” & “Shelf Life” for Labels are the Same Thing, Right?

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Wrong! When trying to determine how long a label will last, service life and shelf life are commonly mistaken to mean the same thing.

The service life of a label material is the minimum length of time that a label will reliably stay fixed on a surface. This rating takes the material’s intended usage and typical conditions into account. For example, if a material states a service life of two years and is made for outdoor surfaces, it should survive two years (or more) in constant outdoor and weather exposure.

Once a label is applied, the service life for that label begins. This is true for any type of label adhesive (permanent, removable, repositionable, etc.).

The shelf life of a label material is the maximum length of time that a label can remain unused before experiencing performance decrease. This will never be a concern if you typically use your labels quickly, such as within six months. It’s always recommended to use your labels before reaching shelf life. Using a material past its shelf life could hinder print quality, adhesive performance, and general durability.

Where can you find these terms? Most commonly, both ratings can be viewed on quotes for your custom orders. Other places include material specification sheets and information found on our website.

If you ever need help finding the service life or shelf life for a product, the Label Experts are happy to assist and ensure that you’re receiving the best performing labels for your application.