For most of us, the term “corrugated boxes” makes one think of a brown paper board material with rippled channels that resemble ribbon candy between two pieces of paper. Paper boxes should be relatively easy to label, right? WRONG! Unlike writing papers and paper labels where print quality is crucial and standards are higher, corrugate is not as controlled.
Today, you will find cardboard containers can vary order to order because they are typically made from recycled materials and the percentage of recycled content can change. All sorts of contaminates like glue, ink and much more can be found in recycled corrugate making it challenging to find the right type of label adhesive to bond to a box.
Then you add to that issue the fact that certain corrugated materials are specially coated with finishes to hold up better in moist conditions. Waxed or varnished coatings have low-surface-energy (LSE) that makes it really hard to label. The newer generations of cardboard boxes require more rigorous label adhesives that can bond to a wider variety of finishes.
Many box labels are applied using blow-on or tamp-on automatic application equipment that calls for adhesives with quick stick, aka high initial tack. Furthermore, corrugate can be exposed to both high and low temperatures when left in shipping containers. Some may also have to deal with moisture and frost accumulated in storage freezers. On top of all this, some box labels are wrapped around corners or over box flaps so that the label flexibility may be critical.
EIM offers a variety of paper and plastic Shipping and Box Labels label products for cardboard and corrugated. Some come with Rubber Hot Melt Adhesives that offer great initial tack, but they can absorb contaminates and degrade, plus they do not handle high heat well. A broader selection of box labels come with Acrylic Adhesives that work in a wider range of temperatures and are less affected by contaminants, but certain ones may not have the best quick stick features or perform as well in moist conditions.
We always recommend testing labels for cardboard and corrugated, but it is important to remember that corrugate suppliers can change the content of box materials without notice. Unfortunately, it may be hard to find a single label material to solve the all the variables in box labeling. If you have shipping and storage box requirements, contact our Label Experts for assistance.