“Hi, my name is Sensy and I’m a Sens-A-Mark® CryoLabel® from EIM. You have no idea how hard it is to be a label. I spend all my days on this test tube here. I go from below zero freezers to testing rooms where I am handled, scratched, and exposed to chemicals. Then, when I am finally all thawed out and starting to dry, I am tossed back into the freezer! The nerve of some people! I mean, if I wasn’t around they wouldn’t be able to tell which patient a sample belonged to, where evidence came from, what pig is the best breeder or what is even in the tube! Even though I may not be treated so well, I work my hardest and look my best. I don’t intend to brag or anything but I always look like I just came out of the box.”
Not all laboratories are created equal, and a cryogenics laboratory is definitely one harsh environment for a label. For those of you who do not know what cryogenics is (because we certainly didn’t) then here is an easy description of it. It is the study of how things react to extremely cold temperatures, like -196°C (-321°F). Brr, now that’s cold! And if that wasn’t enough, the labels can also be exposed to severe chemicals and solvents such as DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) and acetone, as well as stains. Here’s an irony: If you look in the dictionary for solvent, one of the definitions is to solve a problem. Xylene is a solvent, but it is causing all sorts of problems for us. Xylene’s favorite pastime is to chew away at the printed material on barcodes, and we can’t have our barcodes degrading like that. During all this time, the container the label is on is being handled, scratched, and most likely damaged at some point.
Now, I bet you are thinking, where in the world would a lab like this even exist? Well, they are located in a lot more places than expected. These types of extreme refrigeration systems, which can use vapor and liquid (liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide) freezing techniques, are found in virology, genetics, microbiology, forensic, and drug discovery labs. An extremely cold environment is needed in order to preserve DNA samples, tissue, blood and other biological samples so scientists can analyze, diagnose diseases, and manipulate drug combinations. If the samples do not stay cold then the scientist can no longer use them because they start to deteriorate. If the samples deteriorate, especially in forensics, than the scientist is in a tough position. That is why these fields use cryogenic freezing as their main preservative action. But this extreme cold can create a situation with labeling.
The Sens-A-Mark® CryoLabel® is specially designed to withstand the cold temperatures. The adhesive is tremendously strong, so it won’t dry up and separate from its surface when it is frozen. Another aspect of having a strong adhesive is that the labels adhere to all surfaces whether they are glass, plastic or have a silicone coating. It is also moisture-resistant, so when the scientists take the storage container out of the freezer and the material starts to thaw, the label stays in pristine condition. This label also stands up to various stains, chemicals and solvents that it can be subjected to and it won’t scratch, smudge, or become damaged during the handling process. As this clear label is self-laminating, it offers double protection to the printed surface beneath. Since it is also clear, a scientist can see what is in the container without having a semi-obstructed view.
“Sensy,” our Sens-A-Mark® CryoLabel®, is just one of our CryoLabel® products specially engineered for laboratory applications. Sensy has a special print block that leaves plenty of clear material to wrap around a tube and back over printed information. We also have several white CryoLabel® materials to fit other needs such as narrow plate labels. All of our CryoLabel® materials are made to handle the extreme cold and the harsh handling environment of a cryogenics laboratory. Since our Cryolabel® is made specifically for cryogenic purposes, you can rest assured that your entire laboratory needs will be fulfilled satisfactorily.