PRINTING CUSTOM CLEAR LABELS 101
Looking to get that “no label” label look? Printing custom clear labels are your only option to finish off your packaging. These transparent labels are made of clear cast PVC that supports full-color prints.
Clear label stock blends seamlessly into the background, creating a neat and professional base for your branding, for premium waterproof “prime labels” that work well for product packaging (cosmetic labels, bath and body labels, water bottle labels, and so on). They are economical, and hold up to changes in temperature, moisture, and frequent handling.
When to use white ink printing on clear labels
INKABLE TIP: Consider the color of your packaging if you don’t want white ink.
Clear cast PVC is the only material that is fully transparent, meaning your labels will be printed with less saturated colors due to its inherent “see through” property.
Just remember that the loss in color vibrancy is due to material, not color values! Your artwork printed on opaque label material (such as standard paper and white plastic film) won’t give you the same colors when printed on clear label material because there is no “backbone” to support the ink to make it look more solid.
This is a very important consideration, and a big factor to keep in mind when preparing your label artwork. To keep colors bright and opaque, choose white ink printing underneath to simulate printing on other stock such as paper and plastic film. Let’s take a look at how it’s done.
IMPORTANT NOTE WHEN DESIGNING ARTWORK FOR YOUR CLEAR LABELS
As the stock is not opaque, colors will print lighter due to the clear cast PVC base.
Your artwork previously printed on opaque stock (paper, foil, plastic film, kraft) will translate differently on this stock, and there is less visibility unless you use white ink printing underneath. Without a white wash underneath, ink colors won’t have anything to bounce off of and will appear washed out on this transparent label stock.
You can certainly use this unique label stock property for artistic effect: Use white ink underneath to make important text pop, and leave other areas clean of white ink to make them appear more washed out, as in using a watermark effect.
For solid logos and images, flood the whole area underneath with white ink to ensure that your printed-right-on-the-bottle look achieves better contrast and brighter, more saturated colors, as it were on an opaque material.
NOTE: Uncoated, clear labels are already smooth and glossy. However, you can further customize your clear labels with a coating of gloss or matte laminate.
WHAT IS COATING?
Coatings or Laminates consist mainly of pigments (chalk, clay, or talcum). Without any processing, these are powdery substances that would be blown off the paper surface like dust. To keep them in place, binding agents (such as starch) are used so that they stick to each other, and to the clear cast PVC. Process materials add specific properties to the coating.
Coating enhances the PVC’s visual and tactile characteristics and also improves its printing behavior, allowing the use of very fine screens, yielding more color in thinner ink layers and producing more contrast in printed images.
Coating makes the labels stiffer – it even adds weight and thickness to your clear labels.
Coating makes your clear labels a bit more durable because it protects the base (and of course the print on the plastic) against ink scuffing and wear and tear.
SHOULD I USE MATTE OR GLOSS COATING FOR MY LABELS?
While with other opaque label materials, coating would be a functional aspect (allowing writing after printing, or making paper labels moisture-resistant), with clear PVC you could simply step back and consider if the finish will suit the intended look of your custom labels. This would be more for the final look of your custom clear labels.
There are two types of coatings, Gloss and Matte. Confused which to choose?
MATTE COATING / MATTE LAMINATE
If you are getting clear PVC labels for its waterproof qualities, but would like to tone down the shine inherent in the PVC material, choose matte coating or matte laminate. This “dulls” down the finish of your labels so it won’t reflect light as much. NOTE: Matte laminate will make your label slightly opaque so it will no longer be completely see through. Matte laminate is suitable for application on frosted surfaces,.
GLOSS COATING / GLOSS LAMINATE
Printing labels with photos, promotional messaging, or needing a vibrant multicolored logo label? Perhaps gloss would be better—its smooth and highly reflective property will definitely make colors more vibrant, on top of the already glossy PVC label stock. Gloss laminate preserves the see through look of the label.
Gloss features full-color prints nicely, and product labels will look more professional and commercial with a fine coat of this kind of laminate.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR
CLEAR LABELS WHEN NOT IN USE
Remember to store your clear labels in a dry place, not exposed to sunlight, as these labels will fade more quickly if not stored in the recommended conditions.
Whether you choose uncoated or coated PVC labels for your labeling needs, make sure you consider the above characteristics. Once you are ready to move forward, and you find yourself in the designing stage, you also need to be aware of print considerations so that you get exactly what you need for your product labels.
Remember to list down the requirements of your print project, prepare your design correctly and be sure to have your designer perform a Prepress Check so that you receive perfect custom clear labels, every time. Remember also to thoroughly clean the surface of your containers with alcohol and letting this dry before you apply your labels to ensure excellent tack.
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