The Applications and Advantages of Polypropylene Labels
Polypropylene is one of the most widely used plastic package and label components. We already dealt with this polymer several times in our facestock, food packaging and freezer label discussions. However, in this blog, we shall focus only on one form in particular, and that is BOPP.
BOPP has advantages that make it suitable for many applications in retail. It gives business owners one more packaging and labeling option to consider. This knowledge should become handy for customizing and branding packages. So sit tight, and let’s talk about BOPP.
What Is BOPP?
From Science Direct, BOPP is short for “biaxially oriented polypropylene.”
If you recall, polypropylene is a petroleum-derived carbon polymer, just like polyethylene. Polyethylene is the stuff that stretch wrap is made of. In contrast, polypropylene is a little stiffer, so it is better for making shrink wrap and the taut labels of some rigid retail containers.
We know that not a lot of people love chemistry lectures, but believe it or not, knowing even the basics can spare business owners from unnecessary costs. So let us give you a short, short one anyway.
In class, the repeating units of polyethylene and polypropylene are represented like so:
Polymers formed from these building blocks have different properties. The extra CH3 group gives polypropylene the following features:
- Polypropylene film has a higher thermal resistance. This means that polypropylene labels, adhesives and packaging do not melt as quickly as their polyethylene counterparts.
- Polypropylene film is stiffer, whereas polyethylene film is more stretchable.
- Polypropylene film possesses greater UV resistance.
- The extra CH3 group makes polypropylene film easier to degrade when heated.
In our stretch wrap simplified buying guide, we explained how cast and blown stretch films form from polyethylene. Polypropylene is processed in a similar fashion.
Polypropylene is supplied as white, semi-rigid plastic granules. When the granules are melted and extruded, the polypropylene film can be stretched flat in two directions—along and across the extrusion line—to make it “biaxially oriented.” Doing this forms BOPP, a tougher and clearer plastic that is more resistant to oil, grease, water vapor and oxygen.
What Is BOPP Used For?
BOPP has a lot of industrial applications. It can be used alone or in combination with other materials, like metal, paper, other plastics, etc.
- In the food industry, metalized BOPP is used as the packaging for products like coffee, potato chips, milk, etc.
- In electronics, BOPP is used as a wire insulator and capacitor raw material.
- For most other retail products, BOPP may be used as an overwrapping material.
- In security management, BOPP is an excellent choice for making security tags, personal badges, barcode labels, etc.
- In logistics, agriculture, and most other industries, it is used for making shrink wrap, which is a good lightweight tertiary packaging material. Pressure-sensitive and masking tapes, used for securing mailed parcels, can be made from BOPP. It is also a good substance for vacuum bag release films.
- BOPP is a good facestock material for different types of labels. BOPP labels are durable, neat and affordable.
BOPP has unique properties that make it a good material for packages, labels, office supplies, etc. BOPP labels, in particular, are versatile, hence their diverse applications. Many retail companies use them in their branding strategies.
What Are the Different Types of BOPP Labels?
BOPP labels are available commercially in the following forms:
White BOPP Labels
Opaque, white BOPP labels are the most common types available. They are suited for most uses, such as product labeling, lab sample identification, healthcare specimen collection, etc. You can print patient names, barcodes, manufacturing dates and other information on this kind of sticker.
Clear BOPP Labels
In Why Packaging Is Important, we pointed out that the sight of food through transparent containers whets consumers’ appetites more than mere pictures do. We emphasized the same concept in How to Make and Design Beer Labels.
For other retail goods, such as bath and beauty products, transparent packaging can show their color and consistency. This is important for many consumers because it influences their buying decisions.
Clear BOPP labels allow manufacturers to maintain the transparency of their packaging and still meet labeling regulations. Many such stickers are cleverly designed to promote branding. However, care must be taken in using clear BOPP labels for barcoding, as they may reduce scannability.
These stickers are also used in the automotive, construction, and shipping industries, where they are placed on surfaces made of glass, concrete, metal, etc.
Metallic BOPP Labels
Metallic BOPP labels are mostly available in silver and gold. They are mainly of decorative function and can be used to make colorful and standout packaging designs. Metallic BOPP labels can add a touch of class to your packaging.
Cosmetic Packaging BOPP Labels
These stickers are specifically used for lip balm, lip gloss and lipstick tubes. They are either white, clear, or metallic, but they are designed to wrap snugly around small, cylindrical containers. Lip makeup is normally filled with waxes and oils that can smudge ink pigments. You can avoid that problem using thermal transfer technology and BOPP labels.
Freezer-Grade BOPP Labels
These are white BOPP labels specially made to endure subzero temperatures. As we pointed out in How Important Are Freezer Labels?, cold-storage stickers have vital functions in retail, healthcare, research, transportation and various other industries. Consider freezer-grade BOPP for making durable freezer labels. Ice cream and other products with rigid packaging can make use of these sticky tags.
Repositionable BOPP Labels
These stickers are also available in white, clear and metallic varieties. They have a less aggressive adhesive and can be peeled off cleanly. You can use them as promotional coupons, moving labels, asset tags, etc.
Custom BOPP Labels
You can customize BOPP labels to suit other purposes. Book stickers, equipment tags, inventory labels, etc., can all be made out of this material. Just remember that BOPP labels are stiff, so they are used mostly on rigid, non-squeezable packaging.
Note that, if you’re printing your own BOPP labels, it is best to use thermal transfer technology. The office alternatives—inkjet, laser and direct thermal printers—are not suited to handle plastic tags. Thermal transfer printers allow you to make colorful, professional-looking BOPP labels. As we pointed out in our blog, 7 Easy Ways To Print Quality Barcodes, resin-containing ribbons are best for plastic, weatherproof tags.
What Are the Advantages of BOPP Labels?
BOPP labels have the following advantages when you compare them to other types:
1. BOPP Labels Are Widely Available
Polypropylene is the second most marketed plastic in the world next to polyethylene, and BOPP is one of the most commonly used materials for making labels. These stickers are sold globally in online and brick-and-mortar stores.
2. BOPP Labels Are Inexpensive Compared to Other Plastics
Many retail items require more durable labels than paper, such as cold beverages, hand sanitizers and cleaning products. Compared to other plastics, BOPP is cheaper and able to withstand harsh conditions. It is, therefore, more cost-effective for these purposes.
3. BOPP Labels Are Durable
These tags can endure moisture, mechanical forces, UV exposure and many other environmental elements. Thermal transfer technology makes fade-resistant prints. Therefore, these labels are perfect outdoors, for vehicles and other uses that can expose them to mechanical tearing.
4. BOPP Labels Can Endure Exposure to Most Harsh Chemicals
As we pointed out earlier, polypropylene can withstand contact with various chemicals, except when exposed to extremely high temperatures. In retail, conditions are friendlier, so these tags are appropriate for various types of merchandise.
Wine alcohol can ruin paper labels, but thermally printed BOPP labels are resistant to alcohol
5. BOPP Labels Are Non-Toxic
BOPP is a polyolefin approved by the FDA for packaging food and cosmetics. It is not known to cause cancer, hormonal imbalance, autoimmune disease and other adverse health conditions that can arise from the use of certain plastics.
6. BOPP Labels Are Recyclable
Polypropylene is recyclable like polyethylene. You can collect used polypropylene labels, turn them over to a recycling plant, make some money and save the planet. Green shipping and marketing are possible when you use these stickers.
7. BOPP Labels Are Compatible with Many Adhesive Varieties
The material can bond with hot melt, organic solvent-based and aqueous bonding agents. You can choose the application mode and adhesive that will hasten your labeling tasks and reduce costs.
8. BOPP Labels Can Be Made Waterproof
Polypropylene is a substance that, ordinarily, does not mix well with water. Therefore, unless the processing technique is so defective that it produces porous film, consider BOPP as waterproof.
However, one way that water can reduce the integrity of a BOPP label is through the adhesive. If you’re using one that dissolves in water, like emulsion acrylic, wetness can detach your stickers. Use a hot melt or organic solvent-based adhesive to waterproof your plastic labels.
9. Multiple Printing Options Are Available For BOPP Labels
Aside from thermal transfer technology, you can handwrite on these labels or have them custom-printed. Of course, handwritten stickers do not appear businesslike, while custom-printed ones can be expensive. Consider your business needs and resources when choosing a label printing method.
10. BOPP Labels Can Be Used for Branding
Pantone and CMYK printing can be used on these stickers, letting you showcase your brand colors on them. You can print with CMYK colors on a thermal transfer printer if your budget is limited. But if you have change to spare, you can go all out and custom-print your product labels with Pantone colors.
11. BOPP Labels Go with Any Rigid Packaging Material
With the right adhesive, these stickers can attach to any rigid surface and stay put for long periods. When applied properly, they can remain stuck despite rough handling and never give your customers a bad unboxing experience.
12. BOPP Can Tolerate Wide Temperature Ranges
With the right processing technique, you can make polypropylene labels more cold- or heat-resistant. This makes them appropriate for frozen items and those that need to be autoclaved at moderate temperatures.
So if you’re looking for durable, highly customizable, and affordable labels, you must seriously consider BOPP.
Polypropylene is a petroleum-derived plastic polymer that has numerous industrial applications. BOPP is a form that is widely used in retail, e. g. in making labels. BOPP labels are recyclable, non-toxic, and durable, and they have many other advantages compared to paper and other plastic tags. When used properly, they can help businesses promote their brands, making them worth the investment.