When considering how to apply labels to tires, tire label construction might not be the first thing that comes to mind. The truth is, whether you utilize a manual or automated approach to labeling tires, those labels need to be specially constructed for each method. Automatic tire label applicators require labels to dispense and peel at specific angles, times, and rates – and each applicator has its own unique requirements.
Often we are asked how to resolve problems when labels do not flow properly through automated systems, and the most common culprit with automation issues is the labels themselves, not the equipment.
Suffice it to say that not all labels are created equal, nor are all labels engineered for usage within automated systems.
There are three main elements of tire label construction that determine whether or not that label is suited for automation: the face stock, adhesive, and liner. Ultimately, these are the label elements that require proper engineering to fit an automatic label applicator. In this article, we will give an overview of these components, and explain how each can affect the performance of your label automation.
3 label elements to consider to ensure tire label automation performance
- The face stock
- The adhesive
- The liner
1. Face Stock
Face stock, or face material, is a basic component of any label construction. It is the top layer that that holds the printed image, text, barcodes, etc. Depending on your environment, the face stock of your labels may need to withstand exposure to harsh chemicals or temperatures. If your label is constructed with a face stock that is not suited for your application the data on your label may become unreadable, leading to barcodes that won’t scan.
To reliably track, identify, and maintain an accurate database on the history of your tires, the face stock on your bead barcode labels needs to stay intact. As bead labels are often applied to flat rubber or green tires, the labels will go through multiple extreme manufacturing processes that could damage a weak face material. Adding a protective coating on top of the face stock can help seal the barcode image and maintain its integrity.
Tread labels on the other hand are geared towards consumers, so the main job of their face material is to showcase your brands design. Of course, with the added regulations you are also responsible for providing specific safety awareness information on your tread labels, which makes a properly constructed tread label more important than ever.
When considering label application it is important to know that not all labels will flow successfully through an automatic label applicator. It is important that the face stock is the proper rigidity, stiffness, and thickness so that it will properly and automatically dispense and apply.
Each label applicator requires different characteristics when it comes to face stock. If the face stock is correctly matched with the adhesive and liner, the labels will easily peel right off the liner in the label application process.
A quick and easy way to test if the face stock on your labels could work in automation is the ‘90-degree test’, as shown here.
Simply press a roll of labels against a 90-degree surface (like the edge of a table), and slide the roll over as if you are dispensing the labels. If the labels easily lift away from the liner, they will likely not have problems dispensing.
This is a good test to try before considering your existing label material for usage in automation.
Different applications require different adhesives, which can necessitate changes in your manufacturing process, should you decide to move towards automatic label application.
For applications such as tire bead labels, where losing a label can lead to major production interruptions, the adhesive is made to have a strong, permanent stick.
Tread label adhesive isn't as straightforward. Due to the many grooves and sipes of the tire tread pattern, possibly including vent spews, the tread label needs to adhere to a smaller and very uneven surface area. Additionally, while tread labels do need to be removed eventually, losing a label will still lead to costly ramifications. Therefore, the tread label needs to adhere firmly to a limited surface area, while still allowing for a clean removal at the proper time.
This can pose a challenge for label application, so it is important that there is an expert opinion or an accessible help resource available when considering your label material.
The adhesive’s capability to give is also apparent in the 90-degree test previously mentioned, as some aggressive adhesives will not allow the face stock to peel at the required angle.
The adhesive formulation for your label has to be characterized to allow it to easily release from the liner, otherwise it will not execute correctly.
If the adhesive is not the correct strength or match for the label material, the face stock will remain adhered to the liner and won’t easily peel when distributing.
Finally, the liner has to be designed for automatic label application in order to guarantee proper dispensing and application. There are certain materials that are more slippery and easy to peel off than others.
However, similar to adhesive and face stock, the necessary liner material can depend on the application, so it has to be intentionally engineered in a way to ensure functionality with automated equipment.
The correct release agent is necessary to make this happen productively; silicone is often the best material for this. In addition to the components of the liner, it is important that it is not die-cut too deep in the manufacturing process. The liner is die-cut so that the label is able to set with ease; if this is cut too deep, the adhesive flows in and ingrains the face stock into the liner. Due to the excess adhesive, the label will not want to peel, therefore making it hard to manage.
Keeping the spacing of labels in mind is also important, as applicators and dispensers often utilize a sensor to acknowledge individual labels on a roll. Ensuring there is a recognizable gap between labels is critical to the success of a well optimized and consistent automatic labeling process.
The face stock, adhesive, and liner are the three label components that, when not correctly planned for, can lead to errors in automatic tire label application. Each of these elements should be carefully considered and discussed with your label and automation provider before commissioning a labeling solution.
The best way to ensure that your labels are constructed not only to fit your purpose, but also your method of application, is to single source your tire labels and labeling equipment from a trusted partner.
To learn more about label application, proper label materials, or if you are having trouble figuring out why your labels are not dispensing and applying properly, contact us.