Cryogenic and freezer storage for sensitive samples can pose a challenge. These samples need to be stored in extreme cold, but they also have to be properly and carefully labeled in order to maintain the integrity of the sample.
Both your tubes and cryo or freezer labels may need to endure liquid nitrogen, temperatures as low as -196 degrees Celsius. These are extremely harsh environments that some tubes and vials are not prepared to endure; let alone the labels and barcodes that are on their external surface.
Due to this challenge, we are often asked the question, “Why are my cryogenic labels falling off?”
As barcode and label experts that specialize in cryogenic storage labeling, we wanted to inform you about three reasons we often encounter of why cryogenic labels may be falling off of your tubes and vials as a result of cryo storage.
Why Cryo or Freezer Labels Fall Off
- The labels are being applied to a frosted surface
- Your cryo label does not have engineered adhesive for frost and cold surfaces
- You are applying the label to a warm tube
Problem #1: The labels are being applied to a frosted surface
Cryogenic labels are meant to withstand extreme cold and frost; however, that does not mean they can be applied to any surface. Oftentimes even when the cryo labels claim to have the ability to be applied to frost, they may not live up to required standards.
This is due to the fact that when removed from cold temperatures, frost turns to water, and water impacts adhesive.
Already frozen vials will often have a layer of frost on them, which will, in turn, impact the label’s ability to remain adhered to the surface.
The simple solution to this problem is to wipe the frost from your tube or vial before applying the label. This will remove the water before the sample is returned to cryogenic storage, allowing a label to stick to a dry surface that will more likely keep the label adhered.
Another trick is to get cryogenic labels that wrap around the whole tube or vial so that the adhesive sticks to the opposite end of the label. This increases the chances of permanence, as the label is not solely stuck to the frozen surface.
Problem #2: Your cryo or freezer label does not have engineered adhesive for frost and cold surfaces
Labels that can withstand cryogenic storage are not your average paper shipping or packaging label-- they need to be engineered specifically to this application.
A lot of times, if the right adhesive is not being used, the application temperature is that of the surface of whatever is being applied to, which can be an issue.
For a label to resist frost and cold surfaces, it needs to be created and tested with materials allowing it to do so.
It is important to source your cryo labels from a manufacturer that engineers face stock and adhesive to be flexible enough and cold resistant to endure such extreme storage requirements.
As plastic gets colder, it gets stiffer. If you do not use a wraparound label that adheres to itself, it will frequently ‘flag,’ ‘wing,’ or start to peel off. Plastic label material wants to stay flat by nature instead of curve, so it has to be specially engineered to remain adhered to a conical shaped container in tough temperatures.
Problem #3: You are applying the label to a warm tube
If a warm tube is put into cryo storage, it shrinks. This will pose an issue if the tube has a label on it, as the label will not shrink at the same rate as the tube. Therefore, it tears off the adhesive because the label is not shrinking at the same rate as the tube.
The solution to this problem is very similar to the problem of your label not being engineered to withstand these harsh environments: choosing the right material for both the face stock and the adhesive is the key to success in cryogenic environments.
Additionally, using a wraparound label will help this issue as well, since the adhesive will not have the opportunity to lift from the container as it will remain adhered to itself.
Finding and using reliable cryo labels has been a long-standing challenge for biotechnology and healthcare companies, but Computype has worked hard over the years to engineer labels that can endure these harsh environments.
Due to our years of experience, we have done a lot of troubleshooting when it comes to labels falling off in these environments, so have extensive knowledge of the possibilities as to why this may be happening. The good news is that all of these problems are fixable, and Computype offers solutions for each one.
Not only that, but Computype also offers an outsourcing option, so you do not have to deal with labels at all. Our READY Labware Services Direct Mark offering will pre-label your labware so labels falling off will not be a concern.
If you want to learn more about Computype’s cryo labels, click here.
Or request a free sample of our cryo-resistant labels, here.