As ‘FLAP labels’ are a term we use so commonly at Computype, we are often asked, “What are FLAP labels?” Computype has been working in the diagnostics industry for over 40 years now, so we have encountered just about every challenge that comes with the industry; a longstanding challenge has been determining the best way to accurately identify glass slides for histopathology and diagnostic tests. To combat this challenge, Computype spent ample time engineering the best label to accurately and efficiently identify histology slides commonly used in automated staining equipment, the FLAP label.
You can imagine that when dealing with diagnostics and sample identification, there are many factors that play into the success—ethical standards are strict, patient’s lives are at stake, integration with automated equipment is critical, and these biopsies will likely go through a process involving reagents, stains, and harsh chemicals. We noticed that many diagnostics companies were encountering the challenge of properly labeling and identifying histology slides throughout their whole testing life.
The challenge was that once a biopsy was collected and put on a slide, it would often experience exposure to reagents to gather results; however, the harsh chemicals would often damage the barcode itself. This sacrifices the sample integrity, and makes for a messy, unsustainable process in a lab. Because of this common issue, Computype worked to engineer a label that would overcome this challenge and make for a seamless testing process.
The FLAP label (Flexible Lamination After Printing) was the result. This label is specifically designed for application to microscope slides. It is imperative that every specimen is uniquely identified to maintain the integrity of the sample, and ensure the correct patient gets their accurate results returned to them in the shortest amount of time possible.
How does it work?
To streamline the testing process, the slides will usually lay flat in carousel-like automated instruments. During their time in this instrument, the samples are exposed to a variety of reagents and stains.
The stains that go onto the slide do so in a very controlled environment within the instrument, and in liquid form. It is necessary that the label on the slide is able to resist the chemicals in these stains. A normal label would be instantly destroyed if put in contact with chemicals used in this process. In addition to a label that will withstand the chemicals, it is important to have a label that will prevent the stain from flowing over and off the slide—the label needs to act as a hydrophobic barrier.
The FLAP label accomplishes all of these requirements. After trying over 90 different label samples, Computype found the combination of adhesive, label material, and laminate to withstand diagnostic testing environments.
How does the design differ from a ‘normal’ label?
The label itself resembles an open book— on the left side a barcode image, often including customer name and other patient specific information. The right side of the ‘book’ is essentially a laminate waiting to be used. After the symbol has been printed and the test has been completed, the user peels the release liner from the laminate, closes the ‘book’ and seals the image under the protective coat. In addition to protecting the barcode image, this succeeds to create a hydrophobic barrier that prevents the stains from coming in contact with the barcode.
The FLAP label has successfully worked in diagnostic processes in conjunction with automated staining equipment to ensure accurate and efficient test results. To ensure that, each FLAP label has to be uniquely identified and matched with a specimen. In addition, it needs to be guaranteed to adhere to the slide and remain scannable. If the adhesive were to fail, another biopsy experience is necessary, meaning extra expense and time required.
To learn more about Computype’s FLAP labels and how they could benefit your business, visit our histology product page.