5 Reasons Product Information Labels Don’t Stick

At Marking Systems, we’ve been specializing in custom label printing for more than 50 years. We know just how important information and safety labels are to your finished product — whether they’re explaining ideal use or warning end-users of possible dangers.

Even more important than the label itself is making sure it sticks to your product, and stays adhered for as long as possible.

5 Reasons Labels Don’t Stick

Through the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about the reasons adhesive product labels don’t stick. Here are the most common problems we’ve found.

  1. Using the wrong adhesive

Even the best adhesives can fail if they’re used on the wrong surface. Making sure your company is using the correct adhesive on the application surface is crucial.

  1. Something has changed

If your product labels have always worked before but now they’re falling off, oftentimes something has changed with the paint or plastic ingredients.

  1. The surface wasn’t clean to begin with

Always double-check to ensure the application area is clean, dry and free of contaminants. Who hasn’t experienced this with their license plate registration stickers? Putting them on without cleaning off that plate will cause them to drop off. Same principle there.

  1. Poor application pressure

During application, using firm pressure on the product label is crucial to ensure optimum contact and flow on the surface of the product. In other words, press hard.

  1. Label is designed for the wrong temperature

The efficacy of certain adhesive labels can depend on the temperature where they’ll be used. If the adhesive label is not properly designed for the temperature operating range of your product, that could certainly cause issues.

We Can Help with That

If your product labels are falling off, don’t worry. We can help in two ways:

Send us a piece of the plastic or metal you are adhering the product label to and we will test and find the appropriate adhesive. We can typically have a sample that is ready for your test and approval within 48 to 72 hours.

Call and request our Label Adhesive Test Kit. This kit has adhesives for all different types of surfaces that you can use to test in your facility. Testing is easy. Simply clean the surface (typically with isopropyl alcohol) and apply firm pressure to the label. After 48 to 72 hours, you will be able to see the results.

Fundamentals Of Label Adhesion

Want to do a deep dive into label adhesion? If you’re interested in a little more background information about labels and sticking, here are some fundamentals.


Label adhesives are typically designed for three different types of surface applications.

  • Metals: The easiest surfaces to adhere to. Very high surface energy.
  • High-Surface-Energy Plastics: Materials such as Kapton, polycarbonate, nylon, polyurethane paint, ABS and epoxy paint.
  • Low-Surface-Energy Plastics: Materials such as polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene and powder coat paints. These are the most difficult surfaces to adhere to.

Notes: The surface must be clean and dry. To clean the surface, we recommend using 50/50 isopropyl alcohol & water mix. You must also use firm pressure to apply the product labels. Time and temperature will increase adhesion.

Standard Adhesives

Below we will show you two types of label adhesives: Adhesives that come in .002 polyester and .004 vinyl as well as laminating adhesives that are designed to be used on sub-surface printed polycarbonate/polyester. Both types are typically designed for three different types of surface applications: metals, high-surface-energy plastics, and low-surface-energy plastics.

.002 polyester/.004 vinyls:

  • Metals: .001 DPM V-344 permanent acrylic
  • High-Surface-Energy Plastics: .002 RTS V-644 permanent acrylic (also good for powder coat paints)
  • Low-Surface-Energy Plastics: 3M350 (Product #7871) .002 white polyester with .002 #3M350 adhesive

Notes: The .001 thick version is designed for smooth or very lightly textured surfaces and the .002 is designed for more heavily textured applications. The .002 thick adhesive is typically the thickest adhesive you can get on a .002 polyester or a .004 vinyl.

Sub-surface printed polycarbonate/polyester:

  • Metals: 3M467MP (.002), 3M468MP (.005)
  • High-Surface Energy Plastics: 3M467MP, 3M468MP or 3M9471LE (.002), 3M9472LE (.005)
  • Low-Surface-Energy Plastics: 3M9442 (.002), 3M9445 (.005) or 3M9471LE or 3M9472LE

Note: The .002 thick version is designed for smooth or very lightly textured surfaces and the .005 is designed for more heavily textured applications.

Now you’ve got the basics, but we don’t expect you to solve this problem on your own. Please don’t hesitate to call your representative at MSI for all of your product label/overlay/nameplate problems. Call MSI at 972-475-0770 today! Let our product label experts guide you to your solution.