Tell us about your requirements.

We will contact you as soon as possible.

    How to choose a proper adhesive for your nameplate and label project?

    July 20 '23


    Adhesives are thin-acrylic-based material that holds or sticks a label or nameplates on a substrate. It is the key to durable labeling solutions. Three popular adhesives are available in the market that suit the attached substrate surface.

    Based on the substrate surface, a manufacturer chooses a proper adhesive type that holds the label or nameplates for a long time. This article will help you learn about adhesives and make a suitable choice for your labeling project.

    Common adhesive issues 

    Defects in adhesives range from minor issues to complete failure. Let’s see some of these defects you may face while choosing an adhesive for your labeling project.

    • Wrinkles
    • Darting
    • Air bubbles
    • Cupping
    • Edge lift
    • Tearing during application
    • Non-stickiness to the substrate 

    Always remember to clean the substrate surface before applying adhesives. 

    Adhesive considerations

    It is equally important to know how these adhesives are attached to a nameplate or label, just like their material composition and aesthetics. In the outdoor labeling solutions guide, you had a basic overview of adhesives, but in this standalone article, you’ll learn all the considerations.

    Application & environment:

    The substrate surface and where the application works have to be predefined before choosing an adhesive.

    Unlike indoor applications, an outdoor application is constantly exposed to tough conditions. Hence, the adhesives have to meet the demands of the application environment. For instance, paper materials can be used for indoor applications as the challenges are minimal, but not for outdoor applications.

    Substrate surface:

    Adhesives are best to apply on metals and plastics, but it’s not a universal solution. In some cases, the surface may need some extra layers for strong adhesion.

    For example, adhesives used in plasticizers without extra layers may loosen over time and fall. Reason — surface gets softened as time passes. Resistant adhesives are used for plasticizers as a durable solution.

    Surface texture:

    The strength of the surface is one of the key considerations, and if it’s hard, the adhesive must be strong. Adhesives are applied based on the surface orientation or texture, i.e., smooth or hard surface. If the surface is smooth, then it will be easy for adhesives to work. But for harder surfaces, special adhesives are required. 

    Surface energy:

    It is the degree to which a material repels or attracts. You have seen water become non-sticky on a newly polished car. The reason is that the wax used for polish creates low surface energy, making water non-sticky.

    The technical term for “sticking” an adhesive is known as wetting-out. It’s the flow of an adhesive over a material of choice. If wetting-out is high, then the adhesive will gain maximum contact and bond strength and vice versa. Hence materials with low surface energy are harder to create bonds or adhesion. Higher the surface energy, the stronger the bond. 

    Polyethylene, polystyrene, and polyvinyl materials are some examples that have low surface energy. Adhesive solutions are available for such materials. The surface energy can be tested and applied based on the results. It is measured on dynes per centimeter (dyn/cm). 


    Material weight is key for durable bonding. If the material is heavy, then the adhesive requires extra-strong adhesion strength. Many adhesive compositions are available to meet these constraints.

    Ensure these materials also perform well in varying temperatures, are UV & solvent resistant, and waterproof. Certain kinds of materials need more features like high shear strength.


    Based on the material, the thickness is yet another factor to consider. Glue resilience is needed to establish a strong bond between the substrate and the implementation area. If using nameplates on the metals, choose the adhesive by considering the thickness or load of the nameplates.

    Tougher the adhesive, bulky the nameplate.


    Metals may be easier to create an adhesive bond, but if it is powder coated, then it will be difficult. Foam adhesives are suitable for this scenario.

    Similarly, adhesives are chosen based on the treatments used for metals or other surfaces.


    If the material size is big, then the adhesion strength must be high. Consider the adhesive strength required to create a bond for a large metal sign and that for a small plastic bag. A small plastic bag requires little adhesion strength, whereas a big metal sign needs a stronger adhesion.

    Types of adhesives

    Adhesive choice impacts the lifespan and effectiveness of the nameplate or label. Many adhesives are available in the market, and here are some popular adhesive types you rely on for your project.

    Foam adhesives:

    • Best for uneven surfaces
    • Fills the gap between substrate and product
    • Eliminate any ridges on the surface and creates a flat bonding with the surface
    • Vary in thickness
    • The front and back sides of adhesives ensure a light and strong attachment.

    Three base materials are available for foam adhesives.

    1. Closed-cell polyethylene foam (PE foam)
    2. Polyester open-cell foam
    3. Closed-cell Polyurethane foam

    Pressure-sensitive adhesives

    • The most popular adhesive choice
    • Also known as peel & stick adhesives because a liner is attached to the adhesives, which requires peeling off before application.
    • Attaches to surfaces on light pressure
    • Can use for selective or overall application
    • Pressure-sensitive labels are known as easy label solution

    Three types of pressure-sensitive adhesives are available in the market to satisfy your custom requirements.

    1. Removable adhesives or low-strength adhesives
    2. Permanent adhesives or medium-strength adhesives
    3. High-trade adhesives or high-medium adhesives

    High-trade adhesives are perfect for long-term applications, especially for two scenarios,

    1. For outdoor, industrial, and extreme environments
    2. Low-energy plastic applications

    Heat-activated adhesives

    • Best for rigid surfaces, where a little pressure can be applied
    • Also known as thermo bond adhesives because the temperature, pressure, and dwell time achieve a secured attachment
    • Can use for selective or overall application

    What’s best for my labeling project?

    It depends on the project requirements. Consider the factors discussed in the article and then align them with a perfect adhesive option. Also, consider expertise engineering consultation for custom complex requirements. Experienced manufacturers have years of experience in dealing with various projects that are simple and complex. Hence, approaching a labeling manufacturer will make things easier.