Choosing the Right Tag Substrate

Substrates have such a big visual and cost impact on your shelf-edge programs that it’s worth spending a little extra time to make the best selection. But substrates are also a broad topic, so we’re going to take on the subject in two smaller bites, beginning with substrates that contain no “backer” component.

The Big Four

There are four basic choices in this category with each having its own set of characteristics:

1. Bonds. These are high-quality papers similar to bank paper but with the exception that bonds have a weight greater than 50g/m2. Some bonds contain rag fiber pulp, which produces a stronger, though rougher sheet of paper and is generally not necessary for shelf-edge tags. Bonds are available in white and a broad range of colors.

2. Card Stocks. These are versatile papers for the shelf edge that generally have a weight range of 60 to 100 pounds (weight of 500 sheets of paper cut to its basis size) and thicknesses of 8 to 12 thousandths of an inch (8 pt. to 12 pt.). Card stocks can be coated or uncoated and can come in a variety of finishes including metallic, textured, parchment, embossed, vellum, and linen.

3. Synthetics. These flexible, durable, and versatile substrates are generally made from thermoplastic materials such as polyolefins, nylon, polystyrene, etc., by direct film or foil extrusion or by bonding filaments. They have many paper-like qualities as well as some additional advantages such as greater durability and water and tear resistance. There is also no lamination required, though there is a price premium compared to pure paper substrates. Some synthetics are 100% recyclable.

4. Static Clings. These are clear or opaque plastic products similar to stickers but without the sticky adhesive residue. Static cling substrates can be die cut into any shape and easily stick to glass and other smooth surfaces. They can also be easily repositioned or moved. Just be sure to clean the surface before applying.

Substrates to the Rescue

If you’d like to see real-life examples of how some of these substrates are being used in creative ways, we invite you to view our “Tags That Make a Difference” e-newsletter special features. And in a future Buzz post, we’ll discuss substrates that incorporate a “backer” component, from laminated paper labels to magnetic stock.