How to Get Started Printing Waterproof Thermal Labels

Date Posted:1 March 2022 

How to Get Started Printing Waterproof Thermal Labels main image How to Get Started Printing Waterproof Thermal Labels image


If your barcode labels are going to come into contact with moisture, ice or water in any form, you’ll want to consider using water-resistant labels. These can give you peace of mind that you won’t come back to a blurred or unstable label, which could prove disastrous when it comes to handling thousands of products – or worse still, lab samples! Here’s what to consider when getting started.


Step 1: Know your printing methods

There are two common printing methods for barcode labels: direct thermal and thermal transfer.

While the direct thermal technique applies heat to a thermal-reactive label in order to print, the thermal transfer technique melts a wax/resin substrate from a ribbon onto the label’s surface. Though waterproof direct thermal labels are available and have a water-resistant coating, direct thermal labels can generally be sensitive to heat, light and moisture. Most label coatings will be resistant to the odd splash, but if you need truly waterproof labels, then thermal transfer synthetic labels will be the most suitable option.

Read Related Article: When Should You Consider Using Synthetic Thermal Labels?


Step 2: Consider your substrate and ribbon

If you’re printing thermal transfer labels you’ll have the choice of using a wax, resin or a combined wax/resin ribbon. While wax provides a cheap and cheerful option for labels that won’t require robust handling, a resin combination or full resin ribbon can provide far more durability for handling and waterproofing. Full resin can actually slightly dissolve into poly label stock for a permanent bond, which can be ideal for important applications such as pharmaceutical, medical, chemical and automotive labelling.


Step 3: Consider your adhesive needs

Some situations might call for water-resistant labels that are temporary and removable (say, a price sticker on a pot plant), while others might call for a truly permanent bond (such as chemical or medication labelling). We can also add tamper-proof cuts to temporary stickers, which makes it clear if there’s been an attempt to remove or relocate the sticker. Choosing a stronger adhesive will be important when it comes to applying labels to damp, chilled or frozen items. We can also provide labels with specialist adhesives that can withstand more extreme temperatures and conditions.


No matter which option you choose, it’s not recommended for any labels to be fully submerged in water, and that even the best water-resistant labels may not be completely waterproof. We advise testing label materials for your application to ensure the best results; you can always contact the Thermal Labels team for some label samples.


Here at Thermal Labels we manufacture custom printed waterproof labels, barcode labels and specialist solutions from our Sydney base. What you see on this site is just the beginning! If you’re just getting started with your labelling requirements, you can explore our Helpdesk for more information on labelling and request a quote for custom label products.