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Linerless Labels: FAQs Our Clients Asked Before Making the Switch

Statue of man thinking next to a large yellow question mark.

In a market where businesses find themselves getting pinched by material availability at every turn, labels have proven to be no exception. This is particularly true for conventional labels — those that utilize a liner, where the label is pulled off a silicone-coated backer. 

For our clients, going linerless, in many cases, has presented itself as a more viable, greener, market-ready option. And the current demand for them became a driving reason for our installation of an additional linerless press. This investment has helped us increase our capacity for direct thermal linerless label production by roughly 40%. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the value proposition around linerless, look no further. RRD developed and patented this label type in the early nineties. As a pioneer in this space, we’ve answered a number of questions around linerless over the years. 

The following are what we might categorize as “frequently asked” — and our answers to them cut right to the chase. (If you’d like to talk about any of these at length, just let us know.)

The FAQs our clients have asked about linerless labels

Will switching to linerless labels have any effect on my business’ operational costs?

It's very possible. According to Alexander Watson Associates, liners account for approximately 20% of a pressure sensitive label’s total applied cost. A linerless label’s reduced footprint increases the likelihood for the following:   

  • More labels, fewer rolls — up to 50% more labels per roll — which translates to a reduction in downtime required to change rolls
  • Minimized costs through reduced freight, reduced warehousing space, and elimination of liner disposal
  • Improved workplace safety through the removal of slippery silicone liners

Is the process of converting to linerless time-consuming and expensive?

Conventional labels and their linerless counterparts are not manufactured on the same type of press. Making the transition to linerless may require an investment in new equipment (e.g., printer and firmware) — this is linerless’ most common barrier to entry for companies. Which is why working with a labeling partner who already has the capabilities and capacity makes a good deal of sense.

It's also important to note that regular thermal desktop and mobile printers do not accommodate linerless labels.

Are linerless labels a more eco-friendly option?

According to a survey RRD recently conducted of packaging decision makers, almost all (94%) respondents agree that sustainability is a key consideration in packaging and label decisions. 
If you are looking for a more sustainable labeling option, linerless is worth a closer look. 

The silicone-coated backer pulled off your traditional label is typically non-recyclable. It’s really one of the biggest drivers of waste in a label’s lifecycle. And because they contain silicone, label liners can’t be burned and they also won’t decompose.

Does a lack of liner affect a label’s durability or adherence to surfaces?

We’ve had to debunk the myth (more than once) that the lack of a liner actually compromises a label’s quality. That’s just not the case. This is simply a leaner label.

The release coating used on a linerless label has been developed to not only prevent the adhesive from sticking to the labels beneath it, but also serve as a protective barrier against UV moisture, and chemicals. This ensures durability and a longer shelf life.

Are the adhesive options limited when it comes to going linerless?

Absolutely not. At RRD, all of our linerless labels are available to run with CleanTac® (repositional), VersaTac or permanent adhesives. Regarding the adhesive’s stickiness, that is determined by the adhesive pattern on the back of each label roll. From diamond-shape to multiple or single stripe, the patterns can also vary depending on application.

Is there anything else I should know about linerless as I evaluate my labeling options?

While linerless labels come in limited shapes (i.e., rectangles and squares), there is flexibility to be had in terms of label sizing. Unlike many conventional labels that are cut to a predetermined size, linerless can print multiple sizes of labels on a single roll — think shipping label as well as a separate barcode label.

At RRD, our linerless label solution includes the option to add timing bars as a start / stop gap sensing mode and perforations, which increases efficiency for the end user with faster, easier and cleaner tears. The product line is customizable and includes decorative linerless for glass, window, and door manufacturers.

Do you have any client success stories you can share where linerless labels played an important role?

These five case studies should help illustrate the beneficial role our linerless labels played for our clients’ businesses:

When can we get started?

How about now?  RRD is positioned to provide an innovative and readily available labeling solution that answers calls for both heightened productivity and sustainability.

If you’d like to learn even more about RRD’s linerless labeling capabilities, start here.


Judy Marx is a Business Development Manager for RRD Packaging and Labels.