You must have often used aluminum foil in the kitchen. It is an excellent material for packaging food items. However, the metal’s low weight and non-reactive nature make it popular in various industries.
Aluminium has several benefits that make it the perfect metal you can use safely. This is why we also extensively use it in labeling.
Industries and office complexes commonly use aluminum labels to ensure no one has to face disruption in their routine and interactions. Keep reading to know what aluminum tags you can use and the benefits and disadvantages of using aluminum for labeling.
Aluminum Properties That Make it Suitable for Labeling
It isn’t a coincidence that most machine labels are made from aluminum. The metal has several properties that make it suitable for being used in labeling, for example:
- Durability: Aluminum is lightweight, but it doesn’t mean it’s weak. The metal has an extensive lifespan as it is resistant to corrosion, weather effects, and destruction from UV rays. Your label will not fade, rust, or fall off, making aluminum labeling perfect for harsh environments.
- Lightweightness: Aluminum does not add significant weight to your tools and equipment, making it ideal for metal labeling. This also keeps costs low when you import labels in bulk.
- Machinability: You can do a wide range of engineering operations on aluminum feasibly, like drilling, cutting, or stamping. It is one of the most malleable and ductile metals, making it an excellent choice for making labels.
- Variety: You can make various labels with aluminum, like embossed or anodized labels. Natural aluminum has a sleek, attractive silver look, but anodizing allows you to change its surface colors. You can also modify the shape, size, and thickness of your label due to the malleability of aluminum.
- Physical properties: Aluminum is non-magnetic and won’t interfere with an electric appliance’s function. As most other metals are magnetic, they are a bad choice for labeling electronic machines. As this material is also non-combustible, you can use it in equipment with a flammability risk, such as electric equipment or chemical processing tools.
- Cost-effectiveness: using aluminum for labeling is cost-effective, and aluminum is one of the world’s most widely available and affordable metals compared to other labeling materials.
- Sustainability: Once your equipment completes its life, you can take out the aluminum label and recycle it. This way, using aluminum labels is a sustainable and waste-reducing option.
Types of Aluminum Labels
There are several types of aluminum labels in the market that differ in their labeling techniques, such as:
1. Embossed Aluminum Labels
Embossed aluminum labels have characters raised or embossed from the surface. This ensures you can read the label even after galvanizing or painting. You can expect to find embossed labels around industrial machinery as they are highly durable. Using embossed aluminum is suitable for outdoor labels for durable identification. Embossing improves your label’s visibility and makes reading the label from a distance easier. It is also permanent.
However, embossed labels come in limited color options. You must paint over the label if you want a different color. They also come in limited designs and are generally expensive.
2. Anodized Aluminum Labels
You can create a protective covering on your aluminum label to make it more durable and increase its lifespan. This covering is an oxide layer, and this reaction is called anodizing.
Anodized aluminum labeling is more resistant to weather, corrosion, and chemicals, as the metal is not exposed. Usually, you’ll see serial numbers and product identification labels made from anodized aluminum.
Anodized aluminum is long-lasting and customizable. You can get several types of anodized aluminum labels for industrial applications, which differ in color and design.
You can imprint custom graphics on your label. However, such graphics can fade over time, especially if you expose them to sunlight. They are not heat resistant wither, as heating damages their oxide layer.
3. Printed Aluminum Labels
These labels have text or graphics printed on the metal. They offer the most customizability; you can get custom aluminum labels in different colors. However, they are less resistant to environmental factors, so it’s best if you use them for indoor applications. For instance, some people use printed aluminum labels for their house’s nameplates.
The printing process is simple, so printed labels are cheap and affordable. They also produce sharp and crisp, high-resolution images. However, they are less durable and resistant to environmental factors. Heat, moisture, or chemicals can corrode them, and they are prone to scratches.
4. Laser-Engraved Aluminum Labels
Laser-engraved labels use high-temperature labeling. A powerful laser removes material from a metal sheet’s surface to engrave the label at a high temperature. A masking material protects the areas of the aluminum surface that won’t be engraved. You can use laser-engraved aluminum tags for asset tracking to know when your inventory is emptying.
Laser engraving is permanent, so the label stays long and is durable. It is fast, efficient, and precise. The engraving is sleek and clean, giving your tag an aesthetic look.
Despite this, they have some drawbacks. They are expensive and offer fewer color options. They are also incompatible with some adhesive options, such as solvent-based adhesives.
5.MetalPhoto Aluminum Labels
MetalPhoto labeling involves embedding your photo or graphic on the surface of anodized aluminum through complex chemical processes.
You can develop an anodic layer with silver compounds that create an image upon exposing them to a light source. Another way to create MetalPhoto labels is to expose the metal to specific colorizing chemicals in a process called chemical etching.
MetalPhoto aluminum Labels allow for durable labeling and resist corrosion and abrasion while producing high-resolution and clear images. They last long and can retain their appearance for decades. But they don’t come cheap. They also have fewer color options as they rely on the chemical properties of silver compounds and other materials to produce color, which is limited.
Uses of Aluminum Labels
Aluminum labels have several uses, such as asset and barcode labeling. Lets’s categorize their usage into three broad categories.
1. Industrial Labeling
You can use aluminum labels in the industry to properly label your equipment and tools. Properly labeling industrial equipment makes the workplace safer by clearly describing the hazards of every piece of equipment. Labeling equipment with its hazards is also necessary by law.
Equipment labeling also helps in maintenance. You can label replacement part numbers and operating instructions to maintain the equipment and have it last a long time. By asset labeling, you can also keep track of your assets and inventory. Doing so lets you stock up on your required equipment when running low on it.
You can use aluminum labels to create brand awareness. Get custom aluminum labels that include your company’s name and logo for branding purposes.
Your product is your first interaction with a customer, and you should include your name and logo on its label to increase your brand awareness. You can also label your packaging, including your tagline, mission statement, and other branding information.
You can use aluminum for outdoor signage, such as directional or informational plaques. You can also make your house’s nameplate of aluminum.
While you can use different metals for signage labels, aluminum is more durable, long-lasting, and resistant to weather effects.
Disadvantages of Aluminum Labels
Despite their widespread use, aluminum labels have some disadvantages:
1. Limited Flexibility
Aluminum is a durable label material, but this also means it has less flexibility. Unlike paper or plastic labels, it is rigid and cannot be bent a lot.
This is a problem when the thing you want to label is not a flat surface. Because of its limited flexibility, an aluminum label won’t stick to a curved surface.
2. Limited Color Options
Anodized, printed, and MetalPhoto aluminum tags come in different colors but cannot compete with plastics or paper in color variety. This is because we impart color on silver aluminum through chemical means, whereas plastics come in various colors naturally.
Imparting color on aluminum also requires specific equipment and skills. If you need more colorful labels, opt for plastic tags.
Aluminum is an ideal label for its durability and physical properties. However, it is more rigid and offers less color customization than plastic labels. You can use aluminum labels for industrial equipment labeling and asset tracking, product branding, or outdoor signage.
There are different aluminum labels, and you should check which type suits your needs the best. Make sure you contact a quality manufacturer for all your aluminum labeling and branding needs.