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Label Printer Systems for Challenging Outdoor Environments

09 October, 2023

Workers handling chemical containers clearly marked with safety labels

Outdoor labels serve a wide range of purposes, from identifying equipment and machinery to providing essential safety information. In environments like construction sites, warehouses, agricultural settings, and shipping yards, durable weather resistant labels and labeling equipment are crucial.  

When it comes to labeling products, equipment, or assets in these challenging outdoor environments, a standard label printer and standard labels just won't cut it. Harsh weather conditions, exposure to UV radiation, extreme temperatures, and moisture can all take a toll on conventional labels, causing them to fade, peel, or become illegible. To tackle these challenges, businesses turn to outdoor label printing systems, such as those covered in our Definitive Guide to Industrial Label Printers, that offer durability, reliability, and longevity.


Environmental Challenges to Outdoor Labels Man in a green hard hat leaning over a machine with a "Danger, Burn Hazard" label on it

UV Radiation: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause labels to fade and become unreadable over time. 

Extreme Temperatures: Labels need to withstand both scorching heat and freezing cold without losing adhesive strength or structural integrity. 

Moisture and Humidity: Rain, snow, and high humidity levels can cause labels to peel, warp, or disintegrate. 

Chemicals and Solvents: Some outdoor environments involve exposure to chemicals, oils, and solvents that can damage label materials. 

Abrasion: Labels on outdoor equipment and machinery may be subject to abrasion from friction, impact, or contact with abrasive materials. 

To overcome these challenges, specialized materials for printing labels are essential. 


Materials for Outdoor Labels 

Selecting the right materials is crucial for creating durable labels. Common materials used in outdoor label printing include: 

  • Vinyl: Vinyl labels are a popular choice for outdoor applications due to their resistance to moisture, UV rays, and chemicals. They are also flexible and can conform to curved or irregular surfaces. 
  • Polyester: Polyester labels offer excellent resistance to UV radiation and are often used for long-term outdoor labeling. They are tear-resistant and durable.
  • Polypropylene: Polypropylene labels are known for their resistance to water and oils. They are suitable for applications in wet or oily environments. 
  • Aluminum: Aluminum labels are exceptionally durable and can withstand harsh conditions, including extreme temperatures and exposure to chemicals. 
  • Laminates and Coatings: Applying laminates or coatings can enhance the durability of labels, providing additional protection against UV rays, moisture, and abrasion. 

To print on these unique materials, you need an industrial label printer designed to produce rugged labels resistant to harsh environments. 

Printing Technologies 

There are a few technology options employed by businesses to ensure the longevity of outdoor labels. 

  1. Thermal Transfer Printing: A thermal transfer printer uses heat to transfer ink onto the label material, creating long-lasting, smudge-resistant prints. It's ideal for outdoor labels that require high durability.
  2. Digital Printing: Digital printing allows for high-resolution graphics and variable data printing, making it suitable for customized outdoor labels. UV-cured inks are often used to improve resistance to UV radiation.


Best Practices for Outdoor Label Printing 

  1. Design with Durability in Mind: When creating outdoor labels, consider the environment they will be exposed to. Use fonts, colors, and graphics that are less prone to fading. 
  2. Proper Adhesive Selection: Choose adhesives designed for outdoor use. Some adhesives are formulated to maintain their strength even in extreme temperatures. 
  3. Overlaminates: Apply a clear overlaminate to the label to protect it from UV radiation, moisture, and abrasion. 
  4. Testing: Before mass-producing labels, conduct thorough testing to ensure they meet the durability requirements of the specific environment. 
  5. Compliance: If your labels are used for safety or regulatory purposes, ensure they comply with relevant industry standards and regulations. 


Multiple Problems, One Printer 

Outdoor safety labels are an essential part of many site safety plans. However, these labels may not last as long as intended when exposed to extreme temperatures, sunlight, moisture, and other harsh environmental conditions. This can lead to the loss of critical information such as warnings, instructions, and lot numbers.  

The DuraLabel Toro Max industrial label printer is designed to produce weather resistant labels that hold up to harsh conditions. It includes a range of features such as supply recognition and auto-calibration that make it easier to design and print labels while in the field.  

The Toro Max is a mid-size, all-in-one portable labeling solution that can print anywhere onto ½” to 4’’ wide supply to create a range of labels and signs, from small inventory labels and tags to OSHA safety signs, arc flash warnings, and pipe markers. It includes a 9" capacitive touchscreen, full-size QWERTY keyboard, and optional battery, making it the only fully portable label and sign printer on the market. With its powerful software, the printer expands your creative capabilities and simplifies safety labeling. 

Outdoor label printing is a critical aspect of many industries that rely on durable, long-lasting labeling solutions. By selecting the right materials, utilizing appropriate printing technologies, and following best practices, businesses can create outdoor labels that withstand the toughest environmental challenges. 


Visual Safety Communication Resources from DuraLabel   

DuraLabel’s free OSHA Instant Action guide helps readers understand OSHA and ANSI regulations and standards, as well as improve safety and efficiency in their workplace. Request your free OSHA Safety Signs Instant Action Guide. Give us a call today at 1-888-326-9244 and one of our experts will guide you through the process.

Learn more about 5s?  Our free Instant Action Guide helps create set standards while optimizing safety and efficiency. The guide also includes a worksheet to audit your facility.

OSHA Safety Sign Guide
Label in accordance with OSHA and ANSI standards.

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