The Special Challenges of Labeling Small Products

Designing and printing a custom product label for any product is a rather large task in and of itself. However, when working with smaller packaging and smaller products you not only have limits when it comes to the design of the label, but you need to make sure that the label will adhere to the small amount of packaging or product surface area available.

Many small containers or products fall into what the printing industry calls “tight mandrel” containers – i.e. cylindrical tubes with a very small diameter (often a half-inch or less across). When you wrap a label around something that small, the material has a natural tendency to “unravel” back to it’s normal (flat) position, which means your beautiful labels will often begin to lift away from the product at each end of the label. Some common products that we encounter with this issue are lip balm sticks, eyedropper bottles and many smaller sizes of “vapes” bottles – i.e. very small curved containers.

One way to help minimize this behavior is to use a more-aggressive adhesive on the label material that resists this unfurling tendency. Our Online Quoter has a choice of material called “White BOPP (Tight Mandrel)” specifically to address this problem. This polypropylene label stock has a stronger adhesive than regular BOPP, to achieve a better bond with the container surface. In fact, the adhesive itself is the only difference when compared to regular BOPP, so the Tight Mandrel material is just as resistant to wear and tear (and moisture).

However, the extra-strong adhesive on the Tight Mandrel material can mean your small product labels might cost a little more than the regular BOPP (depending on your order size), so it doesn’t make much sense to use it unless your product needs it (i.e. the small diameter shape we described above.)  The standard BOPP works just fine for labels being applied to flat surfaces – it’s only when a tight curvature is involved that the stronger adhesive becomes important.

Here’s a useful tip: if the diameter of your product (or container) is less than 1 inch and your label is intended to wrap around it, you should probably test samples of both materials to make sure proper adhesion is achieved. In our experience, a wrap-around label in excess of 3 inches long is probably not going to need the extra grip – but it never hurts to test. We will happily provide samples for this purpose at no cost to you, so it always pays to test first before ordering.

And of course, we’re always available to discuss your specific challenges and help guide you through the various options for your small product labels. Don’t hesitate to call or email us if you have any questions or concerns. That’s what we’re here for!