What are the Different Types of Label Rolls and Their Advantages?

What are the Different Types of Label Rolls and Their Advantages?

Labels are a useful tool for businesses across various industries and sectors. Depending upon the specific business needs, labels can be used for product labelling, asset labelling, shipping labels, barcodes, specimen marking, and more. Labels can be long lasting or temporary, and are a great way to communicate information, especially when more people are involved.

label printer is an ideal way to produce large volumes of customised labels in a cost-effective manner. Label printers are available in a variety of sizes and price points, commonly using direct thermal or thermal transfer printing technologies. Some are more suited for fast and bulk printing, while others are better for detailed and high definition prints.

The performance of a label printer is significantly influenced by the label rolls used. Poor quality stock will result in shabby prints, even if the printer is of the best quality. Every printer requires a compatible label roll to print, and as it is a long-lasting yet recurring purchase, it is important to choose the right label roll.

- Also Read: Understanding Thermal Labels: Direct Thermal Vs. Thermal Transfer

- Also Read: How to Choose the Right Label Printer?

What are Label Rolls?

Label rolls are the consumables that are print on by label printers. Since label printers have a specific size they can print on, you would need dedicated set of label rolls for your label printer. There are a variety of label rolls available, based on the printing technology of the label printer and application of the label.

Although most commonly, label rolls are made of paper or plastic mixes, other label roll materials include types of foils, films, thermal stock and adhesives. The choice of which label roll is best for you will depend upon several factors. These include label printer specifications, the durability required, size of label roll, colour of the material, adhesive capabilities, and your budget.

Benefits of Label Rolls

Label rolls are specialised and tend to be more expensive than typical sheets of paper. They are also sold by dedicated vendors only, and are not as easily accessible as traditional paper sheets. Nevertheless, there are plenty of benefits of label rolls, that you won’t get with general paper sheets. Accordingly, it is advisable that for the best labels, you use dedicated label rolls.

Here are some of the primary benefits of using label rolls:

  • Get the best performance from your label printer

If you already have a label printer or are considering purchasing one, then it is vital to have a compatible label roll. A well-fitted and good quality label roll has a major impact on the quality of the final labels. Especially for high definition labels or barcodes, clarity is important and you can get the best results with a quality label roll.

  • Extend the life of your label printer

Depending on the printing technology your label printer uses, the print head can be directly or indirectly pressing against the inserted media stock. With label rolls, you can extend the life of the printer by reducing wear and tear from rough media inputs. Quality label rolls also have less dust and miniscule debris, thereby reducing the entry of rough particles into the printer that may otherwise damage it.

  • Easy to load

Extra label rolls can be stored vertically and when a fresh roll is required, it is easy to load. Most printers will have a simple roll and load mechanism to setup new label rolls. Since label printers are designed to print on label rolls, they facilitate easy loading. In comparison, using sheets of paper for a label printer may not fit properly, take time to load, and fall out.

  • Automated printing

Label rolls are large and can have massive capacities, making it easier to support automated printing. A single label roll can have the capacity of printing anywhere from 400 to 4,000 labels, or even more, depending on the size of the label. As all the labels are connected in the form of a roll, there is no need for frequent changes of paper, even when bulk printing.

A printing order of any size can be given to the label printer, and the label roll will enable quick and efficient automated printing. With an automated printing process, you can save the time and efforts of your staff.

  • Versatile stock types

There are different types of materials used for label rolls, including varieties of papers, plastics, foil, thermal material, adhesives, and films. If the printer is compatible, any of these materials can be easily used for printing. Similar to any other label roll, the material can be directly loaded into the printer for versatile printing results. Perforated label rolls also make it quick and convenient to separate each individual label.

The material of the label rolls influences its final appearance, durability, adhesion capability, reflectiveness, and capacity to handle heat. For example, direct thermal label rolls would be more suited for temperature controlled or indoor environments while thermal transfer label rolls are ideal for outdoor and heated surroundings.

  • Different colours and textures

A great way to add a pop of colour to your labels without having to spend money on coloured inks is to use coloured label rolls. With a coloured label roll, you can use standard inks and still get a bright and bold label. Popular label roll colours include yellow, green and red, and there are also transparent options. Apart from colours, you can also use different material textures and finishes, such as chrome, glossy, matte and regular. A unique label is memorable and can help you stand out from the crowd.

  • Customisable printing quantities

The flexibility of label rolls makes them an excellent choice for printing custom amounts of labels. Whether you need small or large quantities of labels, there is no need to plan and count them in advance. As and when the requirement for any label arises, using a label roll you can replicate the original style and quality. For any large quantity of printing, the automated printing process can take over.

  • Overall cost savings

Label rolls offer considerable overall cost savings in several ways. They provide better quality labels then standard paper, are easier to maintain and use, and are better suited to your label printer. Customised prints and printing in bulk is more affordable with label rolls. Since each label roll can provide anywhere from 400 to 4,000 labels, you save significantly at a per label cost.

Also Read: How Much Do POS Systems Cost? - A Complete POS Pricing Guide

Types of Label Rolls

There are several types of label rolls available, based on the printing technology used, the type of printer, and the end-use application. Using an appropriate label roll can give you better label quality and greater cost savings.

To choose the correct label roll for an existing label printer, first consider compatibility and size of the label roll and printer, and then the applications of the labels. If you are planning on purchasing a new label printer, having an understanding of the different types of label rolls can help you make the right choice.

Here are the broad types of label rolls:

1. Direct Thermal Labels

Direct thermal labels rolls are heat sensitive and used with direct thermal printers. When using direct thermal label rolls, there is no need for any ink, ribbons, or toners, resulting in further cost savings with each print. The heat from the printer head prints the required content directly on the label roll. Direct thermal label rolls are environmentally friendly and produce good quality prints, eliminating risks of wrinkling from ribbons.

These labels are ideal for short-term applications and are great for bulk printing. Due to their heat-sensitive nature, direct thermal labels have a limited shelf life depending upon the surroundings, and are better suited for indoor environments. Direct thermal labels can be used for barcodes, coupons, visitor passes, event tickets, name tags, shipping labels, healthcare labels, warehousing labels, dispatches, libraries, and more.


  • Cost effective
  • Time saving
  • Ideal for bulk printing
  • No wrinkling
  • No need for ribbons or ink
  • Wide range of sizes

2. Thermal Transfer Labels

Thermal transfer labels rolls are long lasting and durable, and compatible with thermal transfer printers. Ribbons or inks are used to print the design onto the label roll, and so multiple printing colours can be used, creating high resolution labels within seconds. The durability of these labels will be influenced by the compatibility between the ribbons and the label roll. When using a well-matched label and ribbon, the print has a strong bond thereby removing the need for additional protective laminates.

As thermal transfer rolls are not heat sensitive, they are capable of withstanding high temperatures, rough conditions and outdoor environments. These labels are suited for bar code printing, product identification, lab specimen identification, restaurants, record keeping,  kitchen receipts, outdoor labelling, retail, cold storage, warehouses, and repair tracking, among others.


  • Durable prints
  • High resolution and clarity
  • Suited for coloured printing
  • Long lasting
  • Can withstand extreme temperatures
  • Multiple sizes and finishes

3. Laser Labels

Laser labels are available in the form of sheets and rolls and are great option if you want to print using a laser or inkjet printer. The sheet laser labels feature A4 sized sheets with different sized labels, and can be used for printing labels from a standard full-size printer. Inkjet labels are available in a roll format, and can be used in any inkjet label printer. Laser labels are a useful way of printing traditional labels without having a specialised direct thermal or thermal transfer label printer.

These labels are available with removable adhesives in a variety of sizes and are suited for many diverse applications, indoor and outdoor. They can be used for product identification, mailing labels, packaging labels, carton identification, visitor identification, industrial labels, and warehouse labels, among others.


  • Suited for laser/inkjet printers
  • Can be used by standard sized printers
  • Bulk printing
  • Flexible label sizes
  • Cost-effective
  • Long lasting and durable prints

4. Tags

Label Tags are available with both direct thermal and thermal transfer capabilities depending upon the particular roll, and are a fast way to print large volumes of similar tags. They often have a pre-printed section and a blank space available, reducing the time and effort of printing an entire tag. Bright pre-printed sections offer a great contrast to any additional prints onto the tag, and tags are also available with holes pre-punched.

The most common application of tags is in retail, where product descriptions and prices can easily be printed in a uniform style. Implementing a sale is also easier with label tags, since new sales prices can be quickly printed and tagged onto products. Name cards and identification cards are also a popular use for tags.


  • Multiple colours and styles
  • Pre-printed section
  • Save on ink and ribbons
  • Faster printing
  • Available for direct thermal and thermal transfer printers
  • Eye-catching

5. Retail Labels

Retail label rolls are primarily any label rolls that are used specifically for retail purposes. These are available for direct thermal, thermal transfer, and laser printing technologies.  Retail labels rolls are adhesive and come in various roll sizes, as well as in sheet form. They are available in different finishes and materials, and synthetic retail labels can be made waterproof and weatherproof with the right ribbon.

Within the retail atmosphere, the retail label rolls have a diverse range of applications, and can help in pricing, branding, packaging, and promotions. They can be used for barcodes, product labels, pricing labels, inventory labels, shelving tags, promotional labels, warning and safety labels, QR codes, name tags, and any other use desired.


  • Targeted for retail purposes
  • Available for multiple printing technologies
  • Good quality prints
  • Can be made waterproof and weather proof
  • Variety of printing sizes
  • Long lasting

6. Freight/Shipping Labels

Freight or  shipping labels are designed to be affixed on cargo undergoing freight shipping. As a result, these labels are long-lasting and durable to withstand the shipping process. They can be used with direct thermal and thermal transfer printers. The adhesives are stronger than traditional labels. The labels support clear prints and have a large printing space, so that all the shipping details can be included clearly.

Although the primary application of these labels is for shipping and freight purposes, they are also used for warehousing, storage and inventory identification. The freight/shipping labels can be colour coded for greater convenience and can be used for small, medium, large, and extra-large parcels. With permanent adhesives, these labels are long lasting and capable of surviving most wear and tear during transportation and storage.


  • Multiple sizes
  • Supports direct thermal and thermal transfer printing
  • Strong adhesives
  • Customisable
  • Long lasting
  • Large printing space

7. TZe Tapes

TZe tapes are the new eco-friendlier version of the older TZ tapes, and are used for printing laminated labels. Primarily used for the Brother range of label printers, the TZe tapes have extreme durability and strength. With a multi-layer lamination technology, the printed material is sealed after printing. The printing process overall is fast and the laminated labels do not leave any sticky residue. They are chemical resistant, temperature resistant, water resistant, abrasion resistant, and fade resistant, with a strong adhesion.

Laminated labels with the TZe tapes can be used in any environment indoors and outdoors and in extreme temperatures. They are suited for electricals, manufacturing, automation, healthcare, education, laboratories, hospitality, and retail. TZe tapes are available in a wide range of colour combinations, sizes and finishes, and support high resolution printing such as barcodes.


  • Extreme strength and durability
  • Multi-layer lamination
  • Strong adhesives
  • Fast printing
  • Versatile applications
  • High resolution printing


For effective in-house labelling, it is vital to have compatible and good quality label rolls to maximise the potential of your label printer. There are several types of label rolls available, depending upon the printing technology used and the end application.

The label roll you use can have a major impact on the final quality and durability of the labels. A poor-quality label roll can damage you printer, result in poor prints, and cause early fading of the labels. Always buy label rolls from a trusted and reliable brand so that you know you are getting good quality materials and accurate sizes.

At POS Plaza , we have a vast collection of label rolls of all types, and all the top label printers as well. Our team can help you find the label roll best suited for an existing label printer, or guide you in choosing an effective printer and compatible label roll. Labels have a great potential to boost organisation and productivity for your business, so tap into that today, with an effective in-house labelling solution.

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