Thursday, April 19, 2012

Choosing the Right Brady BMP51 / BMP53 Label Materials is Key to Printing Success – Guest Blog

by Annie Ropella, Brady Worldwide Product Specialist—Portable Printing Systems

Portable printers, like the Brady BMP®51 and BMP®53 Label Makers, offer versatility for usability in the field that needs to be matched by versatility in label material. Both the printer and material selection are critical to getting the best result, so assuming you have identified a BMP51 or BMP53 Label Maker as your printer of choice, let's look at the four critical factors to consider when selecting a label material:

Labeling a painted concrete wall versus a pre-terminated electrical wire versus a fiber-optic cable require different properties from a label material. Some of the most used label materials are:
  • Vinyl – This pliable material conforms well to uneven surfaces such as painted concrete walls. A low-shrink vinyl provides the most professional look because it reduces the amount of adhesive that will be exposed as the vinyl shrinks and, therefore, reduces the debris that will adhere to the exposed adhesive. The BMP51 and BMP53 label makers offer vinyl in 10 different color options and in four different widths, letting users personalize the labels to best fit their needs.
  • Heat Shrink Tubing – While this comes in many different varieties and grades, there are several characteristics that most heat shrink tubing materials share: once printed, they will shrink down at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio; they provide a tight fit over a pre-terminated electrical wire; and they create a durable legend. For the BMP51 label maker, heat shrink tubing is available in both white and yellow and in one continuous roll or in pre-cut 1" pieces.
  • Nylon Cloth – A highly conformable material that can wrap tightly around small gauge wires and small diameter cables. When repeating lines of text are printed on a label that is wrapped around a wire, the legend is visible from all angles.
    • For very thin or fragile wires, such as fiber-optic cables, a flag style label can be used to fit more information that a traditional wire wrap label allows.
  • Polyester – This material works best on flat surfaces. It provides a professional look and therefore is often used as rating plates or in product branding. The most popular colors are white, clear, or metalized. The BMP51 label maker has numerous sizes of each to choose from.
It is no surprise, but where a label will be used plays a big role in what material is used. In indoor, climate-controlled areas, you can typically use whatever material you are familiar with and that meets the needs of what you will be labeling, as discussed above.

However, if the environment where a label will be will be is subject to high humidity, warm temperatures, chemicals, freezing temperatures, or direct sunlight, be sure to examine the technical spec sheet of the material to see if it will last. Through different combinations of adhesives, top coats, and substrates, labels can be optimized for the diverse environments where labels are needed.

After identifying the right material for your application and environment, it is also important to consider the volume of labels you will need on a daily basis.
  • Continuous labels are ideal when lower quantities of labels are needed and if the size of the label will vary greatly during use.
  • If you have higher volume needs and a consistent sized legend, die cut (or pre cut) labels provide greater efficiencies. Since you can print anywhere from 10 to 100 or even 1,000 labels in one print job, you save time by not having to cut between each label. Also, if the labels are going on a cable or wire, consistent sized labels provide the most professional look for a job and help make your work look its best!
Finally, don't forget to consider any regulatory or compliance requirements your company or your customer might have. While UL and RoHS are two of the more common requirements we see, you may also have to consider labels that are REACH or cUL certified. Again, this information can typically be found on a manufacturer's technical spec sheet.

While there can be additional factors to consider when selecting which labels to purchase, by thinking through the above factors, you will set yourself in the right direction for optimizing your label purchase.

A special thank you, once again, to our guest blogger, Annie Ropella, from Brady Worldwide.

To learn more about Brady label options for the BMP51 and BMP53, or to place an order for printers, labels, and accessories, please visit's Brady Label Printers Department or contact us by phone (800-966-6020) or email.

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