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Linerless labels – a guide to microsphere adhesive technology

Posted 05/28/2020 by Melanie Ott, Global Business Manager Tapes & Labels

Why linerless labels might be an opportunity for innovation
One of the exciting aspects of adhesive innovation is giving converters and manufacturers the opportunity to create need where it didn’t exist before. Twenty years ago, for example, who knew that we needed wall decals that we can reposition multiple times to enable us to transform the look of our living space? This is just one of many products making use of microsphere adhesive technology. And it doesn’t stop there. Another relatively new pressure sensitive market is linerless labels, a market estimated to grow at CAGR 4.6% between 2017 and 2023. A wide range of businesses are now choosing linerless labels as a conduit to improve their sustainability and competitive edge. It’s really exciting how businesses are exploring the potential of microsphere adhesive technology. 

How microsphere adhesive technology works
Before we explore the potential of this adhesive technology, let’s first go into detail to what it is and how it works. Microspheres are tiny spherical particles that get their shape during the polymerization process. When a microsphere adhesive dries, it forms a discontinuous bonding film, where contact is limited to just the tops of those spheres. 

Microsphere technology.

This means it can be peeled away and stuck back down multiple times, leaving no residue behind. Non-microsphere adhesive technology, on the other hand, flows into full contact with the substrate surface, forming a continuous bonding film which builds up peel strength over time. This makes the substrate harder to remove, and doing so can damage the surface underneath.

Microsphere technology.

Perfect for many everyday applications
Microsphere adhesive technology is suitable for a wide range of applications including sticky notes, wall and window decals, graphics and wallpapers, consumer advertising (e.g. banners in shop windows) and, of course, linerless labels.

Linerless labels – the benefits
As you would expect from the name, linerless labels are pressure sensitive labels but without the silicone release liner – the backing paper from which you peel a label before sticking it on to something else. Microsphere technology makes linerless labels possible and, as it is a water-based adhesive solution, it is easy to integrate into existing water-based coating lines. 

Linerless labels are increasingly being used in many everyday activities such as labels on takeaway coffee cups and containers, logistics labels for shipping, printed supermarket labels for fresh produce and workflow labels in service or repair industries.

A more sustainable solution
Their growing popularity is partly due to the environmental and cost benefits they offer compared to their lined label counterparts. As they don’t have a liner, they take up less space and this means you can fit more labels on a roll – about 40% more per roll. This means you don’t need to replace the rolls on your production line as often and can run labelling lines faster. It also means you can reduce both storage space and shipping costs. And because you are not throwing away all the leftover liners, you are significantly reducing the amount of waste you generate and send to landfill. Add these benefits together and you are actively looking at a labelling solution that is more environmentally friendly than labels with silicon release liners. 

Microsphere adhesive products from H.B. Fuller
H.B. Fuller’s portfolio of microsphere adhesives include a range of ready-to-use formulations for various product applications: 

  • Swift®tak MS 1000 Series Adhesives suitable for adhesive notepads and sticky notes
  • Swift®tak MS 2000 Series Adhesives suitable for paper and self-wound rolls
  • Swift®tak MS 3000 Series Adhesives suitable for paper, wall graphics, decals, signage and various film types, including difficult to bond to plasticized PVC films


This is a technology that could open up markets and applications that no one has dreamed of yet. And as ever, you can count on our proven technical expertise and customization capabilities to help create the microsphere adhesive to address your unique requirements. After all, there was a time when no one knew we could insert sample sachets in magazines that we can peel off without ripping the page to which they are attached.  It has become possible with microsphere adhesives and now we take them for granted.

What will be tomorrow’s must-have product?
So, find out more about our microsphere adhesive technology and start dreaming! This could be the opportunity you have been waiting for to improve the performance of the current products or create completely new products we didn’t know we needed. For more information, contact us today.

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