Back to Blog

Header Image

Chemical label printing: this is how it’s done

Labels Chemical label printing: this is how it’s done


by Danny Mertens

Not one label is the same - different applications require different digital technology, which is precisely why printing is such an exciting business. Wine & spirits, food, beverages, pharma, durables or health & beauty: every label comes with its own aesthetic and functional requirements. In this article, we focus on chemical labels, both for industrial and household (under the sink) use.

UV inkjet technology for chemical label printing

Chemical labels, either for industrial or household use, must appeal to the consumer, be UV light resistant, resist chemicals and mechanical stress. For these circumstances, Xeikon generally recommends its UV inkjet technology, although dry toner can also come into play when a higher image quality is desired.

1) Look and feel

Dry toner gives a matte impression which, by applying a varnish, can give a glossy look. When fine image details (offset quality) are required this technology is preferable. UV inkjet gives a very high gloss and tactile impression, which can appeal to certain people. The image details are not as sharp as dry toner but this is not necessarily a requirement.  In this case, the choice lies with the brandowner.

2) UV light

Lightfastness is critical for high quality labels. It is a measure of how well a printed image resists discoloration or fading as a result of exposure to light over time. Products sitting on a store shelf or in a warehouse are often exposed to direct sunlight for hours on end. The UV affects the color pigments, causing the image to lose its brightness over time. It is a natural process which can be slowed down by adding protective UV layers on top of the label (varnish or laminate). From the start, Xeikon invested in high quality pigments used in the dry toner and UV inkjet inks with great lightfastness scores without any additional protective finishing.

3) Chemical resistance

Cross-linked systems are generally highly resistant to chemicals, which explains the performance of UV-curable inkjet inks compared to that of toner: the resins in dry or liquid toner are mostly not cross-linked. Applying chemically-resistant lamination remedies this issue. The chemical resistance of water-based inks is due to the fact that these inks do not contain any components with an affinity for chemical solvents.


Generally speaking, UV inkjet is the better solution for chemical labels, due to its durability. Dry toner can provide a solution if you want to recreate a high quality offset look but a proper protective layer is required. Xeikon can consult you in choosing the right technology for your business. The Xeikon PX3000 combines our trademark quality, versatility and speed with the possibilities of inkjet. The Xeikon CX3 is our top of the line choice for dry toner printing.


End-use label application Dry toner UV inkjet
Food xx not recommended
Beverage xx (offset quality) xx (tactile look and feel)
Wine & Spirits xx too challenging a material
Pharma xx (finest detail in print) Xeikon CX3
Durable / Industrial Varnish or lamination required xx (durability)
Health & beauty xx (offset quality) xx (tactile look and feel)
Chemical Varnish or lamination required xx (durability)

Download white paper

More on food label printing? Would you like a more in-depth look at the different digital printing technologies?

For our complete digital label press line-up, visit our label pages.

See on Youtube