BOPP is often the go-to material for film labels
As you dig into labeling options for your product container, you’ll see one term pop up again and again: BOPP. It stands for biaxially oriented polypropylene, and it’s an incredibly popular label material.
There are countless benefits to choosing BOPP for your product label — printability, durability and customizability, just to name a few. Like anything, BOPP has its limitations, but across container types, product categories and label designs, you’ll find BOPP specified as the face stock more times than not.
BOPP is polypropylene film which is stretched in both machine and cross directions during production. And a lot of the differences between BOPP and other films can be traced back to this manufacturing method.
BOPP vs. Alternative Films
The biaxial orientation of BOPP material aligns the polymer chains, increasing the film’s modulus and tensile strength. Machine-direction oriented (MDO) films, which are stretched in only one direction, are less rigid and more conformable than BOPP. Unoriented films offer great conformability for squeezable containers but are less easily printed and dispensed.
The manufacturing method of the film, and the inherent properties of polypropylene films, lend BOPP labels a range of properties like:
- Clarity, allowing brands to achieve the “no-label” look.
- Water, UV and chemical resistance, making BOPP suitable for even the most acidic products and moist environments.
- Excellent printability, especially as BOPP is often equipped with a topcoat which anchors the ink to the surface of the film.
- Rigidity, making BOPP labels easy to die-cut, dispense and apply the label to your container.
Is BOPP Right For Your Label?
Label material selection is about finding a construction that works with your container shape, meets your aesthetic preferences, will perform in your product’s environment (e.g., shower, outdoors, kitchen cupboard, etc.) and fits within your packaging budget.
You’ll start with your label vision — how you want your label to look — and then find those materials that will bring it to life without wrinkling, degrading or popping off your container throughout the entire product lifecycle:, which includes manufacturing, storage, shipping, retail display and customer use.
Material selection conversations never start with, “Do I use BOPP or another material?” BOPP is chosen so often simply because it checks all of the boxes in many situations, is widely available and competitively priced.
Film labels (including BOPP, PE, PO and vinyl) tend to be more expensive than paper labels. And within BOPP materials, costs will vary slightly depending on color (metallized, clear or white) and gauge (thickness). Ultimately, though, the most important factor affecting label costs is order size. The larger the order, the smaller the per-label cost difference between label materials will be.
When You Shouldn’t Use BOPP
During the selection process your label converter will typically ask questions like:
- Do you have a non-standard container (e.g., tubes and highly contoured containers)?
- Is your container squeezable?
- In what environment will your product be used?
- Can you describe your vision for the look of your label?
If you answered “yes” to the first two questions, you shouldn’t choose BOPP. For highly contoured or squeezable containers, non-rigid, conformable films like PE and polyolefin (PO) are your best bet.
In regard to environment, BOPP will degrade in the extreme conditions. If your product will be used or stored outdoors, you’d do well by choosing a vinyl or polyester label film instead. But in practically every other situation, BOPP will work just fine — and the decision about whether or not to use it boils down to budget and aesthetic preferences.
Want a rich, textured feel? Then estate paper is a good choice. Need a bar code label? A cheaper paper label will probably suffice. Want your consumers to see directly into the container? Then clear BOPP is perfect.
Nearly any label vision can be brought to life with BOPP. About the only thing you can’t do is emboss them. They’re easily die-cut, meaning you can get BOPP labels in any custom shape. You can choose between removable or permanent adhesives, depending on what your application requires. And you can choose between three colors: Clear BOPP to achieve the “no-label” look, silver BOPP for a premium, metallic sheen or white BOPP to make your label graphics pop on the shelf.