Reliable specimen identification is essential for data integrity in the hospital lab.

Why trust your lab specimens to labels that smear or fade during the protocol process or fall off during long-term storage? Labels that smear or fade are hard to read and scan which lead to errors, and labels that fall off specimens need to be relabeled. Or worse, you’ll need to redraw specimens and start the protocol process over again—that costs time and money, while anxious patients wait longer for lab results. Legible and long-lasting specimen identification is essential to ensure data integrity for your hospital lab.

Let's explore the essential elements needed for producing reliable labels that remain legible and scanable throughout common hospital lab specimen protocols and adhere to specimens during long-term storage.

Ingredients for a long-lasting lab label
First of all, it's important to realize that not all print technologies, label stock, adhesives, and printer ribbons produce the same result. It's like an award-winning recipe. The outcome only resembles the original if quality ingredients are used and if the recipe is followed. This means no corners cut and no substitutions made.

The same holds true for producing a legible, long-lasting lab label. You'll need to select the right print technology, label stock, adhesive, and printer ribbon for your application. Among common label print technologies are thermal transfer, direct transfer, laser, ink jet, and dot matrix. While each technology is capable of printing on a variety of label stock, each technology produces different levels of quality. Hands down, thermal transfer print technology offers the longest lasting impression. In addition to thermal transfer print technology, it is important to choose the right label stock, adhesive, and printer ribbon for your application.

Label stock is available in many materials such as paper, vinyl, and polyester with varying degrees of longevity. While paper is an affordable choice for general-purpose labeling, it isn't a good choice for microscope or cryovial labels which are exposed to harsh chemicals, liquid nitrogen, autoclave, freezer storage, and hot water baths. For labels that endure these conditions you'll need a high-performance thermal transfer label stock, such as polyester, paired with a permanent acrylic adhesive, and a resin printer ribbon that has been lab-tested under these conditions not to smear, fade, or fall off.

Among lab-tested thermal transfer labels and printer ribbons are those designed by Brady. Lab-tested Brady labels are uniquely sized for microscope slides, cryovials, centrifuge, and straws and are available on easy-loading cartridges for Brady label makers, on 1" cores for desktop thermal printers, and 3" cores for tabletop thermal printers. Call Dasco toll free at 1-877-855-2235, and we will help you select the best label stock and ribbon for your lab application and printer.

Need a label printer? Dasco can help with that, too. We can assist you in selecting a label printer that will fit your label volume, application, and workflow. Call Dasco toll-free at 1-877-855-2235 or visit