How is the Thickness Of Labeling Material Measured?


Our most popular label material is our 2.6Mil white polypropylene. Our most popular laminate is a 1Mil High Gloss. So what does Mil really mean - just how thick is 2.6Mil and 1Mil? You may think it stands for millimeters but you would be wrong. Mil is actually a term used for thousands of an inch. So 2.6Mil is 0.0026 inches.

Unfortunately when measuring thickness of label material there is no global standard. In this country we describe thickness usually in Mil, which is really inches, and in Europe and Asia they use the metric equivalent which is microns (0.001 millimeters). The table in the next column shows the conversion of the different ways to measure material thickness. You will notice also the inclusion of gage (also known as gauge). Historically, label material was measured in gage, which is really just Mil multiplied by 100. But today gage is rarely used.

The average width of a human hair is around 50 microns, or 2Mil, so label material is really very thin. Because of this, even just adding adhesive to label material will add measurable thickness. Ink will also add some thickness.

There is one measurement that isn’t in the table - pounds (lbs). You will often see paper label material referred to in pounds. A 60 lb semi gloss paper is roughly the equivalent of 0.0035" (or 3.5Mil) but there is no hard and fast rule for paper thickness. Because paper is measured by weight rather than thickness, different 60 lb semi gloss could be 3Mil or 4Mil thick. The 60 pounds refers to the weight of a ream of paper (500 25" x 38" sheets). Fortunately, most label material (outside of paper) is measured in Mil, which has a consistent thickness.