It is invisible but can reach out and bite you in more than one way. Static electricity can cause issues in your labeling, and it is not always apparent that it is the issue. Static tends to worsen in colder months when the humidity is low but can be an issue year-round when dealing with plastic-based labels or substrates.
One example that came up recently was a label being machine applied to a Styrofoam cube. The customer noted that the tamp pad would stop just above the product as it should and then attempt to blow the label onto it. But instead of going on the product, the label would squirt off to the side. The customer assumed there was an adhesive issue with the labels, but when tested, it was found that the label stuck well to the foam cube. The problem was the layer of static electricity between the label on the tamp pad and the Styrofoam product.
Another issue that static can cause is the ribbon in the printer wanting to stay on the label or the label wanting to stay on the ribbon after printing. When cutting and stacking labels, particularly synthetic labels, there can be issues with stacking due to static. Finally, fan-folded synthetic tags can have “shocking” results when you pick up the pile of printed labels. While not dangerous, the potential for static shocks can be the most annoying thing about static issues.
So, what can be done? Humidity in the air is the most beneficial but can be impossible to control. Wearing shoes that have static dissipative properties and avoiding synthetic clothes can help. A static spray or clothes dryer sheets sprayed or rubbed on the equipment can provide some benefit. Ensuring that your printer is plugged into a properly grounded plug is critical; the newer printers from Zebra have a static strip built into the printer.