Story | 04/24/2020 08:49:48 | 4 min Read time

IIMAK: Keeping patients safe with durable blood bag labels

When a patient needs a blood transfusion, the process needs to be secure and failsafe. Durable, easy-to-read labels on blood bags are a key element in this.


1.      To ensure patient safety, blood donation labels carry information about the blood donor, such as donor identification, blood type, and expiration date.

2.      The blood bags and their labels must endure harsh conditions during blood component processing and storage.

3.      Printed information on the labels needs to stay legible to ensure patient safety.

Patient safety is at stake

Imagine: An accident victim has lost a lot of blood. In the hospital, some blood bags have illegible labels, so available blood cannot be used. Will there be more blood bags available in time?

This extreme example demonstrates how the legibility of the printed information of blood donation labels can be of life-or-death importance.

“To ensure patient safety, blood bag labels need to stay intact through their lifecycle,” says Pieter Clissen, Sales Manager at IIMAK Europe.

Patients expect to get the right type of blood without any worries of mix-ups or contamination due to issues with labeling.

Labels must stay intact to ensure the traceability of each blood bag. Labels on blood donation bags provide vital information, such as donor number, blood type, and expiration date.

Staying intact in extreme conditions

Labeling blood bags is challenging due to the extreme conditions they are subjected to.

“During their lifetime, they are stored in refrigerators or freezers, and they are packed tightly together. The blood donation label needs to adhere to the blood bag manufacturers label,” says Markku Pietarinen, Segment Manager, Pharma, UPM Raflatac.

In all this, the blood bag labels need to stay put and intact, ensuring the printed information is easy to read even under stressful situations.

Tested combination

To make sure blood bags are correctly identified, IIMAK and UPM Raflatac have brought their expertise together. The companies tested their thermal transfer ribbon and paper and polyester label material combinations for printability and durability simulating the demanding conditions typical for blood bags. Printed labels were progressively subjected to an ethanol-based cooling bath, freezing to -60 °C and a warm water bath for thawing. No image degradation was observed.

UPM Raflatac permanent label stock adhesive RPMD is designed and pretested for identification labeling of blood bags and test tubes.

“In combination with UPM Raflatac’s Transfer Matt and Polyester Matt White, IIMAK’s SP330 resin produced crisp, clear barcodes and text with high durability,” Clissen states. “Cooperating with UPM Raflatac allows IIMAK to offer our partners a proven ribbon/label solution that ensures patient safety. Every blood bag can be identified and traced through the donation, processing, and storage phases.”

IIMAK’s SP330 resin ribbon is designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions, abrasion, and chemicals to produce clean and bold prints every time. SP330 provides strong durability, with high resistance to abrasion, heat, steam, and many chemicals. Available globally, this resin ribbon provides superb fine line print quality to assure barcodes can be easily scanned and small text remains legible.

”It’s exciting to see two high-performance consumables, a label substrate, and resin TTR ribbon, working so well together in such a critical and demanding application as a blood bag label,” Clissen adds.


IIMAK’s full line of premium thermal transfer ribbons play an essential role in identification and tracking in medical and healthcare applications to ensure patient safety and quality care. As a global developer and manufacturer of digital printing technologies, IIMAK partners with resellers to provide unique solutions to challenging label requirements.

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UPM Raflatac labeling solution

UPM Raflatac TRANSFER MATT and POLYLASER MATT WHITE with permanent RPMD adhesive are designed for labeling applications requiring high-resolution thermal transfer printing and the ability to withstand challenging environmental conditions, making them ideal for blood donation labeling applications.

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