Here's a guide to the meaning of (and differences between) the terms opaque. transluscent, and transparent.
There are a lot of different terms used to describe different kinds of labels – ranging from everyday terms to specific technical terms used by the label industry (and usually no one else). Unfortunately, some of these terms are extremely similar or are used to refer to different things (usually by different people). It can be extremely easy, therefore, to get confused or to be completely in the dark as to what sort of label you want to ask for.
One area where this often happens is with labels that are opaque, translucent, or transparent. Different people use different terms for these properties – so we thought we’d give an official Label Planet definition – so you know exactly what we mean when we use these terms (although we can’t guarantee that everyone else will use them in the exact same way).
All of these terms describe a quality of materials that refers to how effectively they transmit light (i.e. if they allow light to travel through them). This quality determines how well the human eye can see through a particular material and most people discuss materials in terms of how well you can see through them, rather than how well they transmit light.
These terms refer to the scale of how well materials transmit light; materials that transmit no light at all are described as “opaque” and materials that transmit light very efficiently are described as “transparent”, with “translucent” referring to those materials that are somewhere in between.
- Does not transmit light
- Cannot be seen through
- Does transmit light
- Light isn’t scattered (much) as it passes through the material
- Can be seen through
- Does transmit light
- Light is scattered as it passes through the material
- Has a “frosted” appearance: where transparent materials allow the human eye to see through and distinguish objects beyond the material, translucent labels cannot be seen through with a clarity that allows objects to be seen and distinguished beyond the material.
While some people mix up opaque and transparent, the most common confusion occurs between transparent and translucent – usually because some people will use the terms interchangeably. To avoid confusion, “transparent” should ONLY be used to refer to materials that you CAN see right through (and distinguish individual objects beyond) and “translucent” should ONLY be used to refer to materials that are FROSTED in appearance (and cannot be seen through clearly).
[Please note that our website refers to Transparent Labels as both “Transparent” and “Clear” labels.]