The Evolution of Print – Apply Labeling

Print and Apply – Finally as Simple as it Sounds. 

Many of our customers are faced with the same demands when it comes to labeling their secondary packaging:

  • more output from packaging lines.
  • higher efficiency and less downtime.
  • best possible barcode quality for GS1 compliance.
  • minimize the total cost of ownership.

Traditionally, labels would be applied to the side of a shipping case or tray, using a pneumatic or servo driven tamp arrangement. This method has provided excellent service over the years and it is still the most common process in use today.

Using a tamp applicator, while being simple and reliable, does have some drawbacks, though.

The label can only be printed while the tamp pad is in its home position. This means that there are parts of the application cycle where the printer is forced to be idle – reducing the maximum output of the labeler.

These systems usually need plant compressed air to operate them. With many of our customers looking to reduce their overall plant air usage, this is not ideal.

There can also be safety considerations with reciprocating parts operating at high speeds – it is difficult to ensure there are no pinch points.


To address some of these issues, ID Technology introduced PowerMerge.

Rather than using a tamp system to deliver the label to the product, as the label leaves the print engine, it travels on a driven belt where it is controlled by a flow of air (from a fan, not plant air) to the product.

PowerMerge provides some great advantages:

Once a label is printed and on the belt, the next label can start its own print process. This virtually eliminates and seat time in the print-apply, increasing output considerably.

Gaining time in the sequence also means that the printer can run at lower print speeds, even while maintaining high outputs. This provides better print quality and longer life of printer components.

However, while PowerMerge is often a big step forward compared to tamp applicators, it does have a couple of drawbacks.

  • the label is fed with the narrow side across the web – this means that more material has to pass through the printer for each print cycle.
  • this orientation gives fewer labels per roll.
  • not the ideal orientation for the best barcode quality.

Introducing CrossMerge™

CrossMerge brings our PowerMerge concept to another level.

Labels feed from the printer ib the most efficient orientation and then change direction to allow them to be wiped onto the product.

For our customers, there are some huge advantages of CrossMerge.

  • Like, PowerMerge, the print speed is disconnect from the application speed, allowing the printer to run at a slower speed than is usual – while still proving higher outputs.
  • Lower speed causes less wear (and consequently maintenance requirement) and provides the best print quality.
  • Improved ISO/ANSI barcode verification scores.
  • Up to twice as many labels per roll (4×2 label compared to conventional wipe-on labeling).
  • Up to twice as many labels printed before printhead replacement needed.
  • Unlike labelers with delicate near-edge printheads, CrossMerge works great with both thermal transfer and direct thermal labels.
  • ID Technology’s lifetime limited warranty if you use our labels.

One of the (many) cool things about CrossMerge is that it can be installed on most existing ID Technology 252 or 255 labeling systems – make the most of your current investment.

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