Labelers, machines that automatically apply pressure sensitive labels to a product or container, are the best way to maximize your labeling speed and accuracy. The two basic applications of labelers are Apply-only labelers, which apply pre-printed labels to a package, and Print and Apply labelers, which print the labels and then applies them.
The label applicator is the part that puts the label onto the product or package. Several types of label applicators are available to fit varying needs. The following describes the basics.
Roll-on. This method rolls the label onto a product that is moving along a conveyor using a foam or rubber spring-loaded bar. You achieve high speed and good accuracy, but the label must feed in the same direction and match the speed at which the product is moving.
Wipe-on / Brush-on. This type of label applicator is similar to the roll-on type, but uses a brush or wipe assembly instead of a roller. You would use this method with products that are irregular in shape or don’t have a flat surface.
Vacuum Grid Wipe-on / Roll-on. Here the label is peeled onto a spring-loaded vacuum grid and either rolled or wiped on to the product. This method is used in applications where the label is applied to a convex surface, the applicator must reach into an area, or the applicator cannot match the speed of the product.
Blow-on. This type of applicator blows the label onto the product with a controlled blast of air. You achieve high application rates and can position the applicator in any direction, but can’t wrap around the product without additional components. Accuracy can be an issue with large labels.
Air Cylinder Tamp– Here an air cylinder and vacuum pad combination applies the label on to the product surface. This type of application is also know as “air tamp” or tamper applicators. The label is dispensed onto a tamp pad with a blast of air and held in place using a vacuum system.
You have high accuracy with this type of application, can run multiple label sizes without having to change tamp pads, can position the applicator in multiple directions, and not have to match applicator speed to conveyor speed. However, the applicator has slower applications rates.
When deciding on the type of label applicator that is right for you, consider the following:
- Product profile. Does the product have a flat, concave, convex, or other irregular surface? You might need to consider an applicator that makes contact with the surface to wipe-on or brush on the label.
- Label size. Do you use multiple size labels in your packaging? What shape is the label, or what is the repeat or feed dimension?
- Label material. There are many types of pressure sensitive materials that can affect label application.
- Application rate. At what rate does the product move past the applicator?
- Accuracy. What are the tolerances for label placement?
- Location. Where does the label need to be, on the top, side, corner, or bottom of the product?
Want more in-depth information about applying pressure sensitive labels? Then read a Guide to Pressure Sensitive Labeling, authored by our friends at Labeling Systems Inc.
What are your labeling needs? We can help you configure a label applicator system that is right for your product line. Give us a call at (603) 598-1553, X 237 to discuss what you need.