Automatic label applicators
The right label applicaton machine can help automate your process, reduce costs and improve consistency.
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Understanding label applicators
Label applicators are machines used to apply pressure-sensitive labels directly to product containers, bottles, packages or drums. Rolls of labels are loaded into the applicators, then applied to the products. There are two general categories of applicators — those that apply pre-printed labels and those that print information directly onto the labels and then apply them to products.
Typically, brands using professional product labels have them printed by a label manufacturer, who then coordinates the label printing to match an apply-only label application system.
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Types of label applicators
There are three primary types of label applicators, all of which can be set up to support either an apply-only or a print-and-apply system.
Integrated automated label applicators
An integrated, automatic label applicator is a turnkey solution that’s pre-built and fully integrated into a manufacturer’s product handling system.
In these setups, products move along a conveyor, where a label applicator head then applies the labels. They can use either an inline mode of operation, wherein products are automatically placed on the conveyor, or an offline mode of operation, wherein they’re manually placed on the conveyor for labeling.
Semi-automated label applicators
A semi-automated label applicator requires an operator to line up product.
A semi-automated label applicator is a machine that has an operator place a product into a fixture or jig assembly then apply the label using a foot pedal or sensor located within the machine.
Standalone label applicators
A standalone label applicator is simply a labeling assembly.
It can be integrated with an existing or third-party product handling system and may include a portable head mount or be installed directly onto a conveyor or another machine.
Methods of label application
There are three different methods in which these applicators affix the label to the package.
The Label-Aire Model 3115-NV Wipe-On Primary Applicator fits onto your automated application equipment and makes labeling easy for a range of pressure-sensitive labels. Wipe-on labeling, the most common method, applies a label with the brush of a roller as the product passes the applicator’s dispense edge.
The Label-Aire Model 3111-NV Air-Blow Primary Applicator fits on your automated label application machines — and is perfect for paper labels and coupons. It uses an electric fan to create a vacuum and hold the label accurately onto a grid. As the product passes underneath, a pneumatic solenoid releases a controlled blast of air to apply the label.
The Label-Aire Model 3114 Tamp-Blow offers versatility pressure-sensitive labels. Like the air-blow method, it holds the label on a grid with a vacuum and dispenses a blast of air to apply the label. But it also uses a pneumatic tamp cylinder to move the grid closer to the product. It fits many automated application machines and is particularly useful for smaller labels.
Key considerations when selecting a label applicator
When you invest in a label application machine, you’ll want to ensure that it matches up properly with your product and operation.
Applicator must account for the product’s surface and material, whether its flat, concave, convex, textured, slick or otherwise
Label size and shape
Applicators must fit the width, length and shape of your labels
Equipment should be compatible with whichever label materials you select — such as paper, film, foil and more
Industrial label applicators need to meet your production rate requirements and should be scalable for an increase or decrease in production
The applicator must fit your accuracy tolerances for label placement
Location of label
Applicators should be able to apply the label to the correct part of your product, whatever its shape may be
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