labeling Machines apply labels and decoration onto all types of packaging containers, display, point-of-sale and transit packs.
There are two principal types of labeling machines: Wet Glue and Pressure Sensitive (Self-Adhesive) applicators. These and their variants, plus special purpose machines, are listed in the detail sections below.
Branding and Promotional Labels
Labels are used on every kind of product to brand and decorate packaging to communicate brand identity and motivate consumer purchase. There are multiple options for brand owners to choose from, including different substrates, embellishments and customisation, as well as a range of quality levels and finishes.
Information Labels and Barcode Labels
Many labels contain pre-printed barcodes supplying batch, stock and price information to the retailer and consumer. Other machines provide print-on-demand and weigh/price labels, usually for fresh or perishable products where the weight of item varies from pack to pack or for transit purposes. Many of these labels are printed and applied in the store or warehouse.
Labels are also used to provide protection against tampering to ensure the product reaches the consumer unopened and without interference. Sleevers or sleeving equipment, which apply a sleeve of thermoformable or stretch material to the neck or body of the container, are generally used to apply tamper-evident labels. Shrink-sleeve labels are also used on products which do not have surfaces suitable for a conventional label.
A growing market is security labeling to counter fraud and theft, and give brand protection and authentication. These include RFID and smart labels, holographic labels, tamper evidence, counterfeit deterrence and source tagging. Other machines are used to apply leaflet labels – multi-page labels that provide space for large amounts of consumer information, e.g. in pharmaceutical applications.
What are the types of labeling machines?
Wet Glue labeling Machines
Wet glue labeling machines apply labels using a glue which is liquid at room temperature. These machines usually apply labels from a stack to rigid containers, such as beer or spirit bottles at very high speeds.
The machines are particularly suitable for wet environments, such as liquid filling of beverages where they continue to be the predominant application method. Often the labels are highly decorative and can be embossed and cut into complex shapes, or are applied to difficult container shapes. Often more than one label is applied to one container, requiring several applicators.
Since the 1960s, Pressure Sensitive labels have become more popular for most other types of applications. They are used extensively in the beverage sector.
Hot Melt Label Applicators
Machines which apply labels using adhesive which is solid at room temperature.
Hot melt label applicators are a variant of the Wet Glue Labeller, where different types of adhesive are heated to a liquid state prior to application. The adhesive may vary due to the product, packaging material or external conditions in the packaging area. This type of applicator is, for example, used for wraparound labels that cover most of a container body and wall surface.
Pre-Gummed Label Applicators
These machines apply labels which are pre-coated with glue. The gum label is passed through a water reservoir or sprayed with water to make the adhesive stick. These machines are no longer commonly in use.
Pressure-Sensitive Self-Adhesive Label Applicators
Pressure-sensitive labeling machines use pre-glued labels supplied on a reel of release paper or film. They require no water to make the adhesive stick.
Due to their popularity, they have replaced many traditional forms of wet glue application. The advantages are that there is no liquid glue or heat required in the process and the label can be made from materials other than paper. The labels can be pre-cut into complex shapes on the reel by means of a die-cutter and stored on the reel until required, with minimal risk of damage. This method of application enables labels to be applied at medium/high speed to soft packages, as well as rigid containers and where the product could be damaged by water or heat.
Heat-Seal Label Applicators
Heat Seal Label Applicators apply pressure sensitive labels coated with a heat sealable material.
Print & Apply Label Applicators
Print and Apply labeling machines can be loaded with information which is used to print labels on demand with details including batch number, production date, weight, price and transit data, as well as simple graphics.
Common forms of Print & Apply Labeller are those used by retailers to print weight and price information at the point of sale. Products such as meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and other types of product which are not pre-packed prior to arriving in the supermarket use this method of labeling. Often the labels include a barcode for scanning at the checkout.
Print & Apply labeling equipment is also used in warehousing and distribution to provide delivery, batch and other transit information. This allows the product to be traced, and can confirm that the product has arrived where it should, on the correct date and in the right quantity. The label can be printed directly on to the outer transit container or on to a label which is then applied to the transit container. Information can be printed in both standard type and as a barcode.
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