Choosing a Label Applicator for Your Product

Label applicators are machines that put labels on products as part of the manufacturing process. Applications include general production as well as food, drink, warehouse and pharmaceutical environments, to name a few. Label applicators come in fully automatic and semi automatic systems. Modern day machines are designed to deal with labelling curved, recessed or flat product surfaces to a high level of accuracy.

There are two main types of label applicator. The first is a ‘wipe on’ applicator – this works with a moving product (for example, on a conveyor belt or, where bottles are being labelled, with a machine that rotates the bottles). Wipe on applicators can be fast and efficient, applying labels to the top or sides of the product with line speeds of up to 80 M/Min. Of course, products of different shapes and sizes need their labels to be applied in different ways. Special applicator modules are available to suit many common applications and by mounting the label applicator above, to the side or upside-down underneath a conveyor, it is possible to achieve the best labelling position.

The other main type of label applicator is the pneumatic piston applicator. This kind will hold the label on a place via a vacuum. The machine works by having the piston moves forward and either blow or tamp the label on the product. The pneumatic piston applicators require the product to be momentarily stationary.

Label applicators have come a long way in recent years and there are many good designs that meet the demands for quick changeovers, providing ease of use and low maintenance. The systems are often controlled by integral electronics, which give optimum labelling tolerances, high speed and rapid acceleration. Many feature APSF (Automatic Product Speed Following), matching the dispensing speed perfectly in real-time to the variances that occur in product speed. Some models are available in left and right handed versions and some providers can engineer the systems to integrate with your existing line equipment.

The best systems are equipped with advanced functionality such as high-speed synchronised label dispensing, APSF (Automatic Product Speed Following), missing label compensation and web-break detection together with huge powered unwinds, to enable labelling to continue for longer. It is also possible to tandem-link two machines, enabling non-stop operation and zero downtime. The machines can have optional IP65 protection against water and dust and many come with a lengthy warranty. It is important to choose the right solution for your exact needs and as mentioned, for established operations, it will often be possible for a solution to be integrated with your existing equipment.