The term “labeling machinery” applies to any equipment that is involved in the process of creating labels and/or attaching labels to products. Labeling machinery has applications in many industries, including, among others, agriculture, chemical and laboratory, electronics, food and beverage, home and office, pharmaceuticals, and packaging. Industries like these use both individual labeling components and fully integrated labeling systems. Labeling machinery may be as simple as handheld label or barcode printers, or as involved as systems that incorporate microprocessors and/or computer software.
Generally, when someone is speaking about labeling machinery, they are speaking about machinery that carries out one of four, or some of four, functions: designing, printing, dispensing, and applying. Label makers are those machines that actually allow users to design their label. Usually, they can choose graphics and/or lettering, label dimensions and the material upon which their labels will print. Label printers are the ones that physically produce labels. Printers offer a variety of compatibility options as far as printing stock goes, but it is always best to double check before printing. While some are limited to printing only on paper, others can process thermal transfer materials, metals, and foils. Label dispensers automate or semi-automate the process of removing a sticker or glued label from the webbing on which it was printed. Often, dispensers are a component of automated applicators, thereby joining the removal process with the adherence process, during which a label is sealed, compressed, or heated into place. Read More…
To work, label printers may use a number of different print mechanisms, including impact, laser, and thermal printing. Among these, thermal printing is the most common. Thermal printers may be divided into two groups: direct thermal printers and thermal transfer printers. Direct thermal printers print on heat-sensitive paper.
As one might assume, heat-sensitive paper tends to fade as it is exposed to sunlight, chemical vapors and direct heat. Because of this, direct thermal labels only last from six to twelve months. For this reason, direct thermal printers are only used to make short duration labels like shipping labels. Thermal transfer printers, on the other hand, create much longer lasting labels, marked with permanent ink.
Thermal transfer printers use heat to pull, or transfer, this ink from ribbon. Label makers can choose from three grades of ribbon for this application: wax, wax/resin, and resin. Wax exhibits some smudge resistance and is appropriate for use with semi-gloss and matte paper labels.
Wax/resin is fully smudge resistant and suitable for semi-gloss paper labels as well as some synthetic labels. Finally, resin by itself is scratch and chemical resistant. It is uniquely qualified to provide the ink for coated synthetic labels.
Labeling machinery can be divided into three categories: industrial models, intermediate models, and handheld models.
Industrial models include those heavy duty or large industrial label printing and applying machines that are floor mounted. These machines, which are usually made out of a sturdy metal like stainless steel, are frequently partially to fully automated and capable of continuous processing. To increase accuracy, industrial labelers may be equipped with a photoelectric sensor, photoeye, that can detect the position of products as they move through assembly.
Intermediate models also print, dispense, and apply labels, but they do so on a significantly smaller scale than their industrial counterparts. Rather than being floor mounted, these models are usually placed on a table or bench. They may be programmed to produce just one size and type of label, or they may be programmed to produce a variety of labels. In addition, they may also feature a photoeye to help with accurate labeling.
Finally, handheld labeling machinery models are designed for home, office, and small business use. Often called personal label printers or personal label makers, this label machinery is suitable for applications where imprecise labeling is not a problem, like when price tagging. Handheld models are available for singular labeling applications as well as variable labeling applications.
From glass bottles, to cereal boxes, to medical specimens to cardboard boxes, the applications of labeling are diverse and numerous. For this reason, those interested in purchasing a labeler need to consider their requirements carefully before taking the plunge. For instance, they must carefully note the size and accuracy requirements of their application, the material upon which they will be placing their labels and the number and variety of labels they plan to print.
In addition, they must consider the shape of that which they will label. For example, some labelers work only with flat or squared surfaces. This is fine for most boxes, but this would not be appropriate for the tamper-proof labeling of a vial or prescription pill bottle. These items instead require machines that are designed for work with curves, edges, and round and tapered surfaces.
In addition, some labeling machinery is designed to include horizontal or vertical wrap labeling for those large packages that must be entirely wrapped.