We Make and Sell Labeling, Filling and Packaging Systems to Help Small Businesses Grow

How Do I Choose The Right Bottle Labeler?

Thursday, June 30, 2022 2:45 PM

Packaging gives your customer the first impression of your product. Ensuring the bottle labeling machine works well with your choice of container will keep your production line running smoothly while improving quality perceptions. Each little thing can help make the sale. Here's a few tips on how you can find the right machine for your company considering the bottles and labels you use.

Labeling Machine Applications

Labeling solutions will vary depending on how the label is applied. The most common labeling styles are vertical panel and horizontal panel or wrap.

Vertical: Bottles pass or are pulled through the applicator over a padded roller. This works really well for bottles that have a square or rectangular design or even a slight taper. Typically used for panel applications where one or more sides needs a label.

Horizontal Panel or Wrap: Bottles are placed on this type of machine while lying on their sides. Horizontal panel and wrap machines work well to apply partial and full labels to most cylindrical containers.  Panel labeling only on one or more sides separately is another creative option for these types of machines. 

Label applicators can be specially made and setup for any type of application. This makes having multiple labeling stations very easy (i.e., having a labeler to wrap the body of a jar and a second labeler to label the top).

Bottle Orientation for Label Placement

A high level of precision is required for label application because your packaging’s visual appeal is crucial.

An easy horizontal wrap may have a 1/2-inch gap between its label edge and the top of the container. Usually the bottle instead of the label is moved into position for the label application to reach this high level of accuracy. Normally choosing a labeling system perfect for your budget is a mix of balancing accuracy and speed. All of Zap Labelers applicators are a great blend of all three of those points; cost, speed and accuracy. 

Every labeling situation is unique. A single label on a round bottle makes the only location factor, height. The label can start and end at any point on the container. Our ZLA+ an awesome addition to any production line with it's easy to use foot pedal and top of the line eye-sensor that stops the application as the label is applied to your bottle. 

Labels on square and oval bottles have other considerations. They need to be oriented vertically and horizontally. If labels are placed in an unusual spot such as the corner of a bottle, a machine with an independent guide rails system may be needed to get the placement correct. Our ZL5 and ZL8 label applicators do this exceptionally well. 

Our powered and speed adjustable machines use a single positioning screw to help position bottles and correctly orient them over the label as it comes out of the applicator. For odd-shaped containers or bottles, two independently moveable guide rails are used for precise orienting prior to label application.

The semi-automatic labeling machines we offer have an application roller that spins the container at the same rate as the label as it's dispensed. This ensures a smooth, wrinkle, bubble free and accurate application of just about any type of label material.

Self Adhesive Roll Labels for Label Applicators 

Every bottle labeling machine routes the label backing in a way so that they’re placed on bottle correctly. Each machine might not use the same label style as other machines on-site. Make sure to check for compatibility by looking into the different roll label attributes:

Label Material: There is a large selection of materials that your labels can be made from as well as different types of laminate coverings. Paper, foil, vinyl for labels and for films, UV, waterproof, matte, or gloss. 

Inside Wind vs. Outside Wind: Inside wind label rolls have labels facing inwards so that the only thing visible is the backing paper when looking at the outside of the roll. Outside wind labels face away from the core. All of our application machines use outside wind. 

Label or Print Orientation: The direction of print as seen from the outer end of the roll is how the label orientation is shown. The label printing industry has a standard terminology for how to communicate these orientations. 

They're usually known by either a direction or number.  The directions and associated number for outside wind labels are: Top (#1), Bottom (#2), Left (#4) or Right (#3). The different types of Inside wind labels are: Top (#5), Bottom (#6), Left (#7) and Right (#8). 

Features to Think About When Choosing a Labeling Machine

Are you looking for a versatile label applicator that adjusts to a variety of shapes and sizes or is speed the main concern?

Keep the following features in mind before making your purchase.

Flexibility: Our manual machines can be set up for a variety of sizes and shapes. This gives you the ability label multiple product types with one machine. Others, like our semi-automatic machines specialize in one type of application, saving on purchase costs and maintenance.

Roll and Core Size: The core is the cardboard or plastic insert that the labels are wrapped around. Most labeling machines including ours use a 3" core. This ensures compatibility with most label printers on the market.  One thing to consider when getting your labels is the size or diameter of the label roll.  

Most machines have a maximum width and diameter that they can take. Some machines can take an 8 inch maximum diameter roll that is 5 inches wide, while others can take a roll up to 10.5 inches in diameter  and 8 inches wide. Some companies ask how many labels per roll you want. This could lead to a much bigger roll than you'd expect if you have longer labels. A better way is to tell your label printer what the maximum roll diameter is.  

Material Compatibility: Labeling machines must handle your chosen label material easily. Some applicators have rollers, tensioners and other parts depending on whether you use film, paper, foil or plastic labels. On other systems, pressure sensitive roll labels sometimes use a mechanism to push the label onto the bottle after application. All of our labeling systems use a standardized roller that can easily handle all label types ensuring that the label is laying flat and wrinkle-free on the bottle. 

Label backing or substrate is another consideration. Most companies ask a misleading question: Are your labels are going to be machine or hand applied?  Machine applied is usually referring to the fully automated labeling assembly lines and not desktop or table top labeling systems. This is usually a clear plastic label backing that has a take-up reel.  The plastic is strong and enables the high speeds that those types of machines go. 

Hand applied, although implies labels placed by hand, just means that the substrate or backing is paper. Usually a waxed paper backing suitable for all tabletop applicators or application by hand. 

We recommend 'hand applied' labels that use the paper backing. The plastic backing can cause issues due to static electricity preventing the waste material from discharging correctly. 

Rate of Application: Labels per hour or per minute is how most companies describe how efficient their label application is.  Some fully automated machines are built to handle changes in labeling speed. This enables the labeler ton halt the line if a label roll needs to be replaced or if there's an issue with a switch or sensor.

On some automated labeling systems, the line has to be paused to replace label rolls. Some do have a redundant unwind and can hold two rolls. This causes minimal downtime when switching label rolls.

Batch Coding: Printing batch codes or expiration dates is usually handled by a separate machine. However, we will be offering the option of adding an attached inkjet printer that will print directly onto the label itself. This will allow information to be printed in an exact position on the label that will then be applied.

Foil printers are limited to a physically-set character limit. Their use is usually limited to lots or production dates and requires a shut down to swap in new information. Inkjet and laser printers can print lines of text at very high speeds. This makes a different print optional for each label, such as the date/time of labeling or individually numbered items. 

Zap Labeler manufactures everything in the USA and can help customize a labeler for your particular product.  We're happy to help you navigate through all the different aspects of product packaging from choosing the best container, to choosing the correct label type and finding the most suitable bottle labeling machine or label applicator for your needs.  

Call us at 800-617-5251 and see how we can help lower costs and speed up your production with a bottle label machine.