When someone refers to an automatic sticker labeling machine, they’re most likely referring to a print-and-apply labeling machine (PALM). PALM systems perform the action that their name implies: they print out labels and automatically apply them to substrates passing by on a production line. These systems enable users to automate the label application process, which helps to accelerate production, reduce the prevalence of labeling errors, and reduce labor needs.
This technology can increase workplace productivity and minimize mistakes. This overview discusses how.
Benefits and Limitations of Automatic Sticker Labeling Machines
Automatic sticker labeling machines allow operations to automate their labeling processes to increase efficiency and minimize the risk of labeling errors. By implementing a labeling system on your production line, you can make your products code-compliant and ready for distribution at a much faster rate than you could with hand-labeling.
However, not all labeling machines are built for the same applications. For instance, labeling machines made for primary packaging applications need to be highly specialized for the specific product packaging that you are working with.
Consider a standard bottling line. If you are operating in a mid-size contract packager, you may have to label tens of thousands of bottles and jugs a day. To keep up with production demands, you need to seek out large-scale labeling hardware from a manufacturer that specializes in your industry. These kinds of fast throughput machines are very expensive and require a deep understanding of production line logistics.
Accordingly, most automatic sticker labeling machines are used for secondary and tertiary packaging purposes. PALM systems, like the Evolabel®, help ensure complete supply chain traceability by creating and dispensing labels with precise accuracy and essential shipping information like:
- Shipping origin and destination
- Unit weight
- Packaging contents
- Inventory barcodes
Although these labeling machines are also capable of primary packaging applications, they are not capable of reaching the high speeds preferred by industrial packaging companies. However, some smaller labeling machines can perform primary applications at decent speeds. These machines can act as an affordable entry into automated primary labeling.
Direct Printing Hardware
Although PALM systems serve as excellent automatic sticker labeling machines, they aren’t the only way to apply required codes to products. Many industrial printers today can effectively perform primary and secondary labeling applications to help companies comply with product labeling requirements. Two of the most popular direct printing technologies today are continuous inkjet printers (CIJ) and thermal inkjet printers (TIJ).
Continuous Inkjet Printers
CIJ printers generally weigh around 90 pounds and are designed to be placed along production lines to apply important text codes like expiration dates, batch codes, and serial numbers. These codes are essential to maintaining traceability and performing quality assurance processes and are required on everything from food and beverages to pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and electrical components.
Modern CIJ printers like the DuraCode Touchscreen can apply these codes at speeds above 300 m/min, allowing companies to meet demanding production schedules.
Thermal Inkjet Printers
TIJ printers are much smaller machines than CIJ printers. While CIJ printers can weigh close to 100 lbs when filled with fluid, TIJ printers weigh around 5 to 10 pounds. This smaller size makes TIJ printers easier to install on a production line as well as move into new positions. Furthermore, TIJ printers are often more affordable than CIJ printers, making them a great choice for smaller-scale operations.
However, most TIJ printers can’t match the speeds of CIJ printers as they often provide max printing speeds around 120 m/min. Most TIJ printers also have a smaller selection of compatible ink formulas and are often only able to mark porous substrates as a result.
That said, some of today’s cutting-edge TIJ printers completely oppose this generalization. Take the Anser X1 as an example. Although the Anser X1 is a TIJ printer, it is able to:
- Mark substrates at CIJ speeds (300 m/min)
- Use both water-based and solvent-based ink formulas to mark both porous and non-porous substrates
- Create graphic-like images up to 2” tall
- Print barcodes and images up to 600 x 600 DPI
These qualities allow the Anser X1 to perform many of the functions of a CIJ printer while also creating higher quality codes than CIJ printers can match. Moreover, the X1 can control two production lines at the same time providing users with the option to instantly scale up if they need to suddenly increase production.
See the table below for a quick comparison of these different labeling machines:
In the Market for an Automatic Sticker Labeling Machine or New Printer? InkJet, Inc. Can Help You Find the Perfect Model
Both automatic sticker labeling machines and industrial printers enable users to improve their operations. Not only do these machines help companies comply with rigid traceability standards, but they can greatly accelerate the labeling process and reduce the possibility of labeling errors.
To help businesses create the most efficient production lines possible, InkJet, Inc. carries several PALM, CIJ, and TIJ solutions, each ideal for specific applications and line configurations. If you’re looking for ways to improve your operation, contact InkJet, Inc. today to learn what our products can do for you.