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10 Different Types of Labeling Machines for Your Product

Learn about the most common categories of labeling machines in the latest Package This episode.

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Welcome to Package This — your guide to packaging machinery and materials.

Today’s episode covers labeling equipment.

The most common type of labeling machines are Pressure-Sensitive Labelers, which apply labels with an adhesive backing to containers, bags, or shipping cases.

Pressure-sensitive labelers fall into two broad buckets—pressure-sensitive label applicators, which apply preprinted labels from a roll or stack of labels, are often used for labeling primary packages such as bottles, jars, and more. When printing hundreds of thousands of labels, or even a smaller volume of mixed labels, you may prefer to have the printing outsourced, rather than spend time managing label printing and tracking.

Pressure-sensitive printer/applicators, as the name suggests, print label information and graphics onto blank label stock before applying the labels.

In this example of a pressure-sensitive label applicator from EPI, a ProMach product brand, you can see how various sizes and shapes of containers, like clamshells and bottles, are fed through a conveyor that is servo synchronized with the labeling head. The peel blade removes the label from the label liner and applies it with pressure, ensuring it is affixed to the item. MFlex systems from EPI can handle a wide range of round and non-round products, even in harsh environments.

Another common type of labeling machine is the Pressure-sensitive Label Printer/Applicator, also known as print-and-apply labeling systems. Printer/applicators combine the functions of label printing and dispensing into a single machine, and can be used in a wide variety of applications - from barcode label printing, to warning labels, or shipping information.

In this print-and-apply system from ID Technology, a ProMach product brand, shipping cases are conveyed through the labeling area, where one or two labels are printed and then applied to the package by a CarbonFlex™ carbon-fiber servo applicator. The CarbonFlex system safely and accurately applies the labels to cases or shrink-wrapped trays, even when the product handling is imperfect – making it ideal for many real-world scenarios.

Shrink Sleeve Labelers, Neck Banders & Heat Tunnels are machines that apply plastic film material to a container, which is then sent through a separate heat tunnel that shrinks the film, conforming to the body of the container for a snug fit, such as a full-body shrink sleeve for a single-serve bottle or can.

Neck banders employ similar shrink technology to apply neck bands for tamper-evidence in applications such as a neck band on a bottle of aspirin.

Shrink tunnels have a heating element that briefly exposes the containers to heat as they convey through the tunnel, shrinking the film uniformly around the containers as they are exposed to the heat. Heat sources include steam, electric, or radiant heat.

Here we see the LX-150, a shrink sleeve label applicator from American Film & Machinery that is designed for middle, full body, and full body and cap applications at low to moderate production rates. The machine is used in industries including food and beverage, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, health and beauty, consumer goods, chemical, and other manufactured goods. Due to its versatility, the LX-150 is also ideal for the changing needs of contract packagers.

As a timing screw spaces out the cans, the machine pulls pre-printed sleeves from a roll, and cuts off an individual sleeve, which is dropped over each can. After a label brushdown, cans run through the heat tunnel, which provides steam to shrink the label snugly over the can.

Stretch sleeve labelers use no adhesive or heat but apply plastic sleeves with sufficient elasticity to maintain positioning, such as a wraparound sleeve label that is stretched and applied to a plastic cat litter container.

There are other types of labeling machines like roll-fed labelers that separate and apply a continuous roll of labels.

Pre-cut label applicators, sometimes referred to as cut-and-stack labelers, that run stacks of labels that have been pre-cut.

Specialty labeling equipment like RFID Encoders and applicators, apply label systems that can track items along a supply chain, or electronic article surveillance (EAS) technology applicators that apply security or anti-theft tags to packages after they are filled and sealed.

Keep in mind that the type of labeling machine that is right for you will vary according to different factors like package type and surface, at what point in the production line the label will be applied, and product environment from packaging, to transport, to destination.

For more packaging videos, subscribe to the Package This series on YouTube and share with your colleagues on LinkedIn.

And if you’re looking for labeling equipment for your operation, why not head over to PMMI ProSource, a curated directory of the top 1,000 packaging and processing suppliers in North America. Go to to search for suppliers by package type, material, or features.

Until next time, thanks for watching, and keep on packaging!

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