Why Choose a Print and Apply Labeling System?

Why Choose a Print and Apply Labeling System?

The need for streamlined processes and accurate labeling is more crucial than ever in today’s production lines. Traditional pre-printed custom labels can provide vivid graphics and text, yet the limitations of a single label design become apparent when confronted with information demands for different products or cartons. From lot numbers for traceability to best buy dates and shipping addresses, tailored labeling solutions are key.

What is a print and apply labeling system?

Enter the print and apply labeling system: beyond the obvious advantage of conserving valuable floor space, these systems can seamlessly manage variable data on each container. The result is compliance with labeling requirements and a production system that’s both efficient and flexible.

These systems use both a label printer and an applicator. The label printer doesn’t bear the responsibility of printing the entire label. Therefore, these systems typically use black and white printing, which adds information to pre-printed labels. The components driving these systems can be distilled into three key elements:

  1. Print engine: A robust, high-speed printing module designed to withstand the rigors of industrial environments.
  2. Label applicator: The label applicator positions labels on containers. After printing, the label needs to be accurately applied to the container. One commonly used method is the tamp/blow technique, where the label is placed on a tamp through vacuum suction. The tamp then moves into position, and a burst of air pushes the label onto the container.
  3. PLC (programmable logic controller): The central controller that orchestrates both the printer and applicator, while also communicating with the operating technology system. The PLC stores label printing formats, generates text and barcodes based on data from the OT system and ensures seamless integration of the entire process.

Print engines

Print engines must withstand the demanding conditions of production, functioning at high speeds  for extended periods. Built with easy serviceability and replacement in mind to minimize downtime, these engines come with distinct specifications, print quality and label size capabilities. The print engines rely on two primary printing methods:

  • Direct thermal: This method uses heated print elements to activate thermal paper, akin to receipt printers. Ideal for uses like shipping labels, direct thermal printing is often used for short-term labels.
  • Thermal transfer: This printing method utilizes a heated print head that melts ink from a ribbon onto the label’s surface. This method accommodates labels with surfaces that accept ink, making it suitable for long-term legibility requirements, like lot numbers and safety warnings.

Choosing the right print engine involves evaluating label materials and print methods to ensure optimal performance.

Discover Quadrel’s print and apply solutions

A print and apply labeling system offers efficiency and adaptability that other methods can’t provide. By integrating printing and application, these systems ensure precise labeling, reduced downtime and compliance with ever-evolving labeling demands. If you’re wondering whether a print and apply label is the right fit for your line, reach out to the Quadrel team for assistance today.