Although you may be the world’s foremost authority on your product, getting it to market has required you to navigate a maze of packaging options that you may have found daunting. You persisted, settling on the size, shape, and material of your can, bottle, jar, or other container, only to find yourself armpit-deep in labelling decisions.
Whatever label type you choose, you know it must have the information consumers demand (or the FDA requires) while also having a visually appealing design that will appeal to your target market.
You must also consider a slew of other factors, such as what materials your label will be made of, which areas of the container it will cover, and how it will be applied. Conversations with a good label supplier, on the other hand, can assist you in sorting through the bewildering array of label kinds, materials, sizes, and application methods.
Specifying labels will automatically lead to the following step: selecting a label applicator. Choosing the appropriate label machine depending on label type (pressure-sensitive, shrink-sleeve) and location on the package container (top, wrap-around, front-back) can greatly cut costs and increase production. To understand more about your options, speak with a trustworthy label machine supplier, such as Alpha Coding (Australia). But first, let’s take a closer look at the labels.
Glue-applied and pressure-sensitive labels
The most popular types of labels are pressure-sensitive and glue-applied, so we’ll start there. They are classified into subtypes based on the face material, adhesive, and release liner.
The label face can be made of either paper or plastic. Papers are available in very glossy premium coated, glossy, or uncoated finishes, with plastic face materials ranging from polypropylene to polyester, vinyl, mrPVC, or polyethylene. Each has distinct advantages in terms of cost, strength, and adaptability.
Water-based, hot-melt, rubber, and acrylic adhesives are all options for label adhesives. You’ll choose a label adhesive based on its performance in chillers and freezers, moisture resistance, UV light resistance, durability, and whether the label is permanent or removable. Unlike conventional adhesives, which cure and become stronger after application, removable adhesives stay in their initial state of adhesion and can be removed or placed later.
The release liner is the substrate onto which the adhesive-backed label face is applied. Paper liners are coated with silicone because their role is to keep the label until it is ready to be released onto a container. Release liners are constructed from various plastics that are more durable than paper and feature built-in release qualities for machine application at high speeds.
Selecting a Label Applicator Machine
When you are thinking about how the labels you chose will be applied, the term “label type” takes on a different meaning. In guiding you to the right label machine, your supplier will need to know relevant factors such as:
- Container size
- Container shape
- Number of labels to be applied
- Where labels are to be applied
- Speed of production
Once these basics are known, it’s easier to narrow down which label applicator you need. Here’s a useful breakdown of label machine types:
- Wrap around labelers (labeling machine for round containers)
- Top labelers (labeling machine for container tops)
- Top & bottom labelers (PL-501-NL horizontal wrap around labeling system)
- Front & back labelers (PL-521 horizontal wrap around labeling system)
- Shrink sleeve labelers (SL series labeling machine)
All of these except the last one on the list deal with pressure-sensitive labels. (We’ll discuss shrink-sleeve labels later.) Overall, your choices will be determined by the number of labels per container, location(s) where they’re applied to the container, and sizes of your containers and labels. You’ll want to consider production speed, compatibility with your other equipment, and price as well.
What size machine do you need? We addressed that exact question in our April 2018 post Big or Small, We Label Them All, where you’ll learn the differences between tabletop, standalone and professional machines. Once you’ve picked your labels and know how you want them applied, then you can drill down into the specifications to see which label machine is right for you. Choosing the right labeling equipment for your needs is crucial for successful product labeling, download our free guide to learn more.
Shrink-sleeve Labels Should Not Be Ignored
A full-body shrink-sleeve label, as opposed to a standard glue-applied or pressure-sensitive label, is a pre-printed tube of thermoplastic material that is wrapped around a container and heat-shrunk into position. According to a 2018 market survey, shrink-sleeve labels are the third-most popular type of label after pressure-sensitive and glue-applied labels, accounting for 18% of the global market and rising. They are widely used in the beverage industry, where their waterproof characteristics and contribution to package strength are highly desired. They are, however, also employed in non-beverage packaging.
Here are some of the benefits of shrink-sleeve labels:
- Because they cover the whole can or bottle, full-body shrink-sleeve labels provide you a lot more space to display information and eye-catching graphics. They can be paired with highly curved bottles to improve customer engagement, affecting sales volume and brand loyalty.
- If you’re replacing two standard labels or require a tamper-evident seal, shrink-sleeve labels may be the same or less expensive than separate labels and seals.
- Shrink-sleeve labels can help you save money by allowing you to utilise lighter-weight cans.
- Shrink-sleeve labels are easier to apply and thus may be applied more quickly.
If you’ve decided to use shrink-sleeve labels, you’ll need a label machine and a heat-shrink tunnel to apply them. The SL line of shrink-sleeve labelers from Pack Leader runs from the entry-level SL-10 for standard-sized cans, jars, and bottles to the SL-77 for faster output and the SL-301 for maximum speed, variety, and flexibility for future expansion.