By Steve Dods, Automated Labeling Products (ALP) and Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) Products Manager
Have you ever purchased an item from the store, and later at home wondered why they used a label that doesn't easily come off of your new item? Have you seen labels that are hardly attached to the side of an item at Home Depot and wonder how many of those labels never even made the trip to the destination store? Well, you are not alone, sadly, and the better question is how much is that adding cost in the supply chain or turning off customers? Now that sticker wisdom can be found in a simple table below:
Good initial tack
Not easily removed
Primary product marketing label
Label will be a heavier weight - may require additional labeler system set up specifics
Label rolls should be stored at room temperature - heating device needed on label roll in point of use area
Air-knives to clear as much water as possible recommended
Bottling / Jars
Very heavy adhesive that generally does not do well with paper label substrates
Fruit, vegetable, and nut case-level packaging
There is a debate in the packaging technology industry on which is a superior labeling power source for automated labeling equipment — pneumatic air or electric? Pneumatic labeling systems are built around timing-based commands that drive label movements depending on the reliability of the pneumatic air supply, while all-electric labeling systems are built around real time data-based commands that allow for total control of the labeling process.
The difference between the two approaches is night and day — like the difference between VHS and high-resolution digital streaming technology. The more manufacturers understand the advantages of all-electric labeling, the more pneumatic systems will go the way of VHS tapes and rotary phones.
Every labeling system, regardless of core technology, can incorporate sensors for feedback. Recall the times you have seen a product strike a pneumatic labeler’s actuator arm while moving down the packaging line. This happens all too often with pneumatic labelers because the control of the label feed and actuator arm is not reacting to real-time feedback from sensors. Instead it is following pre-programmed timing commands and relying on the programmed settings for the pneumatic air supply (regardless of the actual pressure in real-time).
Free from the timing control constraints found in pneumatic air powered machines, Diagraph’s all-electric labeling systems can interpret feedback from smart sensors in real-time to allow for total control of the label throughout transit. Combining strategically placed sensors with brushless DC servo motors allows Diagraph’s labeling systems to operate with extreme precision, guaranteeing one-to-one label-to-product matching time after time. The all-electric, servo-driven actuator maintains speed consistency, while “smart” sensors confirm that a label is present for application, and even provide the ability to control impact on the product being labeled. The system doesn’t have to rely on inconsistent air pressure to manage this process.
Another advantage of the all-electric method over the pneumatic air method centers around the tamp pad. Pneumatic driven label applicators utilize venturi vacuum technology to control the transit of the label from the tamp pad to the product. Nearly the entire surface of a pneumatic machine’s tamp pad needs to be covered by the label to maintain proper suction. Unlike pneumatic machines, Diagraph’s all-electric label applicators utilize an electric fan to create vacuum, allowing Diagraph labelers to accommodate multiple label sizes utilizing a single tamp pad. This saves time during label size changeovers as well as money.
With 130 years in the marking and coding industry, Diagraph has a rich history of providing highly durable and reliable labeling and inkjet solutions. Diagraph was the first to offer all-electric labeling solutions to handle all modes of label application including tamp, swing and tamp-blow. The result is a robust lineup of automated labeling solutions that offer benefits only found in all-electric systems that don’t compromise on labels sizes or performance.
Click here for a comparison of all-electric and pneumatic labeling systems.
When it comes to labels used in packaging, not all are made the same way. Specific environments, like hot and humid, wet or frozen, will require a compatible label material to stay adhered properly to packaging. It is crucial that labels are readable, scannable, and safe to use and dispose of. To meet compliance, labels must remain adhered for consumer and retail-use despite the environmental factors the labeled package has to endure.
Something to be aware of when considering using labeling for product identification in a hot or humid environment is that labels are sensitive to temperature, making facility environment temperature a determining factor in choosing what label material to use on a product.
Some common issues with labels as environmental temperatures rise:
As summer kicks in, and temperatures rise, adhesive related problems will affect the quality of a label -- making it difficult to peel from the labeling machine and to stick to the product. Adhesives, the pre-applied glue specially engineered to perform on pressure sensitive applications, get softer and edges get tackier resulting in labels that are difficult to remove off the original roll. Strong adhesive can make release of these labels from the roll a struggle. Dispensing issues caused by adhesive can disrupt product labeling and lead to damaged labels and jammed applicators.
A label liner is likely to expand or curl with high humidity, causing the adhesive to ooze. This curling liner makes label processing challenging in a printer or label applicator. Also, the ooze from the adhesive can cause printer jams and damage to the printheads.
Even the most pressure-sensitive label adhesives soften as temperatures rise. Hence, storing labels properly can make the difference between a label that survives these changes in weather versus the one that will peel or deteriorate.
Some ideas for storing label rolls properly and protecting them from the heat include:
Many environmental factors must be called into question when assessing the labeling process. Temperature is only one of many considerations to determine how to effectively apply labels to product. Our Diagraph specialists are well-versed in providing site evaluations aimed at determining the best fit application for your labeling operation. Whether the survey is conducted on-site or virtually by answering a series of determining questions, we are here to help you understand your labeling solution options and what it looks like in even the most extreme industrial environments. Reach out to us today to start your evaluation.
Thermal Transfer Printhead Technologies in Print and Apply Labeling
There are two common types of thermal transfer (TT) printheads in industrial print and apply labeling systems. One version is the Flat Head TT type, which has a relatively parallel contact between the heating elements of the printhead and the ribbon/label. The other is a Near-Edge TT type, which angles the head up to 45 degrees. There are advantages and disadvantages to these two types of technologies, which is why both existing in industrial printing.
OEM industrial print engines, such as SATO and Zebra
Labeling system manufacturer's proprietary printer (VideoJet) and TTO (Thermal Transfer Overprinters)
Typically 5 million lineal inches, with proper cleaning and care
Typically 2.5 million lineal inches, with proper cleaning and care
Price (4" wide)
Around $450 to $700
Around $1000 to $1300
Up to 16 inches per second
Up to 19.7 inches per second
Consumable Cost (600m Ribbon)
$15 to $20 per roll,
Wax, Wax Resin, or Resin
$23 to $30 per roll,
Wax Resin or Resin only
Head mount adjustments required
Less or no adjustment required
Near edge TT print heads are optimal for high-speed printing on surfaces that may have some variances, like film webs. They are mainly seen in these applications, where the alternative technology is ink jet or laser. Flat head technology is ideal for longer life, lower consumable cost, and lower overall replacement cost. As with most competing technologies, it comes down to the application requirements. For print and apply applications, the reliable and less expensive selection has been the venerable Flat Head TT print head.
For more information on print and apply applications click here. Or contact us at 800.722.1125.
The Art of Automatic Label Dispensing
By Steve Dods, Product Manager
Automated Labeling Products (ALP) and Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO)
The Art of Automatic Label Dispensing:
· The amount of release agent (silicone coating) applied to the paper portion of the liner substrate
· The aggressiveness of the adhesive being used for the label, usually determined by the application need
· The angle of the peel blade
· The tension that is developed on the opposing sides of the peel blade
· The addition of an air knife or pressurized flow of air to force a separation between the label and the liner at the peel point
· The depth of the die-cut (the cutting process of forming the label within the continuous adhesive top sheet)
· The age of the materials and storage conditions
When these factors are not within the bounds of system acceptability, the possible results are:
· The label does not separate from the liner at all, and follows the liner over the peel blade. No label is separated. Extreme case.
· The label begins to peel, but the angle of separation changes (due to adhesive aggressiveness/lack of tension/not enough release agent) and the label does not feed out to the designated retaining surface for application
· The label peels out to the retaining surface for automated application, but the trailing edge is still connected to the edge of the liner. Upon application, the label hinges or rotates about this edge, and is ultimately not applied to the product
Two views of labels hinging onto the liner after traversing the peel blade edge. The labels remain attached to the liner.
Problems with the Current Solutions:
· Alternate designs will use an air knife and air pressure to separate the label from the liner. This creates a potential issue of blowing the label off of the tamp pad and into the air, since the amount of pressure is constant and the bond resistance varies from label to label. No label applied to product.
· Alternate designs will allow the label to feed out to the tamp pad, and then use articulation to move away from the peel edge. This results in extra moving parts and more failure points. This method does not solve other aspects of peeling, such as label face stocks with increased friction and drag resistance.
To solve the issues of dispensing labels with the aforementioned attributes, the system was modified to perform a vibrating function by way of the preexisting brushless dc actuator motor. Since the heart of the All-Electric labeling system design is based on a proprietary circuit design and control algorithm, changes could be instituted to allow the surface of the tamp pad (the holding plate for the label prior to application) to vibrate during the feed of the label. The vibration effect is only active after the feed of the label, which breaks the adhesive fiber bonds that would normally be maintained between label and liner without this technology. By vibrating in the low Hertz range, the system can separate labels that would otherwise hinge and cause label jams or cause the label to avoid being applied with adhesive side facing the product. This patented method of ensuring the labels are freed from the liner is known as VibraFeed.
· Automatically separates the label adhesive fiber bonds with the liner without increasing the process time
· Uses inherent components of the system that are normally tasked with the application of the label to the product
· Increases the range of label material quality that can be used for automatic application
At Diagraph, we are dedicated in solving your coding and labeling challenges. Diagraph has been assisting customers for over 120 years improving production line efficiencies with simple, reliable, cost-effective coding and labeling solutions. Contact us to learn more about the Automated Label Applicators product line. Visit us at www.diagraph.com or contact us at 800.722.1125.
St. Louis, MO. . .Diagraph introduces the LA/4700 High-Speed Label Applicator available either as a wipe or tamp label applicating system.
LA/4700 Wipe Label Applicator
The LA/4700 Wipe High Speed Label Printer Applicator is designed to apply labels ranging in size from ½” W x ½”L to 9”W x 22”L (with optional wide web kit). It has a dispense speed of up to 300 fpm, with maximum throughput of 800 ppm (@ 300 fpm and 1”L label). It utilizes a Heavy-Duty Snorkel Label Dispenser with peel tip sensing, a stainless steel peel blade and accommodates various label shapes.
Key features of the Diagraph LA/4700 tamp printer label applicator include:
• Servo Drive: brushless DC
• Programmable Edge Sensor handles range of label and liner materials
• Standard Brush Applicator helps adhere labels to curved or slightly recessed surfaces.
• Extended Reach models are available
• Configurations: left or right hand.
• Tested & Approved to Meet: UL-60950, CSA-C22.2 NO. 60950, and CE requirements for safety.
• Stainless Steel peel blade and web guides
• Integrated Product Detector at peel tip.
• Independent brushless DC motor rewind.
• Label low sensing.
• Speed Compensation using optional photo encoder.
LA/4500 Tamp Label Applicator
The LA/4700 Tamp Label Printer Applicator is designed to apply labels ranging in size from 1” W x 1”L to 9”W x 13”L. It can apply labels at speeds up to 150 ppm using a 2”L label. A Front Apply Swing Arm is available for leading, trailing or adjacent panel applications.
Key features include:
• Configurations: left or right hand
• Stroke Length: 10” or 20”
• Standard Pivoting Tamp Pad for irregular or non-parallel product surfaces
• Standard Tamp/Blow
• Optional Label Presence Sensing
• Optional Product Surface Sensing for variable height/width products
The Optional Remote Interface makes operating the LA/4700 simple and intuitive. The backlit display is graphics-based, making it easy to understand, and the operator can navigate menus at the touch of a button. The tethered interface can be mounted where it is most accessible to the operator, independent of applicator orientation.
For more information, please call Marketing Services at 800-722-1125 or send e-mails to email@example.com.
Diagraph, a division of Illinois Tool Works Inc., manufactures and distributes automated industrial marking systems and supplies. Primary product lines include: automated labeling systems, small character ink jet systems, and large character ink jet systems. With sales and service offices located across the United States and throughout the world, Diagraph is a leading international supplier of product identification marking systems.
Diagraph is a registered trademark of Illinois Tool Works
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