What type of labeling equipment should I use for my labels?

Hand applying labels is an easy and affordable method but it isn’t exactly practical for applying large label quantities. If you’ve done any research into labeling equipment, you’ll find that suppliers offer different equipment types according to price, container abilities, speeds, configurations, and more. Before you buy anything, it’s helpful to learn your options to help you make a more informed purchase decision. Below is a brief overview of the most common types of labeling equipment ranging from low to high volume labeling.

Handheld label applicator

Portable and easy to use, most handheld label applicators (also called dispensers) can accommodate several size configurations for varying label shapes and widths. Handheld applicators work best for square products and boxes. Their cost typically starts in the low to mid hundred dollar range depending on its range of label shapes and sizes it can dispense.

Manual label applicator

A manually operated label applicator is a cost-effective solution for somebody looking to move beyond hand application but doesn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on labeling equipment. Manual applicators can apply up to 1000 labels an hour on round bottles from 1.5” to 5” in diameter. Besides their price, another great thing about them is they have low set up time and require minimal training.

Semi-automatic label applicator

Activated by a foot or hand switch, semi-automatic labeling machines are a step above manually operated applicators. Semi-automatic machines are compact and range in capabilities from different container types, to front and back labeling. Investing in a semi-automatic labeling machine can pay for itself as it speeds up labeling capabilities to match production output.

In-line automatic labeling

Rapid expansion may require your operations to bypass manually operated and semi-automatic machines for high volume labeling equipment.  In-line automatic machines are more of an investment, however, they have better packaging consistency and production times. Labeling large amounts with in-line automatic equipment also produces at a lower labor cost per unit than a semi-automatic machine.

Rotary labeling

Best for high-speed labeling or 24/7 production, rotary labeling machines (also called rotary labeling systems) are the priciest and biggest yet offer superb label control at high velocities. Rotary machines are also highly customizable to fit inside an operational plant. They can also run at fast speeds of over 500 units a minute.

Labeling equipment typically runs at 100 units per minute but if you’re labeling smaller quantities, you might find it more cost effective to outsource or hand apply. Some bottle manufacturers can label for an upcharge if you’re currently unable to buy labeling equipment. If you need to label thousands of units each day, your production line would be significantly more efficient having some type of labeling equipment. Ready to buy labeling equipment? Check out our five tips for buying labeling equipment!