Applying Your Labels

 

Pressure sensitive label application is often an afterthought, but it is important to consider how your labels will be applied when placing a label order. From the very beginning when your self-adhesive label is being engineered, potential problems with your application method can be avoided. Liner, adhesize, face stock, roll size and core size can all effect label application.


It is very common to need some help with applying your labels, and it's never too soon to consider how, when, and where your labels will be applied. Even as you begin the design phase of your labels, it is critical to consider their eventual method of application and the type of environment they will be applied in. Whether you are applying your labels by hand or with a labeling machine, read below for key questions to ask and the steps you can take to avoid application problems.

 

>> Are You Ready to Stop Labeling By Hand?
(8 min read)

 

5 Key Questions – How to Apply Lables

 

Answering these five questions will help you avoid most major problems:
 

1. What type of surface will the label be applied to?

Machine applied labelsThis is an extremely important piece of information for your label printer. There are different labels for glass bottles and flexible plastic tubes. Your label printer needs to know what the labels will be applied to to provide the best label solution possible.

2. What are the environmental conditions of the label application space, and what environmental conditions will the labeled products be exposed to?

Humidity and cold temperatures are examples of environmental conditions that will change the way your labels are engineered. Always communicate with your printer to avoid future application problems.

3. What is the size of the container, and more specifically what is the size of the area to be labeled?

You may believe your printer only needs to know the size of the label, but the value of label printing experience cannot be overstated. There may be well known issues with your container that are easily accounted for and overcome during label design and engineering.
 

4. What is the size and shape of the label?

Bigger isn't always better, especially when the surface of the container is uneven or tapered. Sizing your label correctly will eliminate most application issues. Of course, knowing your label size is needed when preparing a custom label quote. When label size is combined with the container size and label material, the size is a key piece of information. It should be precisely measured and checked for compatibility with the container and application method.

5. How will the labels be applied?

Different application methods require different materials, such as liners and adhesives. Planning ahead with the full knowledge of how your labels will be applied prevents common issues like label rolls that are wound too tight or too loose, liners that do not release easily enough or too easily, and other incompatibilities.


How to Apply Your Labels – 3 Methods

 

Hand Application

Hand applying labelsJust like the name implies, you're going to be putting the labels on one at a time, by hand. For smaller quantities it makes sense. Recruit some volunteers and hold a labeling party, or get comfortable with a Netflix series marathon and start labeling. Either way, here are a few tips to help things go smoothly:

1. Design your labels for hand application.

If your label wraps around your container, avoid design elements like horizontal stripes that will be difficult to line up when applying labels by hand – especially if the ends of the label will come close together or overlap once applied.

You can also design your label to have different design elements on each end, or identical swaths of solid color, so misalignment is less obvious.
 


2. Create a template or "jig."

Consistency is difficult to accomplish during hand application, especially as you go. If you've ever signed your name a dozen times in a row, you know it can border on illegible by the time you get to the last signature. It's just fatigue. By creating a simple template, perhaps from cardboard or a sheet of thick paper, you can be sure your last label will be applied just as straight as your first.

The template should sit firmly on your workspace, fit snugly on your container, and leave a window for label application. A thicker edged material like cardboard will help prevent the label from sticking to the jig itself.

 

If you will be hand applying labels at first, then switching to semi-automatic or machine applied in the future, be sure to inform your label provider ahead of time. Your label order can be engineered to work with the applicator you will eventually be using.

 

Semi-Automatic Application

Semi-auto label applicationInvesting in a semi-automatic label applicator is often the ideal solution for small batch producers. Semi-auto application involves purchasing a small labeling machine, something that would typically fit on a counter and apply the labels for you, as you operate a hand crank or foot pedal.

Most of the application machines can be yours for under $2,000. Advanced Labels does not sell labeling equipment or endorse one label applicating machine over another.

This is a great option for craft and small batch liquor and beer, or any other product produced in lower quantities.

Another consideration with your label setup is the label's orientation on the roll, if your labels are an odd shape. Ideally, the leading edge of the labels on the roll will be a straight edge, giving your equipment the best chance to grab the label from the liner and smoothly apply it to your container.

The four most important questions you need to ask when purchasing semi-automatic label application equipment:

1. Label Size: Can the equipment handle your label size?

2. Container Type and Size: Is the equipment compatible with your container?

2. Core Size: What size core should your label roll use, 1-inch or 3-inch?

3. Label Orientation: Will your labels transfer straight and smooth from the roll to the container?

 

Machine Application

Machine labeling, machine applying a roll of wine labelsFully automatic labeling machines are fast, precise, and convenient. Larger producers may have their own equipment on site or contract with a mobile labeling service. Containers are typically fed automatically into the machine, and labels are applied quickly and consistently. The process is pretty straightforward, but you need to answer the same 4 questions from the semi-automatic section:

The four most important questions you need to ask when using machine application equipment:

1. Label Size: Can the equipment handle your label size?

2. Container Type and Size: Is the equipment compatible with your container?

2. Core Size: What size core should your label roll use, 1-inch or 3-inch?

3. Label Orientation: Will your labels transfer straight and smooth from the roll to the container?

 

For mobile bottling of wine in Washington and Oregon, Advanced Labels recommends Signature Mobile Bottling.


Note: For machine applied labels, if you let us know which brand and type of machine you are using we can set up your label order to be compatible with your specific applicator. Not all applicators are the same; they have varying requirements for core size and rewind direction, for example.

 

Label Application Resources