When it comes to labeling your products, there are many options. Applicators, an applicator printer or inline printer are both reliable and versatile solutions you can easily integrate in your conveyor or production chain. What are the differences between these options? In what context should you use them?

With an applicator printer, the label is printed right before it is applied on the product. This solution is necessary when variable information – such as the weight of the product, the number or the date and time – must be printed in real time. This is an effective solution because only the labels required for the production will be printed!

The way it works is, the number of products which can be labeled in a minute is limited. This is not a solution if your number of products per minute on your conveyor or chain is important.

In this case, though, with variable information but a higher speed, there is inline printing. This is a “surf & turf” solution! It prints as fast as a standard printer and applies as fast as a standard applicator. These two parts are linked and offer an applicator printer solution faster than the previous one, even though the variable weight mode is not available, as the label printed is only applied once it reaches the applicator. It’s still an excellent compromise!

If variable information is not required, an applicator is definitely the fastest solution, with a speed which can reach 40m/min! Moreover, if you add an encoder in the mix, you can easily synchronize your applicator to your conveyor!

With this kind of solution, it is necessary to plan your production needs and make sure to have the right number of labels before starting the production. It is possible to add a thermal encoder to the applicator in order to print a number or the date and hour on the label before its application.

Using an applicator printer, the inline printing or an applicator has many advantages. Those are custom-made solutions which are also solid and creative, even though they are complicated.

Why would you invest in them?

  • High-precision application, highly customizable
  • An impressive application speed,  even when there are numerous different products to label
  • An effective way to integrate labeling to your production system

The main difference between these three options is of course, the origin of the label. The applicator printer and the inline printing method print the label just before applying it, whereas the applicator only applies a pre-printed label.

Therefore, you might have to print your labels in advance (flexography would be a great way to do so), to stock them and to put them in the applicator when the time comes. Nevertheless, an applicator works very well with “pressure-sensitive” labels. It separates the label from its film before applying the label. As there is no adhesive needed here, it’s a great way to save time.

As for the two other solutions, they deal with the whole process: printing, separating the label from its film and applying it, everything is designed to optimize your process and make you save time while offering  you high-quality labeling.

The choice between inline printing, an applicator printer or an applicator is complicated as those are very technical solutions. If you don’t print your labels in house, then an applicator would be the best solution. On the contrary, if you print your labels yourself, then a comprehensive automation could be interesting, and the applicator printers and inline printing were made for you.

Either way, the help of a qualified expert is essential here. They will be there to give you important advice and recommend the best solution for your needs.