October 12, 2021 

Label-Aire 3138-NV: Accuracy, Reliability, and Ease of Use

Label-Aire 3138-NV

Label-Aire has been well-known in the printer applicator industry for decades. Now, 50 years after the company patented the air-blow applicator, one of the most common methods of applying pressure-sensitive labels to substrates, the company has released the 3138-NV—a system it calls its “most advanced printer applicator” yet. 

The Label-Aire 3138-NV, which claims to be capable of delivering quality results all day, every day, promises to deliver consistently accurate label placement, high levels of reliability, and intuitive operation.

How well does the 3138-NV live up to these claims? Below, we take an in-depth look at the Label-Aire 3138-NV to find out what this machine is capable of.

Physical Specifications

The Label-Aire 3138-NV is a mid-size printer applicator that can apply labels up to 7.2” x 7” at a maximum speed of 16" (305 mm) per second (although this is dependent on the printer and label size). The 3138-NV has the following dimensions:

  • Height: 23.96" (.61 m)
  • Length: 30.79" (.78 m)
  • Width: 26.97" (.68 m)

This printer applicator can be powered by most OEM print engines and requires 90 psi and an electrical source of 115 Volts AC 60 Hz 5 Amps/220 Volts AC 50 Hz 5 Amps to complete most applications.

The 3138-NV is built with stainless steel and anodized aluminum parts. This material provides several important benefits, including:

  • Corrosion-resistance.
  • Maintenance-free operation.
  • Long-lasting parts.
  • High durability against hostile working conditions.

Beyond reliable construction, the 3138-NV also comes stock with a few helpful features, including:

  • An automatic setup consisting of multiple label pages for streamlined change-overs to different sized labels. 
  • A pneumatic panel for simplified component replacement.
  • Ambidextrous parts to make assembly and reassembly easier for the user.
  • Stepper rewind to direct waste.

For tamp options, the machine is compatible with air-blow mechanisms, 90° swing arms, and dual-action configurations.

Application Specialties

The Label-Aire 3138-NV is designed to reliably complete standard printer applicator actions. Most commonly, printer applicators are used for secondary and tertiary applications, and the 3138-NV can complete these functions with a relatively high level of accuracy (+/- 1/32" i.e. 0.8 mm). 

With the 3138-NV, companies ranging from food packaging operations to pharmaceutical producers can reliably mark their cases and pallets with the proper labels. However, the 3138-NV’s relatively small tamp options do limit these application possibilities. This is further explored below.

How Does the Label-Aire 3138-NV Compare to Other Printer Applicators?

The Label-Aire 3138-NV is a sturdy printer applicator that can perform traditional applicator functions consistently. Its stainless steel construction provides the system with a solid level of protection against harsh workplace conditions. Similarly, the adjustable tamp assembly’s steel rod, locking collars, and air cylinder are well-built, enabling 24/7 label application without a problem. Finally, the system’s label placement does report a good level of label dispense accuracy.

That said, much of the 3138-NV’s purported “advanced features” (e.g. its automatic setup, digital display, flash memory, etc.) are standard for the industry and nothing to get excited about. Additionally, its speed capabilities pale in comparison to the other industry-leading printer applicator models that we have profiled

Take the Panther Predator, for example. While the 3138-NV offers a max application speed of 16" per second, the Predator can apply labels at 200 IPS. Even the 3138-NV’s high-speed Label-Aire counterpart, the 3111H-S, isn’t able to come close to the Predator’s speed. 

Finally, the 3138-NV’s list of compatible tamp options is far smaller than other applicator options such as the ID Technology Model 252. Not only does the Model 252 tamp offer a much larger tamp capability as compared to the 3138-NV, but it is also usable with a 3-panel applicator, enabling much greater tertiary functionality than the 3138-NV can match.

The Label-Aire 3138-NV: Well-Built, but Relatively Standard and Less Versatile than the Competition

The Label-Aire 3138-NV is built from good materials and can withstand the stresses of many industrial work environments. This quality construction enables the machine to reliably label substrates 24/7 while its other components allow for accurate label placement. However, its mechanical capabilities and limited tamp options make it a less impressive product than many of its competitors, especially for the price, as Label-Aire typically charges a 15% premium as compared to ID Technology.  

Although the 3138-NV can complete standard applications, if your company requires more, you may want to search elsewhere for a printer applicator.

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C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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