Used in industries ranging from food processing and consumer goods production to pharmaceutical packaging, shrink wrap is a valuable tool for companies all over the world. Built with a combination of polyolefin, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polyethylene, shrink wrap is a form of polymer plastic film that is commonly used to bundle products together for increased portability and durability. By packaging products in this material, companies can:
Given how ubiquitous this material is in modern commerce, it shouldn't be surprising that the global shrink wrap market is valued at USD 14.27 billion. Of course, if you look at any shrink-wrapped package in a store, it’s hard to find that one isn’t marked with important consumer information, supply chain codes, and branding.
Not only are these labels required by retailers, but many products are also mandated by law to carry information such as expiration dates and lot codes for quality assurance purposes. If these codes are not included on the packaging, it can cause major supply chain problems.
Fortunately, code compliance can be easy if you know which equipment to use. Below, we have profiled three of today’s best heat shrink label printers for product packaging. With the help of these print-and-apply label applicators, companies of all industries can easily comply with both supply chain guidelines and government regulations.
In the print-and-apply label industry, ID Technology is considered the most well-known equipment manufacturer. Both ID Technology and Panther, another print-and-apply manufacturer mentioned below, are owned by Pro-Mach, the conglomerate of the packaging equipment industry. Offering some of the lowest prices in the industry, ID Technology’s print applicators enable users to design, create, and place labels in a streamlined manner. Among ID Technology’s various products, its most famous offering is likely the Model 250, a machine that’s considered to be the world’s top-selling label printer applicator.
Label Printer Applicator Model 252 is an upgraded version of ID Technology’s best-selling Model 250. Featuring a modular design and stainless steel construction, the Model 252 creates labels using either direct thermal or thermal transfer overprinting. To apply the labels, users can equip the Model 252 with a tamp pad, swing arm, corner wrap, or three-panel smart tamp module.
The Model 252 can also be used in conjunction with a high-speed module called PowerMerge that enables:
However, it’s important to note that ID Technology’s equipment is not known for longevity. Many users report that shortly after the provided two-year warranty ends, hardware problems are both common and expensive to fix. Consequently, if you’re looking for the absolute best heat shrink label printers for product packaging, the other models on this list may be better fits.
Label-Aire has been making robust print-and-apply label applicators for more than 50 years. Its name stems from its greatest contribution to the label application industry, the invention of the air-blow label applicator. These applicators retain labels using a vacuum effect until the very moment they need to be applied. Once a substrate passes by, the applicator uses air to place the label with a high degree of speed and accuracy. This application method is utilized with great success in the 3111-HS (High Speed) Air-Blow Label Applicator.
With the aid of air-blow technology, the 3111-HS can apply up to 1,000 labels per minute in a lab environment with 4”x1” labels. In addition to speed, the 3111-HS is also notable for its ability to apply labels to the top, bottom, and sides of products. Controlled by an internal microprocessor, the 3111-HS allows companies to save their settings for repeatable operations and a high degree of reliability. However, it’s important to note the 3111-HS inherently has issues with sticking the labels completely to the product.
In contrast with the Label-Aire, the Predator, produced by print-and-apply manufacturer Panther, doesn’t use any compressed air to place labels. Instead, the Predator runs completely on electricity. By using an all-electric system, the Predator reduces overall operational costs without sacrificing speed or throughput.
The Predator offers some of the most impressive mechanical specs in the market. Equipped with either a tamp or swing arm, the Predator can:
For companies with fast-moving production lines and diverse product sizes, the Predator is a great applicator choice.
These three applicators represent some of the best machines in the industry. However, there is much more to the “best print-and-apply labeler” conversation than we were able to dive into here. One must consider safety, label compatibility, rewind style, roller distance, and more.
To learn about these details and others, stay connected to C&M Digest’s ongoing coverage.
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