How To Deal With Common Faults In Labeling Machines

Labeling machines are the devices we use to print and place labels on our products. Just like any other machine, they are prone to having operational errors and faults that we are going to analyze.

Common Faults

Types of Labelling Machines
Types of Labelling Machines

You may run into a few problems with your labeling machine during operation. Don’t sweat it, we are going to go through some of these common faults and how you can go about handling them.

· Bubbles On Your Labels

Labels with Bubbles
Labels with Bubbles

Sometimes you may have carefully applied your labels but you notice that some bubbles have formed on them. This type of blistering comes about if your container surface is either contaminated or has an uneven surface.

This can also be caused by the reaction of the glue you are using or the solvent for the printing surface. You may also have chosen a film material that is not compatible with the bottle’s characteristics.

As for the film selection, go for PVC or unstretched PP if you want to avoid this problem when labeling soft containers. For contamination, ensure that you properly wash and dry the containers being labeled before beginning the process.

Another reason for these bubbles forming is your selection of the bottom paper for your labels. You should go for a bottom paper having a very smooth surface to ensure that the glue evenly holds it to the container.

· Wrinkles On Label

Labels with Wrinkles
Labels with Wrinkles

Just after applying your label, you realize that it has some wrinkles that have formed on it. Don’t be surprised, this is a common problem especially when you are labeling round-surfaced containers.

It may also come about if you are using large labels for your containers. The main cause is that your label has not been evenly applied from edge to edge making it catch.

The remedy for this is to ensure that your container is very stable when you are labeling it. The label on your machine should also be properly aligned in such a way that it is applied seamlessly from end to end.

Wrinkled labels may also come about when you use labeling material that is not compatible with your container. The same label you place on a glass or plastic container is not compatible with a squeezable one.

To counter this, you can switch your face stocks. Whether you are using a glass or plastic container, or a rigid or squeezable one, it must be compatible with your label.

· Feed Error

Label Feeding System
Label Feeding System

This normally occurs in automated machines when the labels are being taken to the labeling head. It occurs when there is a miscommunication between the product sensor and the label sensor.

While the label is being fed to the labeling head through a prompt from the product sensor, label feeding is stopped by the label sensor. This will result in a feed error that results in your labels inaccurately placed on your containers.

One remedy for this is properly turning on your sensors and calibrating their sensitivity. The right sensitivity enables your sensor to precisely evaluate label gaps and prevent feed errors from occurring.

· Irregular Containers

Sometimes the problems you encounter with labeling machines may not necessarily be caused by the machine itself or the label. You may find that some of your labels are loose after application or appear wrinkled.

The container you are using may be the major cause for this. Some very minor aspects such as uneven surfaces or ridges may create spaces between the container and the labels making them not stick.

Ensure that your container supplier gives you the best quality containers with completely even surfaces. Your supplier should understand your branding requirements and be a specialist in them.

· Label Flagging

After applications, some labels develop some form of bulge on their edges. This is majorly due to the size of your label being too big for your container.

It may also be because your label is not made to be applied on containers having a curved or irregular surface. You should ensure that your labeling machine dispenses the correct label size appropriate to your container specifications.

The strength of the adhesive you use may also cause this fault when using your machine to label. Your adhesive should be very strong and well applied on your label and container especially if it has a tight radius.

The materials you use for labeling should also be compatible with the container that you are labeling. You may be required to change your label materials if the problem persists.

· Curling/Peeling Labels

 Label Peeling
Label Peeling

The main cause for this mainly the environment in which you have placed your labeling machine. Cold environments tend to make your labels curl immediately after you apply them or when your container is damp.

Another cause is not giving your label sufficient time to allow its adhesive to completely stick and adhere. There are a few ways you can deal with this type of error.

Make sure that you thoroughly clean the surfaces of your containers and dry them appropriately before placing them in your labeling machine. Also, check the compatibility of your labels with the environment in which you have placed your labeling machine.

If you are operating from a cold warehouse, then you will have to settle for a cold-temperature adhesive that suits this environment. Give your labels enough time to adhere to your containers before processing them further.

· Labels Not Sticking To Containers

This is a very common problem you will encounter while using your machine to label since very many factors are involved. This is not just about your container surface; the application temperature and environment of your machine are also at play.

If the temperature around your labeling machine is too high, label separation will be affected due to its higher tackiness. If the temperature is too low, then the adhesives on your labels will not wet out since they will become brittle.

To avoid such problems, always store your labels in a cool and dry place such as sealed containers until you load them into your labeler. You should also go for adhesives that are designed for your application temperature range.

Another reason why your labels may not be sticking is the die-cut in your labeler. This is because the strikes affect the label when it has to be removed from its backing.

If your die-cut makes very deep strikes, it will force the label adhesive to fill the liner. If it makes shallow strikes, then chances are that it will not completely cut through your labels.

All these instances may make it hard for you to remove your label from its liner therefore placing a label that won’t stick. Always ensure that you regularly examine the die-cut of your labeler to avoid this.

Surface contamination can also prevent your labels from adhering to the containers. Contaminants such as dust, oil, or even surface moisture can lead to a loss of adherence to your labels.

You should feel contaminant-free and very clean containers to your labeler. You can also have the people handling them wear gloves to prevent further contamination of your containers by contact.

· Skewed Labels

Sometimes you may apply a label to a round container but the design of your label does not match your container’s slope. You may perceive the appearance of plastic as flat but in the real sense, they contain a small taper used for separating it from molds.

It may be two or so degrees but its impact is sufficient to skew the labels you place on the containers. Your best option to avert this is to go for labels that have a slight curve that will fit into the shape of your container.

·         Misaligned Labels

In this situation, your labels are not properly placed on your containers with variations on their normal alignment. The main cause is your labeler’s peeling plate not being parallelly aligned to the holder.

You can easily adjust the two so that they properly align and your problem is solved. Additionally, the stripping port can also bring about this misalignment.

If you have used it for long, it tends to wear out the striping port. This creates an irregular pulling force on your labels resulting in their deflection.

The solution for this is replacing your stripping port entirely. Also, ensure that you do regular maintenance on your labeling machine to avoid unplanned disruptions like this.

Conclusion

You now have a better understanding of the errors in your labeling machine and how to fix them. You should consider several factors such as your application environment and temperature conditions when labeling.

This will go a great way in minimizing most of the errors that you may encounter. Your choice of material selection is also very significant.

Generally, carry out regular maintenance procedures on your labeler to minimize such problems. This will also serve to improve the quality of your labels.

More resources:

Manual Labeling Machine – Source: LOM

Semi-automatic Labeling Machine – Source: LOM

Automatic Labeling Machine – Source: LOM

Pressure Sensitive Adhesive – Source: WIKIPEDIA

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