Hand holding craft beer bottle with creased, peeling label.

Prevent and Correct Common Label Application Issues

Label application challenges can be a huge source of frustration. If you get your label adhesive or substrate wrong, your product labels can fall off, and minor imperfections or slight angles in your packaging surfaces can also lead to improper application

All labels for commercial use are subject to their own unique circumstances. The following common problems will help you troubleshoot issues and find the proper commercial labels for your containers (while allowing you to make adjustments that eliminate potential problems moving forward).

Matching the Label to the Container Shape

You know what your containers look like, but you may not fully understand the impact that their shape has on the labeling process. Assuming that all packages have a uniform surface leads to issues like bubbling, wrapping, flagging and other label problems during application.

In order for plastic containers to release cleanly from molds, they need to be tapered. On round and square bottles, this taper may only be one or two degrees, which is almost invisible to the naked eye. While it doesn’t sound like much, if you don’t take this into account and apply a perfectly square label to your containers at flat angles, the label will wrinkle during application.

Glass containers typically have a straight area to apply labels, but this area is rarely flat. Low-grade glass used for beverages can have imperfections on the surface that lead to uneven label application. (The label might be straight, but these imperfections can trap air bubbles, wrinkling the surface.) Often, this is caused by using labels that are too big for the container, which magnifies the effect of these imperfections. By keeping label size at or below the bottle manufacturer’s recommendations, you’re less likely to have application problems.

If you’re gearing up to introduce a new product line, label printing and application can be an integral piece of the puzzle. Make sure to request a spec sheet–sometimes called a “mechanical”–from your container manufacturer. 

This documentation will give you and your label printer of the exact specifications of your containers, including precise measurements, taper, and additional information. It will also allow you to make any necessary adjustments to the size, shape, and label material for your product labels, and with any major changes accounted for, you can fine-tune the settings on your labeling application equipment to compensate for imperfections.

Labeling for Your Operating Climate

When working with operators to design labeling solutions, we always consider how the labeled product will be stored and used. 

Will the package be exposed to direct sunlight? If so, it needs UV-resistant ink. Could it be exposed to rain or other water? Then the label stock must provide moisture protection. Will it be stored at room temperature or could it be exposed to extreme heat or cold? 

These same environmental conditions are also relevant for your facility, as moisture and temperature can have a major impact on the labeling process. Are your containers washed prior to labeling? Do they contain a cold liquid that causes condensation to form on the exterior? 

If your bottles are slightly moist when they reach your labeling applicator, switching to a wet apply adhesive will usually solve your peeling problems. However, this glue can’t overcome high levels of surface moisture. In these cases, you may need to add a drying system to push away water before the containers head to your label applicators.

How do you store your labels? If they sit in a warehouse building with no climate control, they can experience temperature extremes. Cold can turn glue brittle while heat can melt the glue off of labels. Likewise, moisture exposure during storage can make certain inks run, ruining the surface of your labels. 

The good news is that these problems can be addressed by altering the makeup of your pressure sensitive labels or by simply changing storage location.

Label Application Equipment and Static Electricity

Static electricity is created by transferring electrons from one object to another, which often happens because two dissimilar materials rub against each other. (For example, you may have shocked yourself before by touching a metal door handle after walking across carpet.)

But, static electricity can do more than just produce a minor shock; if an object with a negative electrical charge gets close to another object with a positive charge, they’ll attract each other. If two objects with the same charge come together, they’ll repel each other.

What does this have to do with labels, you ask? 

If the conveyor belt on your labeling machine isn’t adjusted correctly, it can slip on the rollers. The ensuing friction generates static electricity, which is transferred to your containers, and suddenly, your labels begin to shift as they’re being applied, even when the settings on the machine seem to be correct. What you assume to be a sensor or applicator error can actually be caused by something as simple as a misadjusted tensioner or a worn-out roller!

Matching Label Applicators to Containers

With so many factors at play, it’s common to have issues that keep labels from properly adhering to containers. That’s why CTM Labeling works to deliver custom applicators for a variety of situations and needs.

Are you looking for a machine with ample flexibility? The 360a Wrap System can handle a wide range of product sizes and labels and is able to adjust for dimensions and labeling speed. The onboard computer then saves those adjustments, so you don’t need to recalibrate the 360a every time you switch products.

Our wine bottle labeler is designed to apply labels onto the curved surfaces of heavy glass bottles. This starts with a heavy-duty conveyor and guide rails that move the bottles through the machine with minimal chance of belt slip or bottle tipping. This machine can be configured to apply a single label, front and back labels with an indexer, or front and back labels with two labeler attachments. The wine bottle labeler can also be set up for cover labeling with the ability to paste over obsolete labels or add information needed for export.

Our pail labeling system is an add-on for our 3600a-PA Series print and apply applicator. It adds a heavy-duty conveyor system to move large containers with tall rails that keep the pails from slipping during label application. A 15 inch tilt-out vacuum grid uses O-ring belts and a wiper to apply long labels to the container, and a photoelectric sensor detects the end of the label, stopping the belts at the end of application.

Find a Labeling Solution that Works

Circumvent common commercial label application issues by working with our team of experts to create your own unique labeling system.

CTM Labeling Systems offers a wide range of labeling equipment for general use and specific tasks, applying labels to everything from shipping boxes to curved bottles. Contact us to get in touch with your local distributor. They will be happy to help you set up a labeling system that optimizes your packaging and production environment.

New call-to-action