4 Major Types Of Labeling Machines And Their Uses

Different types of labeling machines fit different uses. Learn more about these in detail below include their best applications.

Labeling machine for industrial use
Labeling machine for industrial use
Resource: https://www.packworld

There are several different types of labeling machines that you can use in your business. Some are suitable for small businesses while others can be used in bulk production facilities. In this article, we will go over the major labeling machine types. The overview will help you decide what suits your next project – or current production needs if looking to upgrade the labeling system.

Types of Labeling Machines

The different types of labeling machines in the market today are based on function, working, size, and more. Each has its own place in the market and application, but it’s important to know precisely what you’re looking for. So here below, are the three major types of labelers and their uses.

Handheld labeling machine
Handheld labeling machine
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LPbvCDovio

1. Handheld labeling Machine

This is a portable labeling machine that applies labels directly to items. Handheld labeling machines are ideal for quick on-site labeling requirements. They’re mostly used in retail stores, restaurants, and similar businesses where labels are needed immediately.

Portable labelers can also be easily stored or transported from one business to another due to their small size and lightweight. Generally, they exist as two different types: the label maker and the label dispenser.

The label maker is a small labeling machine that features a screen, a full keyboard or keypad, and other buttons. It basically prints out stickers that are tailored to user requirements. The label dispenser is a larger unit than the sticker maker, and is typically trigger-operated.

Benefits Summary:

  • Easy to use
  • Low cost (around $100)
  • Portable
  • can be used with different large items

Portable labeling machines, despite being lightweight and very compact, encounter serious limitations when it comes to application. First, you cannot use them to label some products such as round bottles. They are also very slow and cannot be used for bulk or large-scale labeling.

Manual labeling machine
Manual labeling machine
Resource: https://youtu.be/Bp7Q59ZrnJc

2. Manual Labeling Machine

Manual labeling machines are those that need to be operated by hand. These types of labeling machines are normally handheld or desktop units that come with an attached label cartridge or reel. Most use simple mechanisms that allow you to apply labels on your products, one at a time.

Manual labelers can also be table-top machines that you operate using a hand crank and that use a wipe-on applicator to affix labels.

A manual label applicator comes with various perks. These labelers are very easy to use and maintain with the majority of them being handheld and tabletop units. They’re suitable for those who want to customize their labels, allowing you to easily attach customized labels to your products.

Benefits Summary:

  • Affordable price range
  • No training required to use it
  • No installation requirements
  • Easy to take care of

On the downside, a manual labeler machine isn’t suitable for those who want to do their labeling in bulk. These types of labelers are mostly hand-operated, which makes them generally inefficient. They can also be time-consuming and high in labor costs, especially when each unit requires an operator.

A semi-automatic labeling machine for food products
A semi-automatic labeling machine for food products
Resource: italianfoodtech.com

3. Semi-Automatic Labeling Machine

The semi-automatic labeling machine is somewhere in between a manual and a fully automatic labeling system. It’s usually a floor-standing or tabletop labeler and comprised of both manual and automatic functions. Its labeling process is typically initiated by the operator stepping on a foot pedal or moving/pressing a hand-operated switch.

Semi-automatic labelers are suitable for both small and (slightly) bulk production lines. They can affix labels quickly and accurately, making them ideal for those who want to do their labeling professionally. They’re also very easy to maintain and repair as most can be serviced by factory technicians.

Benefits summary:

  • Relatively affordable for small manufacturing concerns
  • Minimal training needed to use it
  • Faster than the manual type
  • More accurate

Compared to the manual types, the semi-auto labeling machines are more expensive. Because they require human intervention to work, these types of labeling machines are also not suited for high speed production lines or large-scale production facilities.

Fully automatic labeling machine
Fully automatic labeling machine
Resource: https://www.foodmanufacturing.com

4. Fully Automatic Labeling Machine

Automatic labeling machines with fully automated functions are those that can be set up to affix labels with little human intervention. Everything happens automatically, from dispensing to application. Most of these types of labeling machines are designed to integrate with specific production lines and may even incorporate a label maker/printer.

A fully automatic labeling machine is the most sophisticated type of labeler available in the market today. These machines can be set up to affix labels around the clock, making them suitable for those who need to do their labeling in bulk. Automatic labelers are further manufactured as two major types: inline and rotary.

Inline Labeling Machine

An inline labeling machine is the most common type. It’s basically a linear machine whose operation involves advancing the products on a conveyer belt. Sensors then detect product and label position to control the labeling process. An inline labeler is easy to use or service than the rotary types. However, they’re generally not as fast.

Rotary Labeling Machines

Rotary labeling machines are mostly larger assemblies but capable of very high labeling speeds. Built in the form of a circular, rotating center (carousel) these types of labeling machines can include as many as 9 labeling stations. But that also means they’re difficult to repair or maintain. Rotary labelers are also typically more expensive than inline types.

Benefits summary

  • Extremely fast (up to 4000 items/hr or more)
  • Higher levels of accuracy
  • Can be integrated into a production line

The fully automatic labeling machines are the most expensive type of labeler you can buy. Also, because they’re very sophisticated and designed to integrate with production lines, these machines are also the most difficult to use or maintain and repair; your labeling machine operator would need specialized training to use one.

Tabletop labeling machine for light labeling needs
Tabletop labeling machine for light labeling needs
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C87UQ583Sc

Other Types of Labeling Machines

Labeling machines can also be categorized as small or large. A small labeling machine is a low-cost unit that’s suitable for small investments with low production volumes. A large labeling machine is usually an automatic device capable of autonomous operation and numerous functions including printing labels.

Labelers may also be classified by their method of applying labels which include wipe-on, blow-by, and tamp-blow. A wipe-on label applicator uses a roller assembly to stick labels to a product, while blow applicators use bursts of compressed air to deliver and stick labels.

A manufacturer may also group their label machines by application. In that regard, you will come across these common types: a bottle labeling machine for labeling different kinds of glass and plastic bottles, carton labeling machine for cartons and other boxes, cable labeling machine for wires, and fabric labeling machines.

Other types of labeling machines by application include can labelers, those that label jars, labelers for pipes, and so on. In a nutshell, labeling equipment comes in all kinds of design or size variations. If you’re aware of these, it’s possible to select the right one for your business.


There are various different types of labeling machines available in the market. They all have their own pros and cons, depending on how they can be used. Ultimately, as with any industrial equipment purchase, you need to choose what best suits your application.

If you want to do your labeling manually and in small batches, the manual or semi-automatic labeling machine is the best choice for you. These are low-cost, easy to maintain, and cheap to repair.

If you want to do your labeling in bulk, choose a fully automatic labeling machine. These labeling machines are accurate, fast, and low-cost in terms of labor requirements.

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