Our discussion of labeling from the package’s perspective begins with flexible packaging. Flexible packaging is largely comprised of bags, overwraps and pouches. These packages are generally constructed of roll film on either a Vertical/Form/Fill/Seal machine (VFFS), Horizontal/Form/Fill/Seal (HFFS) also called an overwrapper or flow wrapper, and a Pouch Forming Machine.
Because of their “flexible” nature, flexible packages present several labeling challenges. Once the package is made, control becomes the biggest obstacle to a successful label application. By their very nature; flexible packages do not lend themselves to being held and located accurately, and do not present a smooth surface for the label to adhere to. The result tends to be a skewed and wrinkled label. This type of stand-alone labeling system is sometimes, due to production constraints, the only option available. With proper design and forethought stand-alone systems can provide acceptable results, but will generally not provide the best option.
A properly engineered Flexible Packaging Labeler integrates tightly to its parent machine, whether it is a VFFS, HFFS or a pouch. It applies the label while the package is being formed, providing the label a smooth, rigid, controlled place to land. The labeler should be rigidly mounted to the parent machine and, when done properly, the end user can expect accuracy of better than +/- 1/32”.
When working to determine which labeler supplier to go with, the best possible resources are the bag maker companies themselves, ask them who they have worked with in the past and which companies they recommend. When talking to the labeler company ask if they have experience with your particular bag maker or overwrapper, do they have any installations near you, and can they provide referrals to companies with applications very similar to yours?