Clearmark has engineered a new Overprinting Watchstrap Labeller (OWL) system to apply watchstrap labels to net and weave packaging applications, including packaging for citrus fruits, seasonal confectionery, and firewood, without damaging the bands.

The Zodiac OWL aims to overcome the challenge of watchstrap labels snapping under stress when they are applied to textured surfaces. To prevent the snap from occurring, the drive system has been integrated into the printer bracket, meaning that labels are dispensed and printed using thermal transfer in one continuous, synchronised motion.

“If too much tension is applied during the label dispensing process, there’s a higher likelihood of the narrow section snapping,” explains Chris Simpson, technical project manager at Clearmark. “Because the OWL is electronically integrated with the netting machine, each time a netted bag is made, the OWL feeds another printed label into the loop.”

Reported to be 1280mm high, 680mm wide, and 420mm deep, the Zodiac OWL is thought to offer customers the option to implement it into the netting machine itself or as a freestanding solution within existing packaging setups, and can apparently print labels to over 60 packs per minute.

Additionally, Clearmark claims that its new OWL provides reliability, flexibility, and accuracy benefits, including the constant monitoring and reporting of print code quality, and the dispensing system can be integrated with the ICE Zodiac Falcon and Eagle product ranges.

At any point during the production process, operators can use the CLARiSUITE operating system to create and switch label design templates, and the CLARiTY touchscreen to view label information about the print quality of the labels and make any necessary improvements to the efficiency of their production.

The system is also said to feature motion sensitivity to detect tension in the OWL’s lifting arm and prompt the in-feed netting machine to pause, ensuring that, even if the netting machine demands more labels than have been supplied in the loop, the narrow web will not snap.

Meanwhile, its iAssure feature is intended to monitor the labels’ quality in place of additional vision systems. By examining the spent ribbon after each code has been produced, the internal print-checking system determines whether the print quality aligns with set standards. Any codes considered unacceptable will send out a signal to reject the netted pack, and a consistent fault will halt the line until the issue is resolved.

In this event, an illuminated feed button has been implemented to alert operators that a specific action or human intervention is required. They can then press a reset button when the issue is resolved, thus restarting the net packing line.

“By providing early intervention, production disruption and downtime can be minimised,” Simpson continues. “This also reduces the likelihood of a product recall and a heavy retailer fine.”

UPM Raflatac and Logopak previously collaborated to launch a linerless solution, reportedly the first of its kind in print and apply labelling. It is thought to increase the running length and capacity of label rolls, reducing costs and CO2 emissions.

BOBST also announced the launch of its 3D CONFIGURATOR online tool, which is compatible with its DIGITAL MASTER modular label press series and allows label converters to visualise their ideal press configurations to enhance their capabilities, reduce waste, and improve efficiency.