Understanding Roll Direction: The Key to Proper Label Application

Do you need printed labels? If so, you’ll probably need to understand roll direction.

In applying your labels by hand it may not be that important, but having them in the right orientation may make easier.

If you use a label applicator machine, or if you overprint batch numbers and best before dates… then you definitely need a better understanding of roll direction.

Imagine the frustration of receiving your labels and finding that they’ve been supplied the wrong way around! All the effort and creativity put into designing stunning labels can be wasted if the unwind direction is overlooked. What’s worse is that you may need to redesign your label templates or maybe send the labels back to be re-rolled. What a waste of time and money!

That’s why knowing the roll direction is critical for flawless label application.

What is Roll Direction?

Roll Direction, also known as Unwind Direction, refers to the way your labels are oriented as they are unwound from the roll.

This can be likened to the page set-up on an electronic document, with options for Portrait, Landscape, Portrait 180 degrees, and Landscape 180 degrees.

Why Does Roll Direction Matter?

Understanding the desired roll direction becomes crucial when ordering labels.

Not only can it affect the price of the labels by minimising the amount of wasted material with an optimized layout.

More importantly it significantly affects the efficiency and ease of machine application when placing labels on your products. Labels typically come in long rolls that are fed through a label applicator. As the roll moves through the machine, the labels are dispensed in a specific direction. Getting the roll direction right is crucial; otherwise, your labels might end up being applied upside down or in reverse on your product.

If you overprint labels then you will also need to get the orientation right, otherwise you’ll find yourself redesigning the templates in your labelling software.

Exploring the Unwind Chart

There are eight possible roll directions: four outside wound (labels produced on the outer side of the roll) and four inside wound (labels produced on the inner side of the roll). Each unwind direction is named based on the edge of the label that comes off the roll first. Refer to the unwind chart for a clear visual representation.


Label Roll Direction Chart

Other Advantages of Choosing the Correct Roll Direction

Beyond preventing upside-down labels and ensuring proper application, selecting the right roll direction offers additional benefits in label printing and application processes:

Printing Efficiency: Optimal roll direction enhances printing efficiency, as some label applicators and printers work more effectively with specific unwind directions. Aligning the roll direction with your printing equipment reduces downtime and ensures a smoother labelling process.

Waste Reduction: The right roll direction minimizes label wastage during application. Labels wound correctly align better with the applicator, reducing misfeeds or misalignment that lead to wasted labels.

Perfect Label Orientation: Choosing the appropriate roll direction ensures that labels are dispensed and applied in the desired orientation, catering to your specific labelling needs and product placement.

Compatibility with Application Equipment: Being aware of label applicator or labelling machine requirements related to roll direction ensures smooth compatibility and eliminates potential issues during the labelling process.

By paying attention to roll direction and using the provided chart to visualize the different options, you can make well-informed decisions when ordering labels and ensure a seamless, efficient, and error-free labelling process for your products.

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