What is “Copy Position” / “Unwind Code” and why does it matter?

If you are searching for a supplier of Custom Labels, you will hear the terms “Copy Position”, “Unwind Direction”, or “orientation”. What is it, and why does it matter? The simple answer is that Copy Position is a visual representation of how the label is oriented on the roll of labels. For Hand-Applied labels, copy position usually doesn’t matter - but for Automatically Applied labels the wrong copy position can shut down production! When a machine applies the label, the production line is often only set up to To help you understand this, we should talk about how label applicators work.

For pressure-sensitive labels, the adhesive-backed label adheres to a “carrier” or “liner” that is coated with silicone. When the liner is pulled around a straight edge, the label wants to “shoot” off the edge. That is how automatically applied labels are dispensed. Here is a picture of a label applicator head:
Typical Label Applicator

The label web is pulled over the Peel Plate, and labels are dispensed off the edge. What does this have to do with Copy Position? This Label Applicator Head is usually above or beside a production conveyor. As product moves buy the label is shot out onto the bottle, vial, or box. So the orientation of the label artwork in relation to the product is critical. With the wrong Copy Position, the label might be upside down on the container!

Let’s look at the Industry Standard Copy Position Chart:

Copy Position Chart

So how do you know what Copy Position you need? If your company does it’s own labeling, check with your production team. The equipment they use should be specified for a Copy Position. If you utilize a Contract Packager or private label manufacturer, give them a call. They will often have a Copy Position specification for each type of product they manufacture. You can always call Custom Label and ask for any Customer Service Representative. We are ready to help you with your labeling needs!

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