3D Printing A Bottle Labeling Assembly Line

We’re not completely sure why [Fraens] needs to label so many glass bottles at home. Perhaps he’s brewing his own beer, or making jams. Whatever the reason is, it was justification enough to build an absolutely incredible labeling machine that you could mistake for a piece of industrial gear…if it wasn’t for the fact that majority of the device is constructed out of orange 3D printed plastic.

As we’ve come to expect, [Fraens] has documented the build with a detailed write-up on his site — but in this case, you’ve really got to watch the video below to truly appreciate how intricate the operation of this machine is. Watching it reminded us of an episode of How It’s Made, with the added bonus that you not only get to see how the machine functions, but how it was built in the first place.

Nearly every part of the machine, outside the fasteners, smooth rods, a couple of acrylic panels, and a few sections of aluminum extrusion, were 3D printed. You might think this would result in a wobbly machine with sloppy tolerances, but [Fraens] is truly a master of knowing when and where you can get away with using printed parts. So for example, while the glue rollers could be done in printed plastic, they still needed metal rods run through the middle for strength and proper bearings to rotate on.

Looking at the totality of this build, it’s hard to imagine how it could have been accomplished via traditional methods. Sure you could have sourced the rollers and gears from a supplier to save some plastic (at an added expense, no doubt), but there’s so many unique components that simply needed to be fabricated. For example, all the guides that keep the label heading in the right direction through the mechanism, or the interchangeable collars which let you select the pattern of glue which is to be applied. Maybe if you had a whole machine shop at your disposal, but that’s a lot more expensive and complex a proposition than the pair of desktop 3D printers [Fraens] used to crank out this masterpiece.

If the name (and penchant for orange plastic) seems familiar, it’s because we’ve featured several builds from [Fraens] in the past. This one may be the most technically impressive so far, but that doesn’t diminish the brilliance of his vibratory rock tumbler or cigarette stuffing machine.

9 thoughts on “3D Printing A Bottle Labeling Assembly Line

  1. This kind of stuff is just plain fascinating. It makes me wish I had something that complex to figure out, design, and build, that was actually important enough to spend that kind of time on…

    I have no idea where people find the time…

    1. By the end of the year, I am going to leave my current job and bum around for a few months, making personal projects and just exploring whatever I like in the vast free time I have.
      I am 100% serious. Its probably not the best thing to do career wise, but I’ll still do it.

      The project backlog is getting long. I have a literal list of niche projects that I need to make just because I cannot find comparable products for sale anywhere. If I needed them, there’s probably other people out there who need them as well.

      1. It’s probably a great thing to do career wise. You can learn a vast amount undertaking your own projects, and it looks great to employers if you document them and reference them on your CV. I say this as someone who’s been involved in recruiting design engineers several times. We actively look for people who can document their past work – and if that’s personal projects, so much the better because it means they’re passionate about engineering.

  2. the work of someone who understands mechanical design
    to a T
    this labeler looks mundane,but it requires a very light touch
    and exact motion to get the job done
    its half way to a printing press in fact
    and with longer spreader bars the same mechanism would
    work with larger bottles,no other changes required

  3. Hello, a project like this does indeed require a lot of time and intensive study of the processes. I do all this alongside my full-time job and family in my free time until late at night. Of course, there are also small losses in my social life. But I do it because I enjoy it and it gives me strength.
    I’ve already completed a few major projects and have been working as a design engineer for almost 20 years. By now I have a routine in it and know where I can save time. In any case, I am pleased that my labeler has been well received.

  4. Ooooh, I need to look at this later this evening. I bottle a fair amount of wine at home, and was looking at a better way to apply labels off rolls, maybe this with potentially a little tinkering would do the trick! At least more consistently than my attempts at doing it by hand

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