Franz "Fraens" Hirschböck's 3D-Printed Bottle Labeler Takes a Pain out of Homebrew Hooch Production

Powered by an Arduino microcontroller, this 3D-printed contraption applies wet labels perfectly every time.

Self-described "technical 3D printing" enthusiast Franz "Fraens" Hirschböck has built a device for transferring labels onto glass bottles — buildable, he says, at a low cost by anyone with a 3D printer.

"Many people who brew beer at home, make fruit juices, distill spirits or are beekeepers buy expensive rolls of pre-printed labels. Although these self-adhesive labels are very easy to work with, they do have some disadvantages. For smaller quantities of bottles, it is usually not cost-effective to buy complete rolls of labels in large quantities," Hirschböck explains, giving voice to the advantages of applying a web label to a bottle instead of relying on self-adhesive prints.

If you've a stack of homebrew bottles to label and no desire to do so by hand, this 3D-printed machine has your back — and bottles. (📹: Fraens)

"The idea of developing a labeling machine for wet labels came to me during my forays through the Internet," Hirschböck continues. "It turned out that there is no good DIY solution for wet labels that would be useful for home use. While there are some ideas that I have found, most of these projects have been forgotten over time. For this reason, I would like to offer a low-cost alternative with my DIY version of a wet labeling machine that anyone can build with a 3D printer."

Wet labels, Hirschböck explains, can be printed at home on standard printer paper in any quantity, down to individual labels. Applying them is as simple as adding a wet adhesive — wallpaper paste is one option, as is flour paste — and smoothing them over the bottle, a process that quickly becomes too laborious to consider if you're trying to label more than a half-dozen or so bottles.

That's where Hirschböck's 3D-printed contraption comes in, split into two halves. A friction feeder accepts a stack of pre-cut labels and separates them into individual sheets before feeding them to the bottle labeler, which automatically applies the adhesive — in a choice of stripes or dots, depending on the rollers installed in the machine — before rolling it smoothly onto the bottle. Alternatively, pre-gummed paper can be used in place of plain printer paper — in which case the adhesive roller can simply moisten the gum before application instead.

The labeling machine is designed to be fed from a friction feeder, which can separate individual labels from a stack. (📹: Fraens)

"The machine is controlled via an Arduino," Hirschböck writes, "which is simple and inexpensive. Both machines are equipped with a 24V geared motor. The friction feeder is equipped with an infrared sensor that detects the position of the label and switches off the motor of the friction feeder. The threshold value of this sensor must be set in the Arduino code. The wiring should not be a problem."

A full project write-up is available on Hirschböck's website; 3D print files, a bill of materials, circuit diagram, and source code can be purchased through his Etsy store for €48 (around $51) — with a time-limited discount currently bringing that down to €36 (around $39) until 25 June.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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