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Custom Labels For Tapered Containers – Quite the Challenge

It would be easy (and understandable) for one to assume that containers and packages are all labeled the same way. We often get customers asking us to print product labels for containers that are “tapered” (i.e. the diameter at the top of the container is wider than the bottom). Here’s an example:

Sadly, they also often assume that a standard rectangular product label should suffice – but this is not the case.  You can demonstrate this easily by cutting a rectangle out of a piece of paper and wrapping it around the container. You’ll quickly realize that the paper “curves” to follow the sides of the container and no longer looks like a rectangle.


Well, in simple terms the solution is to design a shape that “reverses” the curving problem shown above, so that when the label is applied it ends up following the contours of the container.

Here’s an illustration of that concept…. The image above shows a curved shape that has been designed to fit a specific container:

If you print that shape and cut around the edges, then roll it such that the ends meet squarely, this is what you’ll end up with:

As you can see, the shape of the custom label now mimics the shape of the container, and when applied it follows the contours nicely. So, when you want begin label printing for these containers, the designer needs to build everything accordingly – and the custom product labels also need to be cut to fit the design. To further complicate it, the precise curvature of the label is not easy to predict for any given container - so designers usually have to experiment until they find the correct shape for their specific container and label size. The best way to do this is by trial and error - start with an initial layout, then print it, cut it out and lay it onto the container.  If it's not looking right, rinse and repeat until it looks like it belongs.

Also understand that there are gazillions (that’s a bunch) of similar container shapes and sizes. There are no “universal standards” and it's quite plausibe you'd need different curvatures for what may appear to be very similar containers.

Lastly, keep in mind that the act of applying such labels to tapered containers is an additional challenge due to the shape. Machine applicators can’t normally be used and it’s quite likely you’ll need to apply the product labels by hand (very carefully) – a laborious and often frustrating process.

In summary, while tapered containers are quite common, there are definite product labeling issues to be considered. And you may decide to opt for a different shaped container rather than tackle these issues. Alternatively, some customers choose to put a circular product label on the top (rather than the sides) – which bypasses the problem completely.

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