Flat Label Applicator: Best Flat Box Labeler

Cardboard is used by countless companies to house and protect products throughout the distribution process. Whether you use cardboard for primary, secondary, or tertiary applications, you must have well-established variable data marking and product coding workflows. Depending on your industry, type of products, and other factors, you may need to outfit your cardboard packaging with the following information:

  • Product title/description
  • Barcodes
  • QR codes
  • Batch numbers/lot codes
  • Expiration dates/best-before dates
  • Manufacturing date
  • Storage temperature
  • Country of origin
  • Net weight
  • Regulatory symbols
  • Company logos
  • Contact information

For large-scale companies, these codes and markings are often applied with the help of industrial equipment and large production lines. But the technologies involved are generally too expensive and large for smaller-scale companies to utilize. 

Fortunately, there are more accessible options available today—one of the most popular alternatives is the flat box labeling machine. Here, we take a look at how smaller-size companies can use flat box labeling lines to begin automating their packaging processes and bring case coding applications in-house.

Flat Label Applicator/Flat Box Labeler Options

Like other forms of case coding, flat box labelers streamline secondary packaging marking and minimize physical labeling needs. By using a flat box labeling machine to create pre-printed boxes, companies can:

  • Eliminate the need for third-party case coding
  • Reduce physical label requirements
  • Streamline production by automating the labeling process
  • Set up a solid foundation for further production line scaling

When selecting a flat box labeling machine, companies generally choose from one of two drop-on-demand inkjet printing technologies:

High-resolution case coders like the Precision Series 72mm are production line machines that specialize in creating large graphics, text, and machine-scannable codes. Built with piezoelectric printheads, case coders can utilize thicker inks than other inkjet printers to create more durable, higher resolution codes. Due to these abilities, high-resolution case coders are one of the most popular options for marking cardboard packaging. 

On the other hand, thermal inkjet printers are smaller in size than high-resolution case coders but are still able to pack a punch. Despite their compact design, TIJ models like the U2 SmartOne can create high-resolution markings at levels up to 400 x 300 DPI. 

In addition, they also frequently offer higher printing speeds than case coders. For example, the SmartOne maxes out at a printing speed of 76.2 m/min while the Precision Series maxes out at 60 m/min. Finally, their relatively low prices make them an accessible option for companies that are just entering the industrial printing field. 

InkJet, Inc.’s Flat Label Applicators/Flat Box Labelers

Coding Technology

Operating Method

System Options

Maximum Resolution and Print Height

Maximum Marking Speed

Cost Factors

Hi-Res Case Coder

Propels oil-based ink droplets to create stark codes

Precision Series 18mm & 72mm

180 DPI at 18 mm height or 72 mm height

Low to moderate speed

Moderate unit cost, low consumable cost

Thermal Inkjet Printer

Uses heat to pressurize and eject ink droplets toward the substrate

Anser U2 Models

400 x 300 DPI (height varies by model)

76.2 m/min

Low unit cost, moderately consumable cost

Anser A1

600 x 600 DPI at 1” height (2” height with stitched print heights)

300 m/min with HP cartridges, 150 m/min with IUT cartridges

Moderate unit cost, moderate consumable cost

Anser X1

600 x 600 DPI at 1” height (2” height with stitched print heights)

300 m/min

Moderate unit cost, moderate consumable cost

High-Resolution Case Coders: Precision Series 18mm & 72mm

High-resolution case coders (hi-res) excel at placing high-quality images and codes on cardboard packaging. InkJet, Inc.’s Precision Series 18mm and Precision Series 72mm are ideal for secondary and tertiary packaging tasks. 

High-resolution case coders use powerful piezoelectric printheads to create large messages, intricate graphics, and stark images. Hi-res ink is oil-based and thicker than CIJ or TIJ ink, making hi-res codes more durable and visually appealing. These case coders are well-suited to achieve barcode scannability and contrast at the most economic ink price. As case coding solutions, Precision Series systems enable users to replace physical shipping labels with printed codes, text, and images. 

Direct printing holds numerous benefits over manual labeling, including:

  • Faster coding times
  • Fewer material costs
  • Lower risk of coding errors
  • Better code durability
  • Improved print quality

In addition to these factors, Precision Series case coders further benefit users with these unique features:

  • Internal Barcode Generation: Precision Series case coders can operate as completely standalone machines. Equipped with label design software and internal memory, Precision Series case coders allow users to create and store designs without an external computer.
  • Seamless System Integration: Precision Series case coders are compatible with NiceLabel and Windows systems, enabling easy integration with external networks.
  • Dual-Head Functionality: Precision Series printers can be equipped with two printheads, allowing operators to print on two box sides simultaneously, whether for repeat images or independent codes. Users can stack heads to increase image size as well.

See the chart below for a closer look into the Precision Series’ most important specifications:


Precision Series 18mm & 72mm Hi-Res Case Coder

Dimensions and Weight (Including Bracket)

  • (L/W/H) 322 x 183 x 480 mm / 12.7” x 7.2” x 18.9”
  • 3.35 kg / 7.38l bs

Line Speed

Up to 200/min

Print Area

53.7 mm x 500 mm per print head

Print Speed

0 - 60 m/min

Print Head

180 DPI

Operating Environment

  • Temperature: 5-38°C / (41-100.4°F)  
  • Humidity: 10% – 90% (non-condensing)

Internal Memory

42 MB for fonts, images, and labels. The number of labels depends on the size.

Barcode Options

EAN8, EAN13, CODE 39, CODE128, ITF, and QR with adjustable height and module width. Multiple barcodes are possible in one label.

Automatic Shift Codes

Up to 25 shift codes, definable over a maximum of 7 days. Multiple shift codes are possible in one label.

Thermal Inkjet Printers: Anser U2, A1, and X1 Models

Thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers are smaller, lighter, and more cost-effective than CIJ systems. While CIJ systems typically weigh around 100 lbs and can cost around $10,000, most TIJ models weigh 5-10 lbs and cost as low as $1,499.00. 

Although thermal inkjet systems are compact and lightweight, they offer impressive coding specifications. For example, the Anser U2 Smart can create 400 x 300 DPI codes up to 0.5” tall (1” tall with the Anser U2 SmartOne). Higher-end TIJs like the Anser X1 can create 600 x 600 DPI codes up to 2” tall with stitched printheads. 

TIJ printers are often designed for slower speed lines and intermittent coding tasks, but some TIJ models also offer high-speed capabilities. InkJet, Inc. carries numerous flat-box-compatible TIJ printers of varying specialties and price points. Our current options include:


Anser Pro-S TIJ coding and marking system.

The Anser U2 Pro-S Thermal Inkjet Printer: Compact and cost-effective, the Anser U2 Pro-S is an excellent choice for flat-box printing applications that do not require CIJ-level marking speeds. The Anser U2 Pro-S offers a 76.2 m/min max printing speed, 400 x 300 DPI max resolution, 0.5” max print height, intuitive operation, and easy installation. 

Anser A1 TIJ coding and marking system.

The Anser A1 Thermal Inkjet Printer: The first all-in-one TIJ that offers 2” printing and mid-message DPI adjustments, the Anser A1 is both powerful and affordable. Built with 2 cartridge slots, the A1 can create 2” tall markings with varying DPI elements (e.g., 300 DPI QR code with 150 DPI text). For product marking applications, the A1 maxes out at 300 m/min with certain cartridges. Users control the A1 through a large touchscreen interface.

Anser X1 TIJ coding and marking system.

The Anser X1 Thermal Inkjet PrinterEven though the Anser X1 is a thermal inkjet printer, you wouldn’t know that from its spec sheet. With printing speeds up to 300 m/min, the Anser X1 is one of the most powerful TIJs on the market today. Beyond industrial speed marking, the Anser X1 offers a 600 DPI max resolution, a 2” max print height (with stitched printheads), IP66 protection, and the ability to control two production lines simultaneously.


See the chart below for a closer look into how our TIJ options compare to one another:

InkJet, Inc.’s Thermal Inkjet Printer Options


Anser U2 Pro-S

Anser A1

Anser X1

Max Printheads





3.5” Color LCD with LED backlight

5” Color LCD Capacitive Touchscreen 480 x 800 (portrait)

7-inch Color LCD Capacitive Touchscreen (800 x 480 px)

Print Height


1” with single printhead, 2” with stitched printheads

1” with single printhead, 2” with stitched printheads

Print Resolution

400 x 300 DPI

300 DPI

600 x 600 DPI

Print Speed

76.2 m/min

121 m/min

300 m/min

Print Distance

0.25” (6mm)

0.25” (6mm)

0.25” (6mm)

Operating Temp.

0°C ~ 40°C (32°F ~ 104°F)

5°C – 40°C (41°F – 104°F)

5°C – 40°C (41°F – 104°F)

IP Rating




Dimensions and Weight

(L/W/H) 4.5” x 3” x 2.4” 


0.49kg (1.08 lb) – excluding cartridge and bracket

(L/W/H) 6.7” x 5.4” x 4.9”


1.8kg (3.97lb) w/o guide plate


(L/W/H) 11.5” x 5.6” x 2”


2.7kg (6lb)


Searching for a Flat Box Labeler for Your Business? InkJet, Inc. Is Here To Help

Tired of using outside services and physical labels to achieve code compliance? Bring case coding in-house with the aid of a flat box labeling machine. By insourcing the case coding process, you can reduce your operation’s physical label needs and streamline the coding process for higher overall efficiency.

Of course, insourcing flat box labeling requires the right combination of hardware, ink, and set-up. At InkJet, Inc., we have all three. Staffed by a team of diverse professionals with experiences in many areas of packaging, InkJet, Inc. has been helping companies of all sizes and backgrounds achieve code compliance for over 30 years. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business. 

To find the best flat box labeling machine for your operation, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245.