For several years we’ve partnered with cab, who provides our customers with a range of label printing solutions. We trust their printers to serve our customers, especially in healthcare environments where durable, high-resolution print technology is necessary to secure the integrity of valuable samples.
Cab’s Axon 2 is an automatic tube and vial labeler featuring a German engineered cab print engine. In the short time it’s been around it has rightfully earned a great reputation for being both reliable and affordable.
Let’s jump into the review so you can get a better idea of what it can do, what it can’t do, who it’s for and what it will cost.
What is the cab Axon 2?
The cab Axon 2 is the first printer applicator designed specifically for tubes and vials released by cab, featuring their globally recognized print technology.
Both direct thermal and thermal transfer print technology options are available, however we’ll focus on the thermal transfer model in our review.
We typically recommend thermal transfer print technology to our laboratory labeling customers because of its durability. Thermal transfer images are able to withstand abrasion, extreme temperatures and harsh chemicals, ensuring sample integrity throughout all sorts of lab practices.
It's also worth noting, this equipment isn’t fully automatic. The operator must place each tube or vial into the applicator arms prior to tapping the “apply” icon on the touch screen.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to the specs:
Basic Specs of the Axon 2
Standard: 300 dpi, Upgraded: 600 dpi
Features and Benefits
The cab Axon 2 offers several unique features and benefits in comparison to other tube and vial labelers. Let’s look into the ones that stand out the most:
The Axon 2 fits easily on a desktop or lab bench, saving valuable space in your facility.
The cab Axon 2 features a user friendly, color touch-screen interface. This interface provides the user with an intuitive and easy to understand experience—we figured it out ourselves before the demo even started!
The Axon 2 is able to integrate directly into a LIMS system, or data can be transferred from a PC.
Capable of High DPI
High DPI is very valuable in the lab because small tubes and vials require small barcodes, and those barcodes need to scan. The option to upgrade to a 600 dpi resolution model ensures readable barcodes even at small scale.
Adjusts to Accommodate Varying Tube and Vial Sizes
Varying tube and vial sizes can be accommodated by the Axon 2 fairly easily. While the applicator arms auto-adjust to different tube lengths, some preparation is required for changing diameters. To prepare the Axon 2 for a new tube diameter the operator must access the settings menu and enter the tube diameter.
Application is Consistent and Careful
Labels are applied to the tubes in a centered orientation and rolled into place by a rubber roller with consistent pressure and pace. The rubber roller is gentle on the surface of the tube, while providing enough pressure to ensure the label is securely placed.
A range of rollers are available to accommodate a range of label sizes or custom rollers can be requested.
Options to Reduce Manual Interaction
Although the equipment requires the user to manually place the tube in the applicator arms, a couple of features can be added to reduce to the need for hands on interaction. A tray can be added to catch tubes as they are released from the applicator arms and a foot pedal can be added to trigger labeling in place of tapping the screen.
Traditionally, labware labeling automation equipment is a large investment. cab recognized this and saw an opportunity. Their engineering team got to work and what they were able to come up with is the most affordable tube and vial labeler currently on the market!
Operating the Axon 2 is incredibly straightforward. Watch our demo to see how it's done.
Limited Tube and Vial Sizes
Though the cab Axon 2 can label varying tube and vial sizes without additional parts, it can only accommodate a small range of sizes. The applicator arms can only hold tubes up to 4.5 inches in length, and tube diameters between 10mm and 20mm.
Centered Application is the Only Option
Though many labs prefer centered label application, it isn’t always the preferred orientation. Unfortunately, the cab Axon 2 can only accommodate centered label orientation at this point in time.
Intended for Lower Throughput Volumes
The Axon 2 is best suited to lower volume applications. Though reduced labor additions can speed up throughput, the requirement for an operator limits throughput speeds and opportunities to reallocate staff to more value added tasks.
The Axon 2 is primarily intended for laboratory use, though compound storage facilities and blood collection facilities may find it useful as well.
Additionally, though the Axon 2 is most suitable for low volume applications, we feel it may still be useful to larger volume facilities. Even at high throughput facilities, small batches of odd sized tubes might find their way into the workflow. A tool like the Axon 2 allows operators to save time by applying labels to those tubes automatically.
How Much Does the cab Axon 2 Cost?
In comparison to other tube and vial applicators, the Axon 2 is incredibly affordable, starting at less than $10,000. This is primarily because, in comparison to other tube and vial label applicators, it’s quite simple and is intended for lower volume applications.
That being said, any optional features will add to the overall cost. The main drivers in cost will be dpi capability and additional parts.
As mentioned, the Axon 2 is available with two print resolution options, 300 dpi and 600 dpi. Due to a specialized print head being required to print 600 dpi, the latter option will cost more than the former.
Additionally, the tray and any rollers necessary for label application add to the overall cost. No two labs require the same set of tools. cab prefers to sell these parts separately to allow you to pick and choose only the tools that will add value to your process.
If your lab is looking for a simple, compact and budget friendly label automation option The Axon 2 will likely be a good fit. This tube and vial labeler might also be a good match for larger labs that have smaller volumes of odd sized tubes they need labeled every now and again.
Our Final Verdict on the cab Axon 2
Our print experts give the Axon 2 a big two thumbs-up. Prior to the release of the Axon 2, we already featured two existing automated tube and vial label applicators—the TubePro and the Flex TubePro.
In comparison to our existing options, the Axon 2 is significantly more benchtop and budget friendly. It’s a great fit for labs where processing is demanding enough that automation would be beneficial, but may feel out of reach.
In labs where high throughput volumes are expected, multiple semi-automated applicators, a larger workcell, or an applicator which can be easily integrated into a workcell may be a better fit. Check out a list of applicators here.
While the Axon 2 may not be the biggest or most powerful tube and vial applicator on the market, it serves an important role in cab’s, and our own, product line—a role we’ve had trouble filling.
Prior to the release of the Axon 2 many labs viewed label automation as out of reach, now an affordable option is available to help labs increase accuracy and efficiency in their labeling solution.