Thursday, October 9, 2014

Printing Narrow Color Labels

Printing narrow color labels can be tricky.

Narrow Color Labels
1" x 2" Color Labels
Tricky as many of the label printers I sell have a minimum print width.  Here are the minimum print widths of a few of the printers I sell:

·        LX 900:  .75”
·        TM-C3500:  1.2”
·        TM-C7500: 1.81”
·        TrojanOne:  2”
·        GP-C831: 3”
·        Okidata C711:  3”

To get around this issue, I recommend typically printing labels in the widest orientation possible.  For example, Vape Dudes need 1” x 2.625” labels; so we printed 2.625” wide by 1” tall.  You can learn more about the small labels used by Vape Dudes here: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/06/couldnt-be-happier.html

When you apply the labels by hand, orientation is not an issue.  When you need to apply labels with an applicator, especially to cylindrical containers such as bottles or vials, orientation is critical.  Typically, you need the leading edge of the label to be the narrowest direction.  For example, here is a Primera bottle applicator that I sell:  http://www.primeralabel.com/ap360_features.html

So how do you print a 1” wide label when the minimum print width is 2X or greater?

The easiest way is “Multiple Up”.  “Up” refers to printing multiple impressions of the same image at the same time.  “Multiple Up” is used typically to reduce the amount of time needed for a given print job; or to print smaller than spec labels.

2 Up Labels
2 Up-1" x 2" Die Cut Matte Poly Labels
Formatting the printing is the most complicated issue when printing Multiple Up. To manage this issue, I’ve found BarTender’s page setup wizard makes printing multiple up easy to do:

BarTender Page Setup
BarTender Page Setup Wizard
Just setup in the printer driver the total page size of all the labels; and then create the page setup with the template size and number of rows/columns.  It’s easy to do.  You can even add a background image or color.

Small Labels With Grey Background

With small labels, I would typically recommend using blackmarks to set the precise print start/stop point. 

Blackmark Labels
Small Labels With Blackmarks on Back

Experimenting, I printed these 1” x 2” black mark labels on the new TM-C7500.  Works great!

TM-C7500 Labels
Small Labels Printed On TM-C7500
You can see a short video of the printer running and rewinding here: 

When you need to “flood coat” the labels, covering them 100% with ink including to the edge, I recommend the TrojanOne label printer.  With the media handling capabilities of this printer, you can made very precise adjustments (Microns) to the print; to top, bottom and left offsets:

TrojanOne Media Adjustments

These precise adjustments make printing to the edges of the label very accurate.  This capability is especially important when working with small labels.  Check out these less than 2” by less than 1” labels with 2 half-circle cutouts on the bottom of the label I printed on the TrojanOne printer:

Trojan Small Label
TrojanOne Small Labels
Once printed, you still need to separate the printed labels to place on an applicator.  To make this process easily, our plant will wind the labels are separate cores; and place a “soft perforation” between the labels making it easy to slit.  If needed, you can use a “slitter” like this one from Labelmate to separate the multiple up labels: http://labelmateusa.com/category/stand-alone-label-slitters

Small labels are required for certain markets, such as the vape labels mentioned earlier in this post.  But other markets, such as chemical, require small labels. Check out my earlier posts on printing labels for laboratory samples:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/08/ghs-laboratory-labels-quickly-easily.html 

Printing color labels on-demand smaller than the specification of the printer can be accomplished; with a little preparation and support like you get from Color Labels Solutions.  Contact us if you have any questions about printing small or any other color labels.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, September 28, 2014

GHS Drum Label Template & Database

To get ready for GHS, many companies today are designing label formats for their drums.  One means to optimize your label designs is to use label design software that enables you to connect to a database to import variable data.  In this post, I’ll show you how to use an example database and drum label format.

GHS Drum Label

You can get the example BarTender format and Database here from our website, http://ghs.solutions/ghs-label-template-database.html.  

To use the GHS Drum Label Template and Database, you first need to download BarTender software from Seagull Scientific.  You can use this software for 30 days prior to purchase.  Download the software here:  http://www.seagullscientific.com/label-software/barcode-label-printing-software-download.aspx.

Purchase BarTender Professional or Automation here: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/software/

Prior to using the GHS Drum Label Template and Database, Color Label Solutions recommends reviewing two training videos from Seagull Scientific on BarTender:

For this label design project, we assume the user has a basic understanding of BarTender; or is willing to learn.

To start the project, fill in the basic information required for each product in the Excel database.  The basic information includes the following:

·        Name
·        Product Identifier
·        Signal Word
·        Hazard Statements
·        Precautionary Statements
·        First Aid
·        Pictogram 1
·        Pictogram 2
·        Pictogram 3

Feel free to add other categories of information into your database:  such as Additional Information, Ingredients, etc.  You can easily add these other fields of data to your label later.

While adding the data to the Excel database, be sure to insert the correct formatting of the statements, especially carriage returns.  To insure a carriage return, press the Alt key and Enter key together.

Next set up a directory (i.e. C:\Users\Guy Mikel\Documents\GHS\Pictograms) containing the GHS pictograms you require for your labels.  You can download all of the GHS pictograms here:  https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/pictograms/.  In your database, edit the directory path for each pictogram required for each product.

Once the data is added, be sure to save the database to the same location as the BarTender file.  Then close it.  You can’t edit the database once BarTender is opened.

After opening the BarTender template, you’ll need to select the correct printer and page setup.  This template assumes a GP-C831 printer using an 8” x 10.875” standard label; both available from Color Label Solutions.  Purchase the GP-C831 printer and labels here: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/ghs-printer-variable-data-bundle-4/ 

Be sure to review BarTender basics to insure you have the correct printer and page layout selected.

Also know; all text is selected to adjust the print fonts to maintain the box size.

In BarTender, click on “Layers” tab in the bottom right section to see the various layers of the label template.

On the Embedded layer, right click and select “Show Only This Layer”.  In this layer, replace the logo file by right clicking, selecting properties, selecting “Picture: on the left side of the Properties dialog box, and selecting “file” to upload your logo.  Also, replace your address information by selecting the address box, right clicking and selecting “Properties”, selecting “Data Source”, and changing the address information.

Next select the Variable layer, right click and select “Show Only This Layer”.  This layer will contain the information you’ve added to the database.

Move these text boxes around the template to fit your specific requirements and aesthetics.  Once finished, right click again on the Variable layer and select show all.

Then select the Print Time layer, right click to select "Show Only This Layer".  Here will have the print time data that can be added prior to a print job. 

If you do not want to have this data added at print time, just delete the boxes.  To add other information such as Fill Date, Expiration Date, Fill Location, etc, just copy the pair of boxes, right click on the variable data text box, select properties, select data source, select transforms, and click on Data Entry Control.

 In this dialog box, you will need to add the correct type of data to enter. 

Once complete, select the Data Entry Form at the bottom of the template to see how the print time form looks:

At print time, the operator will need to add the data prior to printing.

3 more layers exist in this template:  Pictogram 1, 2 and 3.  These are set to print only if data is added to the database.  To confirm or change, right click on a “Pictogram” layer and select properties.  In properties, select print options and change as required.

When you select print preview, the print time data entry will open.  Add the variable data to continue to the print job.

Once you select preview, the complete label will be shown:

GHS Label

Now print the label. 

GP-C831 Drum Label

Please know you’ll probably need to make changes to the template to fit your requirements and aesthetics.  Add other colors, images, etc. to improve the look of your label. 

If you need assistance, contact Color Label Solutions at 855-962-7670.  We’ll be happy to assist you design and print your GHS Drum labels.  Our goal is to make printing GHS Labels a quick and painless process.

Guy Mikel

Saturday, September 20, 2014

GHS Drum Label Rolls

Do you need to print GHS drum labels in a roll to place them on an applicator?  While visiting Label Expo, http://www.labelexpo-americas.com/,  I saw the best option currently available for producing GHS drum labels on a roll; the GP-C831 with a winder solution from Labelmate.

GHS Drum Label Rolls

Watch the video of this solution running on my YouTube channel.

I asked Stuart Ripplinger of Labelmate,  http://labelmateusa.com/#&panel1-1, the manufacturer of this new solution, why this system works better than standard winders for the GP-C831.  According to Stuart, “the new ELU Loop Unwinders and ELR Loop Rewinders have been created for very sensitive printers; that do not work well with the tension that exists between the printer and the Rewinder/Unwinder. When even the weight of a dancer arm resting on the material is too much, you may now use the ELU/ELR units for no tension whatsoever on the printer." 

Stuart continues, "the tensioning is done by creating a “lazy loop” of material that forms between the printer and the Rewinder/Unwinder. When using the ELR/ELU units without a WRE weighted roller, the rewound roll will tend to be quite loose. Therefore, the WRE weighted roller can be used in the trough of the loop to add tension on the material so that the rewound roll is not loose.”

As you can see in the picture and video, I asked Stuart if the tractor feed on either side of the labels affected the winders.  Stuart said, “tractor feed holes on the liner makes no difference when rewinding/unwinding with this system.  In addition, ELU/ELR units are able to rewind/unwind perforated liners without any problems.”  In some situations, I can imagine having perforations on liners, and still wanting to rewind, may be of interest.

In addition, Labelmate showed a complete winding system for smaller labels (up to 4.25”) on the TM-C3500.  You can see the winders for this printer running here: 

Stuart said, “The system seen in the video is the complete solution that was manufactured specifically for the TM-C3500 and is supplied with a custom baseplate. The larger units manufactured for use with the GP-C831 printer function the same way, but no baseplate is supplied.”

Alternatives do exist to this system, including laser printers from QLS, the Vivo (http://www.quicklabel.com/products-services/label-printers/color/vivo-touch.html),  from iSys (http://www.isys-label.com/products/edge-850/index.html), and from Neuralog (http://www.neuralog.com/pages/NeuraLabel-Printer.html).  All of these printers are sheet-fed laser or LED printers converted to continuous, roll-fed label printers.  As the print engines were designed as sheet fed, you always waste labels at the end of each print job.  Recently, I visited a company that lost 2, 14” labels at the start of a print job; plus an additional 2, 14” labels at the end of each print job.  Wasting 4 large labels on every print job really costs a lot of money.

Vivo Printer Replacement

In addition, these printers use toner, which typically costs significantly more, up to 75% more, than ink.  See my earlier post on the cost of color label printers:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/12/trust-me.html 

With the cost of wasting labels and the incremental cost of toner, I don’t recommend these printers for applications involving rewinding GHS drum labels.

If you found this post from Label Expo of interest, you may want to review my recent post on the new TM-C7500 printer:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/09/first-review-tm-c7500-at-label-expo.html

And on my blog, you’ll find lots of posts involving GHS.  Check them out here: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/

If you need a means to produce GHS labels for your drums, contact us to learn more about this winding solution.  We’ll make your move to printing color labels on-demand easy.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, September 14, 2014

First Review: TM-C7500 At Label Expo

At Label Expo, http://www.labelexpo-americas.com/, Epson demonstrated the new TM-C7500 color label printer.


Having learned about this printer some time ago, I’ve been waiting to see it run and learn about the specification.  You can see it run here on my YouTube page:  

And here is the official Epson press release: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/2014090900515

From my perspective, this new color label printer brings several key advantages to the market.  First is the print resolution.  At 600 x 1200 dpi, the resolution is much higher than Epson’s previous printer, the TM-C3500, at 720 x 360.  In addition, this printer uses a new “linehead” printhead, eliminating the potential for “banding” which may occur when the printhead moves in the TM-C3500.  This banding is most likely to occur when printing large blocks of color.  At this resolution and the new line printhead, this printer should have no problem printing prime labels, covered edge-to-edge with ink.

TM-C7500 Label
TM-C7500 Label Printed and then Scanned 

Second, the new PrecisionCore Chip technology makes the printhead a non-consumable item.  You don’t have to replace or even maintain the printhead.  Eliminating the need for maintenance makes this printer much easier to use.  Just print.  If it breaks, Epson should have a version of their Spare-in-the-Air extended warranty available making the printer easy to service.

Third, the C7500 comes with a built-in ZPL emulation and colorization capability.  With the ZPL emulation, this printer can print directly from an application that uses Zebra printers today.  I believe this capability will help eliminate the need for and the inventory of preprinted color labels (assuming the ink is priced even to or slightly less than the existing TM-C3500 ink).  By adding the preprinted color image to your existing ZPL, you can print color labels on-demand probably at a price close or equal to purchasing them from a printer.  I look forward to learning more about the price/cost benefit of this printing on-demand versus purchasing preprinted labels.

And fourth, the C7500 uses a durable, encapsulated pigment ink and label media similar to the TM-C3500 and GP-C831.  This waterfast and chemically resistant durable ink makes this printer especially suitable for any application where water or chemical resistance is required.  After working with other printers, I’ve come to realize the importance of this feature of the Epson printers.  

Although the printer is much faster (12” per second), I don’t find this capability that important; except maybe in situations where companies print, rewind and apply. With the built-in unwinder with capacity up to 8” rolls and the optional rewinder, the printer will be capable to produce a lot of finished rolls quickly.

As for downsides, I see three.  First the printer has a max print width of 4.1”.  This size eliminates using this printer for drum or other packages requiring wider labels.

Second, the printer requires up to 10 seconds to first print.  As I understand, the printhead moves out of the way when not in use.  The printhead must move above the media to start printing.  For longer runs, this time is not a problem.  If you want to print one label at a time, this time to first print could be an issue.

Third, the printer will not be Generally Available until approximately January.  According to Epson, it may be available as early as December; depending on production, shipments and initial orders.  With all the new components and technology in this printer, General Availability may be delayed.

Overall, I see the TM-C7500 as revolutionary technology that will change the label printing market, making color as easy, fast and affordable as monochrome label printing.  Plus, this printer has the potential to replace many thermal transfer printers; at least those using preprinted color.

As an early adopter of this technology, Color Label Solutions will be the premier reseller of the TM-C7500; providing the expertise and support you need to move to this new technology.  Contact me to discuss how the TM-C7500 may fit your requirements; or to get in the queue to purchase one of these new label printers.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Work-In-Process Color Labels

Akorn (www.akorn.com) is a niche generic pharmaceutical company engaged in the development, manufacture and marketing of multi-source and branded pharmaceutical products in the areas of ophthalmology, antidotes, anti-infectives, and controlled substances for pain management and anesthesia in the United States and across the globe.

At their Ophthalmic Manufacturing location in Somerset NJ, Akorn needed a new process to label their work-in-process inventory.  According to Rick Westerhoek, Manager of Materials and Warehouse Operations for Akorn in Somerset, “Our raw material and finished goods inventory is “Quarantined” until tested and “Released”.  We also mark our raw material inventory as “Material Sterilized” after returning from sterilization from a 3rd party vendor.  Plus, we need to mark other inventory “On Hold” during additional testing.”

In the past, Akorn purchased preprinted labels, stored them in inventory and printed the variable data with a serial matrix, pin fed printer.  “Purchasing thousands of labels in different colors was a real pain.  We had red labels for Quarantined, green for Released, orange for On Hold and blue for Sterilized. 

Every time we need new labels, we have to reload the printer in the printer, print and then hand stamp to record who made the decided on quarantining or releasing the inventory.  Hand stamping was a particularly cumbersome manual process.  Or we would have to manually fill in the variable information” says Rick.

To improve this process, Rick started to look for way to print color labels on demand; which led to our paths crossing.  Initially Rick purchased a TM-C3400 printer, labels and Label Flow (http://www.jollytech.com/products/label-flow/index.php) from Jolly Technologies.  With IT support from Fausto Tavarez, Network Administrator, Akorn developed a process to produce the various labels only when needed.  In addition, Fausto included a system to stamp who approved the quarantine or release of the product right on the label automatically. 

Rick says “the labels are much easier to produce and read than our previous process.  I especially like eliminating the hand stamping; this saves a lot of effort.  Plus, Label Flow adds numbers automatically which help us keep track of the labels we produce.  We print only those labels required; and we don’t allow any printed labels to lay around.”

Since developing this application, Akorn has purchased a TM-C3500 to duplicate the setup in the QA department.  “the TM-C3500 is much faster than the TM-C3400.  It works great.  But since we print only a few labels at a time, the TM-C3400 works just fine for us.”

After Rick and his team has started using the print on-demand color label solution, Akorn India has contacted me to duplicate the setup.  However, Epson has not released the TM-C3500 in this country as yet.

If you need to manage work-in-process inventory, you might find these earlier posts of interest:

If you need to label your raw material or work-in-process inventory similar to Akorn, learn from them.  We can help you build and integrate a print on-demand color label process in your plant as well.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Earning Positive ROI; Even From Shipping Labels

As a proponent of print on-demand color labels, I recently found an article that provides expert reasoning for making the switch to print on-demand color labels.

Jill Morton of ColorCom (www.colorcom.com)  is a Color Psychologist and Branding Expert.  As one of the most knowledgeable color experts and researchers in the world today, she holds a Master’s Degree in Design and has served as faculty at several universities.

As founder of Colorcom, she brings the highest level of technical and professional knowledge about color to a wide range of projects. Psychological color impact, innovative color combinations, attractive color harmonies, visual ergonomics and marketing trends are the critical factors she addresses in prescribing successful solutions for her global clients.

In the post, Why Color Matters, (http://www.colorcom.com/research/why-color-matters), Jill provides several broad rational that should apply for moving from monochrome, black only to print on-demand color labels.  

While reviewing this article, I wondered how the most basic label, a Shipping Label, would benefit by adding color.  I understand shipping labels are primarily read using a barcode scanner with little to no human interaction.   But humans do read some and see all shipping labels. 

Based on Jill’s post, I summarized 6 key points to show how a company benefits by adding color; even to a shipping label;

  1. In the section Color and Marketing, Jill shows research that states 62% to 90% of a person’s judgment about a product comes from color within the first 90 seconds.  Therefore, when a customer or even a third party sees a monochrome label, they make a judgment or receive a message about the product immediately.  Given this instant product positioning, you need to ask, what message or judgment could a color shipping label convey about your product and company? Nothing but positive from my perspective.
  2. In the section Color and Brand Identity, Jill provides research from Loyola Maryland University that color increases brand recognition by 80%.  With no color, a shipping label which is read by the ultimate customer and a lot of potential buyers along the way, is missing the opportunity to strengthen the brand.  Would your brand benefit from an increase in identity for practically zero cost?
  3. In Color Engages and Increases Participation, Jill restates data that shows color ads are read by up to 42% more than black and white.  Imagine how increased readership of a shipping label would benefit the reader; as well as the company applying the label.  Fewer shipping errors, faster service and more importantly, stronger branding and positioning.
  4. In Color Informs, Jill shows how color increases readership by 40%, increases learning to 78% and improves comprehension by 73%.  As stated above, improved readership, increased learning and improved comprehension would work especially on a shipping label.  Imagine the additional information you could add to a shipping label in color that people would read, comprehend and retain.  This benefit could mean a tremendous ROI by moving to color.
  5. In Color Attracts Attention, Jill shares data that monochrome documents sustain readership for less than .67 seconds, whereas color retains attention over 2 seconds.  This increased attention enables humans to process information better.  Companies should emphasize important and critical information in color, making these labels more effective. With billions of shipping labels produced and read annually, imagine how this increase in readership would affect your products, supply chain and customers.
  6. In Power of Color, Jill shows a summary of research by Xerox and the International Communication Research that would provide significant benefits to organizations from using color.  If valid, this research alone documents the tremendous potential benefit of color shipping labels
    • 92% Believe color presents an image of impressive quality.  Color on shipping labels would differentiate your company positioning it as higher quality
    • 90% Feel color can assist in attracting new customers.  Would you like the prospects who see your shipping labels to remember your company
    • 90% Believe customers remember documents better when color is used.  Would you like your customers and 3rd parties to remember your shipping labels and the important information on them better?
    • 83% Believe color makes them appear more successful.  Would you like to position your company as successful?
    • 81% Think color gives them a competitive edge.  Would you like an inexpensive way to gain a competitive edge?
    • 76% Believe that the use of color makes their business appear larger to clients.  Would you like your small business to appear larger?

Jill’s post provides valid, documented research to move to more color; on all labels including ones even used for shipping.  If interested, you may find other posts I’ve written on “why color” of value:

If you’ve ever wondered about using color on more labels, contact us.  We’ll help you select the best print on-demand color label solution for your business.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Innovativation: With Color Labels

Armflags (www.armflags.com) is an exciting new spirit-wear company providing innovative and unique spirit-wear products for fans to wear in support of their favorite teams and causes. ARMFLAGS is a licensed provider of NCAA and High-School Teams and is quickly expanding its assortment and offerings across the country and beyond.

The story behind ARMFLAGS is GREAT!  In 2012, while watching the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans, Michael O’Leary, the founder, became committed to putting “Armsleeves with logos” on all fans! Together with his friend and former colleague, Jonas Thelin, they created “ARMFLAGS”, focused on providing high quality Armsleeves with Team LOGOS and IMAGES; allowing fans and supporters to show their passion for their teams and causes alike.

When starting the business, Michael knew intuitively that they would need to print color labels on-demand.  According to Michael, “ With 4 different sizes and thousands of universities and high schools, we had to have a way to print the labels as needed.  Although new, we have 1,600 different products already available; and plan to have many more universities and high schools signed up by the end of the year.”

For ARMFLAGS, color is important.  Continuing, Michael says “We wanted to have our products stand out on the shelf or on a peg at the store.  To make our product unique, we selected a non-traditional square cap.  In addition, we decided to make our caps black in color.  Although I was concerned about the color selection initially, my partner Jonas Thelin pushed for this color combination.  Now I think the black and red look great.” 

For our logo’s, ARMFLAGS print them on a white label to place on the cap.  “The white label/logo with the black background works well”, says Michael.  “The color contrast makes the team logo really stand out.  Initially, we printed them on matte paper; but have since switched to gloss paper. The gloss paper looks better and stands out even more.”

To print the labels, ARMFLAGS purchased a TM-C3500 label printer, 3 years Spare-in-the-Air warranty, ink and labels.  When asked about the TM-C3500, Michael says “Works like a champ.  This printer is easy to operate and learn to use.  Plus, Color Label Solutions has provided outstanding support.”

ARMFLAGS sell for $19.95 a pair; and we’ll be available soon to purchase on their website.  In their first full week of operation, ARMFLAG sold 2,500 pairs to 3 wholesale customers.  WOW!  Be sure to help me support ARMFLAGS by Liking” their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/AF.Armflags.

 It’s exciting to work with customers like ARMFLAGS; niche manufacturers with great ideas, led by wonderful people.  Plus I appreciate the willingness to use different processes such as print on-demand color labels to produce their products.  If you need print color labels only when you need them, be sure to contact us. We’ll help you as well.

Guy Mikel