Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Friday, June 10, 2016

Cryogenic Narrow Labels

Last year, we started working with an aerospace adhesive manufacturer who needed to comply with the Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, or GHS.  Learn more here: 

http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-h-is-ghs-opportunity.html

To comply with the GHS mandate, the company had to find labels that could withstand cryogenic storage conditions; below -80 degrees.  According to their in-plant coordinator for sealants, “during production, we flash freeze our products in alcohol baths at -50 degrees.  Our labels need to withstand this process, continuing to adhere to our flip top cups.”

Initially, we tested our standard matte poly labels with adhesive rated down to -40 degrees.  Although we had some success, we found these labels did not adhere well in production; especially going through the flash freeze alcohol bath.

Standard Labels Coming Off in Cryogenic Storage Conditions
Based on these results, we created inkjet coated cryogenic labels with a service temperature range of -89 to +169 degrees F; and an application temperature down to -20F. The aerospace manufacturer found these labels to work well; and put them into production. 

However, the company had another tough requirement; 1” wide labels.  With a 1.2” minimum print width, the C3500 was the closest option.  However, the company preferred to print print these labels with their C7500.  According to coordinator, “we found the rear feed and unwinder difficult to use with the narrow labels.  We would preferred to use our C7500.”

However, the C7500 has a minimum print width of 1.81”; and a minimum media of 1.91”.  You may find this earlier post on printing narrow labels of interest:


To use the C7500, we tried 2 UP labels; 2 labels side-by-side.

2 UP Inkjet Labels
2 Up Inkjet Labels
According to coordinator, “The 2 UP labels created another issue; we could not get our software to serialize the labels correctly.  We needed to have 1” wide labels that were made with adhesive that would withstand the very cold storage temperatures.”

To meet the company’s requirements, we create a new label; with 1” of liner and 1” of label to meet the minimum print width requirements of the C7500 printer.  And they print and look great!

1" Wide Cryogenic Labels
1" Wide Labels On C7500

I think the print quality is especially good. See the .5" of liner on either side.

1" Wide Inkjet Labels
1" Wide Inkjet Labels

Overall, it’s very satisfying to work with customers like our aerospace customer; too bad I can't use their name.  I especially like customers who are willing to work together with us to find solutions to that meet all of their requirements.  This is especially true when it takes a few iterations to get the final solution just right.

If you need cryogenic, narrow or any other type of specialty labels and tags for print on-demand color, contact us.  We’ll try our best to meet your requirements as well.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Thursday, June 2, 2016

C7500G Whiz

NIC Industries, http://www.nicindustries.com/, has four divisions, including:







Cerakote was founded in 1984 with a focus on developing and manufacturing the highest performing line of ceramic coatings available anywhere in the world. To date Cerakote™ has developed over 70 ceramic colors and finishes and is used by more firearm manufacturers than any other firearm coating; 6500 custom powder coating finishes, making Prismatic Powders the world’s largest custom powder coating manufacturer.





When Jeremiah Gooding, Shipping Coordinator and GHS Project lead from NIC Industries contacted me to discuss print on-demand color label printing, he stated NIC was having issues with their LX2000 color label printers.  Jeremiah wrote, “I’m having image quality issues. Using high gloss 4” x 6” and 4” x 2”, the labels printed with the LX2000 look discolored; the black has a lot of contrast and is dull. I changed the settings to the highest print resolution but I did not see a difference. I have attached a scan image of the label so you can see how dull the black is; and other colors are not the best as well. If you could, I would really appreciate the help.”

LX2000 Printed Label
LX2000 Printed Label

After receiving the scanned image, I understood the issue.  Large blocks of black can be extremely difficult to print with on-demand color label printers.  The black prints mottled (spots or smears of color) as best as I can describe it. 


LX2000 Printed Label
LX2000 Printed Label

Black is the most difficult color in my experience.

To move forward, I requested Jeremiah send me their BarTender file.  NIC uses BarTender to add variable data (i.e. Lot Number in the above instance) to a background image created in Illustrator.  Their labels look fantastic.

GHS Label
Glacier Label

Once I received the labels, I printed them with the C7500 on 4” x 6” gloss paper; and they printed great!

C7500 Printed Label
C7500 Printed Label

I told Jeremiah, “With the C7500, ink costs would be about 50% less; maybe more.  Plus the C7500 is much more reliable and durable as well as faster.  Much faster. Watch me print 100 4” x 6” labels in one minute". 


For the tests, I used our standard gloss paper.  4" x 6" Gloss Paper Labels.  Based on the discussion with Jeremiah, I calculated NIC was paying over $0.10/label for labels for the LX2000.  At this price, we could save them substantial money on labels.  Plus, NIC could use 8” OD rolls in the C7500 and not the smaller max OD of 6” used in the LX2000.

After sending the initial print samples to NIC, we shipped labels for NIC to conduct test prints in the LX2000.  In addition, we arranged for a demo C7500 printer for NIC to test; both with matte and gloss paper.  After testing the C7500 on both matte and gloss, NIC decided that the C7500G would be their best option; and purchased two.

C7500G Printers
C7500G Printers

“We’re very happy with the C7500G printers” says Jeremiah.  Continuing, “Not only do they print great, but our ink and label costs have decreased dramatically.  With so many variations of coatings and powders, we have to print our labels on-demand.”

C7500G Label
C7500G Label

In addition to the C7500G printers, NIC has upgraded to BarTender 2016; and intend to integrate this label design and printing software into their ERP.  “We want to pull the variable information such as lot numbers direct from our systems to reduce any potential labeling errors” says Jeremiah.

One aspect of working with great customers like NIC Industries, is that I get to see how companies grow and market their companies.  When reviewing the different NIC websites, you’ll see how easy it is to find, purchase and ship the right quantity of a large array of materials.  Further, they make it easy to find NIC trained professionals to coat their firearms, aftermarket part, or other items for end users; turning them into works of art. Look at their gallery of what they and their customers have created.




Ceramic/High Temperature Applications: http://www.cerakotehightemp.com/gallery/


Powder Coating Applications: http://www.prismaticpowders.com/gallery/



Clear Coating Applications: https://www.clearcoating.com/gallery/

 The development of outstanding products along with their online presence has made this company based in small town Oregon a world leader.  We’re grateful to have NIC Industries as a customer.

If you want your labels to match the growth, marketing and “art” of your company, contact Color Label Solutions.  We’ll help you make your labels look great!

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670







Saturday, May 21, 2016

Resistant Paper

Pretty much every month, we test new materials for printing color labels on demand.  I’m excited today as we have a new label material that may fit many of our customer’s needs.  Resistant Paper:


Water Resistant Paper Label
Water Resistant Label

Refrigerated/Frozen food companies, Chemical Companies, Healthcare applications and other companies needing water or weather resistant, less expensive labels may want to read more of this post.

To test new materials, I typically follow the same process.  As many samples are sent on sheets, I first need to cut the materials into strips for testing.


Then I tape the strips together to form a continuous label.


And then feed them into the rear feed of the C3500 to print the samples.


You can see that sometimes the tape leaves spaces between the cut sheets.  These spaces can make the printer error sometimes.  When it does, I just advance the label in the printer a short distance (past the sensor) and restart printing.

With the water resistant paper, I found these samples to print great.

Water Resistant Paper Labels
Water Resistant Paper Labels

The material was immediately abrasion resistant; the ink would not smear.  On the back of the sheet, the ink would smear making it easy to tell the difference between the front and back.  I immediately put the paper into water; and 24 hours later it was still intact and looking good.


Since receiving the water resistant paper, I’ve learned this paper has achieved BS5609 certification for the marine shipment of chemicals.  If you don’t know about BS5609, read about it here from a post I wrote several years ago.  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/03/bs5609-is-no-bs.html

In addition, I tested the paper with two household chemicals as surrogates for other chemicals.  First I poured alcohol on the label; and rubbed it.  The ink did not come off the paper.

Alcohol Resistant Paper Labels
Alcohol Resistant Paper Labels
Then I tested acetone; and found the paper was acetone resistant as well.

Acetone Resistant Paper Labels
Acetone Resistant Paper
I’ve since learned this matte, water resistant paper should cost about 25% less than the current matte poly labels we sell today.  This lower price combined with the resistant characteristics should give many different companies options that they not had in the past.

  • Food companies with refrigerated or frozen food; needing something to withstand the condensation in the cold.
  • Chemical companies wanting to reduce the cost of their BS5609 labels.
  • Healthcare companies needing alcohol resistance; but not wanting to switch to a synthetic material.


Overall, I see this water resistant paper as a good option for many companies.  If you see a fit for this label in your business, contact us.  We’d love to help you with your label requirements.

PS:

I also tested a new matte poly that performed as well.  However, this material was “whiter” than the matte poly film most companies use currently.


 
"Whiter" Matte Poly Labels
If you need a whiter poly label, call us to discuss.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Monday, March 28, 2016

All-In-One; Print, Die Cut, Laminate, Weed

Graphtec Digital Solutions (www.graphtecdsi.coma subsidiary of Graphtec Corporation (http://www.graphteccorp.com/is a Japanese manufacturer of cutting plotters, scanners and other products for business used primarily in the field of information processing. Their mission is to provide superior label printing solutions utilizing the technology of Graphtec.

LCX603
LCX603
Recently, I met with the Graphtec Digital Solutions team to learn about the LCX603; the all-in-one, 3 color thermal transfer printer.  This device prints utilizing 3 thermal transfer ribbons, laminates, die-cuts, weeds (removes the matrix), and cuts off a sheet of labels.

LCX603
LCX603 Processes
And it produces beautiful, durable labels appropriate for the end of an assembly line.

LCX603 Labels
LCX603 Labels

According to Brian Malouf, in Sales for Graphtec, “I see three key features of the LCX603 printer.  First, the printer produces labels in 3 different colors, using thermal transfer technology.  Adding colors to labels in manufacturing increases attention, improves recall/recognition, and decreases errors.

Second, the printer produces high quality, small fonts and barcodes using thermal transfer print heads capable of higher than normal resolution; up to 600 x 1200 dpi.  These type of labels are perfect for an electronic manufactures who need a set of labels to apply to an assemble product at the end of a production line.

Third, the device prints, laminates, die-cuts, and weeds in one step; everything required to produce durable, colorful labels.  The sheet produced by the LCX603 are perfect for barcode, caution and warning labels including UL.”

LCX603
LCX603

The LCX693 comes with a Windows driver that controls the colors and cutting of the labels.

LCX603 Driver
LCX603 Driver
According to Brian, “Each color used in the label file must be assigned to a corresponding print head, or channel.  In this example, yellow is assigned to channel 1, where we have a yellow ribbon loaded.  Blue is assigned to channel 2 where we have a blue ribbon loaded.  Black is assigned to channel 3 where we have a black ribbon loaded.  Green is assigned to both channels 1 and 3, so anything green will receive a bottom coat of yellow, followed by a topcoat of black.  

Brian continues, "We offer 7 colors of ribbon in “semi-resin” or resin: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black, and white.”  In addition to the ribbons, Graphtec sells 14 different label media and 6 different laminates to use in the printer.

From my perspective, the key benefit of the LCX603 is the ability to produce a multi-color, durable set of labels on-demand.  With this device, electronic equipment companies or manufacturers of products requiring warning signs can now produce a set of labels required for each step in their production process on-demand.  A set or sheet of labels costs $0.50 to $0.80 for the actual label and ribbons.  No longer must manufacturers purchase a large volume of expensive preprinted labels. They can just produce exactly what they want, when they want, each time enabling design changes or new variable data until printing.

LCX603 Ribbon Holder
As for watchouts, I see three.  Initially, my thought was the LX603 printer is complex; with all the steps involved in producing the final label.  This complexity may make this device difficult to set up and keep running.  To help with this potential watchout, Graphtec provides on-going support for the printer.

Die Cutter

In addition, the printer is relatively slow.  It takes from 30 seconds to 1 minute to produce a sheet/set of labels.  But you could have many different small labels on this sheet; ready to apply.

Lastly, the LCX603 is relatively expensive at approximately $15,000+; plus branded, approved consumables.  At 250 sheets of labels per day (approximately 4 hours) for 250 days per year for 5 years, the hardware cost of a sheet of labels would equal approximately $0.05/label. With the hardware added, the total cost per sheet of labels could add up to $0.55 to $0.85. But this sheet could provide all the small, durable labels required for a piece of equipment.

Watch the LCX603 produce labels here:


According to Graphtec, over 200 of the LCX603 printers have been sold to a variety of manufacturers in Japan.  I appreciate your feedback on how this printer would fit in your operation.  Contact me to discuss how this all-in-one printer of durable, colorful labels would work in your operation.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, March 20, 2016

300x Color Label Printer: Top 10

Recently, I completed Neuralabel 300x (http://www.neuralabel.com/NeuraLabel300x-label-printing-solutions.phpcolor label printing training at their Houston headquarters.

Neuralabel 300x Training

Before, I tell you about the printer, let me provide you some background. 

Neuralabel is the label printer division of Neuralog (http://www.neuralog.com/). Neuralog was founded in 1991 to find creative solutions for problems in the petroleum industry through the application of advanced computer science technologies and client direction. Today Neuralog software solutions are recognized around the world as the best digitizing and exploration reconnaissance tools available. Currently, over 1000 customers in 70 countries use Neuralog products.

Neuralabel launched the 300x color label printer recently.  You may find my earlier post on printing/laminating/die-cutting/slitting labels of interest.  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2015/10/print-laminate-die-cut-slit-path-to.html.  Be sure to watch the video of the 300x printing labels 2 up.

300x

Based on the HP X451 page wide technology (http://www8.hp.com/us/en/ads/pagewide-technology/overview.html),  the 300x is a high resolution (up to 2400 x 1200 dpi), fast (up to 20”/second) and wide (up to 8” wide) printer for both GHS and prime labels.  From my perspective, the 300x will be best utilized to print beautiful, wider than 4”, labels in batches.

Based on my experience in the training and in my initial color label printing, I like to share with you my 10 observations/tips with this new printer. 

First, the 300x is a “batch” printer; perfect for producing a large batches of labels, either die cut or continuous for post-printing finishing.  The primary reason I say batch printing is the printer produces a “spit” pattern on every print job consuming a label. 

300x Spitting
300x Spit Pattern
This spitting insures the print head is functioning properly.  With this function, the 300x can’t be used in a “print 1” process; and rather only as a batch printer.

Second, the 300x uses die cut labels, either on a roll or in a fanfold stack.  In either case, you must use a blackmark on the back of the liner as the printer does not have a gap sensor.

300x Blackmark
300x Blackmark
You can also print cut sheet labels with the printer; either standard sizes using “Tray 2” or non-standard sizes using “Tray 1”.

Third, the printer can produce labels which are “full-bleed”.   Normally, the 300x produces labels with a .117” margin.  To ensure that no unprinted edges occur, you must use labels with a .25” gap and a blackmark centered in the gap.

300x Full-Bleed Spec
300x Full-Bleed Media Spec
Fourth, the 300x can now print labels that are as narrow as 1.5” wide; down from 3” during the initial launch.  To print this narrow label, it is required to purchase a label guide that connects in the back of the printer.

300x Narrow Label Guide
300x Narrow Label Guide
(FYI:  one cool aspect is that Neuralabel produces this guide using their internal 3D printers). With this guide and new firmware, you can even produce full bleed labels using the .25” gap and blackmark.  This capability should be great for labels applied to bottles with a semi or automatic label applicator; as done in the Vape market.

300x Vape Label
300x Vape Label
Fifth, the 300x uses HP pigment ink.  Although sufficiently durable to meet the BS5609 requirements on matte poly (http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/03/bs5609-is-no-bs.html)  for the marine shipment of chemicals, the 300x does not instantly dry on gloss labels.  You need to expect the labels to need some time to dry. Once dry, the gloss labels look great!

Sixth, the 300x has no consumable items other than ink.  The print bar lasts the life of the printer.  And if you purchase the extended on-site warranty provided by HP, the printer is warranted to last the life of the contract.  This printhead life/lack of consumables eliminates costs seen by many of the other label printers on the market:  consumable items such as printheads, service stations, blades, kits, etc.

Seventh, Neuralabel offers optional winders enabling the use of large rolls and rewinding of rolls for finishing or placing on an applicator.  One key aspect of these winders is the size: they’re large.

300x Winders
300x Winders
And they ship in a big crate!

300x Winders

Eighth, the 300x has “S” media path; meaning labels take 3, 90 degree turns during printing.  The turns do open up the possibility of labels getting stuck in the printer.

300x Label Jammed
Label Jammed in 300x

To reduce the possibility of jams, you need to insure the labels have a straight cut; you can’t rip labels off and place in the printer.  I now use a paper cutter to cut the label prior to inserting into the printer.

Ninth, the 300x uses relatively large ink cartridges; requiring cartridge changes less frequently. In addition, ink costs are significantly lower than the Primera and VIP branded printers and equal to or maybe only slightly higher than other higher speed label printers.

300x Ink Cartridge
300x Ink Cartridge

Please know: if the 300x runs out of ink while printing, the job is canceled.  This aspect is crucial if printing serialized labels.

And tenth, the 300x produces beautiful, wider than 4” labels.  Although repeating myself, this aspect is probably the most important reason to purchase the 300x. 

300x Gloss Poly Label
300x Gloss Poly Label
If you want great looking, wide labels in large batches, then the 300x is a good alternative.  Contact us to discuss how the 300x would fit into your operation.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Printing From Epson Label Printers Using Macs

(From Guest Blogger-Tim Semic, Support Manager)

Epson is a world leader in printing high quality labels from the desktop.  However, we Macintosh users have been left out in the cold, as Epson does not provide Macintosh drivers for their label printers.  While that may seem unfair to us, there is no need to cry "foul".  We as Mac users are not going to let a little thing like 'No support for Macintosh' stop us from getting something done.  


There are indeed ways for us Mac users to print labels from our trusty Macs!  I will cover a couple of those methods below.  Some of the setup information below is a bit technical, but you should know that we at Color Label Solutions provide tech support to our customers.  If you are interested in purchasing a label printer from us, and a Mac user, we will help you to get your new printer up and running!

Method #1
I have been printing labels from my Mac for over a year now; by controlling remotely a Windows computer using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).  RDP is supported on Windows Professional operating systems.  If you have a professional version of Windows running on a PC, it’s fairly easy to set that PC up for remote management on your Mac; by enabling connectivity from the Remote Desktop section of your Windows System Properties.  
Macintosh C3500 Print Driver
Configuring Windows-Remote Desktop Management.
There are several Macintosh applications available that will allow you to connect to a Windows Professional operating system via RDP. 
I'm using the 'Microsoft Remote Desktop' application created by Microsoft.

Macintosh C3500 Print Driver
Microsoft Remote Desktop Start-General settings
Of course the intended use of RDP is to connect to an actual Windows computer.  While that is all well and good if you have a Windows computer, it won't be of much help if you don’t.  If you want run Windows a little less expensively, and a little more techie, then in comes the world of the Virtual Machine, otherwise known as VM.

Method #2
VM technology has been around for years, but now it's mainstream.  Many companies run their servers virtually, and some companies make a business out of hosting virtual servers for other companies.  VM Hosting is big business these days.


A data center hosting racks of servers.  Each server can support multiple virtual ones; servers that are available to companies via an internet connection.

Using that same technology, we can host a virtual Windows operating system right on our own Macintosh desktop!  For many years the two options for hosting VM on the Macintosh were Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion.  They are PayWare products each costing around $80. However, now a third option is VirtualBox. VirtualBox was created by Oracle as an Open Source project; and free!  Yes, VirtualBox is free for personal use. 

Macintosh C3500 Print Driver

                 VirtualBox hosting Windows 7 on Macintosh; running the TM-C3500 driver.

To use VirtualBox, you’ll need to find which version of VirtualBox is compatible with your Mac's operating system.   Then you can download and install it. 

Macintosh C3500 Print Driver
VirtualBox Installer
There are several options to consider prior to installing a Windows operating system into VirtualBox on the Mac.

  • What version of Windows do I wish to run on my Mac; 7, 8, or 10?
  • How do I wish to provide network access to the Windows VM operating system; Ethernet or wireless?
  • Do I want to share a folder between the Mac OS and the Windows VM for file exchange?
  • Do I want USB access from the Mac through to my Windows VM?
  • How much of the Mac's RAM memory and the Mac's disk space do I wish to allocate to the Windows VM?
  • Is my workflow going to necessitate bouncing back and forth between the Windows VM and the Macintosh?



                               Hard Drive Storage Allocated to Windows VM. It's Dynamic!

Memory allocation and memory availability are both important aspects to consider when setting up your Windows VM.  Too little memory allocated to Windows and Windows will run SLOW.  Too much memory allocated to Windows and you may starve your Mac OS of memory; making it run SLOW.  Therefore, you need to determine the proper balance.  Possibly you may even need to purchase additional memory.  

Generally speaking, you will need to evaluate how you are going to use Windows with your Mac.  To determine how best to allocate your Mac's memory, you need to first check to see how much actual physical memory you have.  To check how much physical Memory you have in your Mac, pull down your Apple menu and select "About This Mac".

Memory Allocation & Boot Order
For printing labels we need at least some version of Windows to host the printer driver.  Each version of Windows will have different memory requirements.  In addition to hosting Windows we will also need to have some kind of application program to print label files, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader if the label files are in pdf format.

We may also need to consider the memory requirements for Windows-only applications that are needed to create labels, such as Bartender or NiceLabel Pro.  So with all of that being considered, we need to decide the allocation of fixed memory to our Windows environment.

C3500 Label Printing Using Macs
Installing Bartender 2016 Onto VM.

In our label printing scenario, we won't be actively using other Macintosh applications while we are in our Windows VM.  Put another way, we won't normally be bouncing back and forth between Windows and the Mac.  Consequently, we can allocate a nice chunk of memory to our Windows VM. Once finished within Windows, we can simply quit the Virtual Machine, which will release all of the memory that had been temporally allocated, back to the OS for use with our Macintosh applications.

C3500 Label Printing Using Macs
Oracle VirtualBox Manager 
After installing and configuring VirtualBox, you can install Windows.  Once Windows has been installed onto VirtualBox on your Mac, you can install the Epson printer driver for your label printer model; and then the Windows applications that you need for your label printing.  And don't forget to set up file sharing to allow you to exchange files between your Mac and your Windows VM.  Once you have all of that accomplished, it's "Happy Label Printing from your Mac!" Contact us if we can support your color label printing.


Tim Semic
Support Manager
Color Label Solutions
855-962-7670

The above information does not cover every single setting or system requirement necessary to configure a Windows VM on a Macintosh.  It should however provide information to have an understanding of what it takes to host a VirtualBox Windows VM on your Macintosh for the purpose of label printing.