Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Monday, January 16, 2017

MIL-SPEC Color Labels

I am pleased to announce that Color Label Solutions now offers print on-demand color labels that meet MIL-PRF-61002B and MIL-STD-129R.


Inkjet Coated, Color, MIL-SPEC Compliance Letter
Inkjet Coated, Color, MIL-SPEC Compliance Labels
If you don’t know these specifications, MIL-PRF-61002B comes from the Department of Defense and covers the requirements for pressure-sensitive adhesive labels that meet or exceed the end user’s necessary performance criteria for use in the implementation of bar code marking/reading operations.  Obtain this MIL-SPEC here: http://metalphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/03/MIL-PRF-61002B.pdf

MIL-STD 12S9R comes from the DOD as well; and provides the minimum requirements for uniform military marking for shipment and storage. Obtain this MIL-SPEC here: https://vsc.gsa.gov/administration/files/MIL-STD-129R.pdf

Up until now, most companies were required to use thermal transfer printers to comply with these standards involved with shipping products to the DOD.  In fact, you’ll find direct mention of this printing technology in both documents.

However, one of our customers came to us wanting to switch from thermal transfer (specifically the Zebra 170Xi4 6” wide and 220Xi4) to inkjet printed labels.  He wanted to make this switch after using the C831 printers to produce GHS labels.

C831 Label Printer
C831 Label Printer
We have a lot of posts on using the C831 printer to produce GHS labels:




According to our customer, four reasons make the C831 printer a better option than wide thermal transfer printers for printing DOD labels.  First, printed labels are evaluated by the Department of Defense (DOD) to insure they meet the standards.  Ribbon wrinkle, which happens when the thermal transfer printer ribbon does not feed correctly, happens occasionally producing a barcode with streaks.  These streaks may make the barcodes not readable.  When this occurs, the DOD may reject the shipment, costing suppliers to the DOD a great deal of money.  With the higher print resolution (760 x 360 versus 203 or 300 dpi for thermal transfer printers), the C831 printer eliminates the risk of ribbon wrinkle. 

Second, changing ribbons can be a pain with thermal transfer printers.  According to our customer, their operators hate to change ribbons.  Watch the process to change ribbons in a Zebra 170Xi4:


 Comparably, changing ink cartridges takes just seconds.

Third, ink costs less than ribbons; especially resin ribbons.  Here is a post from some time ago detailing the cost differences. http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/12/trust-me.html

 In our customer’s situation, the large inkjet labels are less expensive as well.

Fourth, the labels printed with a C831 just look better than those printed on a standard thermal transfer printer.  Although the DOD doesn’t purchase based on label design and quality, our customer believes the color labels from the C831 represent a higher quality image of the product and company; reinforcing positively the DOD’s purchase decision.  Adding color logos, images, color coding and text can differentiate your company from other vendors.

If you supply the DOD, consider moving to print on-demand color labels.  We’ll support your move to this new, better looking, easier to use, and less expensive option.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Thursday, January 5, 2017

"Hot" Labels

Burn Hot Sauce (www.burnhotsauce.com)  is an original, small batch, farmer and chef-owned business in Santa Cruz, California.  All of their produce is grown on organic farms; and is raw, alive and full of probiotics.  Their single-origin fermented hot sauces age for months, highlighting the farm on every bottle; and are made with love.  To learn more:  http://ediblemontereybay.com/online-magazine/winter-2016/edible-artisans-burn-hot-sauce/


When asked about their interest in printing color labels on-demand, Chase Atkins and Amada Pargh, owners of Burn Hot Sauce, said, “We like the ability to modify our label designs at any time; which helps us conserve media.  In addition, we wanted to print labels ourselves to save time.  It takes a lot of time to purchase and use preprinted labels.”

After trading a few emails, Amanda and Chase sent me a PDF of their labels. 


Burn Hotsauce Label
Burn Hot Sauce Label
I printed from the C7500 and sent print samples of their labels to them to review. As I did not have the correct size of label, it was difficult to impossible to print full bleed.  But the label print quality was good.

C7500G Label Print
C7500 Label Print
However, I sent them only paper as I did not understand their requirement for waterproof labels. 

Once Amanda and Chase received the labels, they wrote, “Unfortunately we will not be buying an Epson printer since it does not suit our needs.  The gloss paper disintegrates in water”.  In addition, Amanda and Chase were MAC users.  Initially, they did not want to use a printer with no MAC printing capabilities.  If you want to print labels from your MAC computer, read this post from our Tech Support Manager Tim:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2016/02/printing-from-epson-label-printers.html

After receiving this email, I sent them another set of samples from the C7500 on matte poly labels.  Our matte poly labels are very durable, waterproof and chemical resistant.  If you search “GHS” on our blog, you will see many posts on labels for GHS.

After testing the poly labels, Amanda and Chase purchased a C7500 and 2.5” x 6” labels and started printing!

C7500 Printed Labels
C7500 Printed Labels
According to Amanda and Chase, “we like the C7500 color label printer.  This printer has great print quality and speed; and enables the use of a variety of label media.”

Burn Hot Sauce Labels
Since receiving Burn Hot Sauces pickles, I can vouch that they are Spicy; and Good! 

Also, I found the Cyklon Probiotic Powder a very interesting product.  I look forward to finding a new interesting way to use the powder.

Now producing their own labels, Burn Hot Sauce will start printing for other local food manufacturers.  Chase will begin printing labels for two other food companies shortly; with customized label sizes from us.

We enjoy working with food manufacturers like Burn Hot Sauce; producing unique, specialty products.  Our print on-demand color label systems fit their requirements well; and we get to try great tasting food!  Contact us if we can help with your custom labels.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fun With Labels

After selling, installing and supporting thousands of label printers, I say 95+% of them are utilized in manufacturing/producing a product label. So this post is different; it’s about using label printers to produce a handmade, unique commemorative item - Or what I call, “Fun with Labels!”



Recently, our neighbor, Carrie, asked if I would produce labels for her project.  And of course I said yes; but wanted to know more about her plans.

It seems she wanted to produce something special for her book club.  According to Carrie, “our book club has been together for more than 8 years.  And this year, I just happened to be hosting our December meeting.  Given it was the end of the year, I wanted to make something special for our club that commemorated the books we’d read.  I checked Pinterest; and found only different bookmark ideas.  Given that many of our club members use e-readers, bookmarks seemed out-of-date.   So, I decided to make an ornament with book cover images of the books we read January thru December.”

To start the project, Carrie cut a block of wood into cubes using her miter saw.  “For about $15, I got a nice 3’ x 2.5” piece of wood that enabled me to cut out 12 cubes.    After cutting the wood, she sanded the wood using sandpaper to smooth out the edges.

Once the blocks were finished, Carrie went online to get the images of the books.  Initially, she tried to print the images on her desktop printer; but was unhappy with the results.  Given she knew I was in the label business, she asked me to print labels for her.

After listening to her requirements, I suggested she create a 4” x 8” PDF containing the highest resolution book cover page images she could find.  I suggested 4” x 8” size as I had this size available in a glossy paper label making it easy to print. 

4" x 8" PDF With Images
4" x 8" PDF With Images
It would have been easier if we would have created individual smaller labels printing one at a time; but you would need to have the correct sized images and labels to make this work correctly.

I printed 12 labels, each containing the set of images representing each of the books read during the year.

4" x 8" Gloss Paper Label
4" x 8" Gloss Paper Label

Carrie then cut the individual image labels and applied them to the blocks including a special message on the bottom.


Then, she coated the block with an acrylic sealer to protect and give it a shine.


Finally, she drilled a small hole in the top, added gorilla glue in the hole, and forced the knot on the string holding the loop/bow into the hole. And Voila, Carrie has produced a beautiful holiday ornament for her club!

Hand Made Commemorative Using Labels
Hand Made Commemorative Using Labels
According to Carrie, “I got great feedback from our book club members.  In fact, my girlfriend said she wanted one every year!  I think the size of the block and book images were just perfect; not too big or small.”

Hand Made Commemorative Using Labels
Hand Made Commemorative Using Labels
After completing the project, Carrie says, “Pictures would be a good idea as well; your kids, grandchildren, etc. to commemorate any event.  The labels with the images made it easy to do!”

Carrie is crafty and creative; and a great neighbor.  And using Carrie’s idea, you can turn the labels printers in your plant or office into your own personal handy-craft tool; a “Fun with Labels” opportunity.

Contact us if we can help you with any of your label needs.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fool-Proof GHS Label Solution

Clayton Corporation (http://www.claytoncorp.com/is a full-service manufacturer specializing in the design and development of aerosol valves and plastic components for companies around the world.  Beginning with the valve created for the first aerosol whipped cream, Clayton Corporation grew as it continued to design and manufacture parts for products in the OEM food, dairy, personal care, hardware and industrial building materials industries. Global manufacturers have come to rely on Clayton as the source for innovative product dispensing solutions. Today, Clayton continues to be at the forefront of component design as new materials and products are developed, applying the spirit of quality and innovation that has been its hallmark for more than 50 years.

Clayton’s Mechanical Design Engineer first contacted me in 2015 when working on their GHS label printing solution for the Industrial Building Materials division. A variety of their products required unique but very similar formatted labels to supplement hazard and precautionary information pre-printed on their products. Each label was unique due to the variable data required including part number, product description, weight, EHS #, batch number, sequence number, and a dynamically calculated expiration date that needed to be placed on the labels at print-time on the production line. Additionally, this label would include up to three different languages – dependent on the product market. Another of Clayton’s applications, not included in this blog, was creating GHS labels for some lab chemicals and raw materials.

To help start our discussion, they sent me a draft GHS label:

Clayton Example Label
Clayton Example Label
In addition to the variable data on the label, Clayton needed to create a two-part label; a Part A (Above) and Part B (Below), at the same time.  The labels were to be printed one pair at a time on their production line and applied by an operator wearing gloves.

Based on our discussion, I first created a Form-Fillable PDF for Clayton using Adobe Acrobat.

Printed Example Label
Printed Example Label
This type of label artwork works well when you have limited number of products and limited number of variable data fields. Although easy to do, it opens up the opportunity for operators to enter incorrect data. For these situations, we recommend a label design and printing software application. For Clayton, we recommended BarTender® from Seagull Scientific (www.seagullscientific.com).

Clayton operation managers wanted an easy, nearly fool-proof, method of selecting and initiating the correct product label print operation with minimal operator intervention. To this end, Clayton’s Systems Analyst/Programmer incorporated a bar code on the work order and developed a BarTender data entry form to accept a scanned barcode. From this scan, an Excel database is accessed to retrieve the static product data to fill in the variable label data and to drive the template selection in regard to languages, colors, and whether label parts A or B, or both should be printed. Lastly, they needed to print the labels on demand as the product passes thru the work center. As they did not want any additional operator intervention with the keyboard or desk mouse, Clayton incorporated a foot-controlled switch or foot mouse.  The operator simply presses the foot mouse when a new label is needed and it’s delivered in a few seconds.

Clayton GHS Label Print Station
Data Entry Form displayed. See barcode scanner (right of monitor).
GHS Label Print Station
GHS Label Print Station with Foot Mouse
Additionally, Clayton is using BarTender Print Station to manage and print their GHS labels.

BarTender Print Station
BarTender Print Station
One other key part of the solution was label design. To make it easier to recognize the two different part labels, Clayton color-coded the description and part number on each label. Part A in red, and Part B in blue proved to be a simple, but highly effective means to facilitate accurate label application.

2-Part Clayton GHS Label
2-Part Clayton GHS Label
To make this solution even better, Clayton decided to use 1000-piece stacks of fanfold labels with easy release backing.

Fanfold Matte Poly Labels For GHS
Fanfold Matte Poly Labels For GHS
Clayton wanted a way to print and apply by hand the two part label that would be easy for an operator wearing gloves. The issues with using rolls of labels were both the lower quantity of labels per roll, and the curl made them more difficult to remove the backing, especially while wearing gloves. With two 4” x 4” labels per fold, the two-part label prints and dispenses just as needed. Currently each of their Epson C3500 machines prints in excess of 500 labels per day.

“One of Color Label Solutions’ areas of expertise is GHS — they understand how the technology pieces fit together to build easy-to-use and reliable labeling compliance systems for companies like Clayton,” said Elizabeth Sinclair, Verticals Marketing Manager at Seagull Scientific.

“A GHS label can be complicated — there are many variable data points, and information has to be displayed in a particular way,” Sinclair continued.  “The print-on-demand deployment at Clayton capitalizes on the advanced capabilities of our BarTender label software: using BarTender’s templates to simplify label data management, and BarTender’s interactive data entry forms to limit access to sensitive data, which minimizes the chance of operator error at print time.”

Clayton has built a great GHS label printing solution for their company using color label printers, environment resistant labels, chemical resistant ink, and software components supplied by our company. I’m glad we were able to be of assistance in the creation of this elegant and simple way to print complex GHS labels. Be sure to contact us if you need to make a complex label system simpler.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Monday, November 21, 2016

SPARC Your Cannabis Labels

Serving patients since 2001, SPARC (www.sparcsf.org) is a nonprofit collective dedicated to providing lab-tested, affordable, high quality cannabis and subsidized health services to their members.  They aim to educate their patients about cannabis treatments and other alternative health approaches to supplement their medicine.  SPARC began as a collaboration between several small collectives serving distinct patient populations in San Francisco. SPARC's work was focused primarily on serving low-income patients suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses.


When first speaking, SPARC was looking for a lower cost method to label their products.  According to Justin Morgan, IT Director at Sparc, “We were purchasing 5 different versions of preprinted labels from our bag vendor; and wanted a lower cost means to color code our products.  Color-codes are important for us and our customers.  We use the color codes in both our labels and menus.  The colors differentiate the genetics of our different strains of cannabis.  Purchasing 5 different kinds of bags was expensive in the quantities we were purchasing.  Our hope was to get lower prices by purchasing larger volumes of single white bag; and printing custom color labels to affix to them.”



After understanding the requirements, I printed and sent samples to Sparc to test.

SPARC Sample Label
SPARC Sample Label
Based on the recreated label format, I estimated the ink cost at $0.002/label.  In addition, I calculated the costs of continuous labels at $0.005 each.  The overall costs of these labels were much less than 1 penny each.

After hearing the estimated costs, Sparc decided to test the C3500.  We sent them a demo printer to run with the label application, BarTender.  Justin said, “we used BarTender to add the variable data in black print to our labels.  To run the C3500, we just recreated the label template adding a variable image field to the existing label and database.”

Sparc Test Labels
Sparc Test Labels
As a first draft, the BarTender label template was not perfect; with some of the print off the edges of the label.  Working with Justin, we got the labels centered by taking into the account of the .06” non-printable boundary.  With the new drivers, you can print to the edge of the labels.

Sparc Finished Label
Sparc Finished Label

Based on this work, Sparc purchased a C3500 and gloss paper labels.  Since the initial purchase, Sparc has added matte poly labels for their smaller vials.  “We needed the poly to work with the small circumference packaging”, says Justin.   The poly labels are more conformable with less memory than paper.  These advantages make the poly labels perform better for tighter wrapping applications.

Sparc Finished Label
Sparc Finished Label

In addition to the color-coded finished good labels, Sparc need a means to track their plants in production.  Justin says, “we were hand writing up labels for our individual plants; and we needed a less labor-intensive means for their work.”  Based on this requirement, we sold Sparc a thermal transfer printer and “Pot Stakes” to track their production.
Printed Pot Stake
Printed Pot Stake


“Using the pot stakes are much easier and faster than the hand labeling we were doing previously” says Justin.

Sparc Finished Label
Sparc Finished Label
Justin says, “overall, I’ve found the label printing solution incredible; especially the BarTender integration.  Also, we’re very happy with the quality of the print. We’ve found a large cost and labor savings providing a great return on our investment in the label printers and software.” 

Sparc Labels
Sparc Labels
In the past, we worked with other cannabis vendors.  Recently, we published this post about Dream City;  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2016/10/dreamy-labels.html 

And from a long time ago, a post covering our long-time customer Green Ticket Bakery who now has upgraded to a C3500 to print their labels: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/06/baking-medicinal-brownies-printing.html 


We love and support all of our customers; but we especially appreciate long-time customers such as Sparc.  If you need labels for your cannabis products; or need color coded labels to improve your work processes, contact us.  We can help!


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

C7500GE

This month, Epson launched the new C7500 GE (Graphics Edition) which combines the C7500G printer and the Wasatch SoftRIP Raster Image Control (RIP) software.  The C7500GE is targeted for both end users and professional printers who need more precise color/image control of their print output.


As background, a raster image processor (RIP) is a component used in a printing system which produces a raster image also known as a bitmap. Such a bitmap is used by a later stage of the printing system to produce the printed output. 

With the new SoftRIP Label Edition, Wasatch says "you get:

  • Total color control/matching
  • Extended color gamut
  • Smooth color and shade management
  • Flexible image manipulation and placement
  • Continuous media support
  • Full bleed printing
  • Easy to use interface


You can learn more about the new Wasatch RIP at https://www.wasatch.com/labels.html".

Or you can review my earlier posts on the new C7500GE and the RIP:



To learn more about the RIP, I started printing for a customer who was concerned about color matching.  Printing directly from a PDF did not produce the red and brown colors expected.

First with PMS 187 on gloss paper.  It wasn’t exactly the correct shade of red.

 
ColorTone Matching PMS 187
ColorTone Matching PMS 187
PMS 187 has a RGB value of 166, 25, 46.

Next I had to match a label with PMS color 463 which has a RGB value of 116,79, 40.

ColorTone Matching PMS 463
Although close, both colors were not exactly a match; you could see the difference.  To find a closer match, I used the Color Tone Matching assistant to provide color swatches of related colors to show a closer match was possible. Again PMS 187:

C7500G ColorTone Matching Assistant
C7500G ColorTone Matching Assistant
And PMS 463:

C7500G ColorTone Matching Assistant
C7500G ColorTone Matching Assistant
Based on the results from printing directly from a PDF, I decided to use the Wasatch SoftRIP to see if a closer color match was possible.  Before starting to use the SoftRIP, I recommend watching this starter video for printing die-cut labels:


And watching this video for printing continuous labels requiring post-printing finishing:


To start using the RIP, first I had to download the latest image configurations.  Wasatch provides these files which profile a variety of available label media.  By profiling the label media, better color matching is possible. 


After downloading the image configuration, I set up my printer. First I set up the printer by selecting the gear icon on top:

SoftRIP Printer Settings
SoftRIP Printer Settings
You’ll need to confirm the correct image configuration, paper width margins and insure your printer is selected.  Then on the labels tab, I selected printer properties and edited the printer properties to match your situation; especially die cut label-gap setting and size.

SoftRIP Printer Properties
SoftRIP Printer Properties
Once the printer and an image configuration was selected, I opened an eps file in SoftRIP:

SoftRIP Size Tab
SoftRIP Size Tab
At this point, I had to rotate the image 90 degrees to fit on the label; and I decided to crop the picture.  To crop, I selected a box around the image (by holding down the left mouse button as I created a box), and right click on the image to select “Zoom into Crop Box”.

After cropping, I selected the number of copies I wanted (Rows) and selected center both width and height.  I wanted the image on the center of this label as I really did not have the correct size in the printer.

SoftRIP Number of Rows
SoftRIP Number of Rows
 Once I had the page set, I added the color included in the original eps file.  To add a special color, I selected “Color” on the main menu, then selected “Add Named Colors”.  The Pantone 187C was added.

SoftRIP Special Colors
SoftRIP Special Colors
Now I was ready to print. I first printed with one gloss image configuration; and then a different gloss image configuration. The difference in the two print outputs was dramatic.

SoftRIP Image Configuration Color Differences
SoftRIP Image Configuration Color Differences
The bottom was identical to the output from printing from the PDF; and the top was a very close match to the original target color.  Based on this simple test, label media and image configuration make a big difference in color output.

To help find the correct color match, you can also select Color Neighborhood from the color menu.  This opens up a dialog box to select the target color:

SoftRIP Color Neighborhood
SoftRIP Color Neighborhood
Once the correct RGB color is entered, another dialog box appears to select the Delta E of the colors. Delta E is a metric for understanding how the human eye perceives color difference. The term delta comes from mathematics, meaning change in a variable or function. The suffix E references the German word Empfindung, which broadly means sensation. Generally, a Delta E of 2 is believed to be the minimum a human can perceive.

SoftRIP Delta E
SoftRIP Delta E
After selecting OK, you save the color neighbor as a PostScript file. Then open the file up in SoftRIP.  As the page size is 10.5 x 10.5, it is recommended to crop a section of the color neighborhood and print to get the related colors.

SoftRIP Color Neighborhood
Color Neighborhood should help you identify a more appropriate match when the original is slightly incorrect.

After my initial work, I found the SoftRIP potentially a great tool for certain customers.  According to Ryan Lee, Sales at Wasatch, “Softrip Label Edition should fit end users, printers and label converters who need to print customized, color precise labels.  Combined with the C7500G, these customers have a reliable label printing option.  Other available color label printers may be fast, but not as easy to use or durable as the C7500.  The C7500GE is a great label printing solution.”

The C7500GE costs $9,450 and comes not only with the Wasatch SoftRIP, but also 1 year of on-site service on the printer; a value of $1,029.  The SoftRIP comes with 6 months of support from registration and covers software updates and remote tech support access. 

For professional printers and converters, I see the C7500GE solution as a breakthrough; enabling these companies to offer digital label printing at a fraction of the investment of other options.  For end users, now you can get more precise color matching on-demand.

If you need to have accurate colortone matching, contact us to discuss how the C7500GE fits into your operation.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670