Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I Love This Printer!

Since the inception, the goal of Good Heart Catering (https://goodheartcatering.com/) has been to develop a company that could directly impact those less fortunate in the greater Los Angeles community. The history of this goal dates back to when the founder of Good Heart Catering, Jon Tokas, joined the revitalization and renovation efforts of downtown Los Angeles nearly 13 years ago. Jon founded his company after growing up working in his family’s deli serving the Jewelry district in Los Angeles.  Now, Good Heart Catering partners with local food banks making donations who in turn feed those who are in need.

Jon contacted us when needing a labeling process that would fit their POS system and food preparation process.  According to Jon, “we need a printer that can produce color labels affordably and easily as well as in variable lengths.  We’ve been using Avery sheet-fed labels and a desktop printer; but find it difficult to do what we want.”


Sheet Fed Labels
Sheet Fed Labels
Jon continues, “As we sell many different items, we don’t want to use preprinted labels.  Also, we like to use Kraft paper if possible as it would match our containers.  Finally, we’re moving to a new point of sale system (POS); and need the printer to work with this system.”

After speaking with Jon, I recommended the C3500; especially given the printer can cut labels in variable lengths.  To help Jon decide, I printed and sent samples, even on Kraft paper, as well as determined the estimated ink costs.  For one of the basic round labels, I estimated the ink cost at $0.014/label.

C3500 Estimated Ink Cost
C3500 Estimated Ink Cost

For the 15” label, I estimated the ink cost at $0.051/label.

C3500 Estimated Ink Yield
C3500 Estimated Ink Yield

Based on the label samples and estimated costs, Jon purchased a C3500 printer and labels.  After working with Tim, our Support Manager, Jon was printing labels quickly and easily; sending me a picture of his first label printed on the material that comes with the C3500.

C3500 Label
C3500 Printed Label
Unlike most customers, the real work for Jon started after he was printing labels.  Jon needed to make sure label printing fit into the processes and systems he wanted to put in place.

Continuing, Jon says, “We built a process using our new POS.  Each day, we select in our POS system the items/labels we need to print for the various orders.  For example, one order may have 10 different items.  Based on the items selected, the POS system produces a PDF using the variable images and text in our database.  Each page of the PDF becomes one of the inner:

C3500 Label
Package Inner Label

Or outer labels:

Outer Package Label
Package Outer Label

of the item in the order. Each label is automatically cut based on the page length; the Color Label Solutions support manager Tim showed us how to select this setting.  No longer do we need to select multiple labels from sheets; we just apply the labels printed for each order picked.  I LOVE THIS PRINTER; it’s perfect for a small business like ours.”

C3500 Label
C3500 Label

Learn more about Good Heart Catering's community participation here:

The story of Good Heart Catering is very gratifying for me on several levels.  First, we helped a new customer start printing color labels on demand.  Second, we helped a small business develop and implement an outstanding, highly productive new process that saves time and money.  Lastly, we supported an organization committed to the greater good of their community.

If you want to create or improve your labeling process, contact us.  Hopefully, you’ll love your printer too!

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Continuous RIP: Coming This Fall

This week, I had the opportunity to get a “Sneak Peak” at an exciting new technology coming this fall.


C7500G Label
C7500G Printed Using a RIP
If you attended Pack Expo in Las Vegas last year, it may not be so new.  Epson America and Wasatch Computer Technology (https://www.wasatch.com/softripmain.html)  demonstrated an early prototype of a RIP (Raster Image Processor) for the C7500.  Since Pack Expo 2015,( http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2015/10/pack-expo-2015.html), these two companies have made significant changes to their early prototype. Let me tell you more.

As background, a RIP is defined as “a hardware or combination hardware/software product that converts images described in the form of vector graphics statements into raster graphics images or bitmaps.”

To read why Wasatch believes you need a RIP, read this page:  https://www.wasatch.com/whyrip.html

According to the Epson technician that demonstrated the new software, “the Wasatch RIP enables you to control the colors and amount of ink over your entire label.  This control enables you to match colors precisely; and to automatically replace colors with the corrected RGB or CMYK color.  Overall, the Wasatch Rip enables much better print output; like much more expensive label printers provide.”

The image above was printed using the RIP on the C7500G on gloss paper.  Based on this print output, I believe the C7500G will produce outstanding/beautiful labels.  And print these images easily, reliably and more affordably than any other on-demand color, digital printer.

In addition to managing color, the Watsch RIP and updated firmware will enable the C7500G to print on continuous label material.  Currently, the C7500G requires either die cut or blackmark labels.  See these labels in the C7500G using the updated firmware don’t have either means to find top of form.

C7500G Printing Continuous Labels
C7500G Using Continuous Labels
C7500G Printing Continuous Labels
C7500G Using Continuous Labels
By combining the RIP software with continuous media, printers and manufacturers can produce full-bleed digital labels using the same workflow as companies running million dollar presses.  By printing the label on continuous media; and then using a post-printing finishing process to die cut and then laminating/coating the labels.  In this video, I feature the Scorpio+ finishing unit from DPL that shows the machine laminating, die cutting and weeding the matrix from the label to produce professional grade labels easily. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiVD74MtD4I

I see the new RIP and continuous capabilities of C7500 or C7500G combined with a finishing unit as a great option for printers, converters or larger manufacturers with print shops who want to produce their own professional, full-bleed labels.  It’s a very low cost way to produce short-run digital labels.

Epson says they will show the new RIP and continuous capability at Label Expo this fall.  Learn more about this show here:  http://www.labelexpo-americas.com/.  I attended two years ago; and will attend again this year on September 14th and 15th, 2016.  If you are attending, let me know so we can meet.

If you are a printer, converter or manufacturer with a print shop, contact us to discuss how you can use the C7500G and the new RIP to expand your business or improve the look of your labels.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Color Tone Matching

All the time, I get questions concerning color matching.  Or more specifically, I get questions about matching PMS colors.

According to an online dictionary, color matching is a method of specifying colors for a print job in which a book of color swatches is used for matching colors with standard inks used in commercial printing. The most popular CMS is Pantone Matching System.

In the past, this issue has been difficult to answer; primarily because of the difference between RGB used in color monitors and the pigments used in color printing as well as the differences among label media.  Here what I wrote about color matching some time ago:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/07/red-is-not-always-red.html

  
Recently, however, Epson released a Color Tone Matching Assistant (CTMA) that I first noticed with the availability of the C7500G.  You can download this application from the Epson website under Utilities:

The CTMA makes it seemingly easy to match a color relatively closely.  I say relatively, meaning matching by the human eye.  Delta-E (dE) is a single number that represents the 'distance' between two colors.  The idea is that a dE of 1.0 is the smallest color difference the human eye can see. And please remember; the eye's sensitivity to hue, chroma, and lightness differ between people.  As I am not a graphic artist, color differences are hard for me to determine.

To use the CTMA, the only difficulty is insuring your drivers have the word “Epson” in them.  To have the correct printer listed in the CTMA options, I had to rename my drivers to add the word “Epson”.  Then the application worked perfectly.

Epson Color Tone Matching Assistant
Epson Color Tone Matching Assistant
Once launched, the CTMA prints a range of colors and their RGB numbers similar to a selected RGB color.  To use this application, I first needed a target color; PMS 7406:


Which I needed to convert to a RGB number.  To convert, I used Encolorpedia; http://encycolorpedia.com/ , which provided me the RGB (227, 186, 18).  Once entered, the application prints a color chart from the printer on the label media selected:

Color Tone Matching Print Output
Color Tone Print Output
For this number, blocks of yellow are printed with either more or less Magenta and Cyan added.  Directly in the middle is the target color.  I printed this chart using the C7500G on gloss paper.  I also printed the same chart on the C7500 using matte paper, the C3500 using matte paper (continuous matte paper cut for each groups of colors:

TM-C3500 Color Tone Matching
C3500 Color Tone Matching
And even the LX2000 after renaming the printer to add the word Epson:

LX2000 Color Tone Matching
LX2000 Color Tone Matching
Once printed, I compared the target color printed originally on a press to the target RGB printed by the CTMA.  On the gloss, the color seemed spot on; see how it compares below:

Match RGB to PMS colors
Matching PMS Colors using RGB
I then printed a sample label using BarTender by adding the RGB numbers to select color I wanted.  Matched perfectly to my eyes.

BarTender Printed Color Match
BarTender Printed Color Match
One interesting point to me, I could even tell the difference in colors produced using the gloss and matte paper labels (gloss on top; matte on the bottom) below.

Matte vs Gloss Color Differences
Matte vs Gloss Color Differences
Label media makes a big difference in print color output.  Be sure to expect differences among the labels you use.

After this exercise, I found the Color Tone Matching Assistance an intuitive, easy to use and potentially valuable application for producing color labels on demand.  Contact us if we can help you with producing or matching colors for your labels.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

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