Wednesday, November 19, 2014


While helping a customer install and configure a GP-C831 printer, I had a “SURPRISE”:  I learned Epson had made available a new driver; Version

Offering several changes, this new driver is not necessarily “plug and play” with your existing label formats.  In this post, I like to explain the new driver, and how the change may affect your work.

If you want to get the new driver, you first need to visit the Technical Resource pages: www.pos.epson.com or this specific page: https://pos.epson.com/developers/techresdetails.htm?productpk=678

The primarily reason you should upgrade to the new driver is the capability to print wider; now 8.25” versus the previous 8”.  From my perspective, this capability is a major improvement; especially without requiring a change in the hardware.

With this change, please remember these details about the page settings/sizes.  The print starting point on the right side (fixed) as you face the printer is still .51”.  Therefore, you will have approximately a .135” (.51” -.375”) non-printable boundary on the right side when using labels with a .375” tractor-feed.  This boundary will be eliminated, basically, when using labels with a .5” tractor feed.  In addition, the top and the bottom of the label will have a .08” non-printable boundary as well. 

In addition to the wider print capability, the driver has other notable changes.  First, the default setting for print quality is “Plain Label” and "Quality" versus “Plain” and "Speed" in the previous version.

With the plain label setting, the default Mode setting is “Quality”.  For producing most labels, the default setting is sufficient.  You may want to test “Synthetic” and Quality for matte poly labels (http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/gp-c831-pin-fed-labels/)  to determine which you prefer.  During my discussions with Epson, I learned the color gamut is slightly different between these two settings.  Therefore, I suggest you print your labels with both to determine which settings match your preferred colors the best.

In addition, you’ll find several changes on the paper tab as well.  First Epson has changed the default page sizes; from seemingly random sizes to ISO standard pages:

In addition, you’ll now need to enter the width of the actual label size for user defined.  In the previous driver, you needed to add the total construction (including the pin feed) in this section of the driver.  However, you still use the size from perforation to perforation.  (Please remember the difference in this setting for my later comments.)

In addition to the change in the print quality and page size, Epson added one more important feature; the ability to import and export driver settings.

Now you can export the settings as “BSF” files to import into other computers.  This capability will save a lot of time for network installs.  While on this page, don’t forget to set the Notification Settings to “No Beep” (I find the beep very annoying).  Also, don’t forget to select these settings not only in the “Printer Defaults”, but also in “Printer Preferences”. 

Although these changes are seemingly straight forward, please know; any templates you have created using the previous driver will not print correctly using the new version.  For example, here is what I saw when I opened my example drum label in BarTender:

With the change in the driver from using the total construction to now using only the label size, the templates built using the previous driver do not work correctly.  You need to change the templates.  In BarTender, you’ll get this message when trying to print using a format created with the previous driver:

If you get this message, be sure to select cancel to get to the page setup.  In page setup, be sure “Set Manually” is NOT selected.

And be sure the correct page size from the GP-C831 driver is selected:

After making these changes, you may still need to move the content on the label format.  For example, the content on my new format was too close to the leading edge even though it worked well previously:

In situations such as above, you may want to move the print start position versus changing the position of the content on the label.  To move the print start position in the GP-C831, follow these directions:

1. Open the top cover.
2. Hold down the Pause button for about three seconds. The Pause light flashes, the printer enters Micro Adjust mode, and then the paper is advanced to the current top-of-form position.
3. Press the FF D button to move the top-of-form position down on the page, or press the Load/Eject U button to move the top-of-form position up on the page.

After working with this new driver, I would recommend one key point: you need to use the same version of the GP-C831 driver for all installs within your company.  You will not be able to print the same label template correctly from both drivers.  If you want to stay with the existing driver, contact me; I’ll send you the previous version.

If you use BarTender and want to start with a template that should work, I’ve updated my post on Drum Label Templates to include the 8.5” x 11” format: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/09/ghs-drum-label-template-database.html 

In addition, I’ve change the label size in my store to 8.5” x 11” as well: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/gp-c831-pin-fed-labels/ 

If you are using the GP-C831, you should install the new driver.  But don’t be SURPRISED when things change; Just contact us instead.

Guy Mikel

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Death By Inkjet

While helping a customer of another reseller, I came upon something I’ve never seen before:  Death by Inkjet.

As you can see in this picture, ink is everywhere; on the printer, on the walls and on the label catch basin.  After selling and supporting hundreds of customers move to print on-demand color labels, I’ve not see this type of situation.  It reminded me of a scene from Dexter; needing a blood spatter expert.  I’m not a blood spatter expert, but here are my and the customer’s ideas on what created this scene.

According to the customer, “a label jams in the printer while using the rear feed.  After the label jammed, the printer would continue to spray ink. The jam in the printer was caused by the label separating; the liner from the facestock.”

As soon as I saw this picture, I knew to ask one more question; are you using an unwinder?  “Yes”, said the customer.  Continuing he said, “it seems we get this issue on the third label after setting overnight.  Once we get past this 3rd label, we don’t have any other problems during the day; except for dealing with ink everywhere.  To try to improve this problem, we moved recently the unwinder away from the printer.  Initially, the unwinder was about 3 inches from the printer, with a sharp turn up to the rear feed opening in the printer.  Now, we have the unwinder sitting about 1 foot from the printer.”

When I saw this picture, I told the customer that the “dancer bar” from the unwinder is applying a significant amount of pressure on the labels going into the printer.  Plus the dancer bar is pulling the label around a sharp radius corner similar to a label dispenser.  By pulling the label around this type of edge, the liner may be separating from the facestock.  As the liner is thinner, it must travel farther around the tight radius corner; thus it lifts and separates just like a label dispenser.  To learn more about how a label dispenser works, check out Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Label_dispenser

In addition, the labels going into the printer are taunt; with zero slack.  As the TM-C3400 uses a vacuum to hold the labels to the printhead, this inkjet printer does not have any type of compression rollers able to pull the media.  With all the tension, the label media “slips” causing the overprint seen on the label in the second picture above.  The bottom line; you can’t have the winders creating tension on the media going into these Epson label printers.  You might find this post on unwinders from some time ago of interest: 

After a couple of days, the customer contacted me again; he said, “I believe I have determined the cause of the bump in our labels that thus, what is causing the label jams. The bump seems to occur at the rear feed where the label bends around the edge. This “bump” happens when the label is left in this position overnight.”  So the cause of the problem was NOT the bend around the unwinder roller; rather the bend at the rear feed on the back of the printer.

To properly use a winder (both unwinder and rewinder), you need to have a “loose loop” between the printer and the winder.  Here is how I have my unwinder set up: 

As soon as the dancer bar lifts, the electric motor feeds out more labels: 

Or this recent post on the new winding solution from Labelmate:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/09/ghs-drum-label-rolls.html

By setting the unwinder in this fashion, you prevent tension on the labels as they feed into the printer. Now, this customer has adjusted the tension on the unwinder.  I appreciate his willingness to not only problem solve, but to get me involved and send me pictures.

If you have blood spatter, call Dexter.  But if you get this or any other issue while printing color labels on demand, contact us.  We’ll help you to insure you don’t experience, Death by Inkjet!

Guy Mikel

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Inkjet Coated Gloss-Clear Labels

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had many customers ask me about inkjet coated gloss white poly and clear film.  However, I’ve not been able to find materials that seemed sufficiently durable; even to withstand water.  But let me tell you about 3 new materials and other ways for you to get durable gloss and clear printed labels.

If you have followed my posts, you’ve seen me write about the very durable matte poly labels.  You may remember this post comparing different technologies for GHS labels:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/10/ghs-label-comparison.html

Prior to my tests of these new materials, here is a matte poly label that I soaked in water, alcohol, hand sanitizer and acetone.  The printed label was durable to all of these materials.

To start, I printed two new gloss and one clear film label with the TM-C3500 and the TrojanOne label printers.  I hope you can see how great these materials printed using these two different types of ink.  I think these labels look great.

After printing these new labels, I ran water over the labels to see how they would perform.  Surprising, I found all seemed relatively water resistant; especially when printed with the TM-C3500:

Water did not seem to bother any of these materials with the encapsulated pigment inks from Epson.    One thing I did notice was the Gloss 2 material had a “rougher” feel after the water; but the ink did not run.

With the Memjet dye-based inks in the TrojanOne printer, I did see some slight discoloration with water:

In the Gloss 1 sample, I only noticed a difference around the red ink.  In the Gloss 2 sample, I saw some of the black ink migrate in the barcode.  Please know; I not only soaked these samples, but wiped them with my fingers as well.

On the clear sample, you saw a very limited ink migration with the Memjet printed sample:

Overall, I thought the clear film performed pretty well considering the ink is a dye.

Next I tested the samples with alcohol and hand sanitizer.  The Gloss 1 and clear performed well with the alcohol.  But you can see some of the ink ran on the Gloss 2 sample treated with alcohol.

Hand sanitizer took the ink off all of these samples.

With the Memjet ink, both alcohol and hand sanitizer made the ink run.

If your requirements are only water resistance, I do believe we can get you both gloss and clear film that works; especially if you can use the print quality from the TM-C3500.  Please know; these materials cost more than matte poly; and may require higher minimum purchases.  In some recent quotes, the cost of this gloss label material was approximately $0.004 to$0.0047 per sq inch.

If you need either durable gloss or clear film as well as very high print quality, then you’ll need to add a post printing step; either laminate or coat. 

Concerning laminating, you may have seen my earlier post on using the Rotary Wizard:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/03/high-quality-glossy-laminated-labels.html 

Or may find the new promotion video from Trojan Color Systems of interest:  http://vimeo.com/92956705

Here is a scanned image of a basic matte label printed with the TrojanOne laminated with a gloss film.  These 100% coverage labels look great! 

Plus, you can save money on label materials using an inexpensive matte paper direct from the label factory and then laminate and die-cut post print. It’s a very affordable way to produce high quality prime labels that are resistant to water and many chemical compounds.  Recently, I complete cost estimates for TrojanOne printed labels with the laminate.  The cost of the label, ink and laminate totaled $0.0014 per sq inch (70% less than the gloss poly label along); making this option the least expensive way to get durable gloss labels.

If you want a somewhat similar secondary process step, you can also consider a UV coating process.  “UV coating" refers to surface treatments which are cured by ultraviolet to protect the underlying material.  You can learn more here from Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UV_coating

Trojan has been working with the EZ Coat 15; a simple way to coat even die-cut labels.  Here is the Trojan video using this post printing process:   http://vimeo.com/98765705

Recently at Label Expo, Trojan launched their own coater, the TCS Elite.  This device coats up to 10” wide labels at speeds up to 80 feet per minute; yet costs much less than the EZ Coat 15.  Here is the video of this new tool:  http://vimeo.com/106858491

And here is a picture of basic matte paper labels, one on the right coated with a UV varnish.

By using different coatings and settings in the coater, you can add more or less gloss as well as durability to the labels.  With the new coater, adjusting the coating is easy; as is change over and clean up.  Check out my video on the durability tests using hand sanitizer.

Using the coating, the cost per sq inch will equal approximately the cost of laminating; $0.0014 per sq inch.

If you need gloss or clear labels, we can help you at Color Label Solutions.  Contact us to discuss your requirements and the option that fits your label printing situation the best.

Guy Mikel

Friday, October 24, 2014

Creating SDS-GHS Labels-Easily?

By June 2015, all chemical companies must be providing the new 16 section Safety Data Sheet (SDS) documents. 

The project to convert these important documents by June of next year could be extremely difficult; especially for distributors or repackagers of chemicals.  These companies distribute thousands of different compounds from many different vendors.  Producing SDS documents using your brand and company names for all these products will take time and work.  But could this process be made easier?

To complete this process relatively quickly and easily, you may want to consider Hank Solutions, http://www.hanksolutions.co.uk/Products/Software,  SDS Online.  SDS Online is a complete online software solution to create GHS compliant safety data sheets and labels.  This application is specifically designed to be user friendly and very easy to use.  According to Darren Mitchinson, Technical Director for Hank Solutions, “We designed SDS Online, specifically to make it easy for companies to build SDS documents; at a very affordable price.  Once the SDS is built, our software converts the SDS information to standard GHS labels.”

To show you how easy it is to build a SDS, let’s imagine we repackage and resell Acetyl Chloride; and get a SDS from the manufacturer; in this example Sigma Aldridge:   http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/fluka/00990?lang=en&region=US

To start the process, I logged into the SDS Online software at the following:  http://chemsoftware.co.uk/SDSonline and set up my company profile located in “Settings”.

Next I go to the “Datasheet Manager” to search to see if the product is already available in the database.  SDS Online makes SDS information available to everyone as a part of the Software as a Service.  To see if information was available, I searched Acetyl Chloride both the product name and CAS number.  This product is not in the database.

As it was not in the database, I needed to create a new SDS.  Once I selected create, SDS Online presented me the information to add in logical order using a “Stoplight” system:

In this picture, you can see section 1 is completed and "green"; with the other 15 sections needing to be completed.

After section 1, you complete section 9; chemical physical properties by copying and pasting the information.  In addition, you can add standard phrases by highlighting on the right side of the document and selecting “Add”.

Once a section is completed, selecting “update” will turn section 9 stoplight “Green”. 

In section 10, you add standard phrases or type/paste in phrases listed in the SDS; and then update.

You continue to complete each of the sections using this same approach.  To complete each category, you can select from the available default phrases, add your own phrase, or paste the suggested phrase from either SDS Online or from the original SDS.  Assuming I was using a supplier’s SDS with their approval, I found copying and pasting the information the easiest.

Depending on your perspective, I found one good and bad aspect of SDS Online.  Each section must be completed in order to proceed.  This requirement is great for most sections.  In some sections, however, the SDS I was using as my template did not have any information.   Therefore, I had to add something to save the data in a section.  I’ve learned however, the actual REACH Law legislates that each section of the SDS must be completed. If no information is available, you can set a default phrase for "no information available" and just add this comment.

Once all the sections are completed, you process the document; and download a copy of the 16 section SDS:  7 pages in this test case.

Once you have a SDS, you can build a GHS Label by selecting “Labeling”.  In this section, you search for the product you want the label.  Once found, you can add the variable information for the label at the bottom prior to printing.

By selecting “Build Label”, you get a PDF of your label to print.  Using my TM-C3500, I printed this GHS Label for my example product.

In the near future, SDS Online will be adding a feature that I believe will give you options to design GHS Labels to fit your particular requirements better.  Soon, you’ll be able to download the information into an Excel file to create a GHS database. Using an application like BarTender, you’ll be able to set up a template and connect to your GHS database.  Then you’ll be able to create exactly the GHS Label designs you want.  If you want to see how to create these types of templates, review my blog post on this topic: 

Three Key Points I need to add.

First, you should start using SDS Online by editing or adding you default phrases for each section.  By selecting “Datasheet Phrases” and reviewing each section, you can set up or edit your standard phrases.

Second, if you're a distributor or reseller of many products with similar hazards, you can create one product/SDS and select “Use As Template”.  This step enables you to create further SDS’s by completing section 1 and then applying the template to build the rest of the SDS.  Total time can actually be under one minute.

Third, if you require professional advice on how to classify your products, then SDS may not be for you.  SDS does not provide recommendations or advice to help you build your SDS.

SDS Online seems to be a good way to adapt your vendor’s SDS’s to create your own GHS documents.  Plus, this cloud-based application is affordable.  If you like to learn more or demo the cloud application, contact us.

Guy Mikel

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:

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.

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

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:

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:

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.

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:

Now print the 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