Sunday, June 21, 2015

LX2000-Full Bleed Color Label Printer

This week, we received our new LX2000 color label printer from Primera.

LX2000 Color Label Printer

With up to 4,800 dpi, from .75” to 8” print width, durable pigment ink, built in cutter and BarTender driver, the LX2000 offers a great solution for those customers who want to print high quality, full bleed, relatively low volume labels. 

LX2000 Color Label Printer

Let me tell and show you why the LX2000 does a good job for this type of manufacturer.

To start using the LX2000, I download the instruction manual and driver here:  http://www.primeralabel.com/support/LX2000.html 

When I downloaded the driver, I learned of my biggest disappointment with the LX2000.  I was told by Primera that a Mac driver would be available.  Instead, I read this statement:

The LX2000 is not currently compatible with Macs.

LX2000 Mac Driver

This was disappointing as I had a customer waiting for the LX2000 specifically for the Mac driver.  Bummer.

Although no Mac driver, I did learn about the wireless option:

Wireless is a unique feature I believe.

And the BarTender driver:

LX2000 BarTender Driver

As I use BarTender frequently, this feature as a real benefit.

After installing the driver, I loaded the ink cartridges.  The black is larger than the other three cartridges.

LX 2000 Black
LX2000 Black Cartridge
LX2000 Cartridge
LX2000 Cyan Cartridge
The cartridges seemed small given the manufacturing aspect of this printer.  Plus I find it interesting that Primera does not change the ink cartridge casing, just like VIP 495:   http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2015/05/495.html 

During setup of the driver, I realized that the printer required alignment of the printhead; just like many desktop inkjet printers do.  To align the printhead, you need to load A4 paper, provided by Primera, into the printer.

It took me 3 tries to get the alignment to work correctly.  I decided that I had not pushed in the paper sufficiently far.  Be sure the paper is gently pulled into the printer when loading.

After aligning the printhead, I “attempted” to print labels.  Frankly, I had a rough start.  First I had labels that were banding.

I have no idea why; or even why it stopped.  But it did.

Second, the printer “grasped” the skin on my hand and pull it into the roll arm.  Ouch!

Be careful when loading the labels; and make sure the lever is up on the Roll Guide

And third, some jobs would just not print:

By the end of the day, I decided all of these issues were operator error.  Specifically, you need to insure the paper is loaded correctly; and to understand the button push sequence.  It’s not obvious what the buttons and lights mean when flashing.  Be sure to read section 5H on buttons/LED lights.  And be careful of the rotating and unprotected arm.

Even with these issues, I was soon printing great looking labels full bleed on matte paper:

LX2000 Matte Paper Labels
LX2000 Matte Paper Labels

Gloss paper:

LX2000 Gloss Paper Labels
LX2000 Gloss Paper Labels

Kimdura poly labels:

LX2000 Kimdura Poly Labels
LX2000 Kimdura Poly Labels
And even clear polyester film:

LX2000 Clear Film Labels
LX2000 Clear Film Labels
Primera did a great job of explaining how to print full bleed labels in section 4E of the manual.  With BarTender, they have made full bleed printing easy to do.

In terms of waterfastness, I found both the Kimdura and clear film performed well.  However, alcohol removed some of the ink from the Kimdura label (see the slight red over the barcode):

LX200 Alcohol Effect
In addition, I printed die cut, blackmark and continuous labels. All printed correctly with the appropriate settings.

One nice feature was the ink cost analysis in the Status Monitor.  As a worst case, I printed 10 (according to the Status Monitor, 10 prints is the minimum required to print for an accurate cost analysis) 4” x 6” high gloss labels at the highest resolution. 

Ink for these labels cost $0.107 and took 26 seconds each.  $0.11 is a seemingly high ink cost.  But the label print quality was great!

LX2000 Ink Cost/Label
LX2000 Ink Cost/Label

After discussions with Primera, I printed a second label, 4" x 6" matte poly at normal resolution with less than 100% coverage to see the ink cost.  The label printed really great!

LX2000 Print
LX2000 Print
And the cost per label was $0.10; about the same price.

LX2000 Cost Per Label
LX2000 Cost Per Label

To purchase the LX2000, contact us or visit our store:  http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/lx2000-color-label-printer/

To purchase LX2000 ink: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/lx2000-ink/

And don't forget to purchase 3 years of "Hot Swap" Extended Warranty:  http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/lx2000-hotswap-extended-warranty/

Overall, I believe the LX200 produced great looking, full bleed labels easily.  For manufacturers with relatively small volumes that want high resolution labels, the LX2000 seems like a good choice. Please remember:  no Mac driver currently and relatively high ink cost is a part of using this label printer. Contact us to learn more and to purchase the LX2000 printer, ink and labels.

Guy Mikel

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dust & Label Printers

Not all factories that need to print color labels on-demand are clean like this one:

Color Label Printers
C3400 Label Printers In Production

In fact, many factory locations that need to print labels are dusty.  In the TM-C3500 Technical Reference Guide, Epson states, “Do not use in locations subject to high humidity or dust levels. Excessive humidity and dust may cause equipment damage or fire.”

In addition, the Technical Reference Manual states: Do not place the printer in a dusty location.

The reason for this warning is that dust may plug or damage the inkjet nozzles.  Epson states the nozzles are reliable for up to 6 billion shots.  To keep the inkjet nozzles unplugged, both the C3500 and C7500 have “auto nozzle check systems” that detects missing dots or plugged nozzles.   

Once plugged, it is difficult to impossible to unplug an inkjet nozzle.  Plus the printer will waste ink attempting to unplug the nozzle.  And if a line starts showing in your prints, the printer may have a plugged nozzle. In many or most environments, I would recommend Disable the “Nozzle Verification” in either of these printers to save ink and time.

C7500 Nozzle
C7500 Nozzle Verification Setting
The number one means to keep dust out of your printer is by keeping the label media clean.  Be sure to keep all labels wrapped in plastic bags, preferably in the case in which they were shipped.

Labels In Protective Bags
Labels In Protective Bag
The plastic bags keep the rolls clean; and probably dry. If you keep labels in an open environment, be sure to cut off the outside layer or page on top of the stack before running it through the printer.  This steps eliminates a large part of the dust that could be carried into the printer and thus the printhead.

If you have a very dusty environment, consider adding an enclosure for your printer.

C3500 Dust Enclosure
C3500 Dust Protection Enclosure

We sell enclosures made with ABS plastic which is resistant to corrosion in damp or wet environments.  In addition, the enclosure we sell are printer specific; for the C3500, C7500 and the C831 printers.  Printer specific enclosures provide more protection; not just a box with a cut-out for the label to come out of the printer/enclosure.

Plus, the enclosures we sell come with a filter and fan to provide negative air pressure. 

The negative air pressure blows air out the front slot reducing the probability for dust to enter where the labels are ejected from the enclosure.

Finally, the enclosure we sell are affordable; making an additional small investment to keep your label printer assets running as required.  You don’t want to have your production shut down because of dust and a plugged inkjet nozzle.

And if you print labels in a wash down area, contact us as well.  We sell slightly different versions of these enclosures for where water is mandatory.

Although keeping labels in plastic bags, configuring your printers not to “check nozzles” and purchasing enclosures are not the perfect solutions for a dusty or wet environment, they do provide additional insurance and protection for your label printer assets.  Contact us if we can help you protect or configure your label printers.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"Special" Labels Required

Most every day or at least every week, we get requests for “special” labels.  Not Church Lady “Special” however:

What I mean by special are labels that are NOT matte paper, gloss paper or matte poly; the standard labels available for on demand color label printing.

GP-C831 Opaque Label
Opaque Label

Here are four types of special labels we sell for specific applications.

First, we’re getting calls of “Opaque” labels.  These labels are required to cover up existing labels, eliminating the requirement to remove the previous labels.  We have companies using these labels on drums that are imported into the USA from 3rd party companies.  To make these labels light proof, we have added an opaque adhesive:

GP-C831 Opaque Label
Black Adhesive on Opaque Label
In the picture, you can see how the adhesive blocks the light to prevent the underling image to show through.  For this application, the opaque label works great.

Second and in addition to opaque, we’re selling “Removable” labels; labels that you can remove after applying.

Removable C3500 Label
Removable C3500 Label on Glass
Removable C3500 Label
Removable C3500 Label on Glass
These labels are made of poly so they don’t tear.  Plus they have an adhesive that is durable, yet will peel without leaving residue behind.   We’re selling these labels for companies who want to ship product to Europe using English/German GHS language; and then relabel in French for example.  For this application, the removable labels work perfect.

Third, we’re selling labels for the cryogenic storage of chemicals; down to -80 degrees F.

Cryogenic C3500 Labels
Cryogenic C3500 Labels

Again, these labels are made of poly; and have an adhesive that works down to the required -80F temperature.  On the picture above with the .625” tall label, the font is only 4 point.  We’re getting good print quality for such a small font and images on these labels.

Fourth, we have an eggshell paper. Wikipedia says eggshell is meant as a representation of the average color of a chicken egg.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggshell_(color)

Inkjet Eggshell Paper Labels
Eggshell Color Paper Labels

Combined with the print quality from the C7500, the eggshell paper produced a beautiful label.  See the label from our customer, Hummingbird Market above.  You may find our earlier post on Hummingbird Market of interest:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/03/customizing-my-nectar.html.  We can also get this same paper in white.

You may be saying, “These types of labels are readily available for thermal transfer printers; they’re not special”.  However, we’re selling these labels for inkjet printers.  We’ve worked with our plant for some time to get these types of labels produced.

Two types of labels we’re still testing are inkjet coated film and gloss poly.  We’ve not really found materials that are sufficiently durable and affordable.  You might find our earlier post on this topic of interest:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/10/inkjet-coated-gloss-clear-labels.html

When you have a unique application or need “Special” labels, contact us here at Color Label Solutions.  We’ve find the labels you need.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Simple GHS

Not long ago, I sold and supported a college deploying a GHS labeling solution for their chemistry lab.

This lab needed an easy means to create GHS labels for their packages.  Like most college labs, they repackage into smaller containers for their students to use.  In the past, they would hand-write or maybe type onto a label the contents to place on the container.  Now under GHS, these containers should have the appropriate content to notify the people handing them of the hazards.  It has taken some work for my college customer to build the label formats for her lab.

In addition to a college lab, I recently sold and supported a major manufacturer who workers repackage selected chemicals for use on the factory floor.  Again, they repackage chemicals from larger to smaller containers.  This manufacturer had the capability to build a kiosk to support the new GHS labeling requirements for their employees.  But not every manufacturer or college has the time or knowledge to build a GHS solution.

With the understanding of the need of labs such as colleges and manufacturers, we sought an easy to use solution to create and print GHS labels; and created Simple GHS.

GHS Label

Perfect for chemistry labs, kiosks for workers who repackage chemicals, companies with a limited number of products and any situation where GHS labels in a standard format are wanted.  Simple GHS makes it easy for you to print GHS labels.

Simple GHS Label

Using Simple GHS is easy.  First load the data into the application.  After selecting “Manage Chemicals”, you simply copy and paste the 6 pieces of information from an electronic SDS and select the appropriate GHS Pictograms in Simple GHS.

Simple GHS

  •        Chemical Name or CAS Number
  •        Complete Chemical Name
  •        UN Number
  •        CAS Number
  •        Hazard Codes
  •        Precautionary Codes

Add your Company/Organization number and telephone number.  Then save the information and you’re ready to print GHS labels.

If you have families of chemicals with similar or identical Hazard and Precautionary codes, you can use the first product added as a template; making the next products even easier.  Or if you’re a Microsoft Access expert, you can add the information to the Microsoft Access database that’s incorporated into Simple GHS.

And Simple GHS is affordable, getting all you need to print GHS labels.  For $2,780, you get:
  •          TM-C3500 printer
  •          TM-C3500 configuration file to add to the printer
  •          3 Years Spare-in-the-Air (SITA) warranty on the TM-C3500
  •          1 Set Of Spare Ink
  •          1 SJMB 3500 Spare Maintenance Kit
  •          1 Case of 12 rolls of either 3” or 4” x 1,200” Continuous Matte Poly Labels
  •          NiceLabel Powerforms Desktop Runtime
  •          Online support to help you get started

Learn more about Simple GHS here:  http://ghs.solutions/Simple-GHS.html

After purchasing Simple GHS, deployment is easy as well.  First you download the Nicelabel Powerforms Runtime application: http://www.nicelabel.com/downloads/nicelabel-powerforms-desktop 

When prompted, add the software license number provided by Color Label Solutions.  Then download and run the Simple GHS Installer: 

Simple GHS

The Installer adds a “GHS” directory to your C drive:

By clicking the “Printing” subdirectory, Simple GHS opens and you’re ready to start adding data and printing GHS Labels:

Simple GHS

Simple GHS is perfect for organizations or companies that repackage a limited number of chemicals who want a GHS label that is easy to use.  Just add the data for your compounds; and print.

If you work in one of these types of organizations, contact us to learn more or purchase Simple GHS to start printing your own GHS labels.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Recently, I had the opportunity to test a 495 color label printer from VIP. http://vipcolor.com/products/printer-vp495/

VIP 495
 VIP is positioning this printer for GHS labels.  However, I was hoping for a printer for durable, high resolution print quality for small manufactures; those companies who need to produce “prime labels” to convey their brand image.  We get calls all the time from start up or small cosmetics, food, beverage, other manufacturers who want to produce great looking color labels on demand. 

From my testing, I like to share with you what I found, both the positives and negatives, to help you decide if this color label printer is for you.  From the time that the printer arrived, I felt the out-of-the-box experience was great.

When opening up the boxes, I found the printer well package and protected;

And easy to setup.  I did find the labeling of the ink a bit odd as you can see easily the HP label behind the VIP label.

VIP495 Ink

Not only the packaging was positive, but I found the setup instructions on line easily; and easy to follow.

In the entire process, the only issue I had was setting up the unwinder.  I was not confident that I had the printer setting in the alignment plate holes correctly. 

VIP Tech support suggested I use my finger to gauge the distance on each side of the printer; which made me feel a more confident about the unwinder set up.  Overall, the out-of-the-box experience was very positive.

Once setup, I had my second positive experience; the print quality was great, enabling me to print full-bleed easily.  Below is a 4” x 3” matte paper label printed full bleed.  Looked great.

Full Bleed Label Printing

To get the labels to print correctly on some materials, I did have to change the settings from matte to gloss.  It seems the matte laid down too much ink on both the matte paper and Kimdura.  Once the gloss was selected the print looked good.  Also, I had to contact tech support to find the setting for continuous media.

After printing on paper, I printed on Kimdura to test the durability of the ink/media.  While testing this combination of label and ink, I found the third important aspect of the VIP 495; the labels printed with the VIP 495 are very durable, withstanding water as well as alcohol, hand sanitizer and acetone.  After selling dye based printers, I believe this durability is a key requirement for most every application.  Yes; certain manufacturers may be able to use labels made with dye based inks; but labels that run with some water or a common chemical are a real problem.  Personally, I’ve wasted a lot of time with printers that use dye based inks.

Also while printing, I found the fourth positive aspect of the VIP printer; the menu was easy to follow and use. 

It seemed a bit “old school” with the button pushes, but was very intuitive.

Fifth positive aspect was the driver; created by Seagull.  As I use BarTender frequently, the fact the driver was developed by Seagull made it very intuitive.  I immediately printed using BarTender; very simple to do.  Although I did not use it, the VIP 495 comes with an “Ultra Lite” version of BarTender.

Overall these 5 aspects of the VIP495 were very positive.  But I found two key negatives with the printer.

First, time to first print is a problem.  On this relatively small size PDF (249 KB)

and connected via USB to my computer, time to first print and eject was between 2 minutes 52 seconds and 2 minutes and 56 seconds.  VIP printed the same label and found different results; 49 seconds plus the time to eject the label.  I can imagine the delay would be longer or may time-out when connected to a network.  I printed this same image via our office network in less than 10 seconds using a TM-C3500.  Larger batch runs may make this delay seem less onerous, but would still seem to be a problem in a manufacturing environment.

In addition to time to first print, I found the second issue with the VIP 495 to be the ink cost.  To print the PDF above, the ink cost was estimated between $0.061 and $0.074:

This ink cost does not include the cost of printheads.  As I understand, you need to replace the printheads approximately every 36 cartridges.  At $125 per printhead, this price raises the cost of an ink cartridge by $3.47. 

As a comparison, I found the ink cost of this label using the TM-C3500 to be $0.022:

However, the print quality on the C3500 for full bleed, prime labels may not be sufficient.

According to Mark Lewis, Director of Sales and Marketing for VIP Printers, "The VP495 prints high resolution images (1200 x 1200 dpi) producing beautiful labels with durability suitable to GHS, outdoor or chemical applications.  The printer prints up to 8.5" web width on continuous, fan-fold & roll media.  It also meets the stringent BS 5609 maritime conditions for durability."  

With costs in the range of $0.06 to $.07 for a 4” x 6” with only limited coverage, consumable printheads and a MSRP of $3,500, the VIP 495 appears to be an expensive option for on-demand color label printing.

With the VIP 495, the overall summary seems to be the tradeoff between high print quality versus the cost of the ink.  If you need high print quality for your on-demand color labels, the VIP 495 is an option to consider.  Contact us to discuss your color label printing needs.

Guy Mikel