Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Monday, March 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

LCX603 Labels
LCX603 Labels

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

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

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

LCX603
LCX603

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

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

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

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

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

Die Cutter

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

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

Watch the LCX603 produce labels here:


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

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, March 20, 2016

300x Color Label Printer: Top 10

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

Neuralabel 300x Training

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

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

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

300x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

300x Winders

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

300x Label Jammed
Label Jammed in 300x

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

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

300x Ink Cartridge
300x Ink Cartridge

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

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

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

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Printing From Epson Label Printers Using Macs

(From Guest Blogger-Tim Semic, Support Manager)

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Macintosh C3500 Print Driver

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

C3500 Label Printing Using Macs
Installing Bartender 2016 Onto VM.

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

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


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

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Color Adds Meeting "BUZZ"

Technology marketing is what BuzzBee (http://buzzbee.biz/)  does; it’s all they do; and they’re good at it. On their website, BuzzBee describes themselves as “marketers who know technology; technology geeks who know marketing.” With expertise in Alliance Marketing, Product and Service Marketing, Field Sales Enablement, Partner Readiness, and Demand Generation, BuzzBee is a Marketing firm focused strictly on clients.


Recently, BuzzBee had an opportunity with a Microsoft client to support their marketing efforts with the Office 365 team.  According to Brian Keefe, BuzzBee Office and IT Mgr, “BuzzBee was asked to design and print an individualized sticker as a booth giveaway at our client’s internal sales force trade show. The various colors selected by our client were part of the Office 365 group brand. Our client wanted attendees to walk away with a branded large format, customized label to put on the lid of their laptops.”


Based on their requirements, we suggested BuzzBee use a C3500 color label printer, durable matte poly continuous labels in various lengths and BarTender Professional to design and print the customized labels.   




Brian relates, “BarTender had the right features to do the job we needed; a good basic tool.  I'm not a designer but our Design Team was able to easily navigate the UI and find the features they needed. We haven't run into any limitations as of yet.”

Bartender was configured to use one of 5 templates for each of the 5 brand colors to create an individualized sticker for visitors to the booth. These templates were easily manipulated in Bartender to fit each visitor’s name, title or whatever they desired. A logo and flag shape was also part of the design. It took less than a minute to create a custom sticker and print it on the C3500. 400+ labels were printed during the two days of the show with the C3500 performing like a champ. Changing out media was a snap as more than four rolls were used. Only one issue during the two days presented itself.

C3500 Meeting Labels

As the labels were going on laptops, we recommended the durable Kimdura poly.  This label media not only is abrasion resistant, a key requirement for this application, but also is water fast and chemical resistant.

Brian continues, “Color Label Solutions was able to come up with a great solution, the C3500; and even provided tech support to get us up to speed on the use of this label printer. With just one hour on the phone with a tech that remoted into the laptop we used with the printer, drivers and Bartender software was installed and configured. I was given a thorough tour of the software and walked through the various preferences that needed to be set up. I only had one problem during the entire show and tech support was just a phone call away to get us up and running quickly”.

C3500 Meeting Labels

The issue occurred when a roll of media was inserted into the printer.  The peel strip separated from the liner, causing a media jam.  If you find the strip peeling, I suggest you remove the section of the label before inserting the roll into the printer.  Or just contact us.

If you need to provide meeting support like BuzzBee including names tags, you might find this post of interest:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/05/on-demand-event-tags.html

At Color Label Solutions, it’s important to us that we get you started printing quickly and easily; and keep you printing.  Further, we aim to keep you printing; so customers can contact us anytime for questions or support.  We’d love to work with you on your on-demand color label printing solution.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Thursday, February 18, 2016

It’s Time (To Trade-In Your Printers)


Good news for those of you considering purchasing new color label printers.  Epson America has announced a trade-in rebate program for those organizations purchasing either a C3500, C831 or C7500 color label printer.  When you trade-in one of these types of printers:

Any Thermal Transfer Printer
Zebra Trade In Rebate

Any Color Laser Printer
Laser Printer Trade In Rebate

ANY Inkjet Printer


And purchase from January 4th to June 30th, 2016 one of these printers (Even if you have already bought one this year):

C3500

C3500 Trade In Rebate
Purchase a C3500 and accessories here: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/TM-C3500

C831

C831 Trade In Rebate

Purchase a C831 and accessories here: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/gp-c831 

C7500


C7500 Trade In Rebate

Purchase a C7500 or C7500G and accessories here: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/C7500

You'll qualify for these rebates:

  • $350 for the C3500 and C831
  • $750 for the C7500


Epson will publish shortly the details of how to return/ship the printer (at Epson’s cost) and how to enroll for the rebate.  We’ll insure you get your rebate for any purchases and returns you have completed.

From my perspective, these rebates are great for the following current situations:

  • C3400 user: Wanting to improve print quality and reduce ink costs by at least 50%.  No Brainer!!
  • Chemical company: required to comply with GHS.  Epson printers have become the standard to meet this requirement.
  • Thermal Transfer user: decided to move from monochrome (primarily black) to color to eliminate inventory of preprinted labels.
  • New Prime Label producer: Needs to print high-quality labels for their products.
  • Old Color Label Printer user: Current users of label printers tired of the costs and hassles of operating these printers: Memjet OEM’s (Afinia L-801, VIP700, Colordyne, etc.) QLS 4100, QLS Kiaro, QLS Vivo, Toshiba Tech 4-Color Thermal Transfer, VIP 485, VIP 495, Sheet Fed Laser such as the Lexmark 792 or Okidata C711, or any other color label printer ready for recycling.


If you are one of these types of organizations, contact us to insure you qualify for the rebate; and to get your new Epson color label printer ordered.  It’s Time To Trade Up!

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670


Sunday, February 14, 2016

CLS At WestPack 2016

As a first-time exhibitor at Westpack, our booth had challenges; it was in the corner, in the dark and behind a wall erected by an exhibitor. Nevertheless, Color Label Solutions had a tremendous success at WestPack 2016.


Westpack 2016

From my perspective, two reasons contributed to our success.  First, we launched February 9th, our color corrugated printer.  As the first affordable in-plant corrugated printer, our new device stopped people. “I’ve never seen anything like this printer”, said attendees when they came to our booth.  As you may not have attended Westpack, watch my team print 8” square white corrugated pads.  It runs so fast they have trouble pitching and catching the pads.


And watch us produce color images, including inverted images on multiple sides of a carton, running at half speed; 12 meters per second.


What I like the best about this solution is the print quality.  Check out a close up of the printed image:

Color Corrugated Printer
Color Corrugated Printer

It may not be as good as printing on an inkjet coated label; but the image quality is very good.

According to one attendee, “With this solution, we could eliminate labels and the labeling process.  Although we’re used to applying labels, it is an intensive process; either by hand or with an applicator.  With the color corrugated printer, we could completely eliminate the process and costs of labeling.”

With the color corrugated printer, ink costs should be approximately equal to printing on labels.  This 4” x 12” image would cost roughly $0.04 to print.


As a part of successful launch at Westpack, we’ve decided to offer a “show special” on the color corrugated printer.  Visit our new website www.directtocorrugated.com,  and/or contact us to learn how you can save money now on our new, on-demand packaging printer.

The second reason we were a success at WestPack was showing the complete line of label printers; especially the C7500 and C7500G.  These printers produced great looking labels.

C7500 C7500G
Top-C7500 On Matte Paper
Bottom-C7500G On Gloss Paper
Said one attendee, “I had no idea that you could print such nice labels so easily.  Label printing technology has advanced with the C7500 to enable this type of print quality. SMARK Chemical is using the C7500 for their labels.  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2015/02/first-of-many-ii.html.  And watch me print 100 4” x 6” labels in one minute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAzIYE3uIRE.

Overall, we met with more than 90 people according to the lead retrieval system at Westpack.  But we spoke to many more about the products in our booth and the solutions we provide.  Contact us about how we can support your label and corrugated box printing with new, effective, and colorful solutions.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Friday, February 5, 2016

Proper Label Application

Recently, I had two customers with issues of the labels adhering to their containers.


Label Adhering Improperly


Labels Adhering Improperly
In the process of investigating these adherence issues, I learned something about labels that I wanted to share.

As background, both of these labels were made of paper. Plus both were being applied in relatively cool warehouse temperatures as it is winter.  Also, these labels were relatively large; some over 11” long.  Lastly, the paper and adhesive (a true high performance adhesive) is a very large selling label product, with a large volume production.  It’s used across the world.

After learning of the issues, we contacted the original manufacturer of the paper labels; and had them test the adhesive.  During the tests, they learned the adhesive was applied consistently; no issue.  However, they asked, “how was the label applied?”  From this question, I learned how you apply the label makes a difference in adhesion.

According to the manufacturer, “In the photos, it looks like it is the same corner is lifting. One or two corner edge lift is often caused by how the label is removed from the liner. Believe it or not there is a correct and incorrect way to remove a label from the liner.”

Continuing, the manufacturer said, “The incorrect way to remove a label from the liner will break the paper fibers resulting in one or two corners of the label lifting away from the application surface over a period of time.  Do not pull the label back against itself, this results in a tight curl which breaks paper fibers and induces label edge lift – see photos.”


Correct/Incorrect Way To Apply Labels
“The correct way to avoid label adhesion issues is to remove the liner from the label.
Adequate pressure needs to be applied across the entire label to ensure adhesive contact with the surface of the substrate being labeled”, stated the manufacturer.

Once we learned of this application technique, we were able to replicate the adherence issue ourselves:


To help further, we found a video from Datamax O’Neil on the proper way to separate the liner from the paper.   

Who knew this technique could make such a big difference!

Please know; I’m not saying application will solve all adhesion/adhesive issues involving labels.  But you can improve the look and function of labels with proper application.

And if you need more effective and better support for your labels, contact us.  We’ll help you find the best label option for your print on-demand color solution.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670