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

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's June 1st; Do You Know Where Your Labels Are?

It’s Almost June 1st. Do you have a source of supply for your GHS Labels? Color Label Solutions can help.

Recently, I started thinking about June 1, 2015 wondering about the implications of this date when all chemical producers must comply with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in the United States. https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/ghs.html 

(For a GHS Primer:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-h-is-ghs-opportunity.html.  Or search for one of the other 39 posts around GHS on our blog:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/). 

Administered by OSHA, the only exception to the GHS standard is for existing label product which may be shipped until December 1, 2015.

The implication of this new requirement came to the front of my mind when a company contacted us May 1st who had done nothing to meet this deadline.   I wondered, “How many other companies are in this same position or have not started labeling their products with GHS labels?”

GHS Label

Some of these products requiring GHS labels are sold in drums and bulk containers, with a total market production and reconditioning of approximately 80 million per year. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/pptpresentations/oshaghsworkshop/slide2.html. Many or most of these containers are used for chemicals.

Although almost here, this system was initiated in the 1990’s by the United Nations to standardize the classification and communication of hazards associated with the $5.2 trillion (2013) global chemical business. http://www.statista.com/statistics/302081/revenue-of-global-chemical-industry/ or which $769 billion is the market in the United States  http://selectusa.commerce.gov/industry-snapshots/chemical-industry-united-states

So on June 1st, 9,000 companies with 13,500 facilities according to the EPA http://www.epa.gov/sectors/sectorinfo/sectorprofiles/chemical.html will have to begin printing and applying GHS labels to 945,000 products according to OSHA.  https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/pptpresentations/oshaghsworkshop/slide2.html

Just imagine, if these 945,000 products require only 1,000 labels on average a month, we’ll need 945 million new or different designed labels.  I wondered, “Where will companies get all of these new labels in less than three weeks?”  From my perspective, three types of companies will emerge.

First, some companies will continue to use their existing pre-printed label providers with just different label designs incorporating the appropriate language and pictograms required by GHS.

Second, some companies will begin to produce their now variable color labels on-demand, requiring new label designs, software, printers and labels.  Literally hundreds of millions of new labels could be required for production on June 1st.

But who is going to manufacturer and provide these hundreds of millions of new labels for on-demand color?  Given the immediate and significant increase in demand, the lead time for labels will be more than three weeks. I can easily imagine not all companies will be able to purchase and take delivery of the new GHS labels they require.  If you are one of these companies, I recommend strongly that you have sufficient labels in inventory and on order to get you through this initial period.  Contact us to purchase more labels; to insure you have inventory in place.

Third, some companies will not be ready for GHS.  Although OSHA has set selective enforcement guidance on the new GHS labeling requirements, http://nacd.com/default/assets/File/GHS_Enforcement_Guidance0215.pdf, don't be one of these types of companies that will need to show good faith efforts to prevent non-compliance penalties.

If you still do not have a GHS label solution deployed, contact us.  We’ll help you get the hardware and software in place as well as recommend the sizes/types of labels you need to be ready for GHS.  We'll make sure you know where your label are!

Guy Mikel

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"PORTS" smith

Have you ever figured out how to do something that everyone seeming knew already?  That’s how I feel about setting up a GP-C831 printer on a network.

GP-C831 Network

Now you should know; I’ve added a lot of label printers to networks over the years.  But I’ve relied on our customer’s Network Administrators or “Navi’s” to do all the work for me.  For example, you can find the TM-C3500 Install Navi here: http://www.pos.epson.com/developers/techresdetails.htm?productpk=696

GP-C831 Driver

With the install Navi, it steps you through the process of adding a printer to the network, including discovering the printer.  The Navi works great if the printer and the computer are on the “same” subnet.  If the computer and printer are on different subnets, I have received various ideas on how to add the printer to the network; but I was never really confident about how to add a printer correctly.

Recently, however, I’ve ran into a Network potential issue with the C831; no Install Navi.  Epson has not posted an updated Navi with the release of their new driver which enables 8.25” wide printing on the C831.  You may remember my earlier post on this new driver.  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/11/gp-c831-surprise.html

At the same time, I started using a new computer.  Finally, I had to add the C831 printer to the office network in order to send out print samples.   We send print samples to customers most every day.  Not wanting to add the previous driver with the available Navi, I had to take a different tack.

To set up the printer on the network, I downloaded and installed EpsonNet Config Utility from this site: http://www.pos.epson.com/developers/techresdetails.htm?productpk=678

After downloading, I ran the EpsonNet Config and it discovered my printers on the network: 

EpsonNet Config

By selecting Configuration, I was able to set my IP address:

Now that I had the IP address, I had to configure a port for this printer.  I added a port by right clicking on a printer, selecting the 4th option, Printer Properties, then selecting the Ports tab and Add Port using the IP address of the printer I set. 

TM-C3500 Ports

Once the port was configured, I could then download and install the driver. Now you can download the driver for the C831 printer here:  http://www.pos.epson.com/developers/techresdetails.htm?productpk=678

 You need to know if your computer is 32 or 62 bit to select the correct driver.

Once the driver is downloaded, you can run the driver setup until you get to the manual setup:
In the manual setup, you just need to select the available TCIP port that you configured earlier.  And the printer worked great.

But sometimes, EpsonNet config can’t discover the printer.  It may not be able to find the printer as the printer could be on a much different subnet than the computer.  If this happens, you can print the configuration of the C831 printer.  To print the configuration of the printer, you press the Load/Eject and Tear-Off buttons on the C831 printer panel at the same time:

GP-C831 Status

And out pops a C831 Status Sheet with the IP address of the printer:

GP-C831 Status

If you need the ID address of a TM-C3500 printer, press the button beside the Ethernet port at the back of the printer.

TM-C3500 Status

Once you have the IP address, you can access the printer by typing the IP address into the browser:

FYI: access to the printer is password protected by a super-secret password, “epson”.   Clicking on “Network Setup”, enables you to change the IP address of the printer.

With the IP address, you can search for the printer using EpsonNet config as well:

Or just add a port for this IP address as above.

I was very excited to figure out how to add a printer to the network without the aid of the install Navi.  Please remember while reading this post: I’m not a network expert.  But the EpsonNet Config tool and knowing how to find the IP address can assist you in setting up a printer on even a complicated network.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Larger Than 4"

After selling and supporting hundreds of TM-C3500 customers, one question I get all the time is, “Can I use larger than a 4” Outer Diameter roll”?

4" Label Roll, 2" Core

This question results from wanting to change the label roll less often or needing to print and then apply the labels with an applicator.

With the C3500, however, you can’t use just any unwinder and rewinder.  You may remember my post, Death By Inkjet:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/11/death-by-inkjet.html  or my much earlier post on connecting a typical unwinder: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/05/unwinding-large-volumes-of.html

Traditional unwanders built for a thermal transfer printer may work; but may also not work so well.  The C3500 printer uses a vacuum to hold the paper to the printhead; and not pressure like a thermal transfer printer.  Therefore, you can't have any pull or tension on the labels going into or out of the printer.

Given the basic workings of the C3500, I’m selling the C3500-RTR Feed Station to those customers who want to use large diameter rolls. http://allendatagraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/C3500-RTR_Printer_ENGLISH.pdf

C3500-RTR Feed Station
C3500-RTR Feed Station
 This unit has tensioners on the labels going into and coming out of the printer; insuring no tension is occurring on the labels in the printer as well as yielding a tight rewound roll.

With my first encounter with the C3500-RTR, I found the setup a bit confusing.  So here are my additional instructions on setting up this unit.

To start, you should receive two boxes:

Open the larger box first as it has all the parts, instructions and unwinder. In the smaller box, you’ll find the rewind unit, providing all you need to assemble the feed station.

First, take off the nuts from the alignment bracket used to connect the unwind and rewind:

Then attach the alignment bracket to the studs:

Then clip the wrap from the rewind cable to connect to the unwind. Insert cable from rewind into the unwind connector. Don’t force the connector.  Rotate connector to the correct position.  The connector should drop into the correct position.  Then tighten the connector.

Then lower the feet to have a flat surface.  Use wrench to set the feet.

Now load the printer onto the pegs on the alignment plate between the unwind and rewind.

Wiggle the printer to get the printer to set into the pegs.  Or possibly better, get help to set the printer onto the pegs.

Once set, you’ll have the printer in alignment ready to use.

Then plug in the power and USB/Ethernet connections to the printer as well as plug the power into the unwinder. Once connected, you’ll see red laser light onto the back of the printer.  You’ll then place the optical sensor reflector onto the back of the printer.

This optical sensor is what feeds the labels into the printer.  It insures the printer does not have to pull the labels into the rear feed slot. 

After placing the rear reflector, place the reflector tape on the front door where you see the red laser.

Before moving forward, be sure to configure the printer for rear feed.  Navigate to the C3500 Driver to select “Printer Setting” option on the “Maintenance/Utilities” tab, then selection “Option” on the left menu and check Large Roll:

And then in the “General” menu on the left, chose “Media Settings” and then select “Large Diameter Roll, Use Rear Feed Slot”.

After selecting the rear feed option, be sure to choose the correct media detection settings as well as “Apply Settings”. Once applied, you’ll need to turn the printer off/on as well as insert the clear plastic rear feed bracket (found inside the rear feed cover) inside the printer.  I reviewed in detail setting up the printer for rear feed here in this earlier post:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/11/3500-fanfold.html.

Now you are ready to load a roll on a 3” core onto the unwind.  To insure proper alignment, follow these steps.

1. Tighten up the roll of labels first.  Place roll on the side on a table and pull the leading edge of the label tight.  This step will minimize “telescoping” of the roll.
2. Loosen up the chug by turning the knob.  Make sure springs along the chug are loose.
3. After placing the core on the chug, first feed the paper into the printer directly.  This steps insures the paper/roll is straight into the printer.  Once straight, tighten chug.
4. Loosen the media guides at the end of the rollers using the supplied hex wrench.
5. Feed label through the feed rollers (the two center feed rollers are glued to the shaft) by placing the leading edge of the label between the feed rollers and use your fingers to spin the rollers/feed the label through the feed rollers.  This step helps insure the labels are fed straight.
6. Feed sufficient material through the feed rollers and pull back toward the unwound roll.  Then you can again measure to insure the roll/leading edge is straight.
7. Set end media guides on the sides of label using the hex wrench provided.
8. Feed material to reach the printer. 
9. Once confirmed core/labels are straight, mark chug with a pencil to show where to place the next roll.

Once the printer is loaded, I would recommend printing a few labels; then feeding the printed labels through the tension rollers for the rewind.

The C3500-RTR Feed Station makes it easy to print and rewind large rolls using the C3500 printer.  If you want the convenience of changing rolls less frequently or need to rewind printed labels to use on an applicator, I recommend you contact us to get this device.  You’ll save time and trouble printing large label runs.

Guy Mikel