Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fool-Proof GHS Label Solution

Clayton Corporation (http://www.claytoncorp.com/is a full-service manufacturer specializing in the design and development of aerosol valves and plastic components for companies around the world.  Beginning with the valve created for the first aerosol whipped cream, Clayton Corporation grew as it continued to design and manufacture parts for products in the OEM food, dairy, personal care, hardware and industrial building materials industries. Global manufacturers have come to rely on Clayton as the source for innovative product dispensing solutions. Today, Clayton continues to be at the forefront of component design as new materials and products are developed, applying the spirit of quality and innovation that has been its hallmark for more than 50 years.

Clayton’s Mechanical Design Engineer first contacted me in 2015 when working on their GHS label printing solution for the Industrial Building Materials division. A variety of their products required unique but very similar formatted labels to supplement hazard and precautionary information pre-printed on their products. Each label was unique due to the variable data required including part number, product description, weight, EHS #, batch number, sequence number, and a dynamically calculated expiration date that needed to be placed on the labels at print-time on the production line. Additionally, this label would include up to three different languages – dependent on the product market. Another of Clayton’s applications, not included in this blog, was creating GHS labels for some lab chemicals and raw materials.

To help start our discussion, they sent me a draft GHS label:

Clayton Example Label
Clayton Example Label
In addition to the variable data on the label, Clayton needed to create a two-part label; a Part A (Above) and Part B (Below), at the same time.  The labels were to be printed one pair at a time on their production line and applied by an operator wearing gloves.

Based on our discussion, I first created a Form-Fillable PDF for Clayton using Adobe Acrobat.

Printed Example Label
Printed Example Label
This type of label artwork works well when you have limited number of products and limited number of variable data fields. Although easy to do, it opens up the opportunity for operators to enter incorrect data. For these situations, we recommend a label design and printing software application. For Clayton, we recommended BarTender® from Seagull Scientific (www.seagullscientific.com).

Clayton operation managers wanted an easy, nearly fool-proof, method of selecting and initiating the correct product label print operation with minimal operator intervention. To this end, Clayton’s Systems Analyst/Programmer incorporated a bar code on the work order and developed a BarTender data entry form to accept a scanned barcode. From this scan, an Excel database is accessed to retrieve the static product data to fill in the variable label data and to drive the template selection in regard to languages, colors, and whether label parts A or B, or both should be printed. Lastly, they needed to print the labels on demand as the product passes thru the work center. As they did not want any additional operator intervention with the keyboard or desk mouse, Clayton incorporated a foot-controlled switch or foot mouse.  The operator simply presses the foot mouse when a new label is needed and it’s delivered in a few seconds.

Clayton GHS Label Print Station
Data Entry Form displayed. See barcode scanner (right of monitor).
GHS Label Print Station
GHS Label Print Station with Foot Mouse
Additionally, Clayton is using BarTender Print Station to manage and print their GHS labels.

BarTender Print Station
BarTender Print Station
One other key part of the solution was label design. To make it easier to recognize the two different part labels, Clayton color-coded the description and part number on each label. Part A in red, and Part B in blue proved to be a simple, but highly effective means to facilitate accurate label application.

2-Part Clayton GHS Label
2-Part Clayton GHS Label
To make this solution even better, Clayton decided to use 1000-piece stacks of fanfold labels with easy release backing.

Fanfold Matte Poly Labels For GHS
Fanfold Matte Poly Labels For GHS
Clayton wanted a way to print and apply by hand the two part label that would be easy for an operator wearing gloves. The issues with using rolls of labels were both the lower quantity of labels per roll, and the curl made them more difficult to remove the backing, especially while wearing gloves. With two 4” x 4” labels per fold, the two-part label prints and dispenses just as needed. Currently each of their Epson C3500 machines prints in excess of 500 labels per day.

“One of Color Label Solutions’ areas of expertise is GHS — they understand how the technology pieces fit together to build easy-to-use and reliable labeling compliance systems for companies like Clayton,” said Elizabeth Sinclair, Verticals Marketing Manager at Seagull Scientific.

“A GHS label can be complicated — there are many variable data points, and information has to be displayed in a particular way,” Sinclair continued.  “The print-on-demand deployment at Clayton capitalizes on the advanced capabilities of our BarTender label software: using BarTender’s templates to simplify label data management, and BarTender’s interactive data entry forms to limit access to sensitive data, which minimizes the chance of operator error at print time.”

Clayton has built a great GHS label printing solution for their company using color label printers, environment resistant labels, chemical resistant ink, and software components supplied by our company. I’m glad we were able to be of assistance in the creation of this elegant and simple way to print complex GHS labels. Be sure to contact us if you need to make a complex label system simpler.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Monday, November 21, 2016

SPARC Your Cannabis Labels

Serving patients since 2001, SPARC (www.sparcsf.org) is a nonprofit collective dedicated to providing lab-tested, affordable, high quality cannabis and subsidized health services to their members.  They aim to educate their patients about cannabis treatments and other alternative health approaches to supplement their medicine.  SPARC began as a collaboration between several small collectives serving distinct patient populations in San Francisco. SPARC's work was focused primarily on serving low-income patients suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses.


When first speaking, SPARC was looking for a lower cost method to label their products.  According to Justin Morgan, IT Director at Sparc, “We were purchasing 5 different versions of preprinted labels from our bag vendor; and wanted a lower cost means to color code our products.  Color-codes are important for us and our customers.  We use the color codes in both our labels and menus.  The colors differentiate the genetics of our different strains of cannabis.  Purchasing 5 different kinds of bags was expensive in the quantities we were purchasing.  Our hope was to get lower prices by purchasing larger volumes of single white bag; and printing custom color labels to affix to them.”



After understanding the requirements, I printed and sent samples to Sparc to test.

SPARC Sample Label
SPARC Sample Label
Based on the recreated label format, I estimated the ink cost at $0.002/label.  In addition, I calculated the costs of continuous labels at $0.005 each.  The overall costs of these labels were much less than 1 penny each.

After hearing the estimated costs, Sparc decided to test the C3500.  We sent them a demo printer to run with the label application, BarTender.  Justin said, “we used BarTender to add the variable data in black print to our labels.  To run the C3500, we just recreated the label template adding a variable image field to the existing label and database.”

Sparc Test Labels
Sparc Test Labels
As a first draft, the BarTender label template was not perfect; with some of the print off the edges of the label.  Working with Justin, we got the labels centered by taking into the account of the .06” non-printable boundary.  With the new drivers, you can print to the edge of the labels.

Sparc Finished Label
Sparc Finished Label

Based on this work, Sparc purchased a C3500 and gloss paper labels.  Since the initial purchase, Sparc has added matte poly labels for their smaller vials.  “We needed the poly to work with the small circumference packaging”, says Justin.   The poly labels are more conformable with less memory than paper.  These advantages make the poly labels perform better for tighter wrapping applications.

Sparc Finished Label
Sparc Finished Label

In addition to the color-coded finished good labels, Sparc need a means to track their plants in production.  Justin says, “we were hand writing up labels for our individual plants; and we needed a less labor-intensive means for their work.”  Based on this requirement, we sold Sparc a thermal transfer printer and “Pot Stakes” to track their production.
Printed Pot Stake
Printed Pot Stake


“Using the pot stakes are much easier and faster than the hand labeling we were doing previously” says Justin.

Sparc Finished Label
Sparc Finished Label
Justin says, “overall, I’ve found the label printing solution incredible; especially the BarTender integration.  Also, we’re very happy with the quality of the print. We’ve found a large cost and labor savings providing a great return on our investment in the label printers and software.” 

Sparc Labels
Sparc Labels
In the past, we worked with other cannabis vendors.  Recently, we published this post about Dream City;  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2016/10/dreamy-labels.html 

And from a long time ago, a post covering our long-time customer Green Ticket Bakery who now has upgraded to a C3500 to print their labels: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/06/baking-medicinal-brownies-printing.html 


We love and support all of our customers; but we especially appreciate long-time customers such as Sparc.  If you need labels for your cannabis products; or need color coded labels to improve your work processes, contact us.  We can help!


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

C7500GE

This month, Epson launched the new C7500 GE (Graphics Edition) which combines the C7500G printer and the Wasatch SoftRIP Raster Image Control (RIP) software.  The C7500GE is targeted for both end users and professional printers who need more precise color/image control of their print output.


As background, a raster image processor (RIP) is a component used in a printing system which produces a raster image also known as a bitmap. Such a bitmap is used by a later stage of the printing system to produce the printed output. 

With the new SoftRIP Label Edition, Wasatch says "you get:

  • Total color control/matching
  • Extended color gamut
  • Smooth color and shade management
  • Flexible image manipulation and placement
  • Continuous media support
  • Full bleed printing
  • Easy to use interface


You can learn more about the new Wasatch RIP at https://www.wasatch.com/labels.html".

Or you can review my earlier posts on the new C7500GE and the RIP:



To learn more about the RIP, I started printing for a customer who was concerned about color matching.  Printing directly from a PDF did not produce the red and brown colors expected.

First with PMS 187 on gloss paper.  It wasn’t exactly the correct shade of red.

 
ColorTone Matching PMS 187
ColorTone Matching PMS 187
PMS 187 has a RGB value of 166, 25, 46.

Next I had to match a label with PMS color 463 which has a RGB value of 116,79, 40.

ColorTone Matching PMS 463
Although close, both colors were not exactly a match; you could see the difference.  To find a closer match, I used the Color Tone Matching assistant to provide color swatches of related colors to show a closer match was possible. Again PMS 187:

C7500G ColorTone Matching Assistant
C7500G ColorTone Matching Assistant
And PMS 463:

C7500G ColorTone Matching Assistant
C7500G ColorTone Matching Assistant
Based on the results from printing directly from a PDF, I decided to use the Wasatch SoftRIP to see if a closer color match was possible.  Before starting to use the SoftRIP, I recommend watching this starter video for printing die-cut labels:


And watching this video for printing continuous labels requiring post-printing finishing:


To start using the RIP, first I had to download the latest image configurations.  Wasatch provides these files which profile a variety of available label media.  By profiling the label media, better color matching is possible. 


After downloading the image configuration, I set up my printer. First I set up the printer by selecting the gear icon on top:

SoftRIP Printer Settings
SoftRIP Printer Settings
You’ll need to confirm the correct image configuration, paper width margins and insure your printer is selected.  Then on the labels tab, I selected printer properties and edited the printer properties to match your situation; especially die cut label-gap setting and size.

SoftRIP Printer Properties
SoftRIP Printer Properties
Once the printer and an image configuration was selected, I opened an eps file in SoftRIP:

SoftRIP Size Tab
SoftRIP Size Tab
At this point, I had to rotate the image 90 degrees to fit on the label; and I decided to crop the picture.  To crop, I selected a box around the image (by holding down the left mouse button as I created a box), and right click on the image to select “Zoom into Crop Box”.

After cropping, I selected the number of copies I wanted (Rows) and selected center both width and height.  I wanted the image on the center of this label as I really did not have the correct size in the printer.

SoftRIP Number of Rows
SoftRIP Number of Rows
 Once I had the page set, I added the color included in the original eps file.  To add a special color, I selected “Color” on the main menu, then selected “Add Named Colors”.  The Pantone 187C was added.

SoftRIP Special Colors
SoftRIP Special Colors
Now I was ready to print. I first printed with one gloss image configuration; and then a different gloss image configuration. The difference in the two print outputs was dramatic.

SoftRIP Image Configuration Color Differences
SoftRIP Image Configuration Color Differences
The bottom was identical to the output from printing from the PDF; and the top was a very close match to the original target color.  Based on this simple test, label media and image configuration make a big difference in color output.

To help find the correct color match, you can also select Color Neighborhood from the color menu.  This opens up a dialog box to select the target color:

SoftRIP Color Neighborhood
SoftRIP Color Neighborhood
Once the correct RGB color is entered, another dialog box appears to select the Delta E of the colors. Delta E is a metric for understanding how the human eye perceives color difference. The term delta comes from mathematics, meaning change in a variable or function. The suffix E references the German word Empfindung, which broadly means sensation. Generally, a Delta E of 2 is believed to be the minimum a human can perceive.

SoftRIP Delta E
SoftRIP Delta E
After selecting OK, you save the color neighbor as a PostScript file. Then open the file up in SoftRIP.  As the page size is 10.5 x 10.5, it is recommended to crop a section of the color neighborhood and print to get the related colors.

SoftRIP Color Neighborhood
Color Neighborhood should help you identify a more appropriate match when the original is slightly incorrect.

After my initial work, I found the SoftRIP potentially a great tool for certain customers.  According to Ryan Lee, Sales at Wasatch, “Softrip Label Edition should fit end users, printers and label converters who need to print customized, color precise labels.  Combined with the C7500G, these customers have a reliable label printing option.  Other available color label printers may be fast, but not as easy to use or durable as the C7500.  The C7500GE is a great label printing solution.”

The C7500GE costs $9,450 and comes not only with the Wasatch SoftRIP, but also 1 year of on-site service on the printer; a value of $1,029.  The SoftRIP comes with 6 months of support from registration and covers software updates and remote tech support access. 

For professional printers and converters, I see the C7500GE solution as a breakthrough; enabling these companies to offer digital label printing at a fraction of the investment of other options.  For end users, now you can get more precise color matching on-demand.

If you need to have accurate colortone matching, contact us to discuss how the C7500GE fits into your operation.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New Option For Pharmacy/Anesthesia Labels

The Institute for Safe Medication Practice has issued designed principals for safe medication labeling (http://www.ismp.org/tools/guidelines/labelFormats/comments/default.asp).    I wrote about these recommendations in an earlier post: 


ClariSafe Label
ClariSafe Label
But how many prescription labels do you see with larger fonts, highlights, pill images and printed on-demand color warnings?  Virtually none.

And did you know the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) issued some years ago recommendations anesthesia labeling. 


As I understand, these recommendations for anesthesia have been widely accepted, but not fully implemented.

Anesthesia Example Label
Anesthesia Example Label
So why would one set of recommendations be accepted for safer labels, but not the others?  Although I have don’t know for sure, I would bet the primary reason is the printer hardware cost and size.

Pharmacies can’t or don’t want to spend the money for new, color printers.  Current color label printer options cost over $1,000; and as much as $1,800.   To move to color across the world would cost millions of dollars.

In addition, current color label printers would take a great deal of desktop real estate.  Pharmacies have limited space for printing labels.

Now, a new option is available for the printing of color labels on-demand for pharmacies and anesthesia departments.  The ClariSafe printer provides a lower cost and smaller footprint option to print pharmacy labels on-demand.

ClariSafe Label Printer from Addmaster
ClariSafe Label Printer from Addmaster
The ClariSafe Label Printer comes from Addmaster (www.addmaster.com).   For over 52 years, Addmaster has used technology to improve how businesses work— increasing productivity, lowering operating costs and improving profitability. Since the early 1980’s Addmaster has developed and manufactured inkjet printing solutions for the world’s most unique and demanding applications. They have installed over 350,000 Addmaster Inkjet printers worldwide. A hallmark of Addmaster’s design philosophy is to elevate inkjet technology to the highest levels of performance and durability. Today, a vast number of inkjet printers installed decades ago are still in use.

When reviewing the ClariSafe printer, I see two negatives; but a great deal of positives.  As for negatives, you will not use the ClariSafe printer to create label masterpieces.  Although the printer has up to 1200 dpi resolution, you would not use this resolution for production printing.  You need to see this printer as an inexpensive means to produce color coded labels with the capability to add images; at a price much less than using Zebra’s IQ color. 


With IQ color, you have to order special labels with a preexisting color area made into the label.  You have only a limited number of monochrome colors in a predetermined area.  In addition, you do not have the capability to add images.  The ClariSafe label printer is a much better option for anyone using IQ Color.

In addition to print quality, the second negative is currently no Windows driver exists for the ClariSafe printer. Addmaster has an application to select the image you want to print as a TIFF file; and print on-demand.  But according to Alex Shaffer, Director of Business Development for Addmaster, “we’ll create the application to meet the customer’s need for print on-demand color labels.  With our background in creating unique applications in the banking industry, we have the capability to build browser-based or PDF printing applications for our pharmacy and healthcare customers as well.”

ClariSafe Printing Application
ClariSafe Printing Application

With only 2 negatives, the ClariSafe printer offers many positives.  First, the printer costs only $599.90; 40% less than the current least expensive color label printer and 1/3 the price of the largest selling, affordable color label printer; the C3500.  Alex says, “working with our partner, HP, we created the ClariSafe printer to make it easy and affordable way for pharmacies, healthcare providers and other companies to print color labels on-demand.”  For this new printer, Addmaster used color inkjet technology from HP.  But unlike other HP partner companies, Addmaster created a new printer; not just repurposed an existing printer.  “With our background in producing hundreds of thousands of inexpensive inkjet printers, Addmaster knew how to bring to market an affordable, low cost label printer” says Alex.

Second, the ClariSafe printer has a very fast time to first print.  Watch me print a label using this new printer.


Third, the ClariSafe printer is small; only 7” x 11” x 6”.  This size makes it perfect for desktops where space may be a premium.

ClariSafe
ClariSafe
Fourth, the ClariSafe printer uses either continuous or die cut labels; from .5” to 2.5” wide.  With the built-in cutter, you can cut labels to length.  Changing the firmware enables you to use die cut labels as well.  The capability to print small labels and 2D barcodes at a high resolution may make this printer perfect for small electronic labels containing very tiny barcodes.  Currently available 600 DPI thermal transfer printers for electronic barcode labels cost thousands of dollars.

ClariSafe Ink Cartridge
ClariSafe Ink Cartridge
Fifth, the Clarisafe printer uses only one, tri-color cartridge that you can change in seconds.  And when changing the cartridge, you change the printhead, making plug nozzles a thing of the past.  HP’s Inkjet Technology drives the printing; and enables the constant updating of the printhead.  According to Alex, “no plugged nozzles means little to no ink is consumed cleaning inkjet nozzles.  At most, picoliters (1 trillionth of a liter) are wasted. So more ink is available to use to print, lowering your printing cost. Given the low amount of ink is wasted, no maintenance kits are required to hold the wasted ink.  The HP technology makes affordable label printing possible.”

ClariSafe is an interesting new development in the on-demand color label printing market.  If you want to start meeting the recommendations for safer pharmacy or anesthesia labels in color and on-demand; or need an inexpensive way to print color coded labels, contact us to discuss how ClariSafe printer could fit your operation.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ink & Pigments

Quantum Tattoo Ink (http://quantumtattooink.com/) and (https://www.facebook.com/quantumtattooink/offers the best tattoo inks and tattoo pigments in the world.  Located in Los Angeles, Quantum’s customers create works of art with the wide variety of colored pigments they offer.


To label their hundreds of different pigments, Quantum was purchasing preprinted labels on sheets.


Preprinted, Sheet-Fed Labels
Preprinted, Sheet-Fed Labels
On the preprinted labels, they had to check-mark by hand the size of container and lot number for each bottle.  “Writing by hand on the bottle was a difficult step” according to Philip Jay of Quantum Tattoo.

Given their large number of SKU’s, this process was time consuming and expensive.  “We had to find a different way to label our products.  We could not keep purchasing large quantities of preprinted labels; and still running out of the labels we needed.  We had to begin printing labels as needed” said Philip.

When I first contacted Philip, I learned that Quantum labels are all black; the most difficult color to print correctly.  Here is an earlier post on printing all black labels: 


In addition, I learned that Philip’s labels were full bleed; 100% covered with ink.  Philip said, “we must keep our labels the same as our products are registered in other countries with these designs; both the size and colors.”  Quantum’s requirements for all black, full bleed labels were difficult to meet.

Based on these requirements, I recommended the C7500G with gloss poly labels.  Here is a post on NIC, an earlier customer using the C7500G; 


To show Philip the print quality, I printed samples of his labels:

C7500G Printed Black Label
C7500G Printed Black Label

Both Philip and I thought they came out great!  Based on the print samples, Philip purchased a C7500G printer, ink and two sizes of gloss poly labels:  2” and 1” wide. 

C7500G Printer
C7500G Printer
As the C7500 has a 2” minimum print width, we had to increase the size of the label liner for the 1” wide version. 

1" x 3.375" With 2" Total Construction
1" x 3.375" With 2" Total Construction
Here is an earlier post covering this means to use narrow labels in the C7500 printer:


Given the two completely different sizes, we had difficulty adjusting the print start/stop for the two labels.  Therefore, I set the 2” size to work for full bleed; and then adjusted the label size to get 100% coverage left to right on the 1” label.  This strategy is producing great looking labels now; even on the 1” wide size.

C7500 Printed Black Label
C7500 Printed Black Label
C7500G Label
(Don’t you just love the name if this ink!).

Or maybe you prefer Dishwater Grey or Earl Grey color names as in this order:

C7500G Printed Labels
To support the new work process, Quantum’s label designer created form-fillable PDF’s.  Now, Quantum opens the PDF label file to print, and selects the correct size box; then prints the labels.  With the new work process, Quantum prints the number of labels required for their production; when needed. And then applies the labels.


Philip says, “The work process is much faster and easier than before.  And we like the print quality of the labels”.

If you have a lot of products requiring different labels, contact us to help you improve your labeling process.  On-Demand Color for your labels; and maybe your tattoo’s. 

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670