Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Label Expo 2016

On September 14 and 15, 2016, I attended Label Expo http://www.labelexpo-americas.com/  in Rosemont, IL.


Label Expo is large; covering all types of machines and materials for producing labels.  So let me tell you about 6 new products that I found interesting.

First, Epson announced officially the new Wasatch RIP for the C7500 and C7500G. 


C7500 With Wasatch RIP
C7500 With Wasatch RIP

You can learn more about the RIP here in a post from an earlier post from this year:


Again, the RIP enables users to control colors better and produce much better results:




C7500G Full-Bleed Label Using the Wasatch RIP
C7500G Full-Bleed Label Using the Wasatch RIP

What is interesting to me is the price.  Epson has bundled together the C7500 printer including the new firmware, the RIP software and a year of on-site service for $9,450; only $800 more than the C7500 printer.  So for $800, you get the RIP software and on-site service which has a list price of $1,029.  It’s a great deal.  According to Epson, you’ll be able to order this bundle beginning October 31, 2016.  Be sure to contact me if you’re interested this bundle.


In addition to color controls, Epson’s new firmware/RIP enables continuous printing.  Now you can print and use a secondary finishing unit to laminate and die-cut the labels.  In the booth, Epson showed a finishing unit from their new partner Metas:



Watch the finishing unit work here: 



And learn more about this new finishing unit here: http://www.metas.global/.  And look at the differences between a matte paper label and a matte paper label laminated:
C7500 Printed Matte Paper (L) & Laminated (R)
C7500 Printed Matte Paper (L) & Laminated (R)
I hope you can see the differences in the photo; They are big!



At $20,000, I believe the Metas finish unit is the most affordable option to laminate and die-cut labels.  The new RIP/continuous label printing capability combined with this finishing unit make the C7500 a great option for printers wanting to begin digital label printing for less than $30,000; much less than buying a $1 million press from a company like HP-Indigo.


Second, Epson showed a new round bottle semi-automatic label applicator integrated with the C7500.  Now you can print and apply great looking labels to wine, chemical or other round bottles.

Watch this new print and apply applicator work here: 



At approximately $14,000, the semi-automatic applicator takes full use of the C7500 printer.  Plus this applicator is the only print and apply color label applicator available.  This applicator works with the C7500 for two key reasons.  First, the C7500 has a GPIO board that enables communication between the printer and applicator.  Second, the applicator allows the printer to reverse up to the 8” to 10” required by the C7500.  If you need to apply labels to round containers quickly, affordably and in the same place every time, then the C7500 and applicator combination is a great option.

Third, DPR showed a new Gemini die-cutter for sheet-fed labels.  Now you can die-cut sheets of A3-A4 labels (up to 13” x 19”) into lots of smaller labels for a limited amount of money. 

 
Gemini Die-Cutter


At $6,500, you can turn a standard sheet fed color printer into a system to print any shape die cut labels on sheets.  It’s a very affordable way to print colorful and complex labels.  For example, printers can produce labels for their customers in just about any shape and label material.  Or manufacturers can produce unique specialty on-demand when they need them.  From my perspective, this machine opens up on-demand color labels to new customers.

Fourth, Afinia Label introduced the L301 label printer; a wide, high resolution and affordable printer that should fit small volume manufacturers.


Afinia L301 Label Printer
Afinia L301 Label Printer


At less than $2,000 and using a HP printhead, the new Afinia label printer will enable companies to print a limited number of high resolution labels in color.  I say limited as the printer is slow and the ink cost will be relatively high.  Plus the L301 uses dye based C, M, Y inks, that are susceptible to water and other compounds.  But this printer provides an easy to use option for printing great looking labels for not much money.  If you need to produce wider labels and don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Afinia L301 label printer is an interesting option.

Fifth, Addmaster introduce their new sub-$1000 color label printer; seemingly great for prescription and color code labels.
Addmaster Color Label Printer
Addmaster Color Label Printer

At 2.5” print widths, the new Addmaster printer is not for every application. But where color codes and simple images are required, especially for short duration labels, the Addmaster printer seems like a good option.

Addmaster Label
Addmaster Label

This printer should fit applicators such as prescription labels; with color-coded warning message, highlighted and bold text and images.  In addition, I can see how this printer may work in manufacturing where color-coded in-process inventory labels would be of value.

The Addmaster printer doesn’t produce masterpieces; nor is it fast.  But this printer enables color-coded labels with images at a low initial hardware price.

Sixth, Trojan Label Systems introduced a new corrugated printer; the Trojan 3. 

Trojan 3
Trojan 3


And learn more here:  http://www.trojanlabel.com/products/trojanthree

At $49,500, this 8” wide, Memjet-based corrugated printer is complementary to our existing corrugated printer. (See our $20,000 corrugated, CYMK printer here: www.directtocorrugated.com).  And the much more expensive ($115,000), 48” Excelagraphix 4800 corrugated printer: 

http://www.xante.com/product-information/excelagraphix/excelagraphix-4800/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw9vi-BRCx1_GZgN7N4voBEiQAaACKVhstS8ffDE0dli4xm1parrmoR88JdsHNYjFPOi2tfQ8aAo_D8P8HAQ

The Trojan 3 produced great looking images and text on corrugated using the touch-screen and print engine module found in the Trojan 2 mini-press. 

Trojan 3 Print
Trojan 3 Print


Seemingly durable and available with RIP software, the Trojan 3 is built for long life. 

With the recent additional of several color corrugated printers, the market for these new packaging machines will grow significantly.

Label Expo 2016 was a successful show for us; and lots of promise for our industry.  If you found any of these new products/technology of interest, contact us to discuss how we can fit them into your operation.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Monday, September 5, 2016

C7500 BarTender Driver

Do you know that Seagull Scientific offers a BarTender driver for the C7500 printer? 





But nowhere can you get a set of release notes using this alternative driver.  At least I couldn’t find or get one.

Although the BarTender driver has been available, I’ve said that I preferred the Epson over the Seagull C7500 Driver.  I made this recommendation primarily because you can get to the Printer Setting Utility using only the Epson version.  You need the Printer Setting Utility to make adjustments in the printer such as beep volume, gap/blackmark sensor calibration and a host of other capabilities that I felt were mandatory for users.  Therefore, I believe you must load the Epson C7500 driver for every deployment.

But the BarTender driver has a few capabilities that may make it a better option for selected users.  Let me show you two capabilities that you may find of value to install a second driver for your C7500/C7500G printer.

C7500 Available Drivers
C7500 Available Drivers
First, BarTender users are not required to add the label size to the driver.  Typically, I recommend C7500 users add their various label sizes to the Epson driver first thing:

C7500 Label Size Setting
C7500 Label Size Setting

But BarTender users will set up the page size using either the Label Wizard to Page Setup which shows User Defined Size: 

C7500 BarTender Page Size Setting
BarTender Page Size Setting
Therefore, the BarTender driver eliminates one step in the label setup process.  Many BarTender users find this capability of value.  And companies automating label printing find this setup process mandatory.

Second, the BarTender driver makes it easier to adjust the print start/stop position when printing full bleed.  Let me explain what I mean.

When printing full bleed, typically you need to make adjustments in the print start position in order to cover the label 100% edge-to-edge with ink.  For example, when I printed this label as a PDF, you see some white along the edge:


C7500 Print Start Adjustment
C7500 Label Requiring Print Start Adjustment
To adjust the print start position using the Epson driver, you would need to open the Printer Setting Utility and make the adjustment by selecting either Print Start vertical or horizontal:


C7500 Print Start Adjustment
And then the amount:

C7500 Print Start Adjustment
C7500 Print Start Adjustment
Frankly, I always find it confusing when to make the adjustment positive or negative.  Further, as the Printer Setting Utility runs as a separate application, some IT department policies prevent this application from running.

When I printed this same label as an embedded image in BarTender, I still had some white showing on the label:

C7500 BarTender Driver Printed
BarTender Printed File
With the BarTender C7500, I can easily make position adjustments without opening up the Printer Setting Utilities.  By opening up the BarTender driver:


Then navigating to the Stock tab:

BarTender C7500 Driver Position Adjustment
BarTender C7500 Driver Position Adjustment

I can adjust the top and left position easily and logically: Negative to start earlier and positive to start later to make the full bleed printing perfect with just a small amount of ink on the liner.

C7500 Full-Bleed Label Printing
Full-Bleed Label Printing
As a reminder, I recommend setting up the page size in the software slightly larger (.03”) than the actual label size when printing full-bleed.  This extra spare makes it easier to print 100% of the label with ink.  You can learn more about full-bleed label printing from this post on the LX2000:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2015/06/lx2000-full-bleed-color-label-printer.html 

If you decide to use the BarTender C7500 driver, I recommend making the following 3 configuration settings:

1.  In the page setup, I had to edit the page size to eliminate the liner margin.  First, go to the BarTender driver Page Setup and select “Edit”:

Edit C7500 Page Size
Edit Label Page Setup
And then take out the liner spacing.

C7500 BarTender Driver Liner Setting
C7500 BarTender Driver Liner Setting
I assume this issue is a result that I add the label as the exact size of the actual facestock; and not total construction size.

2.  On the Graphics Tab, I learned not to question the DPI setting.  It seems the BarTender driver says the DPI is 600 x 600; whereas the C7500 runs at 1200 x 600.  I guess the BarTender driver lists the INPUT and not the OUTPUT setting. 

C7500 Print Resolution

3.  On the Stock tab, you’ll need to configure the advanced settings under the Media Settings to insure you have the correct internal/external and gap/blackmark sensor settings as well as which media selection:

C7500 BarTender Stock Tab

BarTender C7500 Driver Media Setting
BarTender C7500 Driver Media Setting
If you are a BarTender user, you may find the BarTender C7500 driver easier/better to use.  If you’re not a BarTender user, you may find the driver easier to use to print full-bleed labels. If you do decide to run with the BarTender driver, be sure to load the Epson C7500 driver as well; and contact us if you have any questions on the C7500/C7500G and the available drivers.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Print It Thick

Would you ever have a need to print some form of thick media; such as this 17 mil (.4317 mm) tags?


Thick Inkjet Coated Tags
Thick Inkjet Coated Tags
Or this 0.423 mm or 16.6 mil RFID label from Avery: http://labelmatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/RFID_AD223_224_431_GB_0609.pdf


If you do, you currently have limited options.  Yes; the C831 can print media up to 4.5 mm or 117 mil thick using the “anti-scraping mode”.  

But the C831 printer is the exception in the color world.  And yes; some thermal transfer printers have the ability to print media up to 24 mil thick. https://www.satoamerica.com/Uploads/Files/Datasheets/TXPSX%20Series%20Datasheet.pdf

In the color label printing world, media thickness is a limiting factor.  For example, the Neuralabel 300x has a spec at approximately 7 to 8 mils or .2 mm.  The TM-C3500 color label printer has the same spec at 7.5 mils or .19 mm thick:  http://www.epson.com.au/pos/products/receiptprinters/DisplaySpecs.asp?id=TM-C3500 

The TM-C7500 color label printer has a spec at 9.3 mil or .236 mm (page 191):   https://files.support.epson.com/docid/other/m00079105.pdf

The LX2000 color label printer has a spec at 10 mils or .25 mm: https://www.primeralabel.com/lx2000_specs.html

And the Memjet-based printers (TrojanOne, L801, VIP 700, etc.) have a spec of .3 mm or 12 mils:  http://afinialabel.com/equipment/l801-printer/

If you need to print thick media, both labels and tags, you’ve not had an option; until now with the CMYK label printer.

Thick Label Printer
CMYK Print Engine
With the CYMK print engine, you can print media on any thickness you can roll.  Watch us print labels in both slow and fast mode:




 Currently, we’re using a large winder system to print this thick media.  Shortly, however, we’ll launch a more affordable media handing system with a conveyor for precise label management:

Thick Label Printer
Thick Label Printer
Using this same print engine, we can print on corrugated, both flat and folded.  Learn more here: www.directtocorrugated.com 




If you need to print thick media such as RFID labels or tags in color, contact us to learn more about this exciting new technology.  And your feedback on the fit of this technology would be appreciated.


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I Love This Printer!

Since the inception, the goal of Good Heart Catering (https://goodheartcatering.com/) has been to develop a company that could directly impact those less fortunate in the greater Los Angeles community. The history of this goal dates back to when the founder of Good Heart Catering, Jon Tokas, joined the revitalization and renovation efforts of downtown Los Angeles nearly 13 years ago. Jon founded his company after growing up working in his family’s deli serving the Jewelry district in Los Angeles.  Now, Good Heart Catering partners with local food banks making donations who in turn feed those who are in need.

Jon contacted us when needing a labeling process that would fit their POS system and food preparation process.  According to Jon, “we need a printer that can produce color labels affordably and easily as well as in variable lengths.  We’ve been using Avery sheet-fed labels and a desktop printer; but find it difficult to do what we want.”


Sheet Fed Labels
Sheet Fed Labels
Jon continues, “As we sell many different items, we don’t want to use preprinted labels.  Also, we like to use Kraft paper if possible as it would match our containers.  Finally, we’re moving to a new point of sale system (POS); and need the printer to work with this system.”

After speaking with Jon, I recommended the C3500; especially given the printer can cut labels in variable lengths.  To help Jon decide, I printed and sent samples, even on Kraft paper, as well as determined the estimated ink costs.  For one of the basic round labels, I estimated the ink cost at $0.014/label.

C3500 Estimated Ink Cost
C3500 Estimated Ink Cost

For the 15” label, I estimated the ink cost at $0.051/label.

C3500 Estimated Ink Yield
C3500 Estimated Ink Yield

Based on the label samples and estimated costs, Jon purchased a C3500 printer and labels.  After working with Tim, our Support Manager, Jon was printing labels quickly and easily; sending me a picture of his first label printed on the material that comes with the C3500.

C3500 Label
C3500 Printed Label
Unlike most customers, the real work for Jon started after he was printing labels.  Jon needed to make sure label printing fit into the processes and systems he wanted to put in place.

Continuing, Jon says, “We built a process using our new POS.  Each day, we select in our POS system the items/labels we need to print for the various orders.  For example, one order may have 10 different items.  Based on the items selected, the POS system produces a PDF using the variable images and text in our database.  Each page of the PDF becomes one of the inner:

C3500 Label
Package Inner Label

Or outer labels:

Outer Package Label
Package Outer Label

of the item in the order. Each label is automatically cut based on the page length; the Color Label Solutions support manager Tim showed us how to select this setting.  No longer do we need to select multiple labels from sheets; we just apply the labels printed for each order picked.  I LOVE THIS PRINTER; it’s perfect for a small business like ours.”

C3500 Label
C3500 Label

Learn more about Good Heart Catering's community participation here:

The story of Good Heart Catering is very gratifying for me on several levels.  First, we helped a new customer start printing color labels on demand.  Second, we helped a small business develop and implement an outstanding, highly productive new process that saves time and money.  Lastly, we supported an organization committed to the greater good of their community.

If you want to create or improve your labeling process, contact us.  Hopefully, you’ll love your printer too!

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Continuous RIP: Coming This Fall

This week, I had the opportunity to get a “Sneak Peak” at an exciting new technology coming this fall.


C7500G Label
C7500G Printed Using a RIP
If you attended Pack Expo in Las Vegas last year, it may not be so new.  Epson America and Wasatch Computer Technology (https://www.wasatch.com/softripmain.html)  demonstrated an early prototype of a RIP (Raster Image Processor) for the C7500.  Since Pack Expo 2015,( http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2015/10/pack-expo-2015.html), these two companies have made significant changes to their early prototype. Let me tell you more.

As background, a RIP is defined as “a hardware or combination hardware/software product that converts images described in the form of vector graphics statements into raster graphics images or bitmaps.”

To read why Wasatch believes you need a RIP, read this page:  https://www.wasatch.com/whyrip.html

According to the Epson technician that demonstrated the new software, “the Wasatch RIP enables you to control the colors and amount of ink over your entire label.  This control enables you to match colors precisely; and to automatically replace colors with the corrected RGB or CMYK color.  Overall, the Wasatch Rip enables much better print output; like much more expensive label printers provide.”

The image above was printed using the RIP on the C7500G on gloss paper.  Based on this print output, I believe the C7500G will produce outstanding/beautiful labels.  And print these images easily, reliably and more affordably than any other on-demand color, digital printer.

In addition to managing color, the Watsch RIP and updated firmware will enable the C7500G to print on continuous label material.  Currently, the C7500G requires either die cut or blackmark labels.  See these labels in the C7500G using the updated firmware don’t have either means to find top of form.

C7500G Printing Continuous Labels
C7500G Using Continuous Labels
C7500G Printing Continuous Labels
C7500G Using Continuous Labels
By combining the RIP software with continuous media, printers and manufacturers can produce full-bleed digital labels using the same workflow as companies running million dollar presses.  By printing the label on continuous media; and then using a post-printing finishing process to die cut and then laminating/coating the labels.  In this video, I feature the Scorpio+ finishing unit from DPL that shows the machine laminating, die cutting and weeding the matrix from the label to produce professional grade labels easily. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiVD74MtD4I

I see the new RIP and continuous capabilities of C7500 or C7500G combined with a finishing unit as a great option for printers, converters or larger manufacturers with print shops who want to produce their own professional, full-bleed labels.  It’s a very low cost way to produce short-run digital labels.

Epson says they will show the new RIP and continuous capability at Label Expo this fall.  Learn more about this show here:  http://www.labelexpo-americas.com/.  I attended two years ago; and will attend again this year on September 14th and 15th, 2016.  If you are attending, let me know so we can meet.

If you are a printer, converter or manufacturer with a print shop, contact us to discuss how you can use the C7500G and the new RIP to expand your business or improve the look of your labels.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Color Tone Matching

All the time, I get questions concerning color matching.  Or more specifically, I get questions about matching PMS colors.

According to an online dictionary, color matching is a method of specifying colors for a print job in which a book of color swatches is used for matching colors with standard inks used in commercial printing. The most popular CMS is Pantone Matching System.

In the past, this issue has been difficult to answer; primarily because of the difference between RGB used in color monitors and the pigments used in color printing as well as the differences among label media.  Here what I wrote about color matching some time ago:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/07/red-is-not-always-red.html

  
Recently, however, Epson released a Color Tone Matching Assistant (CTMA) that I first noticed with the availability of the C7500G.  You can download this application from the Epson website under Utilities:

The CTMA makes it seemingly easy to match a color relatively closely.  I say relatively, meaning matching by the human eye.  Delta-E (dE) is a single number that represents the 'distance' between two colors.  The idea is that a dE of 1.0 is the smallest color difference the human eye can see. And please remember; the eye's sensitivity to hue, chroma, and lightness differ between people.  As I am not a graphic artist, color differences are hard for me to determine.

To use the CTMA, the only difficulty is insuring your drivers have the word “Epson” in them.  To have the correct printer listed in the CTMA options, I had to rename my drivers to add the word “Epson”.  Then the application worked perfectly.

Epson Color Tone Matching Assistant
Epson Color Tone Matching Assistant
Once launched, the CTMA prints a range of colors and their RGB numbers similar to a selected RGB color.  To use this application, I first needed a target color; PMS 7406:


Which I needed to convert to a RGB number.  To convert, I used Encolorpedia; http://encycolorpedia.com/ , which provided me the RGB (227, 186, 18).  Once entered, the application prints a color chart from the printer on the label media selected:

Color Tone Matching Print Output
Color Tone Print Output
For this number, blocks of yellow are printed with either more or less Magenta and Cyan added.  Directly in the middle is the target color.  I printed this chart using the C7500G on gloss paper.  I also printed the same chart on the C7500 using matte paper, the C3500 using matte paper (continuous matte paper cut for each groups of colors:

TM-C3500 Color Tone Matching
C3500 Color Tone Matching
And even the LX2000 after renaming the printer to add the word Epson:

LX2000 Color Tone Matching
LX2000 Color Tone Matching
Once printed, I compared the target color printed originally on a press to the target RGB printed by the CTMA.  On the gloss, the color seemed spot on; see how it compares below:

Match RGB to PMS colors
Matching PMS Colors using RGB
I then printed a sample label using BarTender by adding the RGB numbers to select color I wanted.  Matched perfectly to my eyes.

BarTender Printed Color Match
BarTender Printed Color Match
One interesting point to me, I could even tell the difference in colors produced using the gloss and matte paper labels (gloss on top; matte on the bottom) below.

Matte vs Gloss Color Differences
Matte vs Gloss Color Differences
Label media makes a big difference in print color output.  Be sure to expect differences among the labels you use.

After this exercise, I found the Color Tone Matching Assistance an intuitive, easy to use and potentially valuable application for producing color labels on demand.  Contact us if we can help you with producing or matching colors for your labels.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670