Sunday, September 14, 2014

First Review: TM-C7500 At Label Expo

At Label Expo, http://www.labelexpo-americas.com/, Epson demonstrated the new TM-C7500 color label printer.


Having learned about this printer some time ago, I’ve been waiting to see it run and learn about the specification.  You can see it run here on my YouTube page:  

And here is the official Epson press release: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/2014090900515

From my perspective, this new color label printer brings several key advantages to the market.  First is the print resolution.  At 600 x 1200 dpi, the resolution is much higher than Epson’s previous printer, the TM-C3500, at 720 x 360.  In addition, this printer uses a new “linehead” printhead, eliminating the potential for “banding” which may occur when the printhead moves in the TM-C3500.  This banding is most likely to occur when printing large blocks of color.  At this resolution and the new line printhead, this printer should have no problem printing prime labels, covered edge-to-edge with ink.

TM-C7500 Label
TM-C7500 Label Printed and then Scanned 

Second, the new PrecisionCore Chip technology makes the printhead a non-consumable item.  You don’t have to replace or even maintain the printhead.  Eliminating the need for maintenance makes this printer much easier to use.  Just print.  If it breaks, Epson should have a version of their Spare-in-the-Air extended warranty available making the printer easy to service.

Third, the C7500 comes with a built-in ZPL emulation and colorization capability.  With the ZPL emulation, this printer can print directly from an application that uses Zebra printers today.  I believe this capability will help eliminate the need for and the inventory of preprinted color labels (assuming the ink is priced even to or slightly less than the existing TM-C3500 ink).  By adding the preprinted color image to your existing ZPL, you can print color labels on-demand probably at a price close or equal to purchasing them from a printer.  I look forward to learning more about the price/cost benefit of this printing on-demand versus purchasing preprinted labels.

And fourth, the C7500 uses a durable, encapsulated pigment ink and label media similar to the TM-C3500 and GP-C831.  This waterfast and chemically resistant durable ink makes this printer especially suitable for any application where water or chemical resistance is required.  After working with other printers, I’ve come to realize the importance of this feature of the Epson printers.  

Although the printer is much faster (12” per second), I don’t find this capability that important; except maybe in situations where companies print, rewind and apply. With the built-in unwinder with capacity up to 8” rolls and the optional rewinder, the printer will be capable to produce a lot of finished rolls quickly.

As for downsides, I see three.  First the printer has a max print width of 4.1”.  This size eliminates using this printer for drum or other packages requiring wider labels.

Second, the printer requires up to 10 seconds to first print.  As I understand, the printhead moves out of the way when not in use.  The printhead must move above the media to start printing.  For longer runs, this time is not a problem.  If you want to print one label at a time, this time to first print could be an issue.

Third, the printer will not be Generally Available until approximately January.  According to Epson, it may be available as early as December; depending on production, shipments and initial orders.  With all the new components and technology in this printer, General Availability may be delayed.

Overall, I see the TM-C7500 as revolutionary technology that will change the label printing market, making color as easy, fast and affordable as monochrome label printing.  Plus, this printer has the potential to replace many thermal transfer printers; at least those using preprinted color.

As an early adopter of this technology, Color Label Solutions will be the premier reseller of the TM-C7500; providing the expertise and support you need to move to this new technology.  Contact me to discuss how the TM-C7500 may fit your requirements; or to get in the queue to purchase one of these new label printers.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Work-In-Process Color Labels

Akorn (www.akorn.com) is a niche generic pharmaceutical company engaged in the development, manufacture and marketing of multi-source and branded pharmaceutical products in the areas of ophthalmology, antidotes, anti-infectives, and controlled substances for pain management and anesthesia in the United States and across the globe.

At their Ophthalmic Manufacturing location in Somerset NJ, Akorn needed a new process to label their work-in-process inventory.  According to Rick Westerhoek, Manager of Materials and Warehouse Operations for Akorn in Somerset, “Our raw material and finished goods inventory is “Quarantined” until tested and “Released”.  We also mark our raw material inventory as “Material Sterilized” after returning from sterilization from a 3rd party vendor.  Plus, we need to mark other inventory “On Hold” during additional testing.”

In the past, Akorn purchased preprinted labels, stored them in inventory and printed the variable data with a serial matrix, pin fed printer.  “Purchasing thousands of labels in different colors was a real pain.  We had red labels for Quarantined, green for Released, orange for On Hold and blue for Sterilized. 

Every time we need new labels, we have to reload the printer in the printer, print and then hand stamp to record who made the decided on quarantining or releasing the inventory.  Hand stamping was a particularly cumbersome manual process.  Or we would have to manually fill in the variable information” says Rick.

To improve this process, Rick started to look for way to print color labels on demand; which led to our paths crossing.  Initially Rick purchased a TM-C3400 printer, labels and Label Flow (http://www.jollytech.com/products/label-flow/index.php) from Jolly Technologies.  With IT support from Fausto Tavarez, Network Administrator, Akorn developed a process to produce the various labels only when needed.  In addition, Fausto included a system to stamp who approved the quarantine or release of the product right on the label automatically. 

Rick says “the labels are much easier to produce and read than our previous process.  I especially like eliminating the hand stamping; this saves a lot of effort.  Plus, Label Flow adds numbers automatically which help us keep track of the labels we produce.  We print only those labels required; and we don’t allow any printed labels to lay around.”

Since developing this application, Akorn has purchased a TM-C3500 to duplicate the setup in the QA department.  “the TM-C3500 is much faster than the TM-C3400.  It works great.  But since we print only a few labels at a time, the TM-C3400 works just fine for us.”

After Rick and his team has started using the print on-demand color label solution, Akorn India has contacted me to duplicate the setup.  However, Epson has not released the TM-C3500 in this country as yet.

If you need to manage work-in-process inventory, you might find these earlier posts of interest:

If you need to label your raw material or work-in-process inventory similar to Akorn, learn from them.  We can help you build and integrate a print on-demand color label process in your plant as well.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Earning Positive ROI; Even From Shipping Labels

As a proponent of print on-demand color labels, I recently found an article that provides expert reasoning for making the switch to print on-demand color labels.

Jill Morton of ColorCom (www.colorcom.com)  is a Color Psychologist and Branding Expert.  As one of the most knowledgeable color experts and researchers in the world today, she holds a Master’s Degree in Design and has served as faculty at several universities.

As founder of Colorcom, she brings the highest level of technical and professional knowledge about color to a wide range of projects. Psychological color impact, innovative color combinations, attractive color harmonies, visual ergonomics and marketing trends are the critical factors she addresses in prescribing successful solutions for her global clients.

In the post, Why Color Matters, (http://www.colorcom.com/research/why-color-matters), Jill provides several broad rational that should apply for moving from monochrome, black only to print on-demand color labels.  

While reviewing this article, I wondered how the most basic label, a Shipping Label, would benefit by adding color.  I understand shipping labels are primarily read using a barcode scanner with little to no human interaction.   But humans do read some and see all shipping labels. 

Based on Jill’s post, I summarized 6 key points to show how a company benefits by adding color; even to a shipping label;

  1. In the section Color and Marketing, Jill shows research that states 62% to 90% of a person’s judgment about a product comes from color within the first 90 seconds.  Therefore, when a customer or even a third party sees a monochrome label, they make a judgment or receive a message about the product immediately.  Given this instant product positioning, you need to ask, what message or judgment could a color shipping label convey about your product and company? Nothing but positive from my perspective.
  2. In the section Color and Brand Identity, Jill provides research from Loyola Maryland University that color increases brand recognition by 80%.  With no color, a shipping label which is read by the ultimate customer and a lot of potential buyers along the way, is missing the opportunity to strengthen the brand.  Would your brand benefit from an increase in identity for practically zero cost?
  3. In Color Engages and Increases Participation, Jill restates data that shows color ads are read by up to 42% more than black and white.  Imagine how increased readership of a shipping label would benefit the reader; as well as the company applying the label.  Fewer shipping errors, faster service and more importantly, stronger branding and positioning.
  4. In Color Informs, Jill shows how color increases readership by 40%, increases learning to 78% and improves comprehension by 73%.  As stated above, improved readership, increased learning and improved comprehension would work especially on a shipping label.  Imagine the additional information you could add to a shipping label in color that people would read, comprehend and retain.  This benefit could mean a tremendous ROI by moving to color.
  5. In Color Attracts Attention, Jill shares data that monochrome documents sustain readership for less than .67 seconds, whereas color retains attention over 2 seconds.  This increased attention enables humans to process information better.  Companies should emphasize important and critical information in color, making these labels more effective. With billions of shipping labels produced and read annually, imagine how this increase in readership would affect your products, supply chain and customers.
  6. In Power of Color, Jill shows a summary of research by Xerox and the International Communication Research that would provide significant benefits to organizations from using color.  If valid, this research alone documents the tremendous potential benefit of color shipping labels
    • 92% Believe color presents an image of impressive quality.  Color on shipping labels would differentiate your company positioning it as higher quality
    • 90% Feel color can assist in attracting new customers.  Would you like the prospects who see your shipping labels to remember your company
    • 90% Believe customers remember documents better when color is used.  Would you like your customers and 3rd parties to remember your shipping labels and the important information on them better?
    • 83% Believe color makes them appear more successful.  Would you like to position your company as successful?
    • 81% Think color gives them a competitive edge.  Would you like an inexpensive way to gain a competitive edge?
    • 76% Believe that the use of color makes their business appear larger to clients.  Would you like your small business to appear larger?

Jill’s post provides valid, documented research to move to more color; on all labels including ones even used for shipping.  If interested, you may find other posts I’ve written on “why color” of value:

If you’ve ever wondered about using color on more labels, contact us.  We’ll help you select the best print on-demand color label solution for your business.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Innovativation: With Color Labels

Armflags (www.armflags.com) is an exciting new spirit-wear company providing innovative and unique spirit-wear products for fans to wear in support of their favorite teams and causes. ARMFLAGS is a licensed provider of NCAA and High-School Teams and is quickly expanding its assortment and offerings across the country and beyond.

The story behind ARMFLAGS is GREAT!  In 2012, while watching the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans, Michael O’Leary, the founder, became committed to putting “Armsleeves with logos” on all fans! Together with his friend and former colleague, Jonas Thelin, they created “ARMFLAGS”, focused on providing high quality Armsleeves with Team LOGOS and IMAGES; allowing fans and supporters to show their passion for their teams and causes alike.

When starting the business, Michael knew intuitively that they would need to print color labels on-demand.  According to Michael, “ With 4 different sizes and thousands of universities and high schools, we had to have a way to print the labels as needed.  Although new, we have 1,600 different products already available; and plan to have many more universities and high schools signed up by the end of the year.”

For ARMFLAGS, color is important.  Continuing, Michael says “We wanted to have our products stand out on the shelf or on a peg at the store.  To make our product unique, we selected a non-traditional square cap.  In addition, we decided to make our caps black in color.  Although I was concerned about the color selection initially, my partner Jonas Thelin pushed for this color combination.  Now I think the black and red look great.” 

For our logo’s, ARMFLAGS print them on a white label to place on the cap.  “The white label/logo with the black background works well”, says Michael.  “The color contrast makes the team logo really stand out.  Initially, we printed them on matte paper; but have since switched to gloss paper. The gloss paper looks better and stands out even more.”

To print the labels, ARMFLAGS purchased a TM-C3500 label printer, 3 years Spare-in-the-Air warranty, ink and labels.  When asked about the TM-C3500, Michael says “Works like a champ.  This printer is easy to operate and learn to use.  Plus, Color Label Solutions has provided outstanding support.”

ARMFLAGS sell for $19.95 a pair; and we’ll be available soon to purchase on their website.  In their first full week of operation, ARMFLAG sold 2,500 pairs to 3 wholesale customers.  WOW!  Be sure to help me support ARMFLAGS by Liking” their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/AF.Armflags.

 It’s exciting to work with customers like ARMFLAGS; niche manufacturers with great ideas, led by wonderful people.  Plus I appreciate the willingness to use different processes such as print on-demand color labels to produce their products.  If you need print color labels only when you need them, be sure to contact us. We’ll help you as well.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, August 10, 2014

GHS Laboratory Labels; Quickly & Easily

Advanced Analytical Technologies, Inc. (AATI), www.aati-us.com, simplifies complex genomics workflows to accelerate research and discovery in pharmaceuticals, life science, biofuels, biotechnology and healthcare. 

Developing, manufacturing and marketing high-throughput, fully-automated nucleic acid and genetic analysis systems, AATI’s products have both commercial and research applications.  The company’s product portfolio includes instruments for the parallel analysis of biomolecules, DNA, RNA, genomic DNA, double-stranded DNA, pharmaceutical compounds and proteins using capillary electrophoresis (CE) with fluorescence detection or UV absorbance.

Recently, AATI decided to look for a better way to produce color labels on demand.  According to Sherry Goodwin, Scientist at AATI, “we need an easy way to differentiate our Gel products.  We have found having different colors on the labels was a very easy method to help our customers identify the correct gels to use.”

Given the need for color labels, AATI began using a Primera label printer and Nicelabel.  After 2 years of using this solution, they decided to look for an alternative method to print color labels on demand.   Sherry says, “we were not very satisfied with their labels.  After printing, we had to let the labels cure; as the ink would smear.  In addition, the labels would fade and not adhere well to our products once we put them in the freezer.  Given their nature, we store our products at temperatures down to -80 degrees.  Overall the labels were just not very crisp and clear looking.”

After deciding to look for alternatives, AATI begin discussions with Color Label Solutions on options to print better looking and more cold resistant labels.  For those of you interested in cold storage of labels, you may want to review an earlier post from my blog:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/04/very-cold-so-cold.html.

Based on the requirements, I recommended the TM-C3500 along with durable poly labels made with Kimdura: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/03/kimdura-better-results.html.  In addition, I showed AATI BarTender and the ease of adding color logo’s, images and text; including the way to download a free version of BarTender to test: http://www.seagullscientific.com/label-software/barcode-label-printing-software-download.aspx.  

After sharing this information, Sherry requested print samples to test in the freezer as well as the prices of the labels and ink.  I sent AATI samples to place on their products and test in freezer conditions.  AATI confirmed the labels worked.

To show the approximate ink costs, I sent AATI images of other labels and their estimated cost of ink.  For example, here is an image of a 2.625” x 1” label I sent with the estimated ink costs:

C = $17.50/17707 =$0.0010
M = $17.50/15133 = $0.0011
Y= $17.50/17910 = $0.0010
K = $17.50/25050 =$0.0007
Total = $0.004

Based on the test results and estimated costs, AATI purchased a TM-C3500, ink, Spare-in-the-Air (SITA) Extended warranty, and 4” x 2” poly labels to start printing new labels.  After selling the printer and labels, I gave AATI online training to insure they start printing quickly and easily.

Although AATI is printing, we still have two follow up issues to address to meet all of their requirements.  First, they need small labels; 1” x .5”.  The smallest labels you can print with the TM-C3500 is 1.2” wide and .6” long.  According to Sherry, “it’s possible; we need to make our labels larger, given the new GHS requirements.  We hope to put these new labels not only on the product, but on the packaging as well.” 

Second, AATI needs clear film labels in addition to the standard white poly.  To date, Epson has not qualified any clear film labels to use with their label printers.  However, I have found a film material that appears water fast and freezer resistant.  With further testing, this label material may work for AATI.

If you work in a laboratory or need labels like AATI, you might find another recent post on one of our lab customers of interest as well:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/02/durable-laboratory-samples.html.  

AATI is a great new customer for Color Label Solutions; especially given their commitment to using print on-demand color labels.  I admire the due diligence Sherry and AATI took to gather information and test the options presented.  If you need labels for your biotechnology or laboratory products; or just need to comply with the GHS requirements, contact us.  We’ll make sure you get printing great looking labels quickly and easily.

Guy Mikel

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Setting Off Alarms With Labels

Aqualarm (www.aqualarm.net) is a manufacturer and distributor that has been supplying alarms and monitoring products to the boating industry for the past 40 years.  Selling on-line and through their channel of worldwide dealers, Aqualarm offers more choices in alarms and security solutions than any other boating-oriented company.

Recently, Aqualarm decided to replace the inserts they use with their products with clamshell packaging with labels.  According to John West, Owner of Aqualarm, “We have been using inserts for years.  Recently, however, our dealers wanted to move to hanging our products on store shelves.  Plus, we found that slapping a label on a clamshell was easier than adding product inserts.”

Continuing, John adds “now we are offering folded cartons with labels as well as the clamshell packaging.  Many of our dealers prefer this type of packaging.  With either type of packaging, color labels were very important, we wanted to create “eye-popping” glossy labels that attract our customer’s attention.  We want glossy labels as they seem to add to the overall image of our products.”

To meet his color label requirements, John purchased a TM-C3500 from the Color Label Solutions store:   http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/tm-c3500-color-label-printer-usb-ethernet/.   Plus he purchased Spare-in-the-Air (SITA) warranty, additional ink and 3”/4” continuous gloss paper labels from us. 

Normally, we provide an on-line session to our customers to help them install and configure the printer to insure they start printing labels quickly.  John decided to tackle this work by himself.  Although it took more time, John felt he learned more about the printer.  If you have a TM-C3500, be sure to contact us if you ever need support.  Or check out our Does-Don’ts for Printing with the TM-C3500: http://www.colorlabel.solutions/does-don-ts.html.

 After working with the TM-C3500, John’s initial impression is positive.  “I’m very happy with the TM-C3500; especially like the cutting feature.  The built-in cutter and continuous labels allows us to produce several different label sizes. Also, the easy access of the ink cartridges is nice feature”, says John.

As John has found, the built-in cutter enables you to create labels in variable lengths.  With many different products (148 listed on the Aqualarm website), you can minimize your label inventory by using continuous media.  You can find our gloss paper labels here: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/gloss-paper-labels/ .

I appreciate exerts like John who been selling marine parts for more than 40 years.  And companies like Aqualarm; who are the leading or preferred supplier in their niche.  Aqualarm is a great example of how manufacturing companies  can save money, improve their processes and strengthen their brand by moving to print on-demand color labels.

If you have a company similar to Aqualarm, contact us and we’ll help you too.

Guy Mikel

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Couldn't Be Happier

Vape Dudes (http://www.vapedudes.com/) is exactly what it sounds like: a group of dudes and dudettes that eats, sleeps and breathes (especially breathes) all things vape.  Their goal is to make the best eJuice possible. Every bottle of Vape Dudes eJuice is carefully hand-crafted to the taste of each individual customer, with options available for all preferences.

Shelby Lewis has led the effort to change their labels as well as their labeling process.  Recently, I ask Shelby, why print on-demand color labels?  Did you consider using preprinted color labels?  According to Shelby, “We opted to go with color labels simply because we supply both to individuals online as well as to shops around the world.  Many of these stores sell brands from multiple suppliers.  Therefore, we need to “standout” as a premium supplier with a quality product.” 

Shelby continued, “As for purchasing pre-printed labels, it would be cost prohibitive.  We have 240 different products names.  Within each flavor, we have thousands of possible options.  With so many different products and combinations, Vape Dudes would require too many different labels in inventory, as well as time to select the right label when processing an order.  Now, we print only the labels required; with no picking of the label from inventory.  Plus, we are not required to write the correct option on the label.  Our TM-C3500 based solution has reduced print time by 80%, and packing time by about the same percentage. 

By printing color labels on-demand, we've saved process time, labeling costs and maintenance costs.  We couldn't be happier.”

When I first spoke to Shelby, Vape Dudes was using Primera’s LX400 printer.  As Shelby was looking for a faster, less expensive printer option, I recommended the TM-C3500.  After comparing the TM-C3500, Shelby says, “Our largest complaint with the Primera LX400 was the speed.  To test the two printers, we printed a single day of orders on both the LX400 and the TM-C3500.  The LX400 took 25 minutes to print, and the TM-C3500 took only 5 minutes.  After about the 3rd label, I knew the TM-C3500 was significantly quicker.” 

Shelby continues, “Not only did the TM-C3500 reduce the time to print significantly, but we were able to upgrade our labels.  From Color Label Solutions, we purchased a matte poly label which is much more durable than what we were using previously; at a lower price than our current vendor.” 

Shelby purchased matte poly labels made with Kimdura.  You may enjoy an earlier post covering this label material:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/03/kimdura-better-results.html.

 Shelby has found our labels to fit his requirements perfectly.  According to Shelby, “After printing our first test label, we placed it on a bottle to perform a simple rub test with a few drops of eJuice.  After rubbing the label for a minute, I noticed no difference at all.  Not believing the result, I dried the ejuice by rubbing the label with a paper towel for another 30 seconds.  After this second test, we still saw no difference between a new label and our test label.” 

Vape Dudes is our second customer in this market.  You may remember our earlier post covering California e-Liquid: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/04/vape-labels.html.

I think Vape Dude’s labels look great; both the design and color. Their new design and labeling effort demonstrates their commitment to quality.  I’m really happy we could provide Vape Dude a durable print on-demand label solution that meets their needs.  Contact us to discuss how we can help you satisfy your labeling requirements.

Guy Mikel