Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Get Your Matrix On


Printing full-bleed correctly can be tricky using die cut labels. 

Full-Bleed Label Printing
Full-Bleed Label Printing

The problem is you want the ink to cover the edge of the label but not put too much ink on the exposed liner.  If ink goes onto the liner, you can transfer it to the actual label during application or rewinding.  Or you can’t quite get the label printed without leaving some white on the label.

Full-Bleed Label
Full-Bleed Label
 In the past, we’ve tried inkjet coated liners that work perfectly:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/02/full-bleed-label-media.html

But are expensive to use.


And I’ve written about using a finishing system post printing.  Here is one option I saw at Label Expo:

Using a label finishing system is great if you are willing to invest in the equipment and change your process to print and then finish (laminate, die cut, weed the matrix and rewind) the labels.  Many companies don’t want to take the time or effort to complete this process.  But a finishing system produces prefect laminated, die cut labels each time.

One last option to produce full-bleed labels involves using slightly different die cut labels; leaving the matrix on.

Matrix On Circle Labels
Matrix On Circle Labels

In the above picture, you’ll see die cut circle labels; but you’ll also see the matrix left on around the die cut forming a rectangle and gap between labels.  With the matrix left on, you can print beyond the die cut label without having to working about the ink transferring.  Works great to produce full-bleed die cut labels.

However, you can’t use labels with the matrix on for label applicators; they will not peel correctly with the matrix left on.  And I’ve been told that labels with the matrix on are more difficult to peel and apply by hand.

To make matrix on labels easier to apply and work with label applicators, DPR has launched an inline matrix remover integrated with the C7500.  Watch this new device work here: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=47&v=cIt4yoOYNQE 

And learn more about this system here:  
https://www.dpr-llc.com/en/label-unwinder-rewinder-epson-C7500.html


Now in one step, you can print full-bleed labels completely; and then remove the matrix to have finished die cut labels.  If you have full-bleed artwork and use an applicator/find it difficult to peel and apply labels by hand, the DPR C7500 in-line matrix remover may work for you.  Contact us to learn more and discuss how this new device may make your workflow more productive.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
info@colorlabelsolutions.com 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Pack Expo East 2018

Last week, we exhibited at Pack Expo East  https://www.packexpointernational.com/ in Philadelphia, PA:

Color Label Solutions at Pack Expo East
Color Label Solutions at Pack Expo East

Although not everything went as planned (inbound shipping was a nightmare), we still had a great experience talking to more than 130 people about print on-demand color labels and corrugated.  Here are 3 “Ah-Ha’s” I took from our experience.

First, our Sales Manager, Grant Lapke did an outstanding job installing, running and packing our NS Multi printer.  Although we shipped this machine a great distance, the print quality was still outstanding.

NS Multi Printed Box
NS Multi Printed Box
Just look at this box printed with the NS Multi. Or our signs we printed as our backdrop arrived late to the show.


NS Multi Printed Sheet
NS Multi Printed Sheet

I’ve written about the print quality before.  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2018/03/ns-multi-print-quality.html.   But given the shipping, I was impressed at how well Grant got this printer to produce outstanding quality. 

Given the print quality, we spoke to several companies about printing instore merchandizing displays.  The NS Multi would enable large, package good companies to produce personalized displays and end caps quickly.  And with the Caldera’s RIP capability for variable data and images, companies would be able to personalize each end cap uniquely for the store.  The capability of the NS Multi to produce unique and high-quality merchandizing is a new opportunity for us and the market.

Second, we launched a new semi-automatic label applicator integrated with the C7500.

Label Applicator Integrated with the C7500
Label Applicator Integrated with the C7500
This applicator uses a sensor and a movable arm to manage the “loose-loop” of labels between the printer and applicator.  You need this Loop given the fact the printer backs up when starting to print.  One feature I found of interest with this new applicator is that you can send a large (i.e. 500) print job to the printer.  As the labels are consumed, the sensor in the loop allows the printer to produce more, always keeping the loop filled.  So if you had a requirement of a batch of 500, you could print approximately 510-520 labels, and know when the batch was completed.  This feature may make this system work better for the operators.  If you are interested in applying labels to round and soon flat containers directly from the C7500, contact us.  We’ll discuss how you could use this new capability in your operation.

Third, we showed again the new L501 from Afinia; which produces beautiful labels.

L501 Printed Label
L501 Printed Label

And beginning May 1st, Afinia will start shipping this new product.  From my perspective, the L501 fits companies that need to print great looking labels in relatively small batches.  The cost of the printer is $3500; and offers both dye and pigment ink.  The “Due” Ink Technology aspect is interesting; as dye inks produce generally better colors whereas pigment inks are more durable typically.  If you want great looking labels but don’t want to spend a lot of money for hardware, the L501 may be a great option for you.

Pack Expo was a valuable tradeshow for us.  If you need great looking on-demand color labels, boxes or displays, contact us to discuss your requirements.  We’d appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your business.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Monday, April 9, 2018

How Not To Kill Your Inkjet Label Printer.


Recently, Tim Semic, our Support Manager, suggested we create a blog on “how not to kill your inkjet label printer”.  I thought immediately, “that’s a great idea”.    Tim suggested the questions; and we both worked on the answers.  This post features answers based on our work with Epson label printers primarily; but the concept applies to label printers based on Memjet and HP as well.

OK, I don’t want to kill my label printer, tell me more.
The most common hardware problem with inkjet label printers are clogged nozzles. An inkjet printhead has thousands of very tiny nozzles. Memjet claims to have 70,400 nozzles in an 8.77” printhead: https://www.memjet.com/versapass/.  These nozzles are all subject to clogging; and thus, ruining your day.

What causes print nozzles to clog?

The number one reason inkjet nozzles clog is particles carried into the printer on the label media.  As this foreign material enters the printhead, nozzles can get plugged.  The second reason for clogged nozzles is similar to the first; dust and other foreign material in the air may plug inkjet nozzles as well.  The third way inkjet nozzles will clog occurs when the ink inside of the printhead dries. Dried ink inside the printhead may occur when leaving the printer powered off for long periods of time, and/or when the printer is kept in very dry environmental conditions.

What are the symptoms of clogged print nozzles?
A plugged nozzle symptom will manifest as white lines running across the label print output in the orientation of the printhead. These white lines are a classic symptom of clogged print nozzles. The lines that you see are actually the white label where no ink was applied. The other tell-tail symptom of clogged print nozzles is when your printer constantly goes into maintenance mode.


Clogged Inkjet Nozzle
The thin lines you see are from the label showing through due to clogged print nozzles.
My printer occasionally makes noise when idle and pauses often during printing. Epson Label Printers with an LCD display will show “maintenance" or "head maintenance".

Your label printer has a service called Head Maintenance that runs periodically to keep the ink jet nozzles clear, and to prevent them from drying out. This maintenance service works by forcing a small amount of ink through the printer’s nozzles. However, this service may run repeatedly when clogged nozzles are detected. 

Head Maintenance
Head Maintenance

In the C7500, one option is to turn on the “spitting function”; also called “Continuous Printing”.

C7500 Continuous Printing
C7500 Continuous Printing

With this setting, the printer “spits” out very small quantities of ink, invisible to the naked eye, randomly throughout the print.  Memjet printers have the same functionality.  Sometimes the label may appear slightly grey from the ink, even though you can’t see the individual drops without a magnifying glass.  We recommend this setting if the tiny ink spots are OK with your print output.

The other option is “pause” for maintenance.  In this situation, the printer stops occasionally to check the printhead.

On the C3500, you can turn off the checking/cleaning function of the printer to save ink and to reduce the number of maintenance kits required.  As we print very few labels, we typically run our C3500 with the “no missing dot detection mode” selected; and then clean manually when needed.



What can I do if my printer is in a clogged nozzle condition?
Performing a manual cleaning is a way to take control of removing clogs in the nozzles. Prior to performing a manual cleaning, it’s best practice to print a nozzle check pattern from the printer utility software. A nozzle check pattern will provide you a baseline view of the problem. The nozzle check pattern prints lines of every CMYK color and will reveal areas and the color(s) that are being affected by the clogged nozzles.

Nozzle check pattern
Nozzle check pattern

If you see gaps in the nozzle check pattern, the next step is to run a manual cleaning on the printer. After the cleaning cycle completes, you may want print out another nozzle check pattern to look for improvement.  You should repeat the cleaning/test pattern cycle until either the clogged nozzles have been cleared, or you no longer see improvement occurring.

The manual cleaning didn’t completely resolve the issue.  Now what?
Once you determine that the cleaning utility is unable to resolve the clogged nozzle condition, the printer will have to be repaired by the manufacturer in the case of Epson or any other manufacturer with permanent printheads.  For Memjet printers, you can also attempt to rehydrate the ink by placing the printhead in the shipping cap with distilled water.  If the nozzles remained plugged, you’ll need to replace the printhead.

How can clogged print nozzles be prevented in the first place?
The number one way to prevent nozzle plugging is to keep your label media in the plastic bags in which they shipped.  Keeping your labels in the bags reduces the likelihood of foreign material from entering the printer.


In addition, you should keep the work area with the printer relatively dust free.  Don’t run an inkjet printer in a dusty environment.

Also, it’s recommended that you keep the printer powered on at all times once you are printing regularly.  For example, Memjet recommends their printers run 24/7.  Also, don’t leave your printer powered off for a long period of time. Once powered off, the printer can no longer keep the nozzles from drying out.

When left powered on, the printer will not consume much electricity since as it switches into an Energy Saving Mode. While in energy saving mode, the printer will still perform a limited number of maintenance routines. 

Should I worry about “Dry Climates??
Whether hot or cold, dry climates will cause the ink in the print nozzles to dry at an increased rate. In conditions of low humidity below 20%, a humidifier may be placed near your printer, with the goal of keeping the proximate humidity above 20%.  Here are the general printer climate specifications: 

Temperature
Operating: 5 to 35°C {41 to 95°F}       Storage: -20 to 40°C {-4 to 104°F} (At 40°C {104°F}: up to 1 month) 
Humidity
Operating: 20 to 80% RH.                    Storage: 5 to 85%RH (No condensation)

With thousands of inkjet label printers sold and installed, we find these devices as the best current option; and we want to keep them working for you.  We hope you find these recommendations of value.  If you follow the above recommendations, you fewer problems, and have more uptime on your inkjet label printer.

Happy Printing!


Tim Semic/Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Kiaro vs C7500G

The Kiaro from Quick Label Systems, https://www.quicklabel.com/products/color-label-printers/commercial-label-printing/kiaro/,  has been one of the largest selling color label printers on the market.  Astro Nova has done a good job selling this printer.


Kiaro Label Printer
Kiaro Label Printer


I know this printer mostly from my work with current customers that have switched away from the Kiaro.  This week, I spoke with another prospect who had decided to purchase a C7500G.  Based on this discussion, I decided to try to describe the important differences between the Kiaro (and the other options sold under different names) and the C7500G. 

Before starting, please know that the Kiaro is the exact same printer as the Swiftcolor SCL 4000 D/P sold by Kanematsu. https://www.swiftcolor.com/SCL-4000DP.php


SwiftColor 4000
SwiftColor 4000
Many years ago I wrote about the Swiftcolor printer in this post:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/08/short-run-in-plant-batch-label-printing.html 

In addition to the Kiaro and Swiftcolor printers, Canon announced the launch of the same printer, the D5500, in North America at CES:   https://downloads.canon.com/nw/printer/products/printers-and-multifunction/card-label-printers/ij-label-printers/lx-d5500/specifications/lx-d5500_specification_sheet.pdf


Canon Label Printer
Canon Label Printer
Now you have access to purchase the same printer from three different companies. In this post, I’ll use the brand name, Kiaro to represent all of the options.  And please remember; we don’t sell the Kiaro printer.  .

Looking at the Kiaro, I see 4 unique benefits vs the C7500G. First, the Kiaro offers up to 1200 x 1200 dpi print resolution; much higher than the C7500G with 1,200 x 600 resolution. I’ve seen great print quality from the Kiaro printer.

Second, the Kiaro comes in either dye or pigment-based inks.  Die ink are much more vibrant; but are not water resistant or water proof.  The ink will come off labels easily.  Pigment inks are very durable; but are not as vibrant in color as the dye Kiaro models.  But the choice is good to have depending on your requirements.

Kiaro Label Printer with Winders
Kiaro Label Printer with Winders

Third, the minimum width of a 4” version of the Kiaro printer is 25 mm or .984”; which is narrower than the C7500G at 2”.  And the minimum length of a label is 6 mm or .236”; much shorter than the 1” minimum of the C7500G.  Narrow widths and shorter lengths make the Kiaro printer fit many more applications.

Fourth, the Kiaro offers an optional cutter.  For tag application in apparel or greenhouse, this cutter is a unique capability.  At the 2017 WestPack, I saw the Swiftcolor printer with a cutter in action.  Read about the cutter for tags in this post:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/02/westpack-2017.html.  The cutter with the C7500G is not designed to cut each label; rather to cut at the end of a print job.

Although the Kiaro has other features, I don’t see them as unique or valuable in the comparison with the C7500G.

As for the negatives, I see 3 with the Kiaro printer.  The first and largest is the 4 consumable print heads.  As each printhead may cost up to $750, it is expensive to replace this consumable item.  As I understand, the costs are $2500 to replace all 4 print heads at once.

How long one of the four printheads last depends on the material and percentage coverage of the labels printed.  Many years ago, I requested an inkcost and printhead estimate on this 4 x 3” label:

4" x 3" Color Label Test Sample
4" x 3" Color Label Test Sample
And I was sent this estimate:

SwiftColor Yield Estimate
SwiftColor Yield Estimate


Although my request was concerning ink cost, the printhead life was more interesting to me.  At 161,186 4” x 3 labels, the printhead cost per label was 483,000 inches and added $0.0046/label; almost ½ of a penny per label for just the black printhead.  If you add up the cost of all 4 printhead, the cost per label was $0.013 just for printheads (assuming $750/printhead).  At the time, I was told the black line around the label reduced the black printhead life.  In this example, the printhead cost was almost as much as the ink cost/label. (Remember; these costs were from many years ago.  The printhead price may have changed).

In addition to the cost of the consumable printhead, installation of one of the four printheads is not so easy.  To replace the printhead, you need to drain the ink, disassemble the printer and remove 1 of 4 printheads, reassemble the printer and then recharge the ink.  In this video, Quick Label Systems assumes you want to change all 4 printheads at one time.





However, most people will want to change only the affected printhead.  You’ll need to remove and replace the printhead from the array.  Changing printheads requires an operator with mechanical skills, time and patience to do the job correctly.  With the C7500G, the printheads are permanent and not a consumable item.

In addition to the consumable printheads, the Kiaro printer has other consumable items.  The second negative is the time and money required to change these items.  The Kiaro has a “Blade Cleaner”, “Purge Unit”, and “Maintenance Cartridge” which are considered consumable items.  In addition, the printer has parts that need to be replaced as required such as the “Transport Unit”. To replace many of these items, draining the ink and special tools are required.  The time and money required to change these items seems onerous to me.  The C7500G has a “Maintenance Kit” that takes seconds to change and costs $30.  I tell customers that they’ll need approximately 3 of these kits per year with heavy use.   

Lastly, the Kiaro printer seems to require must more work and maintenance to keep these printers operating.  By the accounts of formers users now customers, the Kiaro printers have issues with streaks and require lots of repair.  Although having C7500G printers that required repair, we’ve found these printers durable and reliable.  Plus they are much easier to operate.  For most customers, operators of the C7500G must just press “Print”.

Although the Kiaro can print great looking images, and produce very small and short labels, the requirements to keep these printers operating appear to be very difficult for most users.  In this regard, the C7500G is much easier to use and reliable while producing great looking labels.

As for another comparison, check out a previous post, the LX2000 vs the C7500, here:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/09/lx2000-vs-c7500.html

Another point to consider: the Kiaro printer comes in an 8” version as well.  However, the 8” version is two 4” printheads stitched together.  Not only does this printer have 8 printheads to replace, but also has had issues with the stitching between the heads.  Because of this issue, I believe Quick Label Systems launched their Memjet printer, the QL-800 and purchased Trojan line of printers.

I hope this comparison helps with your analysis of the available printers for on-demand color labels. Contact us if we can help with your color label printer requirements.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Friday, March 9, 2018

NS Multi Print Quality


This week, we reinstalled our NS Multi Demo printer after showing it for the first time at WestPack in February.

NS Multi Corrugated Printer Setup
NS Multi Corrugated Printer Setup With Grant Lapke

You can read about our experience at WestPack here:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2018/02/westpack-2018-launch.html

It was a great experience for us to set up this printer again.  Most importantly, the experience reconfirmed the outstanding print quality that the NS Multi delivers.  Watch us print inkjet coated boxes here:


According to Grant Lapke, lead on the NS Multi for Color Label Solutions, "the black in this artwork printed outstanding compared to other options.  For me, black is always the most difficult color. The NS Multi Print is really durable, great for printing many different short run boxes."

Just as important for me, we saw outstanding print quality from bright white, non-inkjet coated boxes.  Look at the print quality of this box:

NS Multi Print Quality
NS Multi Print Quality

Look at the individual feathers in the parrot.  And the ink cost was less than $0.10.

And we test printed a “Panel” on white, non-inkjet coated, corrugated sheets.  Look at the print quality of this print output:

NS Multi Print Quality
NS Multi Print Quality

This one approximately 18” x 14” panel cost approximately $0.025 to print.  Only $0.10 for 4 panels on a box.  Our ink cost is great!!

Our next steps are to set up our corrugated, inkjet coating process and install our box die cutting operation.  We hope to have these operations running shortly; so we can begin producing unique blank boxes for you.

If we can print samples for you, please contact us.  We’d love to show you how great the NS Multi prints.


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
info@colorlabelsolutions.com

Saturday, March 3, 2018

5 Ways To Save On Labels

This week, I presented "5 Ways To Save On Labels" at Marijuana Media's, "Packaging, Labeling, and Tips on How To Save Money" seminar in LA:


5 Ways To Save On Labels
5 Ways To Save On Labels




http://marijuanamedia.com/marijuana-packaging-labeling-revolution-ahead-ca/

And I had a table with printers and label samples:


Color Label Solutions at Marijuana Media
Color Label Solutions at Marijuana Media
Guy Mikel Presenting
Guy Mikel Presenting

In addition to myself speaking on labels, Joel Bessmer, who led the event had presenters covering Regulatory, Packaging and Legal aspects of labels for cannabis providers in California.  If you are interested in the presentations, you can get them here:

http://marijuanamedia.com/marijuana-packaging-labeling-revolution-ahead-ca/

As you all purchase and use labels, I encourage you to review my presentation.  You may find an idea that would save you money on your purchase of labels; including from us. To see the presentation, go to SlideShare:

https://www.slideshare.net/GuyMikel1/5-ways-to-save-on-labels

To summarize my presentation, the topics I covered were as follows:


  1. Preprint vs On-Demand: Depends on the number of SKU's
  2. Variable Data Usage:  Depends on the number of SKU's on how to approach
  3. Size Selection: Standard Sizes vs Custom Sizes depends on order quantity
  4. Order Quantity: Small Initial Orders vs Annual Orders
  5. Durability Requirement: Paper vs Synthetic
In addition, I provided two bonus ways to save on labels:

  • Manual vs Semi-Automatic vs Automatic application (watch the video on label applications on tubes)
  • Trusted Reseller (like us!)
But please go through the presentation and contact us if you have questions on any of the topics.  Or contact us if you want to save money on your labels.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Saturday, February 10, 2018

WestPack 2018 Launch

At WestPack 2018 in Anaheim, CA, we launched the NS Multi, the on-demand color box printer from New Solutions in Portugal. www.printboxesondemand.com 

Color Label Solutions and the NS Multi at WestPack 2018
Color Label Solutions and the NS Multi at WestPack 2018

Although we spoke to many people about label printing, most of our time was spent with people interested in printing boxes in color, and on-demand.  From this experience, I have 3 key observations that I would like to share with you.

NS Multi Printed Box
NS Multi Printed Box


First the NS Multi produces beautiful print quality.  In the picture above, we printed on a pre-cut box with a white face and coated with an inkjet receptive coating.  The print quality, which is up to 1600 x 1600 DPI is fantastic when using the inkjet coating.  Here is the print on our locally coated off-white box:


Inkjet Coated Box Printed by the NS Multi
Inkjet Coated Box Printed by the NS Multi
In this print, you can see the individual feathers on the birds.  And no pixelated dots in our Color Label Solutions logo.  On the inkjet coating, the print quality is great.

Even on Kraft boxes, the print quality is very good; and probably good enough for many applications.

NS Multi Printed Kraft Box
NS Multi Printed Kraft Box
But the same artwork on the white, inkjet coated side looked very nice.


At WestPack, we made a stack/pillar of printed boxes on top of the NS Multi:

NS Multi Printed Box Stack
NS Multi Printed Box Stack
Second, the NS Multi will help many companies manage their inventory of empty boxes.  I spoke with several companies who had lots of SKU’s; and needed a different approach to box inventory management.  One company told me that they had 550 SKU’s with many hundreds of different boxes.  With so many SKU’s, this company had to purchase a large quantity of each box, and keep stacks and stacks of boxes in their warehouse.  

Plus, they had to pick the boxes they require every day from their inventory.  And the company has problems with obsolete inventory of boxes as their artwork and products constantly change.  By using the NS Multi, this company can eliminate obsolete inventory and can reduce their inventory of boxes to as low as 4 to 5.

NS Multi On Pallet Arriving at WestPack
NS Multi On Pallet Arriving at WestPack
Third, I was surprised by the number of people who wanted/needed some number of boxes printed.  These companies need a very short run of boxes; printed with their individual artwork.  Some of these people had very small companies, but still wanted good looking boxes in small quantities.  And some of these companies needed an initial short run for testing of new products.  It’s clear that a lot of opportunity exists for short run box production.

Overall, the NS Multi produces beautiful print output; and is perfect for companies with lots of SKU’s or companies who want to print boxes in short runs for their customers.  Two great targets for this new device.

To learn more about the NS Multi, read my previous post on this printer:


Or my post on Label Expo Europe where I first saw the printer:



For $99,900, you get the NS Multi printer, the Caldera RIP software (https://www.caldera.com),  10 liters of ink, 5 printheads, 1 year of on-site service and installation/training support.  Everything you need to start printing your own boxes.  And you can purchase additional years of extended on-site warranty for $7900 for the 2nd year; and $15,000 for years 2 and 3.

WestPack was not only good for us at Color Label Solutions because of the launch of the Multi, but also everyone who attended the show wore our 10 Pt gloss paper badge:

WestPack 10 Pt Gloss Paper Badge
Doesn’t it look great!  I’m excited the badges turned out so well.

If you have a lot of SKU’s and are in need of a box solution, or want to print boxes in color and on-demand for your customers, contact us to discuss how the NS Multi will meet your requirements.  After seeing how well their printer works, I’m convinced the NS Multi is a great fit for companies like yours.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670