www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Applying Productivity

Headquartered in Plymouth, Minnesota, Primera Technology, Inc. is a developer and manufacturer of specialty printing equipment including the LX-Series Color Label Printers, AP-Series Label Applicators, LP130 Laser Marking System, the CX1200 Color Label Press and the FX1200 Digital Finishing System.  Primera distributes its products in more than 222 countries with service and support for North America, Latin America and South America from Plymouth, Minnesota. EMEA customers are serviced and supported from Wiesbaden, Germany through Primera Europe. Primera Asia Pacific, located in Hong Kong, serves customers in Asia Pacific.



Recently, I sat down with Katherine Lee, Sales Representative, for Primera to learn more about their label applicators; the AP360/AP362 for cylindrical containers and the AP550 for flat surfaces.  If you are applying labels manually to either types of containers or flat packages, the number one way you can increase productivity is to move to semi-automatic labeling.  According to Katherine, “With the AP 360, you can apply up to 1000 labels per hour onto bottles; all in the exact same location.  With the AP550, you can insure your labels are applied in the same position, smoothly (with no wrinkles) on flat surfaces quickly and easily.”

With the AP360/AP362, the only slightly complicated part of setting up the applicator is threading the leading edge of the labels in the applicator.  Katherine says, “both applicators have a diagram on the side on how to thread the labels”


“In addition, you need to set the thumbscrews/guides to set the location of the label on the bottle” says Katherine. 

AP360 Label Applicator

Continuing, Katherine says “you need to make sure the label/gap sensor is touching the label.”

AP360 Label Applicator

With the mode function, you can set the applicator to apply 1 or 2 labels, even setting the distance between labels.

To see Katherine apply a label to a wine bottle, watch this video.


If you want to see the official AP360  video.... 


One of the questions I get frequently is applying labels to small bottles; especially given the increase in the e-cigarette market.  When applying labels to smaller bottles, Katherine says, “you need to keep the arm pushed down; forcing you to almost insert the bottle between the arm and the rollers.  As small bottles are light in weight, the arm holds them in place to insure the labels are applied correctly.


“Again, you can use the AP360/AP362 applicators on any container you can roll.  If the container rolls crooked, the AP360/AP362 will apply the label incorrectly” says Katherine.

For flat surfaces the AP550 works well.  Take a look at Katherine applying labels:


If you want to see the official AP550 video....

  
From my perspective, consistent label application is the biggest benefit of the flat surface applicator.  No way can you apply a label in the same position every time manually. 

If you need to increase your productivity on printing and APPLYING color labels on-demand, we can help.  Contact us to learn more about these semi-automatic label applicators.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
#colorlabels

Sunday, January 18, 2015

GHS Needs An "Erin"

Since 1967, Engineered Lubricants has been an independent manufacturer of lubricants, metalworking fluids, rust preventatives and cleaners. Providing products and services across the globe, EL formulates products specific to its customers’ production requirements. EL has one of the most advanced testing laboratories in the United States, offering its customers extensive physical and analytical testing capabilities.


With a foundation built on conservation and savings, EL has been an industry leader in preventative maintenance programs, which are designed to reduce consumption, provide cost savings and help anticipate and eliminate potential problems. Regular lubrication surveys help reduce maintenance costs and ensure proper equipment lubrication.

Almost 1.5 years prior to the deployment deadline of June 15, 2015, Erin Weber of Engineered Lubricants found Color Label Solutions, www.colorlabel.solutions and www.ghs.solutions,  and contacted us about their requirements to produce GHS labels.  At that time, Erin was “exploring the different options that are available in regards to the new labeling required by GHS.  The majority of our shipments are 55 gallon drums and 5 gallon pails.” After discussing the options, I demonstrated a potential printer, producing sample GHS labels, 4” x 6” and 8” x 11”, in color and with pictograms using one their existing products.



I produced these samples using BarTender and a simple Excel database.  You can learn more from my recent blog post:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/09/ghs-drum-label-template-database.html.

 After seeing the demonstration/labels and testing the labels, Engineered Lubricants purchased TM-C3500 and GP-C831 printers; along with 2.25” continuous labels and 8” x 11” pinfeed labels.  With the purchase, I helped Engineered Lubricants get started printing labels quickly and easily using the printers as well as BarTender. 

Almost immediately, they put the TM-C3500 in production of sample bottle labels. According to Erin, “we get samples of lubricants used in our customer’s machines as a part of our preventive maintenance service.  Although these labels are currently printed black only, we’ll add pictograms and secondary labeling in the near future.”

Engineered Lubricants started producing sample bottle labels using continuous labels, but soon had troubles with the cutter in the printer and the continuous labels.  As a part of the troubleshooting process, we contacted the Spare-in-the-Air (SITA) warranty program (http://pos.epson.com/pos/PDF/SITA_Collateral.pdf)  that Engineered Lubricants purchased along with the printers.  Epson replaced the TM-C3500 quickly.  After replacing the printer, Engineered Lubricants decided to move to die cut labels; which actually saved them money compared to the continuous.

After receiving the die cut labels, Engineered Lubricants had another question on the printing.  Erin asked, “I was printing labels from the small printer yesterday and the bottom couple of lines looked like they were not printed all the way, kind of “blurry”.  Luckily, I had recently learned how to troubleshoot this issue and responded to Erin”

“Make sure you have set the “SHUTTERS” on the inside of the front door to match your paper width; especially for the narrow labels like 2.25”.  Look at the decal on top of the TM-C3500.  You need to close the outside 3 SHUTTERS on each side of the inside of the front door.

The TM-C3500 uses a vacuum to hold the paper to the printhead.  With narrow labels especially, you need to make sure the vacuum is only on the label, and not in the open.  A friend at Epson describes it as like “spitting in the wind”.” 

By closing the shutters, Erin immediately eliminated the blurry print.

Now Erin is completing the really hard work: classifying their products, and adding the appropriate hazard and precautionary statements.  Also, they are completing their initial label designs using BarTender.  In this sample label, you can see where Erin has included spaces to add variable data such as lot number and net weight at print time:

Although more work to do, Erin has made great progress on the SDS and GHS Label project prior to the deadline.  Every company working on moving to GHS labels needs an “Erin” to insure their new SDS and GHS labels are accurate and completed prior to June 15.

If you need assistance on your GHS label project.  Contact us and we’ll help you move forward like Engineered Lubricants.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
#colorlabels 

Friday, January 9, 2015

My New Printer Is

I’m excited to announce that we can start taking orders for the new TM-C7500 with shipments to start approximately February 1, 2015.  When thinking about this new color label printer, I say:

TM-C7500

My New Printer Is Fast!

Take a look at my printing and rewinding 100, 4” x 6” labels in one minute. 



TM-C7500 Label Rolls
TM-C7500 Label Rolls

Over this short run, you’ll see the printer running at approximately 10” per second at a 1,200 x 600 dpi resolution.  That’s fast and high resolution.  During the video, you probably noticed the printer stopping for maintenance.  To keep the inkjet nozzles from drying and clogging, the C7500 has a choice of settings for print head maintenance:


With “Continuous Printing”, the printer does not stop for maintenance; but “spits” tiny droplets of ink occasionally while printing.  The droplets can be seen with a magnifying glass; but are barely noticeable otherwise.  From my past work, I know the Memjet technology has the same type of maintenance function.  With “Pause for Maintenance”, the C7500 stops periodically and checks/cleans the printhead; that’s exactly what you are seeing in the video.  With this setting, the C7500 still averages approximately 10” per second.

Although the C7500 is a fast color label printer, I don’t believe this feature is most important.  In fact, I see three other aspects of the TM-C7500 as more important.

1.      1.  My Printer is High Resolution
At 1,200 by 600 dpi, the C7500 has much higher resolution than then C3500 or the first generation C3400.  Low resolution printing, especially for “flood coated” labels is the major objection I’ve faced with these earlier printers.  This new printer will provide much higher resolution, offering better looking on-demand color labels; especially for prime labels.

2.      2. My Printer is Durable/Requires little to no Maintenance
Over the years, we’ve worked with printers that require a lot (relatively speaking) of maintenance and consumable items such as printheads, transfer belts, fusers, image drums, and other items.  In addition, we’ve elected not to sell color label printers like the Swiftcolor and don’t recommend the Kairo printer from QLS given the requirement to dismantle the printer to change one of four printheads.  In production, maintenance requirements are a hassle.  And replacing consumable parts gets expensive.

In addition, most these printers require “return to factory” for repairs; therefore requiring a manufacturing operation to purchase a “Hot Swap” printer to use in case the first printer breaks.

With the C7500, little to no maintenance is required.  For example, the printhead lasts the life of the printer.  You do need to replace the “maintenance kit”, but this change takes only a few seconds and occurs only occasionally based on how much you print. 

As for repair, Epson will have the Spare-in-the-Air warranty program which sends out an overnight a replacement in case a printer requires repair.  It’s a great deal.  In addition, I understand Epson is developing an on-site offering as well.

When placing a printer into production, you must consider service and maintenance; and the C7500 is durable and easy/inexpensive to maintain.

3.      3. My Printer has ZPL Emulation/Native BarTender Drivers
Potentially the most interesting feature of the new TM-C7500 is the ZPL emulation.  With this feature, you’ll be able to store in the printer the background image of your labels; then send only the variable data to print on each label.   Plus, you’ll be able to “colorize” ZPL to add color fonts/text; and add variable color images.  This feature means the new C7500 will be plug n play with existing Zebra applications; allowing you to replace easily your inventory preprinted labels with on-demand.

Preprinted Label Inventory
Preprinted Label Inventory
The ZPL feature along with the lowered cost ink offered by the TM-C7500 could change a large part of the label printing market; and offer you a much easier solution for printing labels with color.

If you want more information, read my earlier post on the TM-C7500:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/09/first-review-tm-c7500-at-label-expo.html

If you are interested in a high resolution, durable/low maintenance and ZPL enabled printer for your operation solution; or just interested in the price of the new C7500, contact us.  We’ll help you move to this new evolution of technology.

Guy Mikel
800-962-7670

Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Dyeing" For GHS

Pylam (http://www.pylamdyes.com/) is an industry leading supplier of dyes, pigments and colorants to the global marketplace. Their colorants are used in an extensive array of products that range from cosmetics, soaps, candles, plastics, and even industrial applications. Pylam focuses on providing the highest grade products with an unsurpassed level of support and flexibility; offering a wide range of package sizes of all colorants.  Their products include not only commodity items, but also custom-made blends designed to satisfy exacting specifications.

Like other companies in the chemical market, Pylam needed to comply with the new GHS requirements.  However, Pylam wanted to change their labeling process as well.  According to Aaron Reynolds, Vice President, “we had been using an HP Color Laser printing plain paper and covering with tape on the package.  As a part of the new GHS requirements, we decided to switch to “drum size” durable labels with adhesive to improve the look of our products being shipped.  We wanted our labels to look robust and durable” says Aaron.


GHS Label
Pylam Sample Label
During our first conversation, I learned Aaron was interested in purchasing a GP-C831 printer.  You can read about this printer in one of first posts:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/10/gp-c831.html.  In addition, Aaron wanted to know the estimated ink cost for his labels.  To give him an estimated ink cost, I asked Aaron to send me a label (he sent the label pictured above).  To produce this label on the GP-C831 using an 8” x 11” label, the estimated cost for ink was $0.022 each. 

GP-C831 Ink Cost
GP-C831 Ink Cost
 At $0.022 each, the ink cost is very low for this label; especially compared to laser or thermal transfer options.  If you want to see the cost comparisons, read my earlier post here:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/12/trust-me.html

You can purchase ink for the GP-C831 printer here: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/8-5-x-11-pin-fed-poly-label/

After Pylam purchased the GP-C831 printer, I helped Aaron configure and learn how to use the printer.  We had him printing labels quickly and easily.  According to Aaron, “the labels look very appealing; and communicates positively about our products.  I believe our customers appreciate the new look of our labels.”

Printed GHS Label
Printed GHS Label on Matte Poly

Like many companies, Pylam has a lot of work to do to meet the GHS requirements.  “With thousands of products, we have only scratched the surface on completing our SDS’s and GHS labels; especially since we add new items all the time,” says Aaron.  

Continuing, Aaron says, “our customer come to us with the specific specifications and requirements.  For these requests, we create and produce products to order.  Once the product is made, we print, apply and ship on very short time-frames.  It’s important to us to meet our customers’ needs quickly, and the capabilities of the Epson label printer helps with attaining many of our goals.”

Although printing labels for a short time, Pylam is happy with their new GP-C831.  Durable, low cost and attractive labels printed exactly when needed is exactly what Pylam has achieved with this solution.  If you need to meet the GHS requirements like Pylam,  Contact us; we’ll make sure you get started printing beautiful and durable color labels as well.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
#colorlabels
 



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Creativity With Color Labels

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a writer for Package Design (http://www.packagedesignmag.com/)  about the impact of print on-demand color labels on design.  If you don’t know this magazine, Package Design elevates the value of design as a strategic business competence in the brand marketing mix from concept to shelf.  This magazine helps improve business effectiveness and fosters a community for all stakeholders.

Shelby Lewis of Vape Dudes

After our and other interviews, Package Design published, “The Digital Shift”, http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/STMG/packagedesign_20141112/#/48,  about the marketing options provided by moving to digital printing; and specifically, print on-demand color labels.   Check out my comments at the end of page 42 and 43 as I see tremendous creativity benefits of printing color labels on demand.

The Digital Shift
On-Demand Provides Flexibility In Label Design




In many of my past posts, I discussed the productivity benefits of printing color labels on demand.  Some of my favorite posts on this topic include:




But the point of this article was the marketing benefits realized with the move to digital printing.  As a part of this article, the author, Tara Pettit, spoke with our customer, Shelby Lewis of Vape Dudes, http://www.vapedudes.com/.  Vape Dudes business model is to offer customers the specific option that meets their taste requirements; effectively producing customized products on-demand.  Offering hundreds or even thousands of different product combinations, Vape Dudes needed a means to produce their labels on-demand as preprinted labels do not work.  You can read about Vape Dudes here in this earlier post: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/06/couldnt-be-happier.html


In addition to Vade Dudes, we have many other customers creatively using print on-demand color labels.  One of my favorite is Hummingbird Market, http://hummingbirdmarket.com/. Douglas Everett, owner of this company, has produced some of the most beautiful labels I’ve seen; on Epson’s first generation color label printer, the TM-C3400:



Also, I’ve posted ideas on how to use color on labels; or the benefits of digital printing. Check out this post on using color to improve marketing:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2013/09/juice-your-marketing-using-color-on.htmlOr this post on color labels in the digital marketplace: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/03/labels-in-digital-marketplace.html

And I’ve posted about companies creating interesting products:



Printing color labels on demand offers many different creative and process benefits.  I’d love to hear how color improves your marketing efforts.  Or contact us to discuss how we can help you add color to your on-demand labels.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
855-962-7670
#colorlabels
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Universal Good Idea

Universal Heated Hoses (http://www.universalheatedhoses.com/) designs and manufactures custom electrically heated transfer hoses for a wide range of applications. Heated hoses provide solutions for transferring materials such as Hot Melt Adhesives, Liquid Food Products, Wax, Lubricants, and Sealants. UHH specializes in Hotmelt replacement hoses as well as Custom Hoses.  Manufacturing heater wire in-house, UHH provides the best solution for the application; offering hoses for all types of temperature sensors to match the existing machinery.


Pat Pagnella founded UHH after working as an engineer in the industry.  Pat manufacturer’s hoses that transfer liquid materials at 450 to 500 degrees F while insuring the hoses on the outside reach no more than 120 degrees.  According to Pat, “up until now, we had only monochrome printers for labels; both Zebra and Wasp thermal transfer printers.  We used BarTender to create our labels, including using the increment function to add sequential numbers to each label printed.”


Continuing, Pat says, “When purchasing another printer, we decided to get one that would print color labels on-demand.  Color is important to us as we wanted to add our customer’s logos to the labels on the hoses.  With more than 30 OEM customers, we want to strengthen their brands and businesses; and to offer great value to these important customers.”


While searching for color label printer options, Pat found us online.  After a telephone conversation, Pat purchased a TM-C3500 printer, 3 years of Spare-in-the-Air Warranty, ink and labels.  Once the printer arrived, I help him setup and configure the printer via webinar.  Within a few minutes, Pat was printing color labels from BarTender.

Although Pat wanted to move to color, it was important that the UHH labels were durable.  “The labels on these hoses must be durable; withstanding rough treatment and heat” says Pat.  “In the past, we’ve placed the labels on Mylar film before applying tape over the top.  With these new durable color poly labels, we’ll should be able to use the adhesive on the back to wrap and connect the Mylar film; and eliminate the tape over the top.  This new process will save us time.”


UHH has started printing color by using continuous labels, which requires the use of the built in cutter in the TM-C3500.  Continuous material allows for variable lengths; cutting exactly to the required length.  In the future, UHH will move to die cut matte poly labels to get the rounded corners.  In addition, die cut labels may be easier to apply for this specific application over the top of the Mylar.


Two years ago when I first started the Color Labels On-Demand blog, I wrote about one of my customers who manufactured flexible hoses.  Although not mentioned by name, you might find this post of interest:  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2012/01/no-name-companies.html

Working with companies like UHH and good guys like Pat is one of the pleasures of leading Color Label Solutions.  If you need a heated hose, contact Pat at Universal Heated Hoses.  If you need color labels printed on-demand, contact us!

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
#colorlabels

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GP-C831 SURPRISE

While helping a customer install and configure a GP-C831 printer, I had a “SURPRISE”:  I learned Epson had made available a new driver; Version 2.1.4.0.



Offering several changes, this new driver is not necessarily “plug and play” with your existing label formats.  In this post, I like to explain the new driver, and how the change may affect your work.

If you want to get the new driver, you first need to visit the Technical Resource pages: www.pos.epson.com or this specific page: https://pos.epson.com/developers/techresdetails.htm?productpk=678

The primarily reason you should upgrade to the new driver is the capability to print wider; now 8.25” versus the previous 8”.  From my perspective, this capability is a major improvement; especially without requiring a change in the hardware.

With this change, please remember these details about the page settings/sizes.  The print starting point on the right side (fixed) as you face the printer is still .51”.  Therefore, you will have approximately a .135” (.51” -.375”) non-printable boundary on the right side when using labels with a .375” tractor-feed.  This boundary will be eliminated, basically, when using labels with a .5” tractor feed.  In addition, the top and the bottom of the label will have a .08” non-printable boundary as well. 

In addition to the wider print capability, the driver has other notable changes.  First, the default setting for print quality is “Plain Label” and "Quality" versus “Plain” and "Speed" in the previous version.


With the plain label setting, the default Mode setting is “Quality”.  For producing most labels, the default setting is sufficient.  You may want to test “Synthetic” and Quality for matte poly labels (http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/gp-c831-pin-fed-labels/)  to determine which you prefer.  During my discussions with Epson, I learned the color gamut is slightly different between these two settings.  Therefore, I suggest you print your labels with both to determine which settings match your preferred colors the best.

In addition, you’ll find several changes on the paper tab as well.  First Epson has changed the default page sizes; from seemingly random sizes to ISO standard pages:


In addition, you’ll now need to enter the width of the actual label size for user defined.  In the previous driver, you needed to add the total construction (including the pin feed) in this section of the driver.  However, you still use the size from perforation to perforation.  (Please remember the difference in this setting for my later comments.)



In addition to the change in the print quality and page size, Epson added one more important feature; the ability to import and export driver settings.


Now you can export the settings as “BSF” files to import into other computers.  This capability will save a lot of time for network installs.  While on this page, don’t forget to set the Notification Settings to “No Beep” (I find the beep very annoying).  Also, don’t forget to select these settings not only in the “Printer Defaults”, but also in “Printer Preferences”. 

Although these changes are seemingly straight forward, please know; any templates you have created using the previous driver will not print correctly using the new version.  For example, here is what I saw when I opened my example drum label in BarTender:


With the change in the driver from using the total construction to now using only the label size, the templates built using the previous driver do not work correctly.  You need to change the templates.  In BarTender, you’ll get this message when trying to print using a format created with the previous driver:


If you get this message, be sure to select cancel to get to the page setup.  In page setup, be sure “Set Manually” is NOT selected.


And be sure the correct page size from the GP-C831 driver is selected:


After making these changes, you may still need to move the content on the label format.  For example, the content on my new format was too close to the leading edge even though it worked well previously:


In situations such as above, you may want to move the print start position versus changing the position of the content on the label.  To move the print start position in the GP-C831, follow these directions:

1. Open the top cover.
2. Hold down the Pause button for about three seconds. The Pause light flashes, the printer enters Micro Adjust mode, and then the paper is advanced to the current top-of-form position.
3. Press the FF D button to move the top-of-form position down on the page, or press the Load/Eject U button to move the top-of-form position up on the page.

After working with this new driver, I would recommend one key point: you need to use the same version of the GP-C831 driver for all installs within your company.  You will not be able to print the same label template correctly from both drivers.  If you want to stay with the existing driver, contact me; I’ll send you the previous version.

If you use BarTender and want to start with a template that should work, I’ve updated my post on Drum Label Templates to include the 8.5” x 11” format: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2014/09/ghs-drum-label-template-database.html 

In addition, I’ve change the label size in my store to 8.5” x 11” as well: http://stores.colorlabelsolutions.com/gp-c831-pin-fed-labels/ 

If you are using the GP-C831, you should install the new driver.  But don’t be SURPRISED when things change; Just contact us instead.


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
#colorlabels