Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Perfect Print On-Demand Color Label Example

Founded in 1987 as a local wholesaler of products for the cabinet and furniture trades, QuickScrews International Corporation (www.quickscrews.com) has evolved into the supplier of the most popular brand of fasteners in the industry; including their new solar division (https://solarroofhook.com/).   Their highly trained and experienced personnel are ready to discuss their customer’s needs to deliver on the promise “Get the Screws You Need Faster Than Ever”. QuickScrews uses technology to service many different categories of customers; from weekend warriors looking to finish a project, large cabinetmakers or solar roof installers, or wholesalers looking to support their customers. In 2010, QuickScrews began selling their products online, which expanded their customer base to more than 10,000 customers and shipping orders within 24 hours of receipt.


From my perspective, QuickScrews is the perfect example of a company needing to print color labels on demand.  With thousands of SKU’s, QuickScrews uses colors and icons to differentiate types of fasteners. With their solar products, here are their color codes:

QuickScrews Color Codes
QuickScrews Color Codes
And here are icons in use on one of their products:

QuickScrews Variable Icons
QuickScrews Variable Icons
Quickscrews prints these labels using the C3500 in stations distributed in their plants in Livermore, CA and in South Carolina.


And they have experimented using a very inexpensive Go-Dex unwinder to feed large rolls of labels into the C3500.  And it works seemingly great!

C3500 with Inexpensive GoDex Unwinder
C3500 with Inexpensive GoDex Unwinder
But the real magic of the QuickScrews print on-demand color label solution is their database of products and their deployment of BarTender.  According to Mark Buechler, Senior IT Manager for QuickScrews, “our Marketing department has spent a lot of time gathering information and taking pictures of many different fasteners for our database.  We’ve worked hard not only setting up the structure of our database in Excel, but also adding the descriptors, color codes, and variable images associated with every single SKU we sell. It’s a process that will never end”.

In addition to the database, Mark has deployed BarTender, designing different label templates and setting up the network to pull the variable data, including the different text descriptors, icons and color codes to create the labels.  According to Mark, “now each print station in either CA or SC accesses BarTender to print the labels required for each product.   This solution makes it easy for our operators to label our products correctly.  And the colors and icons make it easy for our wholesalers and customer to select the correct fastener.”

According to Elizabeth Sinclair, Manager, Verticals Marketing at Seagull Scientific, the creator of Bartender, “by using good data management practices in your labeling deployment as demonstrated by Mark and the Quickscrews team, you can create enterprise-wide efficiencies that save time, resources and money. Many companies use only the design component, and thus store data in label files. By integrating BarTender with a trusted data source, any changes are easy to make in one location rather than finding, opening, updating and saving every individual label.  QuickScrews has deployed BarTender very effectively.”

Quickscrews has developed a great business model; becoming the subject matter expert in a relatively narrow field.  This focus makes it easy for prospects and customers to purchase the correct fasteners.  By adding a great print on-demand color solution, QuickScrews can now produce labels that make their products easy to use; both their channel and end users.

If you have a large number of SKU’s and considering print on-demand color labels, contact us.  We’d love to help you build a great solution like QuickScrews.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Easy To Do

Label printing can be difficult; I know.  But label printing can be easy if done correctly.  When the artwork matches the label size correctly, label printing is easy to do.

Nutriment.com (www.nutriment.combelieves that success in the nutrition business is predicated upon knowing what customers need to help optimize nutrient intake; and to help address specific health problems.  Nutriment.com has the distinction of offering formulations with the most comprehensive ingredients lists—highly potent formulations with nutrients chosen to work together so that the final effect is greater than the sum of its parts.

Joint health, male enhancement, vitamin/mineral blends and sleep aid formulations are just a few of the products they offer, and their list continues to grow. All ingredients chosen for these specific formulations are only the purist, highest in potency and scientifically validated by clinical research.  Nutriment.com uses only GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified facilities to produce its formulations. This requirement assures a safe and pure product that you can take with confidence.

When first contacting Peter Baker, Owner of Nutriment, I learned he needed a printer for producing short runs of labels for new products.  “We launch new test products all the time,” said Peter.  Continuing, “Some of these new products generate demand; some don’t.  Once I have a large demand, we’ll purchase preprinted labels.  Until we have a winning product, we don’t want to purchase a large supply of labels that may never be use.”

Given that Nutriment needed to produce a limited run of labels at a time, I offered to send samples from both the C3500 and C7500G printers.  The C3500 is a very affordable label printer; the C7500G has much higher print resolution.  We discussed also the L301 (http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/02/l301.html)  and the LX2000 (http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2015/06/lx2000-full-bleed-color-label-printer.html) as well.  But the ink costs would be higher to produce labels for these printers. For the Nutriment application, the C7500G was the best choice.

To produce these samples, Peter sent me artwork setup perfectly to work with a 2” x 6” label. 

Nutrient Label PDF
Nutrient Label PDF
Notice how the label is designed with the marks setting out the location for the corners of a 2” x 6” label.  When printing these labels at the “Actual” size using Adobe Reader or Acrobat, the preview shows exactly how the label will look.

PDF Label Preview
PDF Label Preview
For the most part, we don’t carry  inventory of labels required to print all the possible sizes and types customers would want.  But in this case, I checked with our plant, who happened to have a roll of 2” x 6” and 2.5” x 6” gloss poly labels in inventory.  So I agreed to print some test labels for Nutriment.

Once I received the labels from the plant, I printed 7 different labels.  On the first label, I found that I had to move the print slightly down and change the boarder setting to .06” to get the label to print exactly as required.

Label Horizontal Adjustment Example
Label Horizontal Adjustment Example
We then packaged up the test prints and sent to Peter.

Nutriment Label Prints
With the correct artwork and label sizes, printing great looking labels is easy to do.  Perfect for an application such as desired by Nutriment, printing labels as need for their prototype products.  Companies launching new products all the time like Nutriment, printing on-demand color labels make good economic sense.

If you want to produce great looking labels easily yourself, contact us.  We’ll help you get started printing labels quickly and easily.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

BenchMax

BenchMax Label Applicator (https://greatengineering.com/benchmax/)  will enable you to use any label (or 2) on any round container larger than 8 mm in diameter.  With the Small Container Adaptor, the BenchMax makes it possible to label containers down to 8 mm in diameter.  And the Orientation capability scans the container for a feature, to insure labels are applied in the correct orientation.  Finally, you can adjust the rollers to apply labels to round containers with ridges or other features.


BenchMax Label Applicator
BenchMax Label Applicator

More important to me, however, was the fact that you can now integrate the BenchMax into the C3500 and C7500 for on-demand color label printing and application.  This capability makes the BenchMax the only off-the-shelf label applicator available for integration with a color label printer.  I first wrote about this capability after WestPack 2017: http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/02/westpack-2017.html

When I received my BenchMax, I was pleasantly surprised how well the unit was packed for it’s shipment from Australia to the US.



After unpacking the BenchMax applicator, I attempted to thread the supplied labels through the machine.  You can download the directions here: https://greatengineering.com/pdf/BenchMAX_BenchMARK_Manual.pdf 


And be sure to watch this video on setting up the BenchMax first.  It’s important and helpful:

As the machine ships with the small container adapter in place, I made a mistake on the threading.  Therefore, I decided to remove the small container adapter before moving forward.

BenchMax Small Container Adaptor
BenchMax Small Container Adapter
But I had a heck of a hard time removing the adapter.  To remove the adapter, you need to remove the Hex screw shown below and the knob. 

Small Container Adapter Screw
When I tried to remove the screw, the adapter would turn, and not release.  I believe this problem says more about my mechanical skills than the adapter.  Once I held the adapter with the palm of my hand, and turned the Allen screw, the came off.  With the adapter off, it was easy to thread the labels through applicator.

After threading the labels, I had to set the gap sensor.  Frankly, I made a mistake in this step as well.  I could not get the provided labels to apply correctly. You need to make sure the sensor is positioned off a few mm from the leading edge of the first label.  This position below worked great.

BenchMax Label Leading Edge Exposed
BenchMax Label Leading Edge Exposed & Sensor Setting
And found the top of form on round labels as well:


Once I got the sensor set correctly, I was labeling containers. Even applying two labels to one bottle.


(Note to self: get some nice looking, unused round containers).

The BenchMax makes placing two labels with the correct spacing on one bottle easy to do.

After figuring out the applicator portion, I integrated my C7500G with the BenchMax.  Following the instructions for the Interface was easy; get the instructions here:  https://greatengineering.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/interfaceInstructions.pdf

And the included label guide instructions as well: https://greatengineering.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/GuideInstructions.pdf

I thought the label guide worked well; and may work better using fanfold labels:

BenchMax Label Guide
BenchMax Label Guide
And in minutes, I was printing and applying labels to large containers.


And by reinserting the Small Container Adapter, I was printing and applying labels to smaller round containers:


And here you can watch the printer respond to the commands from the interface:


When you first start to integrate the printer/BenchMax, be sure to print 15 to 20 labels to have lots of slack in the system.  As the printer backs up when starting to print, you need approximately 10” to 12” of loose labels.  After printing this initial slack, the Interface does all the work.  And I confirmed, the Interface works with Adobe Acrobat and BarTender, making printing and applying labels with variable data easy to do.  Be sure to keep the software application open during application; so the Interface can continue managing the label printing.

If you own a C3500 or a C7500/C7500G and apply labels to a round container, you should consider purchasing a BenchMax label applicator.  Now, you can print and apply in one step; increasing productivity and insuring your labels are applied correctly in the exact position every time.  The BenchMax applicator with the Interface, Label Guide, Cables and freight costs approximately $10,000.

If you don’t own one of these printers, now you should consider purchasing both the printer and BenchMax applicator to improve your operations and look of your finished products.  Contact us to discuss how the BenchMax label applicator fits into your operation.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Label Color Management-Reader/Acrobat

Color Label Solutions prints and send label samples out most days.  And I’d say most of these samples are printed from Adobe Acrobat in my case.  However, many of our customers print from Adobe Reader.  These customers create artwork in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or some other application before saving as a PDF.


While at a customer site this week, I decided to test some of the other Adobe Color Settings; as the colors in the initial print output were different from the C7500G versus the customer’s standard printer. By accident, I’ve found an additional way to improve color matching.  I’m sure many graphic artists understand these capabilities; but I did not.

In the past, I posted on using the ColorTone Matching assistant and/or the Wasatch RIP available in the C7500GE to improve color matching. 


But for many of you, selecting a different setting in Adobe Reader or Acrobat may give you “close enough” or sufficient color matching.  Let me explain further.

In the print dialog box of Adobe Reader, you can find the “Advance” button.

Adobe Print Dialog Box
Adobe Print Dialog Box

In the Advance dialog box, you’ll find 3 basic options for color printing.

Adobe Reader "Advanced" Print Dialog Box
Adobe Reader "Advanced" Print Dialog Box

  • Let Printer Determine Colors Checked
  • Let Printer Determine Colors Unchecked (PDF Determines Colors)
  • Print as Image

In addition, you can select “Preserve CMYK Primaries” and “Preserve Black”.  However, I didn’t notice any difference with these selections alone.

With the above label artwork, I found a difference when printing as an image.  The green was darker, and maybe more yellow when printing using the setting “Print As Image”.

In Acrobat, I found Adobe provides many more options for color management; with 4 basic types:

  • Printer Color Management
  • Same As Source
  • Adobe Color Management
  • Print as Image


When Printer Color Management is selected, Acrobat says “Color Handling determines if color management will be used, and if so, whether it happens in the application or at the printing device. When 'Printer' is selected, convert any ICC profiles to PostScript CSAs, and color will be managed in the printer RIP.

With Same As Source is selected, Acrobat says “Color Handling determines if color management will be used, and if so, whether it happens in the application or at the printing device. When 'Same as Source (No Color Management)' is selected, embedded profiles are ignored, and only device values are sent.

When Acrobat Color Management is selected, Acrobat says “Color Handling determines if color management will be used, and if so, whether it happens in the application or at the printing device. When 'Acrobat Color Management' is selected, select an ICC Profile that describes the target output device.”

In my version of Acrobat, I count 42 different ICC profiles available when selecting Acrobat Color Management.  Although not printing using all of the available profiles (some are black/grey’s only), I did find differences. With most of the profiles, I did not see a difference using this artwork and label media.

Acrobat Color Management Profiles
Acrobat Color Management Profiles

Using ColorMatch RGB (Matches the native color space of Radius Pressview monitors.  This space provides a smaller gamut alternative to Adobe RGB (1998) for print production work), I found a darker green with this artwork.

Acrobat ColorMatch Profile
Acrobat ColorMatch Profile
And I found the same print output using Apple RGB: (Reflects the characteristics of the average Mac OS monitor, and is used by a variety of desktop publishing applications, including Adobe Photoshop 4.0 and earlier.  Use this space for files that you plan to display on Mac OS monitors, or for working with legacy (older) desktop publishing files.)

In addition, I did see a difference by selecting “Printer Color Management”.  I’ve decided to make this setting the default.

For those of you printing with Adobe Reader or Acrobat, I encourage you to test your artwork with the variety of settings and maybe label media to see if you find a difference in color of your print output.  You may find a better color matching option.

And for those of you we’ve sent samples, forgive me if the color wasn't exactly correct.  Maybe I could produce better color matches now.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Edible Love

Love’s Oven (www.lovesoven.comproducts are produced with the highest quality all-natural ingredients that are sourced locally (Colorado beet sugar) and organically (organic coconut oil) whenever possible. Their proprietary THC & CBD extraction methods ensure that you receive a consistent and effective dose of cannabutter/cannaoil Love in every bite.



Love’s Oven was born in 2009 with a promise to its patients to provide great tasting cleanly extracted products to help with their chronic pain and other ailments.  If you look at the label of any of their 15+ products you’ll never find any ingredients that you need to have a chemical engineering degree to pronounce. Ingredients like crystallized ginger and honey roasted peanut butter are about as complicated as it gets.  Love’s Oven has built its reputation by crafting their products in a state of the art facility in Denver where their food safety and quality assurance programs guarantee you’ll receive a potent and delicious product that can be found throughout Colorado.

In the fall of 2016, Colorado issued new label requirements that caused Love’s Oven to change their labeling procedures. According to Katie Wrank, Administrative Assistant & Marketing, “Colorado mandated that we add the Universal THC Symbol, in various sizes and colors, to each label for both medical and recreation use.  At the time, we were using a black only, DataMax thermal transfer printer adding variable data on top of five different preprinted labels in conjunction to printing some on a laser printer. This process was very frustrating and time consuming.  We had to make a change.”

Katie says, “While growing significantly, we needed an efficient and improved process to label our products. Prior to any changes, our work flow was to extract label information from the daily production list, transfer the production numbers and product information manually to the packaging order, and then type everything by hand onto our label templates. With over eighty-eight label templates requiring daily changes, our label process was at risk for human error. Plus, all these changes were too much for one person to manage.” 

To change their label process, Love’s Oven contacted Rich Arbogast of Sendata Systems, (www.sendatasystems.com). As a partner of Color Label Solutions, Rich contacted us to see if we have a solution for Love’s Oven.  Rich said, “Sendata are experts at managing data and thermal transfer printers.  But decided to work with Color Label Solutions to bring the best possible print on-demand color label system for our customer, Love’s Oven.

To start the process, we printed sample labels on the C7500G.  We recommended this printer given their need for a large volume of gloss labels.

Love's Oven C7500G Full-Bleed Label
Love's Oven C7500G Full-Bleed Label
In addition, we provided an estimated ink cost of their labels.

C7500G Estimated Ink Yield
C7500G Estimated Ink Yield
On these long, full-bleed labels, I estimated the ink cost at $0.027 per label.  Based on the samples and estimated ink costs, Love’s Oven purchased a C7500G printer.

About the C7500G, Katie says, “We now have the ability to print on demand labels quickly and efficiently. We also have the design flexibility to change our graphics on a moment’s notice.  Many of our customers love to see their logo printed in full color on products that contain their trim or flower.”


While working with Love’s Oven, I learned about their new label creation process.  Katie says, “to improve our labeling process, I decided to use a mail merge technic that I used in a former position at a large shipping and printing company. In Excel, I created a database of our products, including all the variable information: product name, ingredients, allergens, net weight, and pieces per package. This database allows us to quickly update product information such as changes to a recipe. On another tab in the Excel database, we retain information about the ingredients used during the cultivation of the marijuana, which are required by the state of Colorado. By using the VLOOKUP command in Excel, we pull information pertaining to each product, automating the data input on the production list.”

“Once we have the products compiled in one list, we use Adobe InDesign to merge the data with our artwork onto the backgrounds of our label templates. With this workflow, we can export all our labels from one file as separate PDF files which print like a dream on the Epson C7500G.”

C7500G Label
C7500G Label
One other interesting note, Rich has worked to help Love’s Oven to print THC symbols on their brownies using white, food-grade ink.  What a great solution Rich put together for Love’s Oven.

Edible Ink Printed Brownies
Edible Ink Printed Brownies
“With the constantly changing Cannabis labeling/direct marketing laws and regulations required by the State of Colorado, providing the best solution to these requirements was our goal. I believe we hit the mark with the Epson C7500G printer for the packaging labels and direct marking food grade inkjet coder for applying the mark directly to the edible products. These products are the only ones I know that can print with the quality needed for the labels, and the food grade ink for the direct marking of the edible food cannabis products.”

We’re excited by the success at Love’s Oven.  If you need a new labeling solution for your cannabis or any other products, contact Color Label Solutions.  We’ll help you meet the regulatory requirements of your industry; and produce beautiful labels in the process.


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Friday, February 24, 2017

L301

I received my new printer the other day: the L301.

L301
L301
Selling at $1,595, the L301 is the lowest price 4+” color label printer available.  The ability to print up to 6” wide labels at this price point seems like a very interesting proposal for small label producers.  I wanted to try it; so here is my out-of-the-box report.

L301 Label Printer
L301 Label Printer

Prior to taking the printer out of the box, I realized that I could not install the driver.  I needed to get from Afinia a file of the driver to download.  At the time, the driver was not publicly available.  You can now download it here along with the instruction manual and quick start guide:


After unpacking, I started to install the printer by first plugging in the printer and installing the ink cartridges.  Immediately I found discrepancy with the ink cartridge numbers.  The manual called for Cartridges: #26548 and #26562. However the numbers on the bags were different.  In the production units, the part numbers will be on the cartridge outer packaging.  


After installing the ink cartridges, I installed the driver.  However, the driver does not install completely until the USB is connected.  Afinia says do not connect the USB cable until the driver is installed.

Once installed, the driver looks similar to the Neuralabel 300x and Primera LX2000 driver.  Both printers use HP print engines; so that makes total sense to me.  Read my earlier post on the LX2000 here:   


And 300x here:


Next, the instructions gave me information about the media.  Narrowest width is 2”; and shortest label is 2”.  A 2” x 2” label is pretty large for the minimum size.  Afinia hopes to reduce the minimum size to 1.75” x 1” shortly.  And the widest printable label is 6”.  The printer uses a 3” core, and a max OD of 6”.  I then installed the media on the unwinder which was a lot easier than on the VIP 495.  Read my post about this printer here: 


After inserting the paper, the printer pulled the label media into the printer and found the gap.  I then printed my first 6” x 4” matte poly label.  My first print took exactly 1 minute.  And I did lose a label on my first print as the printer had to find top of form.  Here is my first print on a matte poly coming out of the printer:

L301 First Print
L301 First Print
As you can see, my right side was printing on the liner.  To adjust this print start position, I had to simply add space on the “Left Offset” in the driver, found on the “Settings” tab.

L301 Driver Setting Tab
L301 Driver Setting Tab

On my second label, the time to print was cut in ½.  Slightly less than 30 seconds to print a 6” x 4” label.  And the Left Offset adjustment worked! Notice the difference in the location of the ink on the right side of the printer.

L301 Printed Labels
L301 Printed Labels
To cut, I just moved the cutter across the path of the web.  Worked great. Looking at the cut position, I noticed I would want to add about a 1/16” of an inch.  The cutter adjustment in the driver enables this configuration; but does not say which direction is positive or negative.  I’ve learned later that positive ejects the labels out further.

Next, I printed gloss paper labels.  First I used a 6” x 4” label with a .25” gap and blackmark.  When I tried to print, it would not work correctly.  After thinking about the problem, I realized the blackmark was directly in the gap; and may be fooling the gap sensor.  When I changed to blackmark, the gloss paper label printed as expected.

However, the printed label had two issues.  First the print output had lines.

L301 Label Needing Alignment
L301 Label Needing Alignment
By completing an ink cartridge alignment, the lines disappeared.  Look at the Cyan block pre/post alignment.

L301 Alignment
L301 Alignment
I’m not surprised by the fact the cartridges require alignment when you first use the printer.

Second, the black ink came off the gloss paper I tried first.  Look at the barcode in the downspout label above.  As the black is a pigment ink, gloss is a harder match.  I tried our standard gloss paper; and it performed much better. The black ink did not smear.

L301 On Gloss Paper
L301 On Gloss Paper

And the gloss poly printed very nice.

L301 On Gloss Poly
L301 On Gloss Poly

And I found the gloss poly labels waterproof; I was surprised by this result.

L301 Water Resistant Gloss Poly
L301 Water Resistant Gloss Poly
On the matte paper labels, I found the material printed OK using the standard settings.

L301 Printed On Matte Paper
L301 Printed On Matte Paper
Although both barcodes scanned, I though the print quality could be better.  The colors and text looked very nice, however.

On clear film, I thought they printed great.

L301 Black
L301 All Black on Clear Film

But the ink came off easily in water.  Not really an option.

As for ink costs, the L301 is much more expensive than the C3500 or especially the C7500.   For example, this artwork at 5.5” wide would cost ~$0.14 to $0.16/label.

On the LX2000, the ink cost of this label would cost approximately $0.05.

LX2000 Ink Cost
LX2000 Ink Cost

And the ink cost would be only $0.024/label for the C7500G at 4.25” wide:


According to Mike Atkins, Sales Manager for Afinia, “The Afinia Label L301 Color Label Printer is perfect for small and growing businesses. By printing In-house and on-demand, you give your company the flexibility to change your labels as-needed; to accommodate branding, ingredient, or government regulation changes. Powered by an HP thermal inkjet printing technology, the L301 will work well for small businesses wanting to print labels on demand.”

For the positives, the L301:
  • Costs much less than competitive printers.
  • Makes label printing easy to do.
  • Prints great looking labels up to 6” wide.


As for the negatives, the L301:
  • Uses expensive ink.
  • Prints very slowly.
  • Does not offer a networking option.
  • Limits gloss media to selected options


Overall, I found the L301 as an affordable option to print low volume quantities of labels wider than 4.25” wide.  At $1,595, the L301 is under ½ the price of the LX2000; the competitive option.  You can purchase a lot of ink for $2,000+ dollars.  For those businesses printing 10 to 20 labels per day, who need wider than 4.25” labels and want to limit their investment, the L301 is a good option.

If you are interested in learning more about the L301 or any other label printer, contact us to discuss your requirements in detail.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670