Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Label Expo #2: More The Merrier

On September 12th and 13th, I attended Label Expo Americas 2012 (   During this event, I had the opportunity to see on-demand color label printers from a few other companies:  Primera, KG Digital, Colordyne and Ownx.  I like to share with you my thoughts on what I learned and saw at this event.

But before I give my specific views, I like to make one observation for all these companies.  All of these companies showed examples of printing “Prime” labels.  If you don’t know, a prime label acts as the main identification of a product. This label is designed to attract attention; and contains information to appeal to a buyer.  Most prime labels are produced by printers or in print shops.  The labels shown by these companies were 100% covered with ink, commonly referred to as “flood coated”.

On the other hand, Epson recommends the TM-C3400 for “secondary” labels.  These labels contain supportive information.  They are usually placed on overpacks or on the sides or backs of products.  These labels contain pictures, logo’s, graphics and/or text commonly in different colors.  Secondary labels are produced typically on the shop floor.  FYI:  I discussed this topic in an earlier post on prospects for on-demand color labels in the hardware market:

In the Primera booth, I discussed the LX900 with the sales representative:  

Primera LX900 with labels
In the booth, Primera was using the LX900 to print this prime label covered with 100% ink.

Primera Produced Prime Label

With 4,800 dpi and 4 colors, this $2,995 list price printer produces prime labels for products such as wine or olive oil very well.  However, this printer runs very slow at higher resolution, comes only with a USB interface and uses die-based inks that may run or smear when wet. 

For this printer, Primera uses inkjet print heads from Lexmark.  However, Lexmark announced in August their plans to exit the inkjet business.  According to the sales representative I met in the booth, Primera has purchased a large volume of print heads to allow them to keep manufacturing this product.  In addition, the Primera representative said Lexmark will keep manufacturing the ink cartridges for some time.  However, the WSJ article above states Lexmark is winding down all inkjet activities.

In addition to Primera, I saw the SwiftColor 4” and 8” printers in the KG Digital booth.   KG digital, a division of Kanematu of Japan, has the 4” available currently and will launch the 8” version shortly as I was told.

SwiftColor 8" printer

SwiftColor 4" printer

According to the person I met in the booth, the $10,000+, 4”, 4-color printer uses die-based inks to print up to speeds of 8” per second.

SwiftColor 8" Prime Label

SwiftColor 4" Prime Label

They could not tell me when the 8” version would be available.

In the Colordyne Technologies booth (, I saw both the 1600C and the 1600S color label printers.  Colordyne uses print engines from Memjet (  

Colordyne printer

 The 1600 C is a 4-color, dye-based ink, high resolution printer that uses continuous labels and prints up to speeds of 12”/second.

Colordyne printer

The 1600 S is similar to the 1600 C, but prints only sheet-fed stock.

According to the people I spoke with in the booth, these printers cost between $10,000 and $15,000.  Here is example of the prime labels they were printing in their booth:

Colordyne Prime Label

As a part of the solution, Colordyne has a relationship with Niceware and Wasatch to deliver a label software with color management capability.   Based on my discussions, I believe this technology may best fit in print shops; and not on the plant floor operations.  Color matching is a very technical subject; and not something most non-graphic artists could do.

In addition to Colordyne, Ownx ( had their Memjet-based, Speedstar printers on display.


With a built-in computer and software, this 12” per second, 4-color, $23,500+ prime label printer produced very good labels that were shown going through a cutter after printing.

Speedstar Label (black smudges are from my scanner)
Although fast and high resolution, Memjet may have trouble printing in the real world:

Some of you may be wondering, why am I making you aware of these companies?  From my perspective, the more companies promote on-demand color labels, the more the entire market for this technology will grow.  I see this growth increasing the global automated data capture/barcode printer business significant; and a real opportunity for value added resellers in this market.  So the more companies, the merrier for you!

Guy Mikel

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