Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Friday, November 8, 2019

A High Level Conversation


“A High Level Conversation” is a new podcast series powered by Delta9 Systems, the Cannabis division of General Data Corporation, hosted by Chris Guthrie, General Manager.



I’ve written about Chris and Delta9 Systems in the past.

According to Ashley Crosh, Marketing Manager for General Data and producer of this podcast, “our goal of this podcast series is to gain credibility and visibility within the cannabis industry.  We’re combining our expertise in data management and barcode systems with Chris’s in-depth understanding of the cannabis business to elevate producers, processors and retailers to a higher level.”


For their first episode, they invited me on the show for a discussion of the critical labeling elements within the cannabis market.  It was the first time that I’ve participated in the a podcast; and was a fun experience.  Listen to the full episode here. 

After participating in the podcast and listening to the final version, I have three thoughts.  First, I didn’t know that Zebra would be featured; and I found the partner idea fantastic. 


According to Ashley, “we pitched Zebra on the idea of a podcast surrounding the impact of new technologies within the cannabis industry.  We understood that Zebra wanted to pursue the cannabis vertical market; and needed a strong partner/means to approach.  Zebra was very supportive sending an agency to our recording sessions to help guide and support the process.”   After listening to the podcast, I believe getting Zebra involved was a great idea.


Second, I had a lot of ideas on topics we could have explored during the episode after we completed the recording.  Dale Carnegie said, “There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.”  Here are some of my thoughts:

What does it take to create a great label?
This post features ideas on how to improve print quality

Why is branding so important in cannabis?


Why is variable data so important in cannabis?
This post from some time ago reviews the California label requirements for cannabis products


How can I save money when purchasing labels?


Third, podcasts take a lot of work to create.  Now with over 260 blog posts, I understand the work involved in content creation.  Ashley says, “A podcast series was an idea that I thought Delta9 should pursue.  After discussing with my manager and Chris, I worked with my partners to pursue the idea and create the content.  We now have 5 episodes released with more to come.  Creating A High Level Conversation has been a great learning experience for me.”

If you like this episode (or want to hear someone besides me), visit the Delta9 Systems site.

Or visit Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any of your other favorite podcast listening platforms and search for “A High Level Conversation”.  If you like what you hear, please subscribe and leave them a nice review!

I’d appreciate your feedback and comments on this episode and the series.  Feel free to contact me with your comments.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670



Friday, October 4, 2019

Boxmate


Recently, I saw a new product that would seem to fit a lot of our customers: the new Boxmate from Labelmate:




We've sold a lot of round bottle applicators; and featured several in this blog.  For example, this work on integrating a color printer into an automatic label applicator:

Or this post featuring an integrated semi-automated label applicator:

Or this post featuring the BenchMax:

But until now, we’ve not sold an easy to use, semi-automatic box label applicator like the Boxmate.




According to Stuart Ripplinger, General Manager of Labelmate, “BOXMATE Label Applicators enable you to consistently and accurately apply labels automatically to a wide variety of flat-sided items, such as boxes, pouches, and flat-sided bottles. In the past, automatic Label Applicators like this could only be found for cylindrical items like bottles and tubes; but no longer!  With the BOXMATE by LABELMATE you can reliably and effortlessly label all kinds of square and flat objects by simply placing them on the conveyer and watching the machine do the work. Once the conveyer is activated the label is applied at over 4.5″ per second, and most objects are labeled in less than 4 seconds!”

Watch the Boxmate run in this video:



When I ask Stuart, who are the best candidates to use the Boxmate, Stuart says, “BOXMATE Label Applicators are the ideal solution for anyone who needs to apply labels to small and medium sized cartons, boxes, and any other type of flat-sided object.”  From my perspective, I see cannabis, food, hardware and many retail-oriented companies as perfect candidates for this inexpensive box labeler option.

The Boxmate comes in two sizes.  First the Boxmate 610 for boxes up to 6” wide, costs $3,500: 

Second, the Boxmate 612 for boxes up to 12” wide, cost $3750:

Boxmate is a great new addition to our toolbox for customers who want an affordable means to apply labels to boxes.  Contact us to purchase or learn more about this new tool.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Label Expo 2019


Last week, I attended Label Expo in a short, whirlwind trip to Europe:

Guy Mikel at Label Expo
Guy Mikel at Label Expo

I’ve attended Label Expo many times, both in Europe in 2017.

And in the US in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

And I’ve already written about the Epson C6000 introduction at Label Expo and Pack Expo.

For me the most interesting aspect of this year’s Label Expo was the focus on Print On-Demand Color Flexible Packaging.  We launched this capability at WestPack last year:

However, food safe packaging was not available; but now it is.

Foil-Lined, On-Demand Color Flexible Packaging
Foil-Lined, On-Demand Color Flexible Packaging

Now we can get fully air/water proof packaging with the foil-lined material.  100% water and air tight; with no migration of the ink through the packaging.  I see this material as key to the growth of this new market.  Plus, this material seals well in both horizontal and vertical filling/sealing equipment as seen in the Afinia booth:

Vertical Filling/Sealing Flexible Packaging Equipment
Vertical Filling/Sealing Flexible Packaging Equipment

On-Demand Color Flexible Packaging
On-Demand Color Flexible Packaging

The reason this equipment as in the Afinia booth as they launched new equipment for this market: a L901 with a lamentation station with a cost of approximately $30,000.

L901 with Lamination Station
L901 with Lamination Station

Interesting enough, Trojan showed their new T2-L; made for this market as well.


T2-L with Lamination Station
T2-L with Lamination Station
Trojan was the first to demonstrate this new capability using the first of this new inkjet coated packaging material.  You may remember this video from last fall:

Both companies have added the lamination station to insure the ink does not transfer after printing from the front to the inside of the material during rewinding.  Once laminated, it is impossible for the ink to come into direct food contact.  If you would not want to laminate, it may be possible to print and feed the material directly into the filler/sealer unit by controlling the printer using the I/O interface on printers such as the T2-C:

T2-C I/O Interface
This new market excites me as the same drivers as the on-demand color label business.  Companies want to eliminate large quantities of preprinted flexible packaging; as well as add variable data or images to their products.  On-Demand Flexible Packaging makes this possible for the food and other industries.



Besides On-Demand Flexible Packaging, I discovered one other unique new product; from of all companies, Primera.  Primera launched the new printer/die cutter, the LX610.

Primera LX610 Print/Die-Cut
Primera LX610 Print/Die-Cut
With this printer, you can print, then die cut labels in one pass:

LX610 Print/Die Cut
X610 Print/Die Cut
Frankly, this printer is slow and the ink cost would appear to be relatively high.  Therefore, the LX610 would not fit production quantities.  However, I can imagine this printer working perfectly for prototypes and very limited production quantities.  The LX610 is not available for sale as of yet.

One other new color label printer I saw was the QL-850. 

QL-850 With Natura Ink
QL-850 With Natura Ink
The QL-850 is an upgrade/fix of the previous printer, the QL-800.  This printer is interesting given it uses the more durable, Natura dye-based ink.  It’s a new generation of ink used in the T2-C.  Great print quality, interesting footprint/size.  But this printer is relatively expensive at $13,000 and uses ink cartridges and not tanks.  I’ll need to do some further testing to see how this printer performs; but very interesting option.


In addition to equipment, I saw two materials that were unique for the on-demand color label business.  First, inkjet coated Tyvek.

Inkjet Coated Tyvek
Inkjet Coated Tyvek
In the past, I’ve tried to print Tyvek; but it printed poorly and the ink smeared.  But this new inkjet coated material prints beautiful.  Tyvek doesn’t tear and is very soft; Perfect for apparel tags and wristbands.  And maybe even for durable rebar tags.

Second and in addition to the inkjet coated Tyvek, I saw behind the glass labels.  

Behind the Glass Labeling
Behind the Glass Labeling
My German friend has sold a lot of these labels into the Middle East to print variable data on automobile parking stickers. According to him, these labels do not fade quickly given the window stops much of the UV light.  Let me know if you have any interest/need for these types of labels.

Lastly, New Solution showed their new additions to the NS Multi:


NS Multi Deionizer Unit
NS Multi Deionizer Unit

I’ve written a lot about the NS Multi in the past: the best available print on-demand corrugated printer.



First, New Solution added a deionizer to remove particles from the corrugated (see above). This addition helps extend the life of the printheads and even the entire printer.  Second, New Solution added a larger vacuum to hold the material down better under the platen.


NS Multi Vacuum Pump
NS Multi Vacuum Pump

These two additions should make the NS Multi more productive and effective in printing corrugated on-demand.

I hope you find this summary of Label Expo 2019 of interest.  Contact us if you want to discuss any of these new capabilities further.

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

New C6000 Series


On Monday September 23rd, 2019 in Las Vegas at Pack Expo:

Epson C6000 Launch at Pack Expo
 and Tuesday September 24th, 2019 in Brussels at Label Expo Europe:


Epson C6000 Launch at Label Expo Europe:


Epson launched a new series of 4, on-demand color label printers to their ColorWorks lineup; The C6000A (4” version with Automated Cutter), C6000P (4” version with Peel/Present), C6500A (8” version with Automated Cutter), and C6500P (8” version with Peel/Present).  Read the Epson press release here:

Epson Press Release:
https://news.epson.com/news/colorworks-c6000-series-color-label-printers
Learn more here on the Color Label Solutions page:
https://colorlabelsolutions.com/epson-c6000-and-c6500-color-inkjet-label-printers/ 


Epson page:

According to Epson, the C6000 series are the first color label printers designed to replace black-only thermal transfer printers. Epson American has dubbed them, “The Tough Guys”.

Epson C6500P
Having worked with these printers briefly, I see the following capabilities that make the C6000 series great new additions to the on-demand color labeling world.

First, the C6000 series offers up to 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution; providing high resolution, print output comparable to preprinted labels.  Higher print quality has been one of the missing elements from earlier printers, especially in the wider print widths.

Second, Epson has decided to offer the C6000 series at a very affordable price; under $4,000.  From $2,580 for the C6000A to $3,980 for the C6500P (all preliminary pricing).  With an 8” wide version at this price, we see a real fit with many of our customers.

Third, the C6000P and C6500P come with a Peel and Present capability, making labeling easier to do for operators. Now, operators can send a large batch print job; and then pull each label from the printer already peeled.  No other color label printer offers this capability.  Watch the Peel/Present function here:



Fourth, the C6000 offers Remote Printer Management, enabling organizations to manage fleets of printers.  Checking consumable status, updating firmware, confirming errors, etc. is possible from a central location using the C6000 series of printers.  No other color label printer offers this capability.

Fifth, the C6000 enables integration with ZPL (Zebra Print Language).  This capability enables organizations to use the C6000 as a “Plug & Play” option for applications normally reserved for thermal transfer printers.  Users can upload images that would normally be preprinted; and then send the same ZPL to print colorized labels on demand.  Learn more about how I did this process using the C7500:

Further, the C6000 series integrates with SAP “out-of-the-box”.

Sixth, the C6000 offers I/O capabilities to enable integration into automated workflows.  Now, automated label applicators can be built to integrate these color label printers; especially with the “First Out”, Peel and Present capability in the C6000P and C6500P.  No other color label printers offer this combined capability.

Together, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth capability discussed here make the C6000 series a good option for thermal transfer printers; especially thermal transfer users with a large number of preprinted labels in inventory.  These customers can print labels on-demand versus keeping them in inventory.  According to Victor Gomez, Group Product Manager for Color Labels at Epson, “the ink costs of printing labels with the C6000 are less than or only slightly more than using a thermal transfer ribbon; especially after the increase in resin prices.”

According to Andy Scherz, senior product manager, Commercial Label Printers, Epson America, Inc. “The new family of ColorWorks on-demand label printers provides an easy transition for customers looking to make the switch from black-only, thermal transfer printers, with similar media handling capabilities, speed, features, and connectivity options.”  With the launch of the C6000 series, thermal transfer users should consider moving to these new, on-demand color label printers.

Seventh, the C6000 printers now come with both MAC and Linux print drivers.  Over the past several years, a MAC driver has been a very frequent request.  Many graphic designers use MAC’s; and now they can print labels directly from their MAC Books.

Eighth, the C6000 offer “Spot Color Replacement” option.  Now in the C6000 driver, operators can easily change the RGB color without changing the original artwork.  Further, advance users will be able to upload ICC Color Profiles.  ICC Color Profile is a set of data that characterizes a color input or output device, or a color space, according to standards promulgated by the International Color Consortium (ICC).

No other desktop or benchtop color label printers offers this capability.

Ninth, the C6000 series comes with the same durability and reliability seen with both the C3500 and C7500 printers.  Further, Epson service offers both Spare in the Air (SITA) and On-Site warranty; making these printers easier to use and to keep running. 

LX2000 Color Label Printer
LX2000 Color Label Printer

Combining the points one, seven, eight and nine make the C6000 series a great alternative to the LX900, LX910, LX1000, and the LX2000 from Primera.  In the past, Primera printer’s higher print quality has made them a good option; even with their higher ink costs.  Read my earlier comparison of the C7500 to the LX2000 here:  https://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/09/lx2000-vs-c7500.html

LX900 Color Label Printer
LX900 Color Label Printer

Also, ink costs for the new C6000 printers are lower than Primera printers.  According to Jacob Kalleris, Product Manager for Epson Europe, “Current Primera customers will save a significant amount of money for ink by moving to the new C6000 printers.”

In addition to alternatives to thermal transfer and Primera printers, the C6000 series printers offer users of other label printers a good option.  The most obvious replacement target for the C6000 are users of the C831 printer.

C831 Color Label Printer

The C831 has performed well for chemical manufacturers to produce GHS labels.  Now the new C6500 (P or A depending on the requirement for peel and present), makes printing GHS easier to do (i.e. clearing any potential jams) and produces higher resolution print quality.  Plus, users will save money on their labels as the C6500 doesn’t require pin-feed media.    Moving to the C6500 from the C831 should be an easy decision for most users.

C3500 Color Label Printer
C3500 Color Label Printer

Besides the C831, certain users of the C3500 should consider upgrading to the C6000P.  The C6000P will offer higher print quality, peel & present and Fleet Management capability.  With these three advantages, many C3500 printer users should upgrade to the C6000.

Overall, the new C6000 and C6500 label printers offer users several very key benefits.  If you currently use the C831 printer, a C3500 printer, one of the Primera desktop printers (LX900, LX910, LX1000, and the LX2000) or a thermal transfer printer who wants to colorize their print output, consider upgrading to one of the new C6000 printers.  Epson says we can begin shipping the C6000 printers by January.  Watch our store for when we start taking orders for the C6000 printers:



Shortly, we will receive a demo C6000 printer; therefore, look for more testing commentary from us.


If you are interested in learning more about the C6000 printer for your operation, contact us.  We look forward to working with you to see how these exciting new color label printers fit your operation.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

QL-300 Full-Bleed


Printing full-bleed labels can be difficult; especially with a newly launched printer.  The QL-300 is the first LED/Laser printer designed specifically for desktop label printing. It is capable of printing full bleed labels by following some easy steps.
QL-300 Full-Bleed
QL-300
I’ve written about the QL-300 in the past.  This article features the key benefits of the QL-300, printing foils and other interesting label media; and printing using white.

And this post covering designing with white:

The most important aspect for full-bleed label printing, even with the QL-300, starts with the artwork.  You need to create artwork slightly larger than the actual label. Generally, we recommend using artwork that is .03” larger than the actual label. For example, use a 3.03” x 4.03” artwork for a 3” x 4” label.


Full-Bleed Label Artwork
Full-Bleed Label Artwork


With this type of design as a PDF, you can print at the actual size in Adobe Reader.


QL-300 Full-Bleed PDF Printing
QL-300 Full-Bleed PDF Printing

Starting with the correct artwork makes full-bleed label printing easier to do.

With the QL-300, three other aspects are important for full-bleed printing; two are different and one is similar to other printers.  First, the QL-300 requires the matrix left-on the labels.  Label matrix is the waste material that is typically pulled off from die-cut labels. Here is the matrix surrounding the label.

Matrix-On Label
Matrix-On Label

And the label partially removed to show just the remaining matrix:


Label Removed To Show Matrix
Label Removed To Show Matrix

Matrix On is required because the toner on the liner does not get fused and may eventually cause problems in the fuser. Matrix On allows for overprinting and keeps the fuser clean. 

I’ve written about leaving the matrix on in the past.

Second, the QL-300 requires an extra or larger gap between and around labels.  Most die cut labels have a .125” gap between labels with a .0625” exposed liner on both sides.  With the QL-300, the gap needs to be .375” and approximately .1875” on both sides of the label.  You can see this extra space/matrix in the above picture. This extra space ensures the toner does not get into the paper path, reducing print quality and potentially damaging the fuser/printer.


Third, the .125” blackmark needs to be placed halfway between the labels; basically starting .125” after the previous label and ending .125” before the next label. You can see the blackmark easily with this clear label

Blackmark Through Clear Film Label
Blackmark Through Clear Film Label


With the correctly designed artwork, matrix on and the larger gaps, you can print beautiful full bleed labels with the QL-300. 

Full-Bleed Printed Using Clear Film Label
Full-Bleed Printed Using Clear Film Label
After printing, you may need to move the image around the template for perfect placement on the label.  For full-bleed printing, expect you’ll need to adjust the “paper print adjustment” to move image on the label.  With the QL-300 driver, it’s easy to adjust the position of the printed image:



And changes in the position adjustment direction show up in the label image to the right; which is a very helpful feature.

I’ve written about adjusting the printed image on the template for theL801 in the past.

With the matrix on, you may need to remove it prior to any automatic label application.  Applicators will not work with the matrix on.  To remove the matrix, the QL-300 has an accessory to pull this waste material off the liner.

QL-300 Matrix Remover
QL-300 Matrix Remover
This matrix remover works similar to the accessory featured in this earlier post.

The QL-300 produces beautiful labels on a large variety of materials; and can print white.  It’s a very unique label printer and maybe perfect for your operation.  Following these technics, you can print full-bleed, producing great-looking labels.  Contact us if you have questions about the QL-300.

Purchase the QL-300 here.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670