Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Friday, April 19, 2019

Improving Label Print Quality


Every week, we print samples and calculate estimated ink costs on label artwork from our new prospects and customers.  After printing all these samples, what is interesting is the print quality difference we see in the various artwork we received; especially with fonts.

PDF Poor Print Quality
PDF Poor Print Quality

Recently, we received a PDF that printed terribly (see above). While working with this document, we learned this artwork was created in Adobe InDesign. You could not read the text at all.  After seeing the horrible results, we attempted to decide what caused this poor print quality on this sample; and make recommendations to others based on our results.


Looking at the file, the first aspect we noticed was the file size; it was 70 KB.  Here is a brief summary of the different aspects of file sizes:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_size


To store one letter in a file, it takes 8 bytes.  One kilobyte holds 1,204 bytes or 128 letters.  70 KB should store only 8,960 letters.  Therefore, this file was compressed dramatically when saved as a PDF.  Compressed files and/or files with limited data just don’t print well.  The expression “GIGO: garbage in, garbage out” describes what happens when attempting to print a file with limited data. 

But file size doesn’t describe what happens with every piece of artwork that doesn’t print well.  According to Tony Molina, Graphic Artist and Digital Marketing Manager for Color Label Solutions, “text files don’t require a large file size to print well. I’ve printed label samples with only a few hundred KB’s, and they print great.”

The second aspect of this file was font size.  To determine the font size, I copied the print output from the PDF into BarTender; and found the font size as 3.5 and 4 pt.


4 PT Font Using BarTender
4 PT Font Using BarTender
To help you understand the size of these fonts, I used the Font Converter website: https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/conversions/length/points-to-inches.php

To convert “pts” to inches.  A 4 pt font is 0.055”; 55/1000th of an inch.  A 3.5 pt font is 0.048”; or 48/1000th of an inch.  That’s small.  In this article, the author recommends no smaller than 5 pt font for a viewing distance of 2 feet:  http://resources.printhandbook.com/pages/viewing-distance-font-size.php

In this article, the author recommends no smaller than 7 pt fonts for hazardous labels: https://app.croneri.co.uk/feature-articles/minimum-font-sizes-labels.   Therefore, 3 and 4 pt fonts make labels difficult to read.

Third, font type makes a difference as well.  When I copied the text into BarTender, I noticed immediately that the text was readable even at the small font size.  I realized that the default font type was Ariel:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arial.  

Given the result, Tony copied the text and reproduced the same label in QuarkXpress.  Using the same font used in Adobe InDesign, he got the same results from the pdf produced in QuarkXpress.  The pdf file from Quark still printed terribly.   By changing fonts, Tony saw much better print quality.


According to Tony, “Font types make a big difference in terms of print quality.  Some fonts are thinner, so they don’t print as well especially when small.  Choosing a font with balanced kerning and tracking (letter-spacing) is also important.  When the distance between two letters are set too closely together, words can become indecipherable; set too far apart, and they’re awkward to read.  I suggest choosing a clean, solid, dark-colored, sans serif font when using small text in a design. The smaller the text, the darker the color should be.”

Continuing, Tony says, “Most fonts are designed to produce good quality, but some may not.  In this case, I used a Helvetica font and it printed great.”

From this exercise, we relearned 3 key aspects for text print quality:
  • Select fonts carefully to insure good print quality.  Just because the font looks good on screen, doesn’t mean the fonts will print well.
  • Use fonts of sufficient size so they can be read easily.
  • Save files with as many bytes as possible; the more the better when it comes to good print quality.  Do not use compressed file types for printing.


For a more complete recap for designing labels that are easy to read, review this post with 17 tips on printing fonts: https://www.companyfolders.com/blog/17-essential-tips-printing-fonts

Some of these tips don’t apply to print on-demand color; rather for professional printers.  But several of the tips work completely when designing label artwork to print on-demand and in color.

If you need assistance in designing artwork for your labels, contact us.  We’ll insure your labels print GREAT!

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Friday, April 5, 2019

Amazon Transparency

As a Prime member and a very tiny shareholder, I’m a big fan of Amazon’s business.  But have you heard of Amazon’s project to prevent counterfeit goods?  It’s called Transparency
https://brandservices.amazon.com/transparency
and a perfect requirement for on-demand color labels.  Let me tell you more:

Amazon Transparency
Amazon Transparency

Transparency is an industrywide, retailer agnostic service that proactively detects the sale and shipment of counterfeit goods, tracks chain of custody, and improves transparency of products at the consumer
level.

To participate, a company (Brand Owner) needs to meet the following criteria:

  1. Sells on Amazon US
  2. Has a valid US Trademark
  3. Owns an approved US trademark in the Amazon Brand Registry system

Once approved, brand owners must add a unique item code entered into a Data Matrix 2D barcode on every package along with the Transparency Logo.

Amazon Transparency
Amazon Transparency

Once a brand owner has enrolled and gained approval along with adding the Transparency code/logo, Amazon scans every package to insure authentic products are shipped.  Then, end user customers can use the Amazon Shopping App to authenticate the products purchased. In addition to the data matrix 2D code and logo discussed earlier, Amazon wants brand owners to add a call to action such as the following: “Scan with your Transparency app to learn about this product’s life cycle.”

Amazon Transparency
Amazon Transparency

I first heard of Transparency from Misty Catlin, in Sales with General Data.  Misty says, “I first heard about Transparency from a customer who needed support to deploy this application in their plant.  Since this initial customer, I’ve now had 2 additional companies contact me about this project.  We at General Data are positioned perfectly to help companies meet the requirements of Transparency with our expertise in barcode systems and label manufacturing.”

Amazon Transparency
Amazon Transparency

From my perspective the need for a color logo along with a variable data barcode makes Transparency a perfect requirement for an on-demand color label solution.  Combining the serialize and encoded data from Amazon, label creation and printing software and a color label printer, companies can meet the requirements of Amazon’s Transparency project affordably.  And you can add this workflow prior to shipping to Amazon or their customers, making the solution quick and easy to implement.

Our Transparency contact at Amazon states the proactive counterfeit program delivers exclusive benefits to both the brand owners and end users:

  1. Product quality reviews have improved
  2. Concerns about unauthorized sellers have diminished
  3. Trust builds with customers; with instant access to origin of manufacturing and validation of authenticity


Amazon Transparency
Amazon Transparency


To learn more about Amazon’s Transparency, read this detailed article: https://digiday.com/marketing/amazon-grows-transparency-program-fight-counterfeits/

 If you want or need to implement Transparency, contact Misty (talktous@general-data.com or 844-643-1129) or I.  We’ll help you deploy a solution for printing the logo, Data Matrix 2D code and Call to Action on demand and in color.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Auxiliary Labels On-Demand

Since 1949, Beverly Hospital, https://www.beverly.org/,  has maintained a tradition for providing high quality care to local residents of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Monterey Park, El Monte, Whittier, East Los Angeles and surrounding communities.


Beverly Hospital is a not-for-profit, leading and independent 224-bed acute care facility that is proud of the medical services and comfort provided to patients. From emergency room and hospitalization to outpatient procedures, Beverly Hospital offers a full range of services with the latest technology; including the pharmacy.

Beverly Hospital, like other small to midsize hospitals in the United States, processes about 2000 prescription orders per day.  About 250 of those orders or prescriptions require instructional color labels such as “Look-alike Sound Alike”, “For Oral Use Only”, “Protect From Light”, and “Shake Well and Keep In Refrigerator”.  Wayne Campbell, Director of Pharmacy of Beverly Hospital says, “we get these auxiliary labels from 4 different label manufacturers. Sometimes we’d get them in a timely fashion; sometimes we don’t.  We don’t know who ordered what from whom or when it’s coming in.  It’s very challenging”.


To improve this situation, Beverly Hospital deployed the ClariSafe Color Label Solution from Addmaster, https://www.addmaster.com/product/clarisafe/with partners HP, and Neenah Paper.   Addmaster has over 30 years of experience developing and manufacturing inkjet printers for the financial market with over 300,000 printers installed worldwide. John Clary, VP of Engineering at Addmaster, decided to develop an inkjet color printer with a small footprint and software that mimics pharmacy personnel ordering from a catalog to print the color labels they need when they need them. 

ClariSafe Printer
ClariSafe Printer
“ClariSafe™ can print all of my labels on-demand, any time I need them.  It prevents overstocking.  It prevents us from running out of labels and enables us to make special labels that are not available on the market” says Wayne. 
ClariSafe Label Catalog
ClariSafe Label Catalog
 Learn more about the ClariSafe deployment at Beverly Hospital here:




According to Alex Shafer, Director of Business Development for Addmaster, “The ClariSafe Color Label System costs $1,495 and includes both the printer and application to print durable color labels when needed.  Plus we’ve added and will continue to add labels in the catalog as hospitals want and need more secondary artwork to print.”

As you may remember, I’ve written about ClariSafe before:  https://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2016/11/new-option-for-pharmacyanesthesia-labels.html

To purchase the ClariSafe Color Label Systems, visit our store: 

To purchase ClariSafe ink, visit out store:
https://colorlabelsolutions.com/product/clarisafe-tri-color-inkjet-cartridge-97262/

For pharmacy managers, ClariSafe is a great option to simplify secondary/auxiliary labeling. This system eliminates purchasing a large inventory of labels, enabling you to print what you need, when you need them; with a very small footprint device.  Contact us if the ClariSafe Color Label Systems may fit your pharmacy operation.

Guy Mikel
949-680-7840
info@colorlabelsolution.com 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Coatings


After the acquisition of Color Label Solutions by General Data Corporation (GDC):


I had the opportunity to visit one of the key drivers of our interest in joining GDC:  The coating division.


GDC Coating Operation
GDC Coating Operation
Let me tell you more about our interest in this group; and more about the group’s capability.

Before I start describing the coatings group, I want to give you a simple primer on how labels are made.  General Data has an entire webpage/video to answer this question.


Labels have 4 primarily components:
  • Topcoat
  • Facestock
  • Adhesive
  • Liner (which is technically not a part of the label but a necessary carrier)

Label Construction
Label Construction


The Facestock is the paper/synthetic material that makes up the most visible part of the label.  Underneath the facestock, a layer of adhesive is coated to adhere the face to whatever is to be labeled.  The liner, underneath the adhesive, is a carrier to make it easy to expose the adhesive.  On top of many or most facestocks, is a topcoat designed to adhere the ink to the face.  Currently, I would estimate the 95%+ of the labels we sell have an inkjet topcoat.

To make labels involves a seemingly complex supply chain involving 3 key participants:

  • Raw Material Providers
  • Coaters
  • Converters

Label Supply Chain
Label Supply Chain
Raw material providers sell paper, synthetic paper, liner and adhesives to coaters.  Coaters create constructions of a variety of types of label materials.  Converters die cut the labels into specific sizes; as well as many produce preprinted labels.

Given the importance of coatings, the ability to coat is an important value creating function in the label supply chain.  Long term, this function should make GDC very competitive in the on-demand color label market.

General Data’s coated products division is an industry leading contract coater, specializing in the development and production of engineered films and other materials. They utilize an array of face materials, adhesives, substrates, coatings and topcoats to meet the specifications of our customers for a wide variety of applications.

John Finger, General Data Corporation
John Finger, General Data Corporation

According to John Finger, Vice President of Research & Development for the Coatings Division of GDC, “we started coating about 4 year ago.  We saw the need in the market to custom coat materials for specific applications.” 

During our discussions, I asked John “what is your largest type of coating that you currently apply.  John stated, “about 2 years ago, we started coating adhesives; specifically, new technology around UV adhesives.  We had a customer/partner who asked for our assistance to produce this new product.  Now we coat not only these specialty adhesives but also adhesives for the products we sell.  We not only purchased previous coated material from some of the largest, industrial coaters, but also coat label adhesives for our own internal use.”


GDC Coater
GDC Coater


Once I understood about the importance of coating adhesives in the GDC operation, I asked, “what other materials do you coat?”  According to John, “one interesting film we coat and sell is a 7 Mil adhesive applied to a building material.  In addition, we coat pressure sensitive enclosures for food; resealable bag closures.  Also, GDC coats products that are for laser, thermal, digital, scratch resistant and dry erase applications.  After 4 years, GDC is selling many different coated products.”


After working in the business for many years, I see the capability to coat an important aspect in the label market.  Again, the large industrial coaters will continue to supply the majority of the market.  But specialty items such as inkjet coatings, produced in relatively small quantities, will become a more important aspect of the label business.  This capability should insure the long-term viability of Color Label Solutions, Inc.

Contact us if you have interest in a specialty label product.


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Color Label Solutions Merger

I’m pleased to announce that Color Label Solutions has joined General Data, https://www.general-data.com/,  as an independent operating unit focused on print on-demand color labels.



General Data is recognized as an expert resource for all aspects of labeling, automatic identification, barcode data collection, field mobility, equipment service, fixed asset management, and managed print services. General Data's "total solutions" approach enables customers to utilize their expertise in all areas - planning, equipment specification, label media, printer consumable, system integration, customization and professional services.

When asked why General Data decided to purchase Color Label Solutions, Pete Wenzel, President and CEO, said, “General Data purchased Color Label Solutions for two primary reasons.  First, Color Label Solutions has become a preferred provider of label printing solutions to the cannabis market.  The importance of branding combined with the requirement for variable data make this market perfect for print on-demand color labels. General Data sees Color Label Solutions as a vehicle to sell a wide range of products to this market; specifically, barcode/RFID printers, scanners, WiFi systems, POS solutions, on-site service, and preprinted labels.”

Pete Wenzel, President/CEO, General Data
Pete Wenzel, President/CEO, General Data
Continuing, Pete said, “Second, General Data decided to pursue harder the on-demand color label and flexible packaging market; both on-demand and preprinted.  Merging with Color Label Solutions gives us more knowledge and market access to grow this business.”

Color Label Solutions, www.colorlabel.solutions,  will continue to operate independently as a stand-alone business unit with employees in several states and customers across North America. 


Since day 1, we knew our company would need to integrate vertically to remain competitively in the label market.  For example, thermal transfer label prices have decreased significantly since this technology was launched in the 80’s.  To prepare for this potential price competition, we required a means to produce inkjet and laser labels and tags as affordably as possible.  General Data not only converts labels but also has the capability to custom coat materials, with both adhesives and top coatings.  By joining General Data, Color Label Solutions will remain competitive in the color label market long term.

Color Label Solutions launched in July of 2013.  Read our first post after formation here:

And our first video describing our company and mission now over 5 years old:



Color Label Solutions was started to help customers move to print on-demand color label printing. We saw the opportunity in the market for a different way to print labels in color; with the change in color label printer technology, the need for GHS labels in the chemical industry and the interest of manufacturers to print full-color labels when needed.  After 5.5 years, we now have over 240 posts, covering all aspects of printing labels on-demand and in color.  And don’t forget the 98 video’s on our YouTube channel:   



Or why manufacturers should move to on-demand color and our company:


Beatriz Molina, Co-Owner and Vice President of Operations says, “We’re looking forward to the potential synergy from merging with a larger organization with outstanding manufacturing and service capabilities.  Not having this expertise internally, Color Label Solutions will be able to do more for our customers with the merger.  For all of us employees, supporting and helping our customers is our primary goal.”  Meet the Color Label Solutions team here: https://colorlabelsolutions.com/our-team/

For most customers, only the “remit to” address should change.  With the merger, Color Label Solutions will be able to offer a much broader line of products and services to customers further growing our company. All stakeholders in Color Label Solutions will benefit with the purchase by General Data.  And most importantly; the General Data team are good guys!

If you have questions on the purchase of Color Label Solutions, feel free to contact me/us.  We look forward to our exciting, mutually beneficial, future.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Thursday, February 7, 2019

QL-300-White & New Materials


I am pleased to announce the new QL-300; the first benchtop LED printer designed specifically for labels.

QL-300 LED Label Printer
QL-300 LED Label Printer

After working with the Okidata for several years, I’m excited to finally get this product on the market.  I’ve mentioned this product in this blog prior: first at the 2015 Graph Expo post.

https://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2015/09/graph-expo-2-new-solutions.html


Second in the 2017 Label Expo post:

https://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/09/label-expo-europe-2017.html


Third, in the 2018 Label Expo post:

https://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2018/09/label-expo-2018.html


This new product excites me for 3 key reasons.  First, this newly designed printer, specifically for labels, eliminates many of the problems with former versions of laser label printers.  For example, previous laser label printers were designed to print 8.5” x 11” sheets.  This design meant each print job created at least 11” or more of waste as the label media traveled through the printer to the fuser.  With this printer, the printer cuts the last label in the job to eliminate any label lost.  Watch the printer run here:



Also, the printer how has a minimum batch-length size of 4”; along with a minimum width of 1” and a minimum length of .5”.  These capabilities make the printer much more user friendly and less wasteful.  According to Grant Lapke, our technical expert on the QL-300 and T2-C, “I find this printer very easy to use.  It’s still new to us, but the use of it seems very straight forward.”


In addition to media handling, the QL-300 offers better color registration; using different transfer technology than used in standard 8.5” x 11” printers. Overall, this printer designed for labels will work better than previous toner-based options.

Second, the QL-300 will offer a variety of media as well as the possibility for less expensive labels. As a LED/Laser printer, the fuser bonds the toner to the label media; opening up exciting and possibly less expensive options.  For example, silver foil:

Silver Foil Labels With the QL-300
Silver Foil Labels With the QL-300
 Kraft Paper:


Kraft Paper With the QL-300
Kraft Paper With The QL-300

Black Paper:

Black Paper With The QL-300
Black Paper With The QL-300

Gold Paper:

Gold Paper With The QL-300
Gold Paper With The QL-300

And Clear Film:


Clear Film With The QL-300
Clear Film With The QL-300

I believe the capabilities of the QL-300 will offer exciting new artwork designs for our customer’s labels.

Third, as seen in the previous pictures, the QL-300 offers white toner.  Now you can add white to artwork that uses clear or colored materials; or use white as a base underneath other colors.


White Underneath Using The QL-300
White Underneath Using The QL-300


Here is the promotional video on the new QL-300 featuring the white capability:


As for the costs to get the ease of use, flexibility in media types and white toner benefits, we’ve been told the toner costs are priced similar to standard inkjet printers.  For example, the CMYK should last approximately 52,000 linear inches (more than 8,000, 6” labels); and the white toner should last 26,000 linear inches (more than 4,000, 6” labels) at 20% coverage.

Overall, I see a good fit for the QL-300 with many types of companies; cannabis, cosmetics, or food for example.  It fits where branding is very important.  If you want the ability to print many types of unique label media, or need to use white on your labels, contact us to discuss the new QL-300 would work for you.

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

Monday, February 4, 2019

On-Demand Flexible Packaging


Over the past few years, Color Label Solutions has launched a variety of options for on-demand color packaging. And now we have a new on-demand color packaging option that is even more exciting:

On-Demand Color Flexible Packaging
On-Demand Color Flexible Packaging
Before I tell you about this new packaging option, let me give you a bit of our history and why we’ve invested in this new technology.


As for our history, you may remember that we launched the PostMark CMYK printer for corrugated at WestPack in 2016:


And then showed a slightly different version at WestPack in 2017:

https://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/02/westpack-2017.html


The PostMark CYMK printer has an interesting fit into certain applications where 8” printing is sufficient. Now PostMark offers a Memjet-based print engine in addition to the Canon-based option:


https://postmark-usa.com/mcp/


After the Postmark printer, we launched the NS Multi for printing corrugated packaging up to 42” wide at WestPack in 2018:

https://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2018/02/westpack-2018-launch.html


I’ve posted a lot about the Multi; the print quality is outstanding especially on certain types of materials.

The reason for the investment in on-demand color package printing is simple; I see the same drivers for packaging as we’re experiencing for the on-demand color labeling.  Companies no longer want to keep a large inventory of packaging for all their SKU’s; similar to the need to stop purchasing preprinted labels and moving to printing when needed.  With new technology, this market will grow substantially.

Although we started with corrugated, we now have a different option; on demand flexible packaging. Now you can print, fill and form packaging on-demand using the Trojan T2-C printer.

. 

Watch us print this packaging here:







Watch this
Trojan video on printing flexible packaging here:


According to Grant Lapke, Color Label Solutions expert on the T2-C, “The T2-C is really quite easy to run.  Once you send a print job, you can reprint the job with a few button pushes anytime.  Plus the T2-C is easier to maintain than other Memjet-based printers.  Finally, the T2-C has the lowest ink cost and large label roll of any label printer we sell."

T2-C On-Demand Flexible Package Printing
T2-C On-Demand Flexible Package Printing
And according to our first prospect, the package material seals easily and works great.  Hopefully, I can tell you more about this initial prospect shortly.


You may find this post from Label Expo 2018 which discusses the T2-C of interest:


One other aspect of the T2-C involves printing and then slitting labels.  To maximize the productivity of an 8” wide printer, you may want to run labels “Multiple-Up”.  With the T2-C, the printer comes with the capability to slit while printing.  Watch this video to see what I mean:



I’m excited by the prospect of printing flexible packaging on-demand; producing what you need, when you need them.  Contact us if you use flexible packaging and are interested in this new capability.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670