Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Sunday, May 17, 2020

ICC Profiles

CBD Startup has approached the market with a new concept on an old idea. They don’t just want you to sell their products; rather they want you to create your own business & brand. Success stems from the passion you put behind your company. With cutting edge design, product templates, fulfillment and distribution, and sales, CBD Startup offers all you need to be successful.


CBD Startup purchased a C6500A from us during the White Label Expo in Las Vegas NV.   After getting started print, Colin Sevier, IT Manager and Jack-Of-All-Trades, decided that the colors were “truly amazing” on the gloss poly; just a few points away from a great color match and not worth the time to fix.  However, the color on the matte poly, especially the blacks, should be different.  According to Colin, “the blacks were more charcoal.  We wanted to see a more vivid black and colors in general.”

As Colin came from a background in printing, he has the knowhow and tools to improve the colors with the C6500A. His primary tool to create an ICC Profile and improve the colors is the Datacolor StudioKit.  

An ICC 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). Learn more here.

Colin says, “With the Datacolor Studio Kit, I printed out a color map using the C6500A and the matte poly labels.  I made sure the printout was without any extra color, but with the Quality setting. 



Datacolor Map
Datacolor Map

Every setting would need a different color map and ICC profile.  On the color map, I scanned/measured the colors which inputted this information into the software.  Once all the colors were scanned, the software creates the profile.”

After getting the profile from Colin, I attempted to replicate the results.  First, I learned where to upload the profile to the computer.  All ICC color profiles go to this directory in Windows:  C:\Windows\System32\spool\drivers\color

Second, I had to set the driver settings to use the correct ICC profile. Normally, I would use this Quality setting for a matte poly.  Notice the “Vivid Color” selection.

C6500 Synthetic Quality Setting
C6500 Synthetic Quality Setting

To use the ICC profile, I selected the ICM color correction mode.   The Epson Engineering Manual says, ICM (Image Color Management) is a Windows color control function to match apparent color between different devices such as a monitor and a printer. Apparent color on the monitor and on the printout is matched based on ICC profiles. An ICC profile is a file that describes characteristics of the device such as a monitor and a printer according to ICC (International Color Consortium) standards.”

 
C6500 ICM Settings
C6500 ICM Settings
Be sure to select “Show All Profiles” to see the correct selection.  And then select the ICC profile desired, such as the CW-6500Au MattePoly Quality Settings, that Colin created.

After these setting changes, I printed out a basic black/green artwork to see the color difference: and you can see a difference:

With/Without ICC Matte Poly Profile
With/Without ICC Matte Poly Profile
The blacks are blacker and the greens seem more natural on the matte poly than using the standard Vivid Color profile.

Colin says, “Once I uploaded the ICC profile into the C6500, the colors were much better, even dead on.  The blacks were blacker and the colors were more vivid.  What’s great with the ICC profile is now the print output matches our calibrated monitors.  What we see, is what we get!”  During our conversation, I learned that Colin calibrates the monitors and televisions using the same Datacolor Studio Kit.

Creating ICC Color Profiles is another way to improve the performance of the C6500.  And for me, I can say it is a pleasure to learn about label printing from a smart customer like CBD Startup and printing professionals such as Colin.  It’s a real pleasure to work with these types of companies and people.

If you want to improve the performance of your color label printers, contact us.  We’d love to earn your business; and your support.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Monday, May 11, 2020

Antimicrobial Screen Protectors


Do you use touchscreen computers in your operations?  If so, you should consider the newest addition to our product line, General Data's Antimicrobial Screen Protectors.
GDC Screen Protectors
Seal Shield Screen Protectors
These medical grade, antimicrobial, screen protectors work with any flat screen monitor or handheld device.  The screen protectors provide comparable antimicrobial results to hospital disinfectants and bleach solutions.  In addition, this patented product increases the strength of the screen itself protecting it from dings and scratches. 



General Data got into selling the Screen Protectors by working with our partner Seal Shield.  Founded in 2006, Seal Shield is a world leader in infection control technology. They offer a full range of technologies and patent-pending products that mitigate the risk of cross contamination in healthcare settings, communal environments, and in your home.

Seal Shield developed the technology for the healthcare markets; and General Data coats the screen protectors for them; a 6.0 mil clear thermoplastic polyurethane topcoated with specially formulated antimicrobial additive with a permanent acrylic adhesive and 90# release liner.  I’ve written about the General Data Coatings team prior.

Seal Shield Screen Protector
Seal Shield Screen Protector

This product contains an antimicrobial, fungistatic agent which protects the product and keeps it cleaner, greener and fresher by inhibiting the growth of  microbial bacteria, mold, mildew and fungi on the product’s surface.

The Seal Shield Screen Protectors meet the JIS Z2801 standard which tests the ability of plastics, metals, ceramics and other antimicrobial surfaces to inhibit the growth of microorganisms or kill them.  Learn more here.


To order the screen protection, send us the width, height and corner radius of the device(s) you want to protect.



According to Aaron Heller, General Data Sales, “the Screen Protectors will fit any organization that uses touchscreen monitors and other devices who want to protect their employees and customers from viruses such as Covid-19.”  Retailers with kiosks and manufactures with computer monitors on the production line are perfect examples of where to use the Shield Shield Screen Protectors.

Seal Shield Keyboards
Seal Shield Keyboards
In addition to the Screen Protectors, Seal Shield offers dishwasher safe keyboards and mice.  Contact us to discuss the type of keyboards and mice you may require.

Seal Shield Mouse
Seal Shield Mouse

If your organization uses touch screens or keyboards and want to protect your employees and customers, contact us to discuss how the technology from Seal Shield will improve your organization's safety.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Raster vs Vector


We receive low quality or bad artwork every week to print samples from prospects.  The expression “Garbage In, Garbage Out” rings true when it comes to label printing.

I’ve written about the issue of bad artwork before; especially around font print quality.

Recently, I received an excellent document from Afinia that lays out the differences between Vector and Raster graphics; and when to use each type in the creation of artwork.  Get it here:

Tony Molina, our Graphic Artist, gave me a simple definition of the two types of graphics:  “Raster are pixels and Vectors are lines.”  Wikipedia says Vector Graphics are defined by 2D points: 

Raster Graphics are defined by a rectangle grid of pixels: 

When asked why did Afinia decide to create this collateral piece, Mike Atkins, National Sales Manager for Afinia Label said, “The issue of art quality comes up all the time.  And we get asked about artwork creation; this piece gives ideas on how to create better label artwork.  Our goal is to show how Afinia printers produce high print quality; and it starts with good artwork.”


Raster vs Vector Graphics
Raster Vs Vector Graphics

Continuing, Mike says, “Vector graphics are great for logos, text and curves.    They create smoother graphics and are scalable.  Raster images are pictures and are not scalable without looking pixelated.”

During our discussion, I realized that I wanted to be like Mike, when he said “I hate JPEG files”.  I agree with him that you can’t print JPEG files easily.  Mike says, “PDF files are just easier to print.  Anyone can open up in Adobe Reader if you don’t have to merge variable data.  If I receive a PROOF file with other stuff on it, I can open up in Illustrator and get rid of the die cut lines, etc. easily.”

In many or most files, you’ll use both types of graphics. 

Raster AND Vector Graphics
Raster AND Vector Graphics

“In the above image, the background is a photo (pixel based) and the logo in the foreground is a vector-based design”, says Mike.  Continuing, “the combination is very common”.

“I create original artwork such as logos in Illustrator and adjust photos in Photoshop.  In Photoshop, I use a minimum of 300 DPI to make sure photos print OK. Then, I bring the two type of graphics together in InDesign or Quark before creating the final artwork as a PDF” says Tony.

Label Artwork Setup
Typical Label Artwork Setup

Artwork creation makes a big difference in the print quality of the printers we sell.  Remember the expression: “you can’t make a silk purse out of pig’s ear.”



  
Contact us if we can support your artwork creation or your label printing.

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

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Thermal Labels From CLS?

ColorLabel Solutions is the premier provider of print on-demand color label systems.  But did you know we also manufacturer and sell thermal transfer and direct thermal labels as well?

Black Rhino Labels
Black Rhino Labels
Color Label Solutions became a manufacture of labels with the purchase of our company by General Data on March 1st 2019.  Learn more here. 


General Data (GDC) is one of the largest and most diversified manufacturers and converters of thermal transfer and direct thermal labels.  Our expertise spans multiple industries and applications, including barcode labels for industrial applications, manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, packaging, food and beverage, cold storage, and healthcare.  GDC produce labels that stand up to all sorts of harsh conditions, including abrasion, moisture, chemicals, solvents and temperature extremes.  GDC produces both standard and custom size thermal labels, and we can supply you these labels.

Many (or maybe most) of our customers use either thermal transfer or direct thermal labels somewhere in their operation.  But when should you use either technology? 

Choosing Between A Thermal Transfer and Direct Thermal Print Solutions
In simplest terms, thermal transfer printing utilizes a thermal ribbon and direct thermal printing does not.


Thermal Transfer Printing

Thermal transfer involves the thermal printhead elements (dots) heating the backside of a thermal transfer ribbon to melt and transfer the compounds on the front side of the ribbon to the label material, thus creating the printed image.


Direct Thermal Printing
Direct Thermal Printing


Direct thermal printing requires a heat sensitive label material. The printhead elements come into direct contact with the heat sensitive material where the heat from the elements causes a color change in the material to create the printed image.


To learn more about the differences between direct thermal and thermal transfer printing, watch this GDC video: 

Knowing the difference between thermal transfer printing and direct thermal printing is only the first step in evaluating the two alternative technologies for use in your label printing application.  The following considerations, while not an exhaustive list, account for the key areas to review when selecting which technology to use.

  • THERMAL PRINTHEAD LIFE & COST
  • PRINTER CONFIGURATION & COST
  • MEDIA SELECTION & COST
  • LABEL LIFE REQUIREMENTS

Learn more about when to use either direct thermal or thermal transfer labels in this article from Sato Corporation: 

Our team of print experts can help you identify the best printer and label for your specific application. Contact us today for more details.

Linerless Labels
Linerless Labels

For direct thermal labels, GDC produces linerless labels.  Linerless labels eliminate the need for liner, thus reducing waste and saving money.  Learn more about linerless labels here:

Black Rhino Labels


GDC proudly manufactures the Black Rhino™ brand of labels and tags. These high-quality barcode labels come in a wide variety of sizes and configurations, and are suitable for a number of different applications. Black Rhino provide outstanding performance and print quality in thermal labels, including printers from Zebra, Intermec, Honeywell, Sato, Datamax, and others. And we’ve got hundreds of SKU’s of Black Rhino brand labels in stock, ready for immediate shipment. If we don’t carry the label that you need in stock, we can make it for you.  General Data’s custom thermal label manufacturing expertise is unparalleled in the industry.

Grant Grooms
Grant Grooms

When asked why to purchase thermal labels from GDC, Grant Grooms, National Sales Manager, says “Unlike other companies who purchase label stock to convert, GDC makes our own thermal materials.  These components come from long-term partners, who provide us consistent raw materials.  By working with GDC, you have a One-Stop-Shop/One Throat to Choke Business that provides consistent, high-quality thermal labels.”

If you use direct or thermal transfer labels, contact us. We can save you money and make your label purchasing easier to do.


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670


Monday, April 20, 2020

Shrink Sleeve Labels

AmeriGraphPackaging Group was founded in 1998 as a manufacturer of printed, pressure-sensitive prime labels, tags, and shrink sleeve packaging for both the food and consumer goods markets.  Over the past 20 years, AmeriGraph Packaging Group has received numerous accolades and awards for product packaging and labeling design innovations, as well as outstanding customer service.

AmeriGraph Packaging Group
AmeriGraph Packaging Group

In 2020 AmeriGraph Packaging Group became a part of General Data Company Inc. (GDC), the parent of Color Label Solutions.   GDC is a national supplier of labeling solutions for both industrial and consumer goods markets.  Learn more about the purchase of Color Label Solutions by GDC here:

One key aspect that AmeriGraph brings to GDC is the design and manufacture of shrink-sleeve labels.  Shrink Sleeve labels are 360-degree printed labels that utilize heat in the application process to conform the label to the shape of the product. These labels are printed on either plastic or polyester film material.   According to Paul Thompson, General Manager of AmeriGraph, “The main reason to use shrink-sleeves is the 360-degree real estate provide by this type of label.    With a shrink-sleeve label, you can print anything all around the container.  Brand designs, ingredients, and regulatory information can be position anywhere on the container.  Marketing can use the entire space for their messages."

AmeriGraph Shrink Sleeve Example
AmeriGraph Shrink Sleeve Example

Continuing, Paul says, “In addition, shrink-sleeve labels make it easy for companies to maintain brand colors when using standard containers that are typically white or clear.  Using standard packaging saves money.”

AmeriGraph Shrink Sleeve Example
AmeriGraph Shrink Sleeve Example


In my conversation with Paul, I asked him what type of companies use shrink-sleeve labels on their packaging.  According to Paul, “Consumer good and food companies are large users of shrink-sleeves primarily for branding purposes.  And recently, we’ve had a large increase in business from sanitation companies; for cleaners, disinfectants and other type of products.  For AmeriGraph specifically, we produce a lot of shrink-sleeve labels for spirit companies. For example, Ole Smoky Moonshine, is a customer who uses both our labels and shrink sleeves.  Branding is very important to Ole Smoky, and the combination of both types of labels gives them flexibility in their messaging.”

AmeriGraph Shrink Sleeve Example
AmeriGraph Shrink Sleeve Example

In spirits, it seems most wines use labels to communicate their brand persona.  However, shrink-sleeve labels would fit when a unique brand proposition was desired.  With the growth of boutique brands in the spirits, shrink-sleeve labels would seem to fit well in this market.

AmeriGraph Shrink Sleeve Example
AmeriGraph Shrink Sleeve Example
After learning more about shrink-sleeve labels, I asked Paul, why choose AmeriGraph?  Paul says, “shrink-sleeve labels are complicated to design and print; and AmeriGraph are experts in this area.  We take an art file, typically created in Adobe Illustrator, and print it on a grid material.  We shrink the material onto the package to calculate how much each area of the label has shrunk.  Based on the percentage shrink, we can redesign the artwork to fit the container.  We are really good at managing the amount of shrink of the label and the design required to work in this situation. Overall, our ability to manage the design and test the material prior to production is our key strength with shrink-sleeve labels.”

To put together a quote for a shrink sleeve label, AmeriGraph requires this information:

  • Graphic file, probably created in Illustrator.
  • Specification length and lay flat width.
  • 3-D design of the packaging from the manufacturer.


If you are interested in learning more about the options or getting a quote for shrink sleeve labels for your brands and company, contact us.  We’ll help you explore how shrink sleeve labels from AmeriGraph can work for you.


Guy Mikel
855-962-7670


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Tube Label Applicator


Do you produce and label products that are sold in tubes?  Now, we offer a semi-automatic applicator to apply labels to tubes; The LabelMill LM1005 Table-Top Applicator System with Round Module and Mandrel.

LM1005 With Mandrel
LM1005 With Mandrel
“The LM1005 with a Mandrel is designed for cosmetic, food, cannabis/CBD, and related manufacturers who produce short runs of products sold in squeeze tubes; cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, etc.,” says Chris Wachter, Business Development, for LabelMill.  Continuing, Chris says, “more companies are producing shorter runs of more SKU’s, making labeling of tubes an important part of the manufacturing process.  Our customer, Merle Norman uses it for many different SKU’s.”

Watch the LM1005 run here:



When asked how did you get started making the Mandrel version of the label applicator, Chris says, “we were approached by a dog and cat shampoo manufacturer who need to label tubes.  We took our standard round label applicator and integrated the mandrel for tubes.  Using our base machine, you can go from a tamp application for flat packages to round module bottle application to mandrel tube application quickly.”

Watch how to quickly change the LM1005 from a tamp module to a round module here:



The capability to go from tamp to round to mandrel applicator is a unique feature of the LM1005.  I don’t know of any other semi-automatic applicator with this type of feature.

In addition to the quick-change capability, the LM1005 can be integrated with a printer; including the C6500A.  When you apply a label, the LM1005 control signals the printer to produce a label and keep the loose-loop going.  Watch a thermal label printer integrated with the LM1005 tamp version here:



When asked, “what is the best feature of the LM1005”, Chris says, “What I like best about the LM1005 is how easy it is to use.  The first time an operator adjusts the applicator for a new product, it may take a few minutes.  Very quickly, however, an operator can make the changes in seconds.  With the tube label applicator, the quick-change mandrel makes changing tube sizes very easy and quick to do.”

LM1005 Mandrel
LM1005 Mandrel

The Mandrel-based, semi-automatic, label applicator is a unique device; especially given the capability to change this machine into a round bottle or tamp applicator.  I don’t know of any other applicators with this type of setup.




If you label tubes, contact us to discuss how the LabelMill LM1005 could fit into your operation.  And if you need labels for your tubes, contact us as well.

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

Monday, March 23, 2020

Streaks No More


Streaks or Streaking is the “bane of the existence” of an operator of an inkjet label printer.
Streaks From QL-120
Streaks From QL-120 Label Printer
Typically, vertical streaks occur when a printhead nozzles get clogged and stop working, but can also be caused by head alignment and paper feed issues. To eliminate the streaks, Quick Label recommends cleaning and/or replacing the printhead of Kiaro or QL-120 printers.


QL-120 Clogged Nozzles
QL-120 Non Functioning Nozzles

QL-120 Clogged Nozzles
QL-120 Clogged Nozzles

However, replacing a Kiaro or QL-120 printhead may get expensive.  $699 per channel and up to $2,796 to replace all four.

And in my personal experience, this still may not completely remove the streaks, especially when printing artwork that is 100% covered with ink, due to paper feed and head alignment issues mentioned earlier.


QL-120 Print Output With Streaks
QL-120 Print Output With Streaks
Instead of attempting to cure streaking issues, another option is to design a label printer that can correct or eliminate streaking automatically.  This idea is what Epson has seemingly done with the C6000 label printer series.

C6500 Color Label Printer
C6500 Color Label Printer
I got this idea by watching the printhead of the C6500 move/work.  By comparing the print speed settings, you can see a difference in number of passes/overlap and print resolution.  Watch the difference between Max Speed, Speed, Normal, Quality and Max Quality setting of the C6500 print two, 4” x 6” labels.



And not a streak in sight on these labels.

C6500 Labels With No Streaks
C6500 Labels With No Streaks
To confirm my ideas, I contacted Andy Scherz, Product Manager Epson to learn more about the overlap capability of the C6500 printer.


According to Andy, “Epson has a lot of experience making printers that don’t streak; especially the high-resolution photo printers.  The best way for me to explain how the C6500 works is to compare to other printers.”

Continuing, Andy says, “the C3500 prints basically 1" at a time” by moving the printhead left to right, then another inch followed by right to left.  At the intersection between this printing, a banding effect may occur if the ink spray doesn’t overlap exactly correct.  In the C3500 driver, you can adjust for this banding effect; but it takes time. Since the C3500 was introduced, the Epson driver/firmware was updated to add a “Quality Mode 2” setting that makes 2 ¼ passes on average which greatly improves print quality.”  After selling and installing 1,000+ of the C3500 printers, the effect of this setting was news to me. Everyone with a C3500 should consider changing/testing the Mode 2 settings!

“Comparing the C7500” says Andy, “Epson uses the new Precision Core technology that produces precise dots/pixels of color.  These precise dots produce better image quality than other types of older, inkjet printers.  Using an analogy, it’s like shooting a rifle compared to shotgun; a very precise dot with the Precision Core based printers.”

Even with this new technology, the C7500 may leave “print artifacts”. First, an inkjet nozzle may get plugged and leave a vertical streak.  The C7500 uses a “waterfall” type of printhead, which means the printhead does not move.  If a nozzle gets plugged, the C7500 can find the plugged nozzle and attempt to compensate to correct the print (dot substitution).  I understand it takes more than one plugged nozzle to notice streaking in the C7500.  An operator can attempt to unplug the nozzle first by using the Cleaning function, then try to remove air in the ink lines from the Maintenance menu from the front LED screen.

Second, as the C7500 prints so fast, localized wind as the media moves through the printer may create print artifacts.  I’ve found by moving the Color Mode Ink Profile to “Dark” improves this issue significantly.

C7500 Ink Profile Setting
C7500 Ink Profile Setting
Comparing the C7500 to other printers, Andy says, “printheads in other label printers are not as durable as the Precision Core. Therefore, they need to be replaced frequently; and as they fail, the number of streaks increase.  Further, the pixels look more like a “splat” up close rather than a precise dot with Precision Core.”

The C6500 has both similarities and differences to the C3500 and the C7500 printer.  First the C6500 uses the new Precision core technology like the C7500 producing very fine print resolution.  Second, the printer overlaps when printing, but potentially much better than the C3500.

In my discussions with Andy, I learned the following about the C6500:

  •  The media is stopped during printing eliminating wind effects.
  •  The C6500 then uses special overlap patterns of head and paper feeding to eliminate streaking. 
  • In Normal mode, average overlap is 2.5 passes.  In Max Quality mode, the average overlap is 12 passes.  This overlap means that when a nozzle is plugged, other nozzles can easily compensate for the issue.  Further, the multi-pass patterns averages out any feed or alignment imperfections virtually eliminating streaking. 
  • In Speed and Max Speed, the C6500 does not overlap.  By combining the more precise dots from the Precision Core printhead with shifting the C,M,Y colors darker in the Color Correction dialog box.
 
C6500 Color Correction For Max Speed
C6500 Color Correction For Max Speed

Better print quality can be produced using these lower resolution/faster print speed settings.
Bottom = "Normal"; Top = "Max Speed"
Bottom “Normal” setting (About 2”/Second) with no banding; Top “Max Speed” setting with Max Color setting (about 5”/Second).


In the top, I can see slight banding.  In an attempt to improve this setting, I made a banding adjustment in the printer setting utility, including printing an adjustment sheet.

C6500 Banding Adjustment
C6500 Banding Adjustment
C6500 Banding Adjustment
C6500 Banding Adjustment
And I did improve the banding with the adjustment.  One interesting point: I found Max Speed seemed to produce less banding than the Speed setting.

Andy says, “Normal setting will be sufficient for most organizations.  But by adjusting Max Speed, Color Correction and Banding, higher speeds can be obtained with sufficient print quality for most labels.”

With the printing overlap, operators will find the C6000 series printers easier and less costly to run; Less to no streaking and no need to replace printheads as with Kairo, QL-120, LX2000, LX900, VP485, VP495 and the 300x label printers.  And if you need faster speeds, setting changes available in the C6500 make the printer run much faster.

If you are tired of dealing with streaks in your label printing, contact us.  We’ll help make your operator’s life much better.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670