Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Monday, January 7, 2019

California Road-Trip


Recently, I met with 6 of our cannabis customers while traveling in Northern California.



From each of these companies, I learned something that I’d like to share.  Let me tell you a bit about what I learned from these companies.

First, we met Legion of Bloom, https://www.thelegionofbloom.com/new-index.  The Legion of Bloom is committed to elevating health and well-being. Their sustainable, conscious cultivation and extraction practices are just one way they express their devotion to pure, natural cannabis products. When buying Legion, customers know exactly what they're getting; Responsibly grown, award-winning marijuana and extracts with no additives, ever.

Unknown to me, I learned Legion was printing labels with gold embossing; and they looked great!

Gold-Embossed Inkjet Printed Labels
Gold-Embossed Inkjet Printed Labels

The labels looked even better when applied to their products:

Legion Of Bloom Gold Foil Labels
Legion Of Bloom Gold Foil Labels

Frankly, we’ve never sold any labels with a metallic embossing.  We’ve sold silver/chrome foil labels (and a very small quantity of gold), but never any embossed printable labels.  Legion’s finished labels look fantastic.


When purchasing labels from a company other than us, you need to make sure you ask your vendor one key point; are the labels inkjet coated?  And are they designed for aqueous inkjet printers? 

The on-demand label printers we sell require label materials designed for aqueous inkjet printers.  For example, Epson publishes a list of materials tested to work with their printers: 


Other label printer manufactures publish similar lists.

Most label printers, however, use a different type of press to produce preprinted labels; UV curable inkjet. UV inks don’t dry at all on the label, rather are “cured”.  Curing is a chemical reaction that occurs after being bombarded with UV radiation.  Given the curing, UV label presses use different materials that don’t typically work on aqueous label printers.  Therefore, most label companies carry only the materials required for UV based printers.

For example, we recently tested materials sent to us from a prospect; and they did not work at all. Compare how labels sent to us printed versus our labels:

Inkjet & Non-Inkjet Coated Labels
Inkjet & Non-Inkjet Coated Labels

When you purchase labels from us, you don’t have to worry about this issue; every label we sell works with the printers we sell. And by visiting Legion of Bloom, I learned our plant can produce gold-foil, embossed labels.  Contact us if you want to print these types of materials.

Next, we met with a long-time customer, (who will remain nameless as they package for other manufacturers), who use an Epson C3500 to print labels.  With this printer, I’m always concerned about producing full-bleed labels as it’s difficult to print to the edge consistently.  Further, I’m not a big fan of the print quality of this relatively low-resolution printer.  However, this customer has figured out how to accomplish pretty good print quality on their labels.

C3500 Printed Cannabis Label
C3500 Printed  Cannabis Label
 And even pretty good full-bleed label printing (even with the blacked-out name).

C3500 Printed Cannabis Label
C3500 Printed Cannabis Label

Up close, the print looks pixelated.  But from even a short distance, the print quality looks fine.  To produce this artwork, this company creates artwork in Illustrator, then imports the final file into BarTender to print the actual labels.  This workflow enables this company produce pretty good labels using the C3500.

To produce the labels full-bleed, this company sets up the media handling slightly different than what Epson had envisioned.  They close the front guide slightly more than the label width; allowing the output labels to ride high on the guide.

C3500 Media Guide Setup
C3500 Media Guide Setup
They have found this setting helps them produce better looking labels.  If you have a C3500, you may want to test this trick as well.

(You might this post of interest if you want to use the C3500 to print cannabis labels.  The first half features a cultivator and their labels from a C3500):  http://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2017/12/seattle-cannabis.html

After the OEM packer, I met with Brite Labs, https://www.britelabs.com/#.   In 2014, BRITE Labs was founded in Oakland, CA to pioneer whole plant cannabis concentrates using their proprietary CO2 extraction process.  They offer patients and partners a full spectrum oil that is closest to flower, to explore the wellness potential of cannabis & CBD products, and to promote good feelings for all.

At Brite Labs, I got to see a new label were selling; a pod label for the PAX Cartridge.

Brite Labs Printed PAX Label
Brite Labs Printed PAX Label
In July 2018, Hannah Gibson, Sales with Color Label Solutions, was working with Legion of Bloom to implement a print on demand color label solution.  Legion sent Hannah artwork of their custom shape label. The file was named “PAX”, and was a circle with a small cut out.

Pax Label Dieline
Pax Label Dieline

Although we sell many circle labels, this custom shape was interesting. Legion of Bloom purchased the Afinia L801 to print their PAX labels as well as their product labels.  Read more here about the L801 here:


Only one month later, Brite Labs sent Hannah a file of a label shape they needed; and it was identical to what Legion of Bloom had purchased. Given the unique requirements of these two companies, Hannah researched; and found the PAX Era, and PAX Era Pods.  Pax (https://www.paxvapor.com/) makes the vaporizer and vaporizer cartridge/pod packaging that is being used by many cannabis companies.

Above shows the front, color-coded strain label from Brite Labs.  And below is the PAX Pod label, both printed on the C7500G:

PAX Puck Label
PAX Puck Label
After starting to print these labels, Brite Labs discovered the original requested size was overlapping the lip of the container.  Given this issue, we created a slightly smaller label. Hannah and Brite Labs found that the 1.77” Circle was a perfect fit. 

At Brite Labs, the PAX labels seem to be working well; including the application.  Contact us if you need labels for your PAX Pods.

After Brite Labs, I met Utopia, https://www.utopiacannabis.com/.   Utopia is an award-winning cannabis company specializing in artisanal flowers, refined extracts and nutritious edibles.  All of their products are Envirocann certified and undergo full-spectrum testing to ensure a consistent and safe product.  Utopia’s flowers are exclusively cultivated indoors with natural fertilizers and organic pest management techniques to ensure the purest smoking experience.  Their extract line consists of terpene and cannabinoid rich concentrates that are refined to honor each strain’s specific profile.  Their edibles are made with organic and non-gmo ingredients, providing delicious flavor that both elevates and energizes.  Utopia believes that healthy products are a result of high-quality ingredients, conscious techniques, and a commitment to transparency.

For several of their products, Utopia needed clear labels to act as tamper evident seals and to convey strain names.  Small, clear film labels are difficult to print correctly on the C3500.  In fact, we had issues with this clear film; it would create an error every time.  Epson could not articulate why the issue.  Finally, we decided to test using the rear feed; and it worked well.  Using the rear feed, we could even print labels down to .325” in length; below the spec for blackmark/clear film labels.

C3500 Clear Film Labels
C3500 Clear Film Labels
In the future, Utopia plans to create these labels using BarTender, adding color coding and images.  By moving to BarTender, Utopia will save time inputting strain names, making it easier to print while making changing artwork easy to do.

What’s most interesting with Utopia is their patience with us.  They stuck by us as we problem-solved the issues with the Epson C3500 and the clear film labels.  We’re lucky to have customers like Utopia.

After Utopia, we visited Nu-Tra Distribution.  Nu-Tra is a brand-new company, still working to get their licenses.  However, they’re ready to start printing labels with their C7500G.  Nu-Tra has started printing labels using our matte poly circle labels.  We describe these labels as “whiter”; allowing for better colors.  I especially liked the print quality of black; the most difficult color to print correctly.

C7500G Printed Black Labels
C7500G Printed Black Labels
 And other label:

C7500G Printed Black Labels
C7500G Printed Black Labels
I think this black from the C7500G on the whiter matte poly looks great!  In the past, I’ve written how only gloss poly labels produce good black colors using the C7500g. 



But this whiter matte poly produces very nice black colors.  I’m glad these labels work for Nu-Tra Distribution.


Lastly, we met Indus Holdings, a long-time customer;  http://www.indusholdingco.com/.  INDUS Holding Company is a vertically-integrated cannabis company with world-class production capabilities, including cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, brand sales & marketing, and distribution. Founded in 2014 by hospitality veteran Robert Weakley and based in Salinas, California, INDUS offers services supporting every step of the supply chain from soil to sale and an extensive portfolio of award-winning brands, including Altai, Dixie, Moon, Beboe and Legal.


After visiting Indus a few years ago, I was most impressed by their growth.  Indus has grown to become a large company with all types of labeling requirements.  They use our labels for a variety of applications; many with variable data and color image requirements.  Color Label Solutions is lucky to have customers such as Indus, that we can grow with them.

Over a couple of days, I was lucky to meet in-person a great group of Northern California cannabis companies, to learn more about their company and labeling requirements.  I’m very grateful to have customers like the 6 companies.  If you are a cultivator and/or manufacturer of products that need labels on-demand, contact us.  We’ll help you find the labeling solution to fit your needs.

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

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Perfect Full-Bleed

Over the past years, I’ve written about printing full-bleed labels many times.  In fact, searching www.colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com,  I found 23 different posts with the term “full-bleed” used.  I’ve written about this topic as it’s not easy to do correctly.  But here is the best/least expensive option I know to print full-bleed every time.

DPR Inline Matrix Remover
DPR Inline Matrix Remover

Recently, I had a customer who wanted to get good looking, full-bleed labels every time.  One option is to purchase a finishing unit and then laminate, die cut, weed the matrix, slit and rewind in one operation.  However, a finishing unit may be considered expensive unless a large number of labels is required.

Another option is to purchase labels with the matrix on and remove the matrix around the labels after printing.  Then you can print beyond the die-cut label to insure no white space occurs with the printing.  I’ve written about this approach before using the DPR inline matrix remover integrated with the C7500. 



DPR Inline Matrix Remover & C7500
DPR Inline Matrix Remover & C7500

According to Michael Panzeri, of DPR (https://www.dpr-llc.com/“The intention of this accessory is to get faster, easier and perfect full-bleed labels every time.” With headquarters in Milan, Italy and a branch in Sunrise FL, USA, D.P.R. provides superior solutions for the labeling industry, serving both the domestic and international markets.

Now we have a customer using this approach first in a lab and then in production.  According to the customer, “we wanted to see how the C7500G and DPR In-Line Matrix remover would work in one segment of our operation where we wanted full-bleed labels”. Continuing, the customer said, “after testing, we will not put this printer into production in our operation as it works well.”


Learn about the DPR In-Line Matrix remover here:

To produce full-bleed label production with the In-Line Matrix Remover, you need to start by using labels with the matrix left on and with blackmarks on the back.  The blackmarks tell the printer where the “top-of-form” starts to begin printing and the matrix allows for printing beyond the edge of the label.  Once printed, the matrix remover pulls off the matrix leaving the labels rewound and ready for placing on an applicator.

Watch the Inline Matrix Remover in the testing lab run here:


And watch the DPR Inline Matrix Remover run at an Epson event here:



One key point; you need to make sure the labels are die cut correctly.  Too deep or too shallow will cause issues with the matrix coming off the label as seen here:


Label Lifting During Matrix Removal
Label Lifting During Matrix Removal
Above, you can see the corner of the label is lifting with the matrix.  To insure this situation does not occur, you need labels die-cut properly to insure the matrix comes off without separating the main labels.  (FYI: we did not make these labels).

The DPR In-Line Matrix Remover costs $3,958 currently and works well with the C7500.  With these two machines, you can get perfect edge-to-edge printed labels every time.  And this process is basically how larger presses operate; by printing first and then die cutting/removing the matrix second.  It’s a good investment if you must have labels printed correctly to the edge every time.

If you want great looking full-bleed labels, contact us.  We’ll help you put this solution to work for you.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Foodie "Fit" Labels

Foodie Fit, https://www.foodiefitmeals.com/is a Las Vegas meal prep company that combines the knowledge of macro and micro nutrients to create healthy and delicious dishes. Pick the meals that best suit your diet & appetite or create your own custom meals. They add new items every other week so that your taste buds never get bored. The meals are prepared fresh daily and never frozen. They offer free nutrition consultations to help you hit your fitness goals.

Foodie Fit Labels
Foodie Fit Labels
Andrew Kowal, owner of FoodieFit came to us some time ago.  As a new food company, Andrew wanted to print labels internally as they needed them.  “As we rotate our menu every other week, it’s impossible to use preprinted labels.  Large minimum order quantities and obsolete labels make purchasing preprinted labels not feasible for us”.  We started working with Andrew by printing the FoodieFit logo on the C3500 printer to review the print quality.



I tell people the C3500 printer is perfect when you want to print a image (like a logo), text, color codes and barcodes on a basic white label.

For Andrew, we calculated the estimate ink cost of FoodieFit’s initial label designs.  For a 4” x 4”, the estimated cost was $0.013/label.


C3500 Ink Calculation
$0.013/4" x 4" Label

Based on the costs of the printer, labels and ink, Andrew purchased a C3500 as well as BarTender.  As Andrew changed label artwork constantly, he wanted a way to update ingredients and product names quickly.


After about 1 year of using the C3500, Andrew contacted me about a C7500.  “We need faster printing as well as a higher print quality.”  After some print samples, Andrew purchased a C7500 and made the C3500 his “backup” printer.


C7500 Label Printer for Foodie Fit
C7500 Label Printer for Foodie Fit

About the same time, Andrew decided that FoodieFit needed some type of tamper-evident label.  Given their packaging, FoodieFit decided to begin using a 2” x 16”; to wrap around and seal their package.  Given the length of the label, we recommended they use a fanfolded version of this label.

And the fanfold labels work great for them.

16" Fanfold, Inkjet Labels
16" Fanfold Labels

According to Andrew, “the fanfold labels restack easily even after printing a large batch. It’s easy for our operators to print, grab a stack and begin labeling the packages.”


Foodie Fit Color Coded Labels
Foodie Fit Color Coded Labels
With the ability to print labels on-demand, Foodie Fit has implemented a color code system for their products.
  • Red for dinner items
  • Green for “active” products (more energy)
  • Yellow for breakfast items
  • Blue for snacks.

Green Color Codes For Active Food Products
Green Color Codes For Active Food Products
Color coding helps both customers and employees select the products they want; Especially when stored together in a warehouse or even in a refrigerator.


FoodieFit Color Label Products
FoodieFit Color Label Products

FoodieFit’s progression from the C3500 to the C7500 is not uncommon.  As the confidence and requirements grow for printing on-demand color labels, it’s natural to want higher print quality and faster production.  And we want to help our customer’s grow their business.

FoodieFit is a great customer for Color Label Solutions.  And I admire Andrew’s entrepreneurial skills as his operation grows, with plans for more locations and centralized production.  One of the best aspects of working at Color Label Solutions are customers like Andrew and FoodieFit.

If you need labels for your food products; or even color coded labels, contact us.  We’ll help you produce the labels you need, when you need them.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Saturday, November 3, 2018

L801 Cannabis Labels

MMG Agriculture,  http://www.mmgagriculture.com/was one of the first MME Cultivations to open when the medical market hit Nevada in 2015. Started to provide the best medicinal cannabis to patients seeking alternative ways to relieve medical problems without the use of pharmaceuticals, MMG has strains proven for symptom relief. And their lead cultivator and crew are passionate about the cannabis they grow. As a boutique grow, MMG Agriculture provides Nevada with the highest quality marijuana.


MMG Agriculture
MMG Agriculture

I met Sarah Rosenfeld, the owner of MMG Agriculture at the Reno Cannabis Convention, http://www.therenoexpo.com/in early 2018.  After seeing options at MJ BIZCON Next in New Orleans, https://mjbizconference.com/next/, reviewing print samples, and watching an on-site demo, Sarah purchased a L801 printer and gloss poly labels.  Ryan Goig, who designs the labels for MMG, combined with the L801 is producing some great looking labels.

L801 Printed on Gloss Poly
L801 Printed on Gloss Poly
I really like the look of the designs; and the print quality they are achieving.  I especially like the use of colors on a basic white label. This type of design produces not only great looking labels but saves ink costs.

L801 Printed Label
L801 Printed Label
And after printing thousands of labels, MMG has used hardly any ink as yet. From the Afinia L801 Toolbox, you can see the ink costs of every print job (sorry for the crappy picture):

L801 Ink Costs
L801 Ink Costs
The L801 label printer has some of the lowest ink costs of any benchtop label printer.

For their designs, Ryan has set up form-fillable PDF’s to enable the easy input of variable data onto the label prior to printing.

MMG Agriculture Label Artwork
MMG Agriculture Label Artwork
According to Sarah, aligning the printing on the labels correctly has been a learning process. To produce full-bleed labels, be sure to design your labels slightly larger than the actual size.  I recommend .03” larger on all sides to insure the print goes to the edge of die-cut labels.  Afinia offers advice on full-bleed label printing on page 30 of their manual:  

And I wrote an earlier post on full-bleed printing using the L801 as well:

MMG has great looking labels on their doob tubes as well:

MMG Doob Tube Label
MMG Doob Tube Label
And now, we’re looking at moving to a tapered label to make the gap on the tube equal top and bottom for MMG.

Non-Tapered Label On Doob Tube
Non-Tapered Label On Doob Tube
With tubes, you should consider using a tapered label.

And if you are labeling joint tubes, consider our semi-automatic applicator option:



Or even a fully automated option:


According to Sarah, “the print quality we’re getting on the L801 is great.  For our operation, the L801 has been a good choice.”   And I want to add: Sarah and Ryan have been great to support.  We're lucky to work with people like Sarah and Ryan.

The L801 is a great choice for those manufactures who need high print quality labels; especially when combined with gloss poly material.  If you need great print quality on your labels, contact us.  We’ll help you with all aspects of your print on-demand color label solution.

Purchase the L801 here: https://colorlabelsolutions.com/product/afinia-l801-color-label-printer/ 

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Label Expo 2018

Last week, I attended Label Expo 2018 in Rosemont, IL (https://www.labelexpo-americas.com/)  and saw 3, relatively new, label printer ideas that I wanted to share with you.


First, Neuralabel introduced their newly available, straight paper path version of the 300x.

Straight Paper-Path 300x
Straight Paper-Path 300x

With this version, the paper path changes from having 3 turns to straight through.  In the previous version, labels may pre-dispense (come off the liner) and get stuck inside.  If the label was synthetic so it would not rip, no big deal.  If the label was paper, it was almost impossible to remove the shredded label.  This change makes the 300x much more usable.  Watch it print fanfold labels here:



(FYI: you may notice the paper path is opposite from the previous version as well).

In addition, Neuralabel has developed a very unique solution for fixing plugged inkjet nozzles: cleaning solutions:


300x Inkjet Nozzle Cleaning Solution
300x Inkjet Nozzle Cleaning Solution
According to Neuralabel, the cleaning solution can fix simple plugged nozzles.  Having dealt with this issue many times in the past, I think this simple solution is a great idea.  It could cure a major portion of the service calls around inkjet label printers. 

The new straight paper path 300x offers high resolution, and very fast printing.  And the new 300x does not require the operator to move the printer when changing print widths.  This printer costs about $10,000, and still requires blackmarks on the labels (no gap sensor).  Further, I still have concerns about printing full-bleed as it requires .25” gaps.

I see the 300x as a good option for chemical companies wanting to upgrade the print quality and speed of their GHS label printers.

Second, I saw again the latest prototype of the Okidata LED-based label printer.

QL-300 LED Label Printer
QL-300 LED Label Printer
Okidata has selected AstroNova to sell this printer in North America; and will sell it under the model number QL-300. 


Okidata has solved some of the key issues with LED/laser printers with this new technology:  Wasted labels on every print job, large label minimum widths and lengths and color registration.  With this printer, you can print down to a 4” minimum batch length with down to .5” minimum label length.  And it prints down to a 1” minimum width.

QL-300 LED Label Printer
QL-300 LED Label Printer
But the big reason to use this new printer is the availability of white toner, matte black color and the ability to print various materials including foil labels.  White toner, deep blacks and good results on foils, clear films and vinyl will make this new printer fit many customers. 

Silver Foil and Clear Film Printed on the QL-300
Silver Foil and Clear Film Printed on the QL-300
AstroNova has yet to announce the price of the printer, but has said the toner cost per label will be comparable to existing inkjet. I still need to test to insure the actual results match the claims; and I hope to get one in the 1st quarter of 2019.

Finally, I got the chance to study the Trojan T2C, the first available “Mini-Press”.

T2C Mini Press
T2C Mini Press
During this deep dive, I learned three key aspects of this Memjet-based press.  First, the printer has only one consumable item in addition to the ink: a cleaning roller.  It makes this version of Memjet printers easier to maintain.

Second, the T2C uses 8 liters of ink:

T2C 8 Liters Ink
T2C Uses 8 Liters of Ink
That’s a lot of ink and labels; and a lower ink cost than most other on-demand color label printers.  It may be the lowest ink cost per label!

Third, I found the new Niagara ink from Memjet, Purell resistant:

Purell Resistant Memjet Ink
Purell Resistant Memjet Ink
In addition, I tested the ink once I returned with 70% IPA on gloss paper.  And it withstood the IPA fairly well.  After soaking for about 1 hour, the ink did smear slightly.  No bad for paper and dye-based inks; and a big deal for companies needing alcohol resistance on their labels.

Alcohol Durable, Dye-Based Memjet Ink
Alcohol Durable, Dye-Based Memjet Ink
The T2C costs about $30,000; therefore, this printer is designed for companies printing thousands per batch.  You can pay $40,000 and save about 33% on all future ink purchases as another option.

After Label Expo 2017, I wrote about the T2C and the Okidata LED printer:

And here is the summary of Label Expo 2016:

And Label Expo 2014:

And Label Expo 2012 #1:

And Label Expo 2012 #2:

Things have changed in the last 6 years.  Some printers have hit it big; and other not so much.

Let me know if any of these ideas presented in this summary of Label Expo 2018 could fit your business.  Look forward to hearing your feedback.

Guy Mikel
855-962-7670