Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Creativity With Color Labels

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a writer for Package Design (  about the impact of print on-demand color labels on design.  If you don’t know this magazine, Package Design elevates the value of design as a strategic business competence in the brand marketing mix from concept to shelf.  This magazine helps improve business effectiveness and fosters a community for all stakeholders.

Shelby Lewis

After our and other interviews, Package Design published, “The Digital Shift”,,  about the marketing options provided by moving to digital printing; and specifically, print on-demand color labels.   Check out my comments at the end of page 42 and 43 as I see tremendous creativity benefits of printing color labels on demand.

The Digital Shift
On-Demand Provides Flexibility In Label Design

In many of my past posts, I discussed the productivity benefits of printing color labels on demand.  Some of my favorite posts on this topic include:

But the point of this article was the marketing benefits realized with the move to digital printing.  As a part of this article, the author, Tara Pettit, spoke with our customer, Shelby Lewis of Vape Dudes,  Vape Dudes business model is to offer customers the specific option that meets their taste requirements; effectively producing customized products on-demand.  Offering hundreds or even thousands of different product combinations, Vape Dudes needed a means to produce their labels on-demand as preprinted labels do not work.  You can read about Vape Dudes here in this earlier post:

In addition to Vade Dudes, we have many other customers creatively using print on-demand color labels.  One of my favorite is Hummingbird Market, Douglas Everett, owner of this company, has produced some of the most beautiful labels I’ve seen; on Epson’s first generation color label printer, the TM-C3400:

Also, I’ve posted ideas on how to use color on labels; or the benefits of digital printing. Check out this post on using color to improve marketing: this post on color labels in the digital marketplace:

And I’ve posted about companies creating interesting products:

Printing color labels on demand offers many different creative and process benefits.  I’d love to hear how color improves your marketing efforts.  Or contact us to discuss how we can help you add color to your on-demand labels.

Guy Mikel

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Universal Good Idea

Universal Heated Hoses ( designs and manufactures custom electrically heated transfer hoses for a wide range of applications. Heated hoses provide solutions for transferring materials such as Hot Melt Adhesives, Liquid Food Products, Wax, Lubricants, and Sealants. UHH specializes in Hotmelt replacement hoses as well as Custom Hoses.  Manufacturing heater wire in-house, UHH provides the best solution for the application; offering hoses for all types of temperature sensors to match the existing machinery.

Pat Pagnella founded UHH after working as an engineer in the industry.  Pat manufacturer’s hoses that transfer liquid materials at 450 to 500 degrees F while insuring the hoses on the outside reach no more than 120 degrees.  According to Pat, “up until now, we had only monochrome printers for labels; both Zebra and Wasp thermal transfer printers.  We used BarTender to create our labels, including using the increment function to add sequential numbers to each label printed.”

Continuing, Pat says, “When purchasing another printer, we decided to get one that would print color labels on-demand.  Color is important to us as we wanted to add our customer’s logos to the labels on the hoses.  With more than 30 OEM customers, we want to strengthen their brands and businesses; and to offer great value to these important customers.”

While searching for color label printer options, Pat found us online.  After a telephone conversation, Pat purchased a TM-C3500 printer, 3 years of Spare-in-the-Air Warranty, ink and labels.  Once the printer arrived, I help him setup and configure the printer via webinar.  Within a few minutes, Pat was printing color labels from BarTender.

Although Pat wanted to move to color, it was important that the UHH labels were durable.  “The labels on these hoses must be durable; withstanding rough treatment and heat” says Pat.  “In the past, we’ve placed the labels on Mylar film before applying tape over the top.  With these new durable color poly labels, we’ll should be able to use the adhesive on the back to wrap and connect the Mylar film; and eliminate the tape over the top.  This new process will save us time.”

UHH has started printing color by using continuous labels, which requires the use of the built in cutter in the TM-C3500.  Continuous material allows for variable lengths; cutting exactly to the required length.  In the future, UHH will move to die cut matte poly labels to get the rounded corners.  In addition, die cut labels may be easier to apply for this specific application over the top of the Mylar.

Two years ago when I first started the Color Labels On-Demand blog, I wrote about one of my customers who manufactured flexible hoses.  Although not mentioned by name, you might find this post of interest:

Working with companies like UHH and good guys like Pat is one of the pleasures of leading Color Label Solutions.  If you need a heated hose, contact Pat at Universal Heated Hoses.  If you need color labels printed on-demand, contact us!

Guy Mikel

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


While helping a customer install and configure a GP-C831 printer, I had a “SURPRISE”:  I learned Epson had made available a new driver; Version

Offering several changes, this new driver is not necessarily “plug and play” with your existing label formats.  In this post, I like to explain the new driver, and how the change may affect your work.

If you want to get the new driver, you first need to visit the Technical Resource pages: or this specific page:

The primarily reason you should upgrade to the new driver is the capability to print wider; now 8.25” versus the previous 8”.  From my perspective, this capability is a major improvement; especially without requiring a change in the hardware.

With this change, please remember these details about the page settings/sizes.  The print starting point on the right side (fixed) as you face the printer is still .51”.  Therefore, you will have approximately a .135” (.51” -.375”) non-printable boundary on the right side when using labels with a .375” tractor-feed.  This boundary will be eliminated, basically, when using labels with a .5” tractor feed.  In addition, the top and the bottom of the label will have a .08” non-printable boundary as well. 

In addition to the wider print capability, the driver has other notable changes.  First, the default setting for print quality is “Plain Label” and "Quality" versus “Plain” and "Speed" in the previous version.

With the plain label setting, the default Mode setting is “Quality”.  For producing most labels, the default setting is sufficient.  You may want to test “Synthetic” and Quality for matte poly labels (  to determine which you prefer.  During my discussions with Epson, I learned the color gamut is slightly different between these two settings.  Therefore, I suggest you print your labels with both to determine which settings match your preferred colors the best.

In addition, you’ll find several changes on the paper tab as well.  First Epson has changed the default page sizes; from seemingly random sizes to ISO standard pages:

In addition, you’ll now need to enter the width of the actual label size for user defined.  In the previous driver, you needed to add the total construction (including the pin feed) in this section of the driver.  However, you still use the size from perforation to perforation.  (Please remember the difference in this setting for my later comments.)

In addition to the change in the print quality and page size, Epson added one more important feature; the ability to import and export driver settings.

Now you can export the settings as “BSF” files to import into other computers.  This capability will save a lot of time for network installs.  While on this page, don’t forget to set the Notification Settings to “No Beep” (I find the beep very annoying).  Also, don’t forget to select these settings not only in the “Printer Defaults”, but also in “Printer Preferences”. 

Although these changes are seemingly straight forward, please know; any templates you have created using the previous driver will not print correctly using the new version.  For example, here is what I saw when I opened my example drum label in BarTender:

With the change in the driver from using the total construction to now using only the label size, the templates built using the previous driver do not work correctly.  You need to change the templates.  In BarTender, you’ll get this message when trying to print using a format created with the previous driver:

If you get this message, be sure to select cancel to get to the page setup.  In page setup, be sure “Set Manually” is NOT selected.

And be sure the correct page size from the GP-C831 driver is selected:

After making these changes, you may still need to move the content on the label format.  For example, the content on my new format was too close to the leading edge even though it worked well previously:

In situations such as above, you may want to move the print start position versus changing the position of the content on the label.  To move the print start position in the GP-C831, follow these directions:

1. Open the top cover.
2. Hold down the Pause button for about three seconds. The Pause light flashes, the printer enters Micro Adjust mode, and then the paper is advanced to the current top-of-form position.
3. Press the FF D button to move the top-of-form position down on the page, or press the Load/Eject U button to move the top-of-form position up on the page.

After working with this new driver, I would recommend one key point: you need to use the same version of the GP-C831 driver for all installs within your company.  You will not be able to print the same label template correctly from both drivers.  If you want to stay with the existing driver, contact me; I’ll send you the previous version.

If you use BarTender and want to start with a template that should work, I’ve updated my post on Drum Label Templates to include the 8.5” x 11” format: 

In addition, I’ve change the label size in my store to 8.5” x 11” as well: 

If you are using the GP-C831, you should install the new driver.  But don’t be SURPRISED when things change; Just contact us instead.

Guy Mikel

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Death By Inkjet

While helping a customer of another reseller, I came upon something I’ve never seen before:  Death by Inkjet.

As you can see in this picture, ink is everywhere; on the printer, on the walls and on the label catch basin.  After selling and supporting hundreds of customers move to print on-demand color labels, I’ve not see this type of situation.  It reminded me of a scene from Dexter; needing a blood spatter expert.  I’m not a blood spatter expert, but here are my and the customer’s ideas on what created this scene.

According to the customer, “a label jams in the printer while using the rear feed.  After the label jammed, the printer would continue to spray ink. The jam in the printer was caused by the label separating; the liner from the facestock.”

As soon as I saw this picture, I knew to ask one more question; are you using an unwinder?  “Yes”, said the customer.  Continuing he said, “it seems we get this issue on the third label after setting overnight.  Once we get past this 3rd label, we don’t have any other problems during the day; except for dealing with ink everywhere.  To try to improve this problem, we moved recently the unwinder away from the printer.  Initially, the unwinder was about 3 inches from the printer, with a sharp turn up to the rear feed opening in the printer.  Now, we have the unwinder sitting about 1 foot from the printer.”

When I saw this picture, I told the customer that the “dancer bar” from the unwinder is applying a significant amount of pressure on the labels going into the printer.  Plus the dancer bar is pulling the label around a sharp radius corner similar to a label dispenser.  By pulling the label around this type of edge, the liner may be separating from the facestock.  As the liner is thinner, it must travel farther around the tight radius corner; thus it lifts and separates just like a label dispenser.  To learn more about how a label dispenser works, check out Wikipedia:

In addition, the labels going into the printer are taunt; with zero slack.  As the TM-C3400 uses a vacuum to hold the labels to the printhead, this inkjet printer does not have any type of compression rollers able to pull the media.  With all the tension, the label media “slips” causing the overprint seen on the label in the second picture above.  The bottom line; you can’t have the winders creating tension on the media going into these Epson label printers.  You might find this post on unwinders from some time ago of interest:

After a couple of days, the customer contacted me again; he said, “I believe I have determined the cause of the bump in our labels that thus, what is causing the label jams. The bump seems to occur at the rear feed where the label bends around the edge. This “bump” happens when the label is left in this position overnight.”  So the cause of the problem was NOT the bend around the unwinder roller; rather the bend at the rear feed on the back of the printer.

To properly use a winder (both unwinder and rewinder), you need to have a “loose loop” between the printer and the winder.  Here is how I have my unwinder set up: 

As soon as the dancer bar lifts, the electric motor feeds out more labels: 

Or this recent post on the new winding solution from Labelmate:

By setting the unwinder in this fashion, you prevent tension on the labels as they feed into the printer. Now, this customer has adjusted the tension on the unwinder.  I appreciate his willingness to not only problem solve, but to get me involved and send me pictures.

If you have blood spatter, call Dexter.  But if you get this or any other issue while printing color labels on demand, contact us.  We’ll help you to insure you don’t experience, Death by Inkjet!

Guy Mikel

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Inkjet Coated Gloss-Clear Labels

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had many customers ask me about inkjet coated gloss white poly and clear film.  However, I’ve not been able to find materials that seemed sufficiently durable; even to withstand water.  But let me tell you about 3 new materials and other ways for you to get durable gloss and clear printed labels.

If you have followed my posts, you’ve seen me write about the very durable matte poly labels.  You may remember this post comparing different technologies for GHS labels:

Prior to my tests of these new materials, here is a matte poly label that I soaked in water, alcohol, hand sanitizer and acetone.  The printed label was durable to all of these materials.

To start, I printed two new gloss and one clear film label with the TM-C3500 and the TrojanOne label printers.  I hope you can see how great these materials printed using these two different types of ink.  I think these labels look great.

After printing these new labels, I ran water over the labels to see how they would perform.  Surprising, I found all seemed relatively water resistant; especially when printed with the TM-C3500:

Water did not seem to bother any of these materials with the encapsulated pigment inks from Epson.    One thing I did notice was the Gloss 2 material had a “rougher” feel after the water; but the ink did not run.

With the Memjet dye-based inks in the TrojanOne printer, I did see some slight discoloration with water:

In the Gloss 1 sample, I only noticed a difference around the red ink.  In the Gloss 2 sample, I saw some of the black ink migrate in the barcode.  Please know; I not only soaked these samples, but wiped them with my fingers as well.

On the clear sample, you saw a very limited ink migration with the Memjet printed sample:

Overall, I thought the clear film performed pretty well considering the ink is a dye.

Next I tested the samples with alcohol and hand sanitizer.  The Gloss 1 and clear performed well with the alcohol.  But you can see some of the ink ran on the Gloss 2 sample treated with alcohol.

Hand sanitizer took the ink off all of these samples.

With the Memjet ink, both alcohol and hand sanitizer made the ink run.

If your requirements are only water resistance, I do believe we can get you both gloss and clear film that works; especially if you can use the print quality from the TM-C3500.  Please know; these materials cost more than matte poly; and may require higher minimum purchases.  In some recent quotes, the cost of this gloss label material was approximately $0.004 to$0.0047 per sq inch.

If you need either durable gloss or clear film as well as very high print quality, then you’ll need to add a post printing step; either laminate or coat. 

Concerning laminating, you may have seen my earlier post on using the Rotary Wizard: 

Or may find the new promotion video from Trojan Color Systems of interest:

Here is a scanned image of a basic matte label printed with the TrojanOne laminated with a gloss film.  These 100% coverage labels look great! 

Plus, you can save money on label materials using an inexpensive matte paper direct from the label factory and then laminate and die-cut post print. It’s a very affordable way to produce high quality prime labels that are resistant to water and many chemical compounds.  Recently, I complete cost estimates for TrojanOne printed labels with the laminate.  The cost of the label, ink and laminate totaled $0.0014 per sq inch (70% less than the gloss poly label along); making this option the least expensive way to get durable gloss labels.

If you want a somewhat similar secondary process step, you can also consider a UV coating process.  “UV coating" refers to surface treatments which are cured by ultraviolet to protect the underlying material.  You can learn more here from Wikipedia:

Trojan has been working with the EZ Coat 15; a simple way to coat even die-cut labels.  Here is the Trojan video using this post printing process:

Recently at Label Expo, Trojan launched their own coater, the TCS Elite.  This device coats up to 10” wide labels at speeds up to 80 feet per minute; yet costs much less than the EZ Coat 15.  Here is the video of this new tool:

And here is a picture of basic matte paper labels, one on the right coated with a UV varnish.

By using different coatings and settings in the coater, you can add more or less gloss as well as durability to the labels.  With the new coater, adjusting the coating is easy; as is change over and clean up.  Check out my video on the durability tests using hand sanitizer.

Using the coating, the cost per sq inch will equal approximately the cost of laminating; $0.0014 per sq inch.

If you need gloss or clear labels, we can help you at Color Label Solutions.  Contact us to discuss your requirements and the option that fits your label printing situation the best.

Guy Mikel

Friday, October 24, 2014

Creating SDS-GHS Labels-Easily?

By June 2015, all chemical companies must be providing the new 16 section Safety Data Sheet (SDS) documents. 

The project to convert these important documents by June of next year could be extremely difficult; especially for distributors or repackagers of chemicals.  These companies distribute thousands of different compounds from many different vendors.  Producing SDS documents using your brand and company names for all these products will take time and work.  But could this process be made easier?

To complete this process relatively quickly and easily, you may want to consider Hank Solutions,,  SDS Online.  SDS Online is a complete online software solution to create GHS compliant safety data sheets and labels.  This application is specifically designed to be user friendly and very easy to use.  According to Darren Mitchinson, Technical Director for Hank Solutions, “We designed SDS Online, specifically to make it easy for companies to build SDS documents; at a very affordable price.  Once the SDS is built, our software converts the SDS information to standard GHS labels.”

To show you how easy it is to build a SDS, let’s imagine we repackage and resell Acetyl Chloride; and get a SDS from the manufacturer; in this example Sigma Aldridge:

To start the process, I logged into the SDS Online software at the following: and set up my company profile located in “Settings”.

Next I go to the “Datasheet Manager” to search to see if the product is already available in the database.  SDS Online makes SDS information available to everyone as a part of the Software as a Service.  To see if information was available, I searched Acetyl Chloride both the product name and CAS number.  This product is not in the database.

As it was not in the database, I needed to create a new SDS.  Once I selected create, SDS Online presented me the information to add in logical order using a “Stoplight” system:

In this picture, you can see section 1 is completed and "green"; with the other 15 sections needing to be completed.

After section 1, you complete section 9; chemical physical properties by copying and pasting the information.  In addition, you can add standard phrases by highlighting on the right side of the document and selecting “Add”.

Once a section is completed, selecting “update” will turn section 9 stoplight “Green”. 

In section 10, you add standard phrases or type/paste in phrases listed in the SDS; and then update.

You continue to complete each of the sections using this same approach.  To complete each category, you can select from the available default phrases, add your own phrase, or paste the suggested phrase from either SDS Online or from the original SDS.  Assuming I was using a supplier’s SDS with their approval, I found copying and pasting the information the easiest.

Depending on your perspective, I found one good and bad aspect of SDS Online.  Each section must be completed in order to proceed.  This requirement is great for most sections.  In some sections, however, the SDS I was using as my template did not have any information.   Therefore, I had to add something to save the data in a section.  I’ve learned however, the actual REACH Law legislates that each section of the SDS must be completed. If no information is available, you can set a default phrase for "no information available" and just add this comment.

Once all the sections are completed, you process the document; and download a copy of the 16 section SDS:  7 pages in this test case.

Once you have a SDS, you can build a GHS Label by selecting “Labeling”.  In this section, you search for the product you want the label.  Once found, you can add the variable information for the label at the bottom prior to printing.

By selecting “Build Label”, you get a PDF of your label to print.  Using my TM-C3500, I printed this GHS Label for my example product.

In the near future, SDS Online will be adding a feature that I believe will give you options to design GHS Labels to fit your particular requirements better.  Soon, you’ll be able to download the information into an Excel file to create a GHS database. Using an application like BarTender, you’ll be able to set up a template and connect to your GHS database.  Then you’ll be able to create exactly the GHS Label designs you want.  If you want to see how to create these types of templates, review my blog post on this topic: 

Three Key Points I need to add.

First, you should start using SDS Online by editing or adding you default phrases for each section.  By selecting “Datasheet Phrases” and reviewing each section, you can set up or edit your standard phrases.

Second, if you're a distributor or reseller of many products with similar hazards, you can create one product/SDS and select “Use As Template”.  This step enables you to create further SDS’s by completing section 1 and then applying the template to build the rest of the SDS.  Total time can actually be under one minute.

Third, if you require professional advice on how to classify your products, then SDS may not be for you.  SDS does not provide recommendations or advice to help you build your SDS.

SDS Online seems to be a good way to adapt your vendor’s SDS’s to create your own GHS documents.  Plus, this cloud-based application is affordable.  If you like to learn more or demo the cloud application, contact us.

Guy Mikel

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Printing Narrow Color Labels

Printing narrow color labels can be tricky.

Narrow Color Labels
1" x 2" Color Labels
Tricky as many of the label printers I sell have a minimum print width.  Here are the minimum print widths of a few of the printers I sell:

·        LX 900:  .75”
·        TM-C3500:  1.2”
·        TM-C7500: 1.81”
·        TrojanOne:  2”
·        GP-C831: 3”
·        Okidata C711:  3”

To get around this issue, I recommend typically printing labels in the widest orientation possible.  For example, Vape Dudes need 1” x 2.625” labels; so we printed 2.625” wide by 1” tall.  You can learn more about the small labels used by Vape Dudes here:

When you apply the labels by hand, orientation is not an issue.  When you need to apply labels with an applicator, especially to cylindrical containers such as bottles or vials, orientation is critical.  Typically, you need the leading edge of the label to be the narrowest direction.  For example, here is a Primera bottle applicator that I sell:

So how do you print a 1” wide label when the minimum print width is 2X or greater?

The easiest way is “Multiple Up”.  “Up” refers to printing multiple impressions of the same image at the same time.  “Multiple Up” is used typically to reduce the amount of time needed for a given print job; or to print smaller than spec labels.

2 Up Labels
2 Up-1" x 2" Die Cut Matte Poly Labels
Formatting the printing is the most complicated issue when printing Multiple Up. To manage this issue, I’ve found BarTender’s page setup wizard makes printing multiple up easy to do:

Just setup in the printer driver the total page size of all the labels; and then create the page setup with the template size and number of rows/columns.  It’s easy to do.  You can even add a background image or color.

With small labels, I would typically recommend using blackmarks to set the precise print start/stop point. 

Experimenting, I printed these 1” x 2” black mark labels on the new TM-C7500.  Works great!

TM-C7500 Labels
Small Labels Printed On TM-C7500
You can see a short video of the printer running and rewinding here: 

When you need to “flood coat” the labels, covering them 100% with ink including to the edge, I recommend the TrojanOne label printer.  With the media handling capabilities of this printer, you can made very precise adjustments (Microns) to the print; to top, bottom and left offsets:

These precise adjustments make printing to the edges of the label very accurate.  This capability is especially important when working with small labels.  Check out these less than 2” by less than 1” labels with 2 half-circle cutouts on the bottom of the label I printed on the TrojanOne printer:

Once printed, you still need to separate the printed labels to place on an applicator.  To make this process easily, our plant will wind the labels are separate cores; and place a “soft perforation” between the labels making it easy to slit.  If needed, you can use a “slitter” like this one from Labelmate to separate the multiple up labels:

Small labels are required for certain markets, such as the vape labels mentioned earlier in this post.  But other markets, such as chemical, require small labels. Check out my earlier posts on printing labels for laboratory samples: 

Printing color labels on-demand smaller than the specification of the printer can be accomplished; with a little preparation and support like you get from Color Labels Solutions.  Contact us if you have any questions about printing small or any other color labels.

Guy Mikel