Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Digital Color Printing-Labeling & Packaging

Package Design recently held a webinar on how brand owners can use digital packaging and labeling to improve their marketing and product offerings.  

During this presentation, I found a lot of parallels in the discussion with digital, print on-demand color labels.  The two key speakers, Peter Borowski, 

and Bob Leahey

made several points that supported the move to print on-demand color packaging and labeling.  To hear the entire webinar, listen here: 

As a summary, Peter provided the following key points.

  • Packaging and Labeling are the marketing vehicles with the greatest leverage; and the last interruptive media.  Further, consumers or businesses interact with the packaging regardless of how it is purchased; in-store or on-line.  It’s advertising; with high reach, low cost and strategic in nature.  And on-line shopping is making packaging and labeling more important.
  • Digital printing is allowing packaging and labeling to become more fluid and personalized.  It’s a revolution in packaging and labeling that will continue for decades; enabling shorter runs, more effective promotions and personalization.
  • Digital packaging and labeling enables you to print what you need, how you need it and when you need it.  On-demand dramatically reduces inventory and waste/obsolescence costs; enables production adjustments based on demand; and provides 100% revision control allowing companies to target consumers better.

Peter’s take away is that digital makes packaging and labeling more compelling, enables companies to make bolder moves in the market, and drives sales both on and off line.

Bob Leahey (full disclosure; an acquaintance of mine) researches digital printing, both label and packaging.  According to Bob:

  • Digital packaging and labeling are growing significantly.  The value of labels printed on color digital systems will increase from approximately $3 billion in 2014 to just under $6 billion in 2019, reflecting a 15.9% CAGR (compound annual growth rate). Direct color digital printing of packaging, mainly folding cartons, flexible packaging, is less established, about $300 million in print value today, but that is expected to easily top $1 billion in 2019.
  • Short run color digital printing of labels and packaging enables companies to launch new products, outfit pop-up retailers, produce private label products, make new versions to better target customers, cut out obsolescence, and eliminate costs like plates.  As a print technology option, it’s effectively the closest a brand owner will come to “mass customization”.
  • Digital labeling allows companies to print variable data, a tool conventional printing doesn’t have. Brands can use variable data printing (VDP) to serialize products and thereby tighten the tracking of them, to prevent fraud. Meanwhile , VDP offers something else, personalization, a boon to on-line entrepreneurs and others who offer products customized for individuals, such as wedding favors, new product samples, etc.

Overall, I believe digital label and package printing technology enables great new ways to reach businesses and consumers; improves processes and ultimately increase sales; especially in the on-line world.  If you want help to move to digitally printing color labels on-demand, contact us; we’ll help you start quickly and easily.

Guy Mikel

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Print, Laminate, Die-Cut, Slit; The Path To Prime Labels

In my earlier post, in-plant prime labels, I define prime labels as the following: 

A Prime Label acts as the main identification of a product. Often designed to attract attention, prime labels contain information designed to appeal to a buyer and are usually applied at the time of manufacture. 

Full-Bleed Label
Full-Bleed Label
From my experience, prime labels have common features that brand owners want and expect:

  • Cover 100% of the label with ink
  • Print “full-bleed”; to the edge of the label
  • Shine- a glossy appearance
  • Withstand water, abrasion, etc.; durable

But 100% coverage and full-bleed printing is very difficult using die cut labels.  I mention the issue with black in this post.

When producing full-bleed labels at a printshop, printers typically print and then die cut.  That is why you find “die lines” on label artwork.

Full Bleed Label With Die Line
Full-Bleed Label With Dieline
By die cutting post print, you insure full-bleed printing. Also prior to die cutting, you can add a laminate to make the label durable and glossy.

But how can you print, laminate, and die cut in plant?  Now we have an affordable and relatively easy way to produce full-bleed and laminated labels in plant; using the new NeuraLabel 300X printer combined with the Scorpio+ finishing station.

The 300X  prints from 3” to 8.5” very fast with print speeds up to 20”/second at resolution up to 2400 x 1200 using a durable pigment ink.  For this application, you can print on lower cost continuous label media like we’ve done here:

According to Steve Larson, Business Development for NeuraLabel Printing Solutions, “The printer is very simple to operate.  Ink is the only consumable, and replacing cartridges is easy.  If the customer buys the onsite warranty, they get next business day on-site break/fix support.  This warranty extends even to the print head, which is why we say that the print head has virtually unlimited life.”  These features make the 300X less risky for a manufacturer.

After printing multiple up on an inexpensive label media, you then need to laminate, die cut and slit the labels.  That’s were Scorpio+ Finisher comes into play  Watch the Scorpio finish our labels here:

According to Luca Bortolon, D.P.R. Labeling Sales, “the Scorpio Plus is all-in-one system capable of laminating labels for added durability, digitally die-cutting, removing the excess label material around each die-cut shape, slitting and rewinding, offering you everything needed for professionally finished labels.  This system provides a very accurate label finishing solution using cutting plotter technology; allowing you to cut different types of materials and shapes without the added cost of dies.”

When asked about the maintenance requirements, Luca continued, “The Scorpio unit has very limited maintenance requirements.  The only consumables are the slitting blades and the plotter knife.  These items are replaced depending on the usage.  We have clients who have been using the Scorpio Plus for 6 months without replacing the slitting blades or the plotter knife; whereas others running heavy jobs replace these items every three to four months.”

In the video, you may notice the noise of the laminate coming off the rolls.  According to Luca, “The laminate doesn’t always make so much noise when coming off the roll. The noise or no noise of the laminate really does depend on the type of laminate the client is going to purchase and use as there are several different types.”

The combination of the 300X and Scorpio Plus have one other positive feature; Affordability.  This combination cost just over $30,000; a great price for a prime label finishing system.

If you need to print prime labels in plant, contact us to discuss how the 300X and Scorpio Plus will work for you.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Increasing Label Real Estate

Do you have small containers requiring more content than the label size allows?

Wrap Around GHS Labels
Wrap Around GHS Labels
We’re providing labels that wrap around almost twice to provide additional label real estate to meet the GHS requirements on small containers.

Although not allowed us to use the company name, I decided to post an overview of what we are doing for this small to medium size company of aroma chemicals.

After finding Color Label Solutions via our website ( and blog (www.colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.comin the winter of 2014, our customer wanted to test a GHS label printer prior to purchasing.  To help them move forward, we provided our customer a demo C3500 printer and labels to test; using GHS label designs created by 3E (  3E Company, a Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq: VRSK) business, is a global provider of data and information services which enable companies to improve compliance with Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) regulations and supply chain obligations through the entire lifecycle of chemicals and products.

During the testing, our customer printed a variety of label sizes and designs.  Also, the customer tested the labels under different conditions (freezer, oven, etc.) for adhesion, durability and acetone resistance. In their tests, the matte poly labels held up very well; and then decided to purchase a C3500 and initially 3” x 5” and then later 4” x 7” inkjet coated labels with their logo preprinted.

Preprinted Logo's Removed
With the logo’s, we took several iterations to get the labels to look exactly as required.  When preprinting, it’s important to insure you get the exact color match and dimensions you want.  Plus with Epson inkjet printers, you can’t print on top of the color; so the logo’s were placed at the top out of the way of the GHS label content. As the labels look great, I wish I could show you the finished product.

After completing the preprinted labels, the customer had one more request: sample bottle labels.  The real estate on these bottles was too small to place all of the required GHS content without using tiny font sizes.  Therefore, our customer wanted to know if we could place adhesive on one end of the label and then skip an area before adding adhesive again at the end.  With this design, our customer could produce labels that would stick to the bottle and then wrap around again to stick only at the end on top of the lower layer.

Given the requirement, we suggested to use a “Kill Adhesive”.  With the kill adhesive, it prevents the adhesive from working on a section of the label.  After sending samples of the kill adhesive, our customer ordered preprinted, 1.5” x 6” labels with 2.875” of good adhesive, 3” of kill adhesive applied, and then .125” of adhesive at the end.

Wrap Around Labels
Label With Kill Adhesive
As we recommended the adhesive be applied to the leading edge of the label, our customer needed to work with 3E to redesign the labels.  But this work paid off in a great looking design, even adding “peel here” text, and a dotted line on where the end of the label would attach to the lower first wrap.

Wrap Around GHS Label
Wrap Around GHS Label
On this particular label, a bit of the ink from the lower wrapped peeled off. But this potential ink issue is not critical as the customer designed the label to eliminate most of the content in the area of the tab of adhesive at the end.

Wrap Around GHS Label
Wrap Around GHS Label

Overall, the customer designed great looking and unique GHS labels.  And according to him, “the GHS labels look and work great!”  If you like unique options for small containers, be sure to read our recent post on GHS tags as well:

Working with people like this customer is one of the great benefits of leading Color Label Solutions.  Contact us if we can help you with unique and colorful labels and tags.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, October 11, 2015

All Black

I have found, one of the most difficult labels to print was full-bleed, all black.  After some testing, I believe we have found two possible solutions to help customers who want to print all black labels.

All black printing, in the past, has print poorly; as every artifact of the print shows up.  Or the durable matte poly labels looked “washed out”.

Matte Black Labels

The problem is for certain products like the Vape label above, black is an important color for marketing.

At the same time, I get calls for gloss poly labels almost weekly.  Many customers want a durable gloss label; one that looks similar to labels with an over-laminate.
Laminated Label
Printing and then laminating/finishing, however, is a much more complicated process.  Plus the hardware is much more costly.  Most customers don’t want to go through the process to get a durable, glossy label using a laminate.

In the past, however, I’ve had difficulty finding a durable gloss poly that actually worked.    You may remember this post where I compared several gloss and clear poly options:

After getting some new 2” x 1” gloss poly labels at the same time as a customer who wanted to print full-bleed black, I decided to give it a try.

First I tested the new C7500 printer.  High resolution, very fast, durable and low ink cost.  Watch me print 100 4” x 6” labels in one minute:

And you may find our post on our first C7500 customer of interest:

So I tested the new gloss poly, die cut labels in the printer running full-bleed, all black labels.  And they printed great I thought.

C7500 Full-Bleed Black Labels
C7500 Full-Bleed Black Labels

Much better than I expected.  And I got the full-bleed printing correct on the first attempt.

After printing, I tested them in water; and the labels were water fast immediately.

But as with all of the gloss poly labels tested with the Epson encapsulated pigment ink, the ink was susceptible to alcohol with rubbing/abrasion.

But for most or many applications, this gloss poly label would seem to work well.

After the positive results using the C7500, I decided to test the new LX2000 printer as well.  This printer works well for printing full-bleed labels.  Read about the LX2000 here: 

The LX2000 prints great; but the print speed is significantly slower, the ink cost is much more expensive and the durability appears much less.

I printed the same label on the LX2000; and got great results.

LX2000 Black Labels
LX2000 Full Bleed Black Labels

And the label printed with the LX2000 was not only water proof, but also seemingly resistant to alcohol:

The HP pigment ink in the LX2000 worked well with this particular gloss poly.

Based on these results, I believe we now have options to print both all black and gloss poly labels.  But be aware; gloss poly is approximately 2X the price of matte poly.  Gloss labels are just more expensive.

So if you need to print a large quantity of water resistant gloss poly labels, the C7500 will work well.  If you need to add durability to alcohol, then you’ll need to use the LX2000.

When you need to print full-bleed or gloss labels, contact us.  We’ll help you select the best printer and label media to meet your needs.

Guy Mikel

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pack Expo 2015

This week, I attended Pack Expo 2015 (  in Las Vegas.  From 1995 to today, PACK EXPO Las Vegas has steadily grown into the largest processing and packaging event of the year—an event known for showcasing the innovation of top-tier suppliers. It’s where corporate- and plant-level managers, engineers, production professionals, brand managers and package designers can connect with suppliers, talk shop and gain perspective on the industry to stay ahead of the game.

In previous posts, I’ve written about Pack Expo.  See this post covering 2013:

In this year’s show, I saw a few new products/solutions that seemed unique.  Let’s see if you find them of interest as well.

CAB Hermes C Printer/Applicator

First, I saw the first and only available GHS drum label printer/applicator; from CAB the Hermes C:

CAB Hermes C Applicator
Hermes C Applicator
To learn more about his applicator:

In the pictures above, the CAB Hermes C applicator is configured for side container application. Watch it print and apply here:  

(FYI: if the application seems slow, it’s a conveyor issue.  The printer runs much faster).

And the finished product on a pail:

 According to the Sales Manager at CAB, “the Hermes C with the two-tone X-Series printer is the only solution available to print and apply GHS labels.  We have customers using this applicator for paint cans and box application solutions.”  I believe this new solution is needed in the market.  If you need it, contact us to learn more.

In addition to the new CAB printer/applicator, Kanematsu showed their new 2” color label printer.
Swiftcolor 2" Printer
Swiftcolor 2" Label Printer
Prints beautiful for sure.  However, the list price is $4,000 and requires 4 different printheads.  To change a printhead, you need to dismantle the printer, drain the ink out of the printhead, change 1 or 4 printheads, and then reassemble.  Seems difficult to me.  QLS sells the same printer in the 2” version; and the similar 4” and 8” versions.  Here is the video showing how to replace the printhead in the 4” version:!-replace-printhead-flash-video.html

What do you think of the change process?  Let me know your feedback. 

In addition to new printers, I saw two affordable label applicators that should fit several of my customers.  Labelmate was showing their manual Bottlemate, a manual applicator for bottles.


This applicator is affordable and easy to use.  Great if you want your labels applied in the same place every time.

And Dispense-matic showed their Flex-Matic flat package applicator; for applying labels to sleeves and other packages thinner than .25”.


I saw it operate; but forgot to take a video.  Works great on sleeves.  Learn more here:

Lastly, I watched DPR run their Scorpio + Label Finisher:
Scorpio + Finisher
Scorpio+ Finisher

The Scorpio seems to be the least expensive finisher at under $24,000.  Plus Scorpio seems the simplest finisher as well; with 3 independent sections (lamination, die-cutting, and slitting).  With few moving parts, the finisher has few places where break-fix or maintenance is required.  This design should make the Scorpio finisher more reliable in operation.

Watch my video here:  

And learn about it here:

Overall, I found Pack Expo 2015 a success for Color Label Solutions, meeting a lot of new people and seeing a few new and interesting products/solutions.  Contact us if we can help you with any of the items featured here; or that you saw yourself at Pack Expo.

Guy Mikel