Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fast, Colorful, RFID

FlexStr8, Inc. (www.flexstr8.comdevelops, manufactures, and markets integrated smart label systems, smart labels, encoders, and NFC software. Through continued research, new product development, and innovative manufacturing, they provide high quality cost effective technical solutions for our worldwide customers. 

In 2015, I wrote about Flexstr8’s NFC encoder working with the C3500:

Since this last post, FlexStr8 has launched a thermal transfer NFC encoder/label printer with the Zebra GC420T: 

 And a temperature logger:  This temperature logger is very “cool”!

Now I’m excited to tell you about a new product; that encodes UHF RFID labels at 11” per second.  Watch the C7500 encode and print color labels here:

According to Ralph Roessler, President of Flexstr8, says “Initially, developing a system to encode and print color labels using the C7500 was not on our development path.  But a company approached us to develop a solution for them using UHF RFID tags, which could be printed in color and on-demand.  After some thought, we decided to move forward; and quickly.  We’re very proud of our solution.”

C7500 Encoding RFID Tags
C7500 Encoding RFID Tags
Ralph continues, “As the printer runs at 11” per second, we needed a system not only to encode and print at that speed; but also identify the bad RFID tags without stopping the printer. By adding a reader antenna near the unwind station and another antenna after the print head, we could read, encode, print and skip a label if required due to a bad tag.  Bad tags do happen; probably around 1% of the time.  We needed to be able to identify the any tags that should not to use for tracking.”

According to Eric Casavant, FlexStra8 Product Engineer, “we designed this system to be incredibly easy to use.  The system snaps onto the 7500 in a few seconds; then upgrades the device into a print on-demand color RFID printer.”

C7500 Pop-In RFID Encoder
C7500 Pop-In RFID Encoder
With my history with UHF RFID labels, I see an opportunity for the use of these tags/labels in apparel.  RFID in apparel has grown significantly in size over the last few years.  According to this article, nearly 4 billion RFID tags were used in apparel in 2015:   A perfect application for the C7500 and RFID tags/labels.

After the initial work with the C7500, Flexstr8 has found two other interesting applications. Ralph says, “GHS labels for time and temperature sensitive chemicals is a natural RFID market; especially with the requirement to print colored pictograms.  RFID helps users track and locate time and/or temperature sensitive compounds easily and quickly.”

Ralph continues, “We also see a new market for identifying individual cannabis plants.  With our RFID encoded tags, growers can track individual plants; and especially cloned plants.  With RFID, you can identify and track individual plants; which is required in certain states.  Color coding and potential marketing benefits is important with the capability to print in color on tags and labels.”

If you see a market for this fascinating new technology, please share with me your thoughts.  If you have a need to track items quickly and easily using on-demand color labels, contact me to discuss this new solution from FlexStr8.

Guy Mikel

Monday, January 16, 2017

MIL-SPEC Color Labels

I am pleased to announce that Color Label Solutions now offers print on-demand color labels that meet MIL-PRF-61002B and MIL-STD-129R.

Inkjet Coated, Color, MIL-SPEC Compliance Letter
Inkjet Coated, Color, MIL-SPEC Compliance Labels
If you don’t know these specifications, MIL-PRF-61002B comes from the Department of Defense and covers the requirements for pressure-sensitive adhesive labels that meet or exceed the end user’s necessary performance criteria for use in the implementation of bar code marking/reading operations.  Obtain this MIL-SPEC here:

MIL-STD 12S9R comes from the DOD as well; and provides the minimum requirements for uniform military marking for shipment and storage. Obtain this MIL-SPEC here:

Up until now, most companies were required to use thermal transfer printers to comply with these standards involved with shipping products to the DOD.  In fact, you’ll find direct mention of this printing technology in both documents.

However, one of our customers came to us wanting to switch from thermal transfer (specifically the Zebra 170Xi4 6” wide and 220Xi4) to inkjet printed labels.  He wanted to make this switch after using the C831 printers to produce GHS labels.

C831 Label Printer
C831 Label Printer
We have a lot of posts on using the C831 printer to produce GHS labels:

According to our customer, four reasons make the C831 printer a better option than wide thermal transfer printers for printing DOD labels.  First, printed labels are evaluated by the Department of Defense (DOD) to insure they meet the standards.  Ribbon wrinkle, which happens when the thermal transfer printer ribbon does not feed correctly, happens occasionally producing a barcode with streaks.  These streaks may make the barcodes not readable.  When this occurs, the DOD may reject the shipment, costing suppliers to the DOD a great deal of money.  With the higher print resolution (760 x 360 versus 203 or 300 dpi for thermal transfer printers), the C831 printer eliminates the risk of ribbon wrinkle. 

Second, changing ribbons can be a pain with thermal transfer printers.  According to our customer, their operators hate to change ribbons.  Watch the process to change ribbons in a Zebra 170Xi4:

 Comparably, changing ink cartridges takes just seconds.

Third, ink costs less than ribbons; especially resin ribbons.  Here is a post from some time ago detailing the cost differences.

 In our customer’s situation, the large inkjet labels are less expensive as well.

Fourth, the labels printed with a C831 just look better than those printed on a standard thermal transfer printer.  Although the DOD doesn’t purchase based on label design and quality, our customer believes the color labels from the C831 represent a higher quality image of the product and company; reinforcing positively the DOD’s purchase decision.  Adding color logos, images, color coding and text can differentiate your company from other vendors.

If you supply the DOD, consider moving to print on-demand color labels.  We’ll support your move to this new, better looking, easier to use, and less expensive option.

Guy Mikel

Thursday, January 5, 2017

"Hot" Labels

Burn Hot Sauce (  is an original, small batch, farmer and chef-owned business in Santa Cruz, California.  All of their produce is grown on organic farms; and is raw, alive and full of probiotics.  Their single-origin fermented hot sauces age for months, highlighting the farm on every bottle; and are made with love.  To learn more:

When asked about their interest in printing color labels on-demand, Chase Atkins and Amada Pargh, owners of Burn Hot Sauce, said, “We like the ability to modify our label designs at any time; which helps us conserve media.  In addition, we wanted to print labels ourselves to save time.  It takes a lot of time to purchase and use preprinted labels.”

After trading a few emails, Amanda and Chase sent me a PDF of their labels. 

Burn Hotsauce Label
Burn Hot Sauce Label
I printed from the C7500 and sent print samples of their labels to them to review. As I did not have the correct size of label, it was difficult to impossible to print full bleed.  But the label print quality was good.

C7500G Label Print
C7500 Label Print
However, I sent them only paper as I did not understand their requirement for waterproof labels. 

Once Amanda and Chase received the labels, they wrote, “Unfortunately we will not be buying an C7500 printer since it does not suit our needs.  The gloss paper disintegrates in water”.  In addition, Amanda and Chase were MAC users.  Initially, they did not want to use a printer with no MAC printing capabilities.  If you want to print labels from your MAC computer, read this post from our Tech Support Manager Tim:

After receiving this email, I sent them another set of samples from the C7500 on matte poly labels.  Our matte poly labels are very durable, waterproof and chemical resistant.  If you search “GHS” on our blog, you will see many posts on labels for GHS.

After testing the poly labels, Amanda and Chase purchased a C7500 and 2.5” x 6” labels and started printing!

C7500 Printed Labels
C7500 Printed Labels
According to Amanda and Chase, “we like the C7500 color label printer.  This printer has great print quality and speed; and enables the use of a variety of label media.”

Burn Hot Sauce Labels
Since receiving Burn Hot Sauces pickles, I can vouch that they are Spicy; and Good! 

Also, I found the Cyklon Probiotic Powder a very interesting product.  I look forward to finding a new interesting way to use the powder.

Now producing their own labels, Burn Hot Sauce will start printing for other local food manufacturers.  Chase will begin printing labels for two other food companies shortly; with customized label sizes from us.

We enjoy working with food manufacturers like Burn Hot Sauce; producing unique, specialty products.  Our print on-demand color label systems fit their requirements well; and we get to try great tasting food!  Contact us if we can help with your custom labels.

Guy Mikel