Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions
www.colorlabelsolutions.com

Monday, September 14, 2020

On-Demand Color Print & Apply

On-Demand color print and apply has been an elusive quest during my years of working on labels.

C7500 Label Applicator
C7500 Label Applicator

In the past, I’ve written about one system that was installed with one of our customers that Filled, Capped, and Labeled in one operation:




Now, Precision Automation, (https://precisionautomationinc.com/) has deployed what they call “FULL COLOR PRINT and APPLY LABELING SYSTEM”.  Watch the video of the deployment of this on-demand color print and apply system here (be sure to check out the video).

Precision Automation Company, Inc. provides high quality Automation Systems, Contract Machine Work, Fabrication, Machinery, Controls, and related services that improve productivity in their customers’ manufacturing and product handling processes.  Based in New Jersey, Precision Automation has operated since 1946.

 

According to Frank Jablonski, of Precision Automation, “we deployed two separate applications for this customer.  One was to apply label to Jugs on both front and back, which you see in the first part of the video.  In addition, we applied a second applicator to apply on-demand color labels to cartons which you see at about the 50 second mark.  In fact, we set up a third applicator to apply preprinted Flammable labels to the same cartons immediately after the product labels were applied.  Overall, this deployment of the Full Color Print and Apply Labeling System was very successful.

 

Arca Evolution 160 Label Applicator
Arca Evolution 160 Label Applicator

When asked about the loose-loop, label applicator, Frank said, “we use the Arca Evolution 160 Label Applicator, which was mounted on a customized stand and can dispense at up to 164 ft/minute. The labeling frequency can reach up to 800 labels/minute and it is accurate within 0.2 inches.” 


C7500 Label Printer
C7500 Label Printer

Continuing, Frank said, “for the system, we use the Epson C7500 which uses inkjet technology to print quality customized color labels for products or containers that require intricate designs. This Epson printer can easily be swapped out with a spare to keep the system up & running.”

 

From my experience, the C7500 is really the only color label printer with the capabilities to be integrated into a print and apply label solution.  The C7500 comes with a GPIO port to enable the applicator to communicate with the printer.  This capability is vital for any printer integrated with a printer applicator.



Similarly, the C6000P and the C6500P from Epson have been built to enable print and apply; especially print one, apply one systems.  Earlier, we launched the PAC-5 for print and apply one label at a time.  Learn more here: https://colorlabelsondemand.blogspot.com/2020/03/pct5-color-label-printer-applicator.html 

During our conversation, I asked Frank, why move to print and apply color labels on-demand?  Frank responded, “On-Demand color gives our customers lots of flexibility in their label production.  No longer are our customers beholden to label manufactures.  You can print what you need, when you need it; and become in essence your own label manufacturer.  Plus, on-demand color print and apply enables our customers to print variable data at the same time they print the labels.  Print and apply color labels on-demand improves the labeling workflow for many of our customers.”
 
If you want to print and apply color labels on-demand, be sure to contact us to discuss your requirements and possible solutions.  We look forward to working with you.
 
Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Monday, August 31, 2020

Color-Codes

Color-Coding is one of the key applications for a color label printer.
 
Color-Coded Food Labels
Color-Coded Food Labels

And recently, I read a saw a video from ColorDyne, a competitor as we don’t resell their printers, on one of their customers, Soli, color coding their food products.  See it here:

In the video, Brown Dudley, owner of Soli, says he needed to color-code his labels for several reasons. First, Brown says the color-coded labels keep it simple for his customers.  Soli codes their labels based on protein; seafood is blue, vegetarian/vegan is green.  Plus, Soli printed in large text the total calories, to make it easy for their customers to select the correct dish for them.  Color coded labels are a tool for customers to decide, on their own, which dish is best for them.

Second, on-demand, color-coded labels are flexible.  Prior to on-demand color, Soli purchased preprinted labels which are totally inflexible.  Soli needs to make changes on the fly; including developing new dishes.  With preprinted labels, Soli was constantly stuck with label stock, creating waste and obsolete inventory.
 
Third, on-demand, color-coded labels are affordable.  In the video, Brown says his preprinted labels were costing as much as $0.90 each in the small quantities need for each SKU.  Now Soli is paying only $0.19 each per printed label.

Foodie Fit Label
Foodie Fit Label

In November 2018, we published a post on our customer, Foodie Fit, who is using the exact same application.  Read it here:  


In the post, Andrew Kowal said, “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”.

What is interesting to me is Soli seems to be paying significantly more per label than our customer, Foodie Fit.  In the post, the estimated ink cost was only $0.013.  And Foodie Fit’s latest actual cost for either their 16.75” or 19” long labels from us is a small percentage of total mentioned by Brown in the video.  It seems we are saving Foodie Fit money compared to Soli. (FYI: I don’t know if Brown was including labor and overhead costs to determine label costs).

 
Brite-Lab Label
Brite Labs Label

Beside applications for food, we have written about many other color-coding applications.  One market where color seems important is cannabis.  In these posts, Brite-Labs uses color for strain identification, as did Georgetown Cannabis some time ago. We have several cannabis companies using print on-demand color labels for strain identification.

Rebar Tags
Brooklyn Rebar Tags

A completely different color-coded application is building products; with Brooklyn Rebar. “We use both solid colors and different color hash marks for each of the locations on a project.  For most projects, the solid colors are sufficient.  When we need more locations, we use different color hash marks.  We find the color coding helps our customers and us internally to reduce errors and increase our productivity”, said the Project Manager.
Read more here:



QuickScrews Labels
QuickScrews Labels

And another building products post on color-coding is our customer, Quickscrews.  In the post, Mark Buechler said, “And the colors and icons make it easy for our wholesalers and customer to select the correct fastener.”

Tyson Tools Labels
Tyson Tools Labels

Closely related to building products are tools. Here is a post from a million years ago on color-coding tool labels


Pleasant Mattress Tags
Pleasant Mattress Tags

Color-coding can benefit Manufacturers as well; especially on the shop floor.  Learn how Pleasant Mattress uses color codes in manufacturing and in their shipping.  
In the post, Russell Raymond said, “the color codes prevent potential errors.  If a shipping error is made, the incorrect color sticks out.  The color-coding labels in our operation saves us time and potential costs.”

And one of the first posts I ever was a part in creating involved logistics; again from a million years ago.  Read how Tubelite uses color for staging and shipping.  In the post, Scott Moray said, “Because we can identify shipment materials for any particular day, we require less time to load and unload, allowing our internal personnel and drivers to be more productive.”
 

CES Tags
CES Event Tags

A market where color-coding and variable images are important is trade
show event badges.  In this post, our customer CompuSystems, adds pictures and attendee type color-code to badges during the largest tradeshow in the world. 

The video by ColorDyne is a good reminder of the benefits or color-coding labels; but many different industries, not just food, can benefit from this application of on-demand labels.  Contact us on how color-coding would benefit your operations and sales.
 
Guy Mikel
855-962-7670
info@colorlabelsolutions.com 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

G-Band Wristbands

Wristbands.  Some of my earliest efforts in printing involved print on-demand color wristbands.

G-Band Color Wristband
G-Band Color-Print On-Demand Color

For example, here is a post on wristbands for events from September 2011.

And here is an event in October 2012 that I printed wristbands for the organizers.

Now we have a great print quality, lower priced wristband available to sell; our G-Band Color.


G-Band Color Wristband
G-Band Color Wristband

According to Jacki Block, Product Manager, Healthcare Consumables and Wristbands, “our new wristbands are not only less expensive, but offer many benefits that other bands don’t.  First, our G-Band color are chemical resistant; especially resistant to alcohols which are very prevalent in healthcare situations.


G-Band Color
G-Band Color

Second, our G-Band Color are one-size fits all.  Most other bands are sized to fit adults or children.  With one-size fits all, you can reduce the amount of inventory of wristbands at each print station, making printing much simpler.
 
Third, you can adjust the adhesive fitting and closing tags easily to make for a very comfortable fit.
 
Fourth, at 1.25” x 11”, the G-Band Color offers lots of “real estate” to print images, color codes, barcodes and variable data for the user of the wristband.
 
But most important, our G-Band color are less expensive; even less than traditional direct thermal bands.  In addition, we do offer volume discounts.”
 
In my research, I found Zebra wristbands from many different vendors; all were much more expensive.  For example, I found similar Zebra Z-Bands at CDW for $242.99 for 6 rolls of 200; or $0.20 each. Our G-Bands are much less expensive.

G-Band Color Eliminates Color Bands
G-Band Color Eliminates Color Bands

In addition to saving money, on-demand color printing enables health care facilities to reduce the number of bands per person.  Jacki says, “with the capabilities of on-demand color, a healthcare operation can set color codes for allergies, latex allergies, DNR, etc. to eliminate the number of bands placed on an individual patient.  These color codes not only save money, but improve the comfort of the patients.”


According to Jacki, “The G-Band identification wristband is designed for comfort and ease of use. The unique adhesive fitting and closure system makes it easy to fit the G- Band to any wrist size.”


G-Band Color Instructions
G-Band Color Instructions
STEP 1: Before applying to patient’s wrist, first remove the backing from the small fitting tab (1) on the back of the G-Band.
STEP 2: Place the G-Band around the wrist, with the fitting tab (1) at the bottom, facing towards you.
STEP 3: Bring the bottom of the G-Band up around the wrist, and affix the
fitting tab to the underside of the G-Band at a location where the G-Band fits correctly and
comfortably around the wrist.
STEP 4: Remove the backing from the larger closure tab (2) on the back of the G-Band. 
STEP 5: Affix the closure tab (2). For user comfort, make sure the closure tab is centered on the surface of the G-Band with no exposed adhesive on either side.   Press on the closure tab to assure positive adhesion.
 
After the closure tab has been affixed, do not attempt to re-open it.  The closure tab is equipped with tamper-evident slits that are designed to tear if the wristband or closure has been opened or tampered with.
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In addition to healthcare, wristbands can work as Visitor ID badges; with color codes for negative tests for Covid-19 for example.  Further, color codes can be printed on wristbands for every type of visitor and days for access.  Color is an easy variable data option to make it easy for anyone to check quickly and easily.

Other unique ways to use wristbands include plant wraps, shipping ID’s such as suitcases, cleaning schedules for healthcare devices, and Product ID’s (instead of labels).  Wristbands would work in any application that requires a non-tear wrap around an item or person.
 
To print wristbands, we recommend the C3500 printer.  We’ve sold thousands.  Purchase a C3500 printer here.

For improved print quality, consider the C6000A.  I found the print quality using the G-Bands from the C6000A to be outstanding.  Plus the price is right!


G-Band Direct Thermal Wristband
G-Band Direct Thermal Wristband


In addition to the G-Band Color, we also have comfortable and affordable Direct Thermal bands called G-Bands; with a 1” x 11” size.  In addition, we offer a second type of Direct Thermal band, the G-Band Ultra as well.  Jacki says, “The G-Band Ultra is made using 3 ply versus 2 ply on the G-Band. In addition, the Ultra band is made with tapered ends that help prevent hair and skin from sticking to the band.  We created the Ultra band in conjunction with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.”


G-Band Ultra Direct Thermal Band
G-Band Ultra Direct Thermal Band


Contact us if you want to save money on your DT wristband purchases.  We can help reduce your wristband costs significantly.
 
At Color Label Solutions, we’re all about print on-demand color.  Consider moving your wristband printing to color; saving you money and time as well as improving end user comfort.
 
Guy Mikel
855-962-7670

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Printing Black

 I’ve said many times in the past that black is the most difficult color to print.


 Some time ago, I wrote how gloss poly seemed to produce the best black colors:


And later, I showed how our new whiter matte poly was producing better blacks during one stop of a Northern California road trip:


What I have not discussed before, is how artwork and the creation of black in the art changes the color of the print output.

 

According to Tony Molina, the inhouse Graphic Artist for Color Label Solutions, “most artwork today is created in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Quark and other software.  In this software, many people believe that 100% K (black) is the best way to produce this color.  However, 100% K is not really black and can be somewhat flat.”

 

According to Phil Forbes in this article in PackHelp:

 

"Turning all these percentages (C,M,Y,K) up to 100% will give you black that's kind of dull, washed out and not very black at all.”

 

Rich Black


As an example of the differences in black color print output, we received recently artwork to test print.  When printed initially, the black was not very “rich”.

 

RGB Values Not Zero
RGB Values Not Zero


By opening this file up in Photoshop and using the Color Picker function, Tony found the RGB values 35, 31, and 32; but the K% was 74:

 

RGB Black
RGB Not Zero


According to Tony, “using RGB values that create at least a 90% K value will create rich black colors. Make the R, G, B values 0 will create a black color that meets the 90% K requirement.  In the above referenced article, the author, Phil, has the C,M,Y, settings at 60, 60, 60.    You can have any combinations you want as long as all 4 primary colors are used and the black is 90+.”

 

Here Tony changed the colors in the same artwork to get a better black produced.


RGB Zero Black
RGB Values Zero



And this color produced a much richer black.

 

RGB Zero Black
Richer Black


To check this myself, I opened up BarTender and created a simple black square.  Once I selected black, I found that this software creates this color following Tony’s recommendation: Zero for R, G, B.

 

RGB Values 0
RGB Values Zero



And when I printed on our matte poly, the black color print output looked great.

 

BarTender Zero Black
BarTender Color Picker Black

The color picker in BarTender does not offer a C,M,Y,K option.

 

The bottom line; how you create black color in artwork makes a big difference in your print output.  One caveat: different printers and label media also make a difference in print output.  For example, we’ve found the black from the Memjet-based Afinia L801 or L901 printers produce darker, richer black colors generally when compared to the Epson printers; regardless of the artwork.  The dye-based inks in the Afinia printers produce very nice blacks.  Although the pigment-based inks in the Epson printers can produce great looking black colors, artwork and labels are more important in getting the print output you desire.

 

If you need help with your label printing or even label artwork creation, contact us.  We’ll help you get the quality and look you want with your on-demand label printing.

 

Guy Mikel

855-962-7670

info@colorlabelsolutions.com

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Loading C6000

With the launch of the C6000 series printers, the label business has added a great new, affordable printer. 


C6000
C6000 Series Label Printer

Outstanding print quality, reliable, durable and for the most part easy to use.  I’ve written about this printer a lot so far:

First Post:  Introduction.

Fourth Post:  Out of the Box Experience

Eighth Post:  No Streaking.


Plus the C6000 series offers some unique features:

 

Movable sensor for printing circles: 

ZPL: 

Winders: 

But we have received one consistent complaint; initially, customers can not get this printer to load the media correctly.  And frankly, I had the same experience initially myself.  This post is an attempt to eliminate the problems of loading the label media into the C6000 series printers; and preventing this issue from arising in the future.

 

Most important to remember: Only load the label media if the LED says, LOAD PAPER:

 

C6000 Load Paper
C6000 Load Paper


If you get the printer into an error state such as this warning (or any other warning):

 

C6000 Error Message
C6000 Error Message

Do NOT Attempt to load the paper at this point.  Open up the media cover, remove the label from the media path, close the media cover, select pause, hit the Home button, turn off/turn on the printer, etc.; get the printer back to a “Load Paper” screen.  You can not “go past go” until you have the load paper message.

 

Second, I recommend you configure the printer for the label media to use on the LED first prior to loading. To configure the printer, arrow right and select OK to go to the menu (hit OK to select any item on the menu):

 

C6000 LED
C6000 LED Screen


Media Setting is the first option; select OK:

 

C6000 Media Setting
C6000 Media Setting


In the Media setting, set or ensure Media Type, Media Detect, Media Source and Media Form is correct.


C6000 Media Detect
C6000 Media Detect


FYI: Media Detect seems to be the most important as gap, blackmark or continuous is an important aspect to make sure the printer does not error.


C6000 Media Detect

C6000 Media Detect

Third, make sure the spindle gears are on the left side as you face the rear of the printer and the label come off the top:


C6000 Loading Media
C6000 Loading Media


Fourth, close the media guides to hit each side of the label, and run the label under the chrome media lip on each side of the guide:

 

C6000 Loading Labels
C6000 Loading Labels

Fifth load the labels under the black guide at the front of the media path.  See it here:

 

C6000 Media Path Lip
C6000 Media Path Lip


The labels must go under this lip in order to feed correctly into the printer.  Once fed under this lip, the printer will grab the labels, pull them down the paper path and startup.  Watch how the printer grabs the paper and starts up here:


And the media path should look like this picture below.  Notice the black lip above the label media at the front:

 

C6000 Loaded Labels
C6000 Loaded Labels


Once loaded, the paper will find the gap or leading edge.  You’ll see when the printer has found the gap after it ejects a label:


C6000 Labels Loaded
C6000 Labels Loaded

Then you’ll see “PAUSE” on the printer. Hit pause again and the LED will read “READY” (or ink is low in my case. I never change the ink or maintenance box until the printer stops):

 

C6000 Ready To Print
C6000 Ready To Print

By learning to load labels into the C6000 series printers correctly, you’ll save time and frustration; and get to use this great new printer quickly.

 

Purchase a C6000 series printer here:


Contact us to discuss how one of these new printers would fit into your operation. If you already have one of these printers, contact us for labels and ink.

 

Guy Mikel

855-962-7670

info@colorlabelsolutions.com

 


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

C6000 MAC OS Driver

With the launch of the C6000 series of label printers, Epson offered their first MAC OS driver. 

 


In their initial press release, Epson stated the following:

Seamless Integration – Compatible with ZPL II, major middleware, SAP, Windows®, Mac®, and Linux


Although MAC accounts for only 9.4% of the operating systems market, it does have a much higher share with graphic artists and production houses; key operators and influencers in the label business.

 

As a Windows only user, however, I learned quickly during a support call how different are the drivers between these two operating systems.  Let me explain some of the differences and how best to use the MAC driver for the C6000 printers.

 

Normally, I suggest customers set up the Printer Defaults and Preferences after loading the Windows driver.


C6000 Windows Driver-Printing Defaults
C6000 Printing Defaults

And especially important to set the Media Definition prior to any printing:


C6000 Media Definition
C6000 Media Definition

Then when you print a document, the properties show the default or preferences settings:

 

C6000 Reader Dialog Box
C6500 Reader Dialog Box

With the MAC OS, however, it seems this strategy is not possible.  You need to go into the printing application to set the media definition first.

 

Working with Tony Molina, our resident Graphic Artist, we found the media definition settings from the properties box in the application (Adobe Reader in this case) only:


C6000 Reader MAC
C6000 MAC Reader Dialog Box

By entering the “Advanced” dialog box, you can “Manage Custom Sizes” and set up a page size.



C6000 MAC Custom Sizes


And then you can select the correct size from the properties box.


C6000 MAC Driver Setup
C6000 MAC Size Setup

Although the page size is set, none of the other settings have been established.  According to Dennis Moore, Technical Sales Support Specialist for Epson, you can locate the C6000 series driver inside the System Preferences icon by selecting, "Printers & Scanners”.

 

C6000 MAC Printer Settings
C6000 MAC Printer Settings

Then, select the C6500 and go to "Options & Supplies" to configure the other settings."


C6000 MAC Printer Settings
C6000 MAC Printer Settings


Select the options to get to the “System Configuration” dialog box:

 

C6000 MAC Printer Settings
C6000 MAC Printer Settings



From this point, you can set the Media Type, Cut, etc.  Just as important, you can get to the Printing Setting Utility from the “Utility” tab:

 

C6000 MAC Printer Setting Utility
C6000 MAC Printer Setting Utility

Which opens the Utility to select options inside the printer such as Media Setting and Positioning:

 

C6000 MAC Printer Setting Utility
C6000 MAC Printer Setting Utility

C6000 MAC Media Setting
C6000 MAC Media Setting

Where you can select internal/external, Gap/Blackmark, Coating Type and Print Quality.  Positioning adjustments are required when printing full-bleed labels.

 

Get the MAC OS Drivers for the C6000 series printers here:


And purchase the C6000 series printers here:


Don’t forget Spare in the Air (SITA) Extended Warranty:


As a neophyte MAC OS user, I needed Dennis’s and Tony’s support to figure out how to set up the MAC driver for the C6000 and C6500 printers. Hopefully this summary makes your effort to start printing labels with a MAC OS system easier to do.  Contact us if we can help with your label printing.

 

Guy Mikel

855-962-7670

info@colorlabelsolutions.com