Color Label Printing: Eliminating the Two-Step Process
Color label printing is sometimes a challenge for manufacturers and warehouses. Traditionally, companies use a two-step process to generate color labels. They purchase huge stocks of preprinted labels, and then run them through a thermal transfer label printer to generate variable data — product information, bar codes, etc.
The two-step process requires multiple change-outs (you have to change label rolls for every product or color change) and large amounts of inventory. A two-step process can also result in print quality degradation because of frequent printer adjustments necessary when changing materials and formats to achieve the acceptable print quality.
There are new options emerging, including on-demand color label printing systems that allow users to fully image high-quality or other descriptor labels in one step. With an on-demand color label printer, companies have the flexibility to print labels of any color instantly, changeover manufacturing or packaging lines much faster, and improve agility to market without having to wait for preprint color label inventory to arrive.
Epson, for example, offers a Just in Time Color labeling line that includes its ColorWorks family of printers and consumables. The solution offers just this type of flexibility in addition to productivity improvements.
With an on-demand solution, users can keep smaller stocks of blank labels on hand and print flexible designs on the same sheet in any color. This eliminates the expense of purchasing and storing large amounts of preprinted labels that would be used for this two-step process. Keeping preprinted label stock doesn’t just increase costs, it also eats up valuable floor space. Stored labels can also become obsolete when preprinted imagery or information changes, causing significant amounts of waste in money and product.
There are a number of important benefits to this approach to color label printing:
- Improved process automation. Generating on-demand color labels means there are fewer roll change outs. Using label design software can even further automate the process. Operators won’t have to stop to determine if they have the right preprinted color stock in the printer every time there is a change.
- Process flexibility. Users can quickly implement label changes and prototype new labels without waiting on the label provider to update, print, and ship the color label printing stock. You are less at risk of having to make significant changes to your labeling operation due to changing customer requirements or regulations. Your marketing department also has more freedom to update or change logos and branding.
- Fewer errors and rework. There is less swapping of label stock which eliminates errors attributed to stock loading mistakes. That reduces scrap and waste. In the two-step process, if the wrong label is loaded and goes undetected, it can cause addition problems downstream with regulatory or customer requirements. With on-demand color label printing, those types of errors can be almost completely eliminated; when problems do occur, they can be fixed quickly with minimal label waste.
- Improved print quality and durability. Because there is no need to align preprinted labels every time there is a change, and the full image is printed at once, it’s easier to ensure high print quality. On-demand printing also reduces ribbon wrinkle, which produces better barcode grades.
- Streamlined process. On-demand color printing can create a drastic reduction in the variety of parts that need to be on hand via label consolidation, which further reduces costs.
Overall, on-demand color label printing provides a lower total cost of ownership when it comes to labeling. Eliminating the two-step process also simplifies label design requirements, and companies can minimize the number of label stocks they have to manage. On-demand printing also increases speed to market by reducing media change-outs and improves productivity by reducing steps in the print workflow.
Consider the benefits streamlining your printing process with on-demand color label printing can offer your organization.