Once you’re aware of the different printing technologies and the pros and cons each one offers, here are some helpful tips for identifying which tabletop label printer fits your application needs.
If you’re unsure which print technology is right for you, you can find more detailed information on that here.
I understand the different printing technologies and their pros & cons, now how do I buy a tabletop label printer that fits my needs?
Now that you’re aware of the three key technologies available in a desktop format for printing color labels, how do you go about selecting the right printing technology and model for your unique application?
Start by looking at your product:
Consider its container size(s) and your favorite look and colors. Do you prefer your labels to have a shiny, glossy look, or perhaps a semi-gloss or a matte look is more appropriate? Will printing colors on white label substrate do the job, or does your product require you to print on clear or colored substrates of different textures? Nobody else knows your product or your branding requirements like you do, so only you can make that decision. This will ultimately help you arrive at the necessary label sizes that you’ll need and the vital elements of your label artwork.
Decide on your product packaging, transportation, and storage through its journey from the manufacturing location to the end-consumer:
Are there any special environmental conditions to consider? For example, does your product need refrigeration requiring labels that must withstand water droplets due to condensation? Will the product labels need to withstand prolonged exposure to moisture or sunlight? Do the labels need to withstand exposure to certain chemicals that perhaps makeup part of your product? In addition to helping you select the right printing technology, these choices may influence your material preference and the adhesive backing.
Estimate Print Volumes:
Based on the sales forecast of all your SKUs, estimate your daily, weekly, or monthly print volumes by label size. Also, consider what a typical print run would be like. For example, let’s say you print 1000 labels of 4×3 in four separate print jobs on almost a daily basis. That is useful information.
Consider Variable Data:
Do you need your tabletop color label printer to print variable data information on your labels, i.e., serial numbers, dates, lot codes, etc.? If so, you’ll want your vendor to provide labeling software that’ll help you meet these specific requirements.
How will you be applying labels?
Will you be applying labels to your product(s) by hand, or by using an automatic label applicator? Which is the most efficient option for your labeling and production needs?
Once you’ve given the above questions a thought, you’re ready to shop around for an appropriate label printer as an educated buyer. Some tips as you browse websites for printer specifications and contact label printer manufacturers or distributors:
Do they carry printers based on a single technology or different technologies?
Printer manufacturers/distributors who only carry one printing technology are more likely to push for their technology/product than look out for your needs.
Do they offer a total solution, for instance, label material supplies, software, and technical support along with the printers and ink?
If they do, they are more likely to ensure that the right printer is selected for your needs, and is functional so they can earn revenues from inks and materials. Like document printers, label printers are a very competitive segment, and hardware sales are typically made at very thin margins. By ensuring the printers, the inks, and the labels are engineered and tested for compatibility will ensure a longer lifetime of your investment.
Do they offer free remote web-based support?
Think of your label printer as a production machine that will invariably require some periodic maintenance and upkeep. Search for available support videos on the company’s website or YouTube channel, or sometimes it may be easier to call, email, chat, or have a live web-based conference call. Do they offer the kind of support you’re looking for?
Does the printer company provide labeling software as well?
If you have any special or unique software requirements now or in the future, consider how much easier it’ll be for you to deal with a single vendor to ensure software and hardware are compatible.
Questions? Let us know, we’re here to help!
At AstroNova, we offer a total labeling solution. We provide the tools you need to integrate production efficiencies into your business and keep up with industry demands from a wide variety of label printers, materials, technical support, training, and a library of support videos. Contact us to schedule a free, web-based demonstration and to speak with one of our specialists!
Many companies outsource their product labels to save financially and produce efficiently. But is outsourcing really the most efficient route? For small to medium-sized business owners, outsourcing is not always the best solution. Depending on your business size and needs, you may be better off making your own food & beverage labels in-house.
Impression Technology Europe explains, “Recently, another type of printing has become more attainable for smaller companies…digital ‘short run’ label printers. Not only is the initial investment much more affordable but the cost per print is extremely low. After doing the math, most clients will find it will be much more cost-effective than outsourcing, and based on the output.”
How do you know if this is right for you? Here are four reasons why you should be making your own food & beverage labels in-house:
1. Outsourced Printing Comes at a Price
We mean that both literally and figuratively. While using another facility to generate your food labels might seem like a weight off your shoulders, that may not be the case.
Passing the task to an outside source can end up severely delaying your labeling process. Why? Not only will you have your company’s shipping schedule to track, but the arrival of your outsourced shipment as well.
If an outsourced shipment becomes delayed, so will the orders your company was originally scheduled to deliver. For small business owners, this can lead to a lot of unhappy customers or market vendors.
These delays will happen, and so do errors. Labeling errors can take more of a toll on your business production line than a delay in shipment.
The unexpected misprint forces your business to return and reorder labels. Misprints can cause setbacks and affect the use by/sell by dates on your products. This is especially true for made to order businesses, which can lead to wasted products.
If your business has experienced these delays, you may want to consider an in-house or on-demand label printer. With the ability to print labels in your own facility, there will be no more error or shipment delays affecting your product line. What’s more, these printers give you the ability to create your own use by/sell by dates with complete label customization.
2. Not All Environments Are Created Equal
Making your own food & beverage labels is also a huge plus when selling products that must be stored in specific environmental requirements.
Frozen foods need to have unique and attractive labels, too. After all, it is your brand. But, it’s equally important that your frozen food labels don’t fail. Using the wrong label can lead to wrinkles due to condensation, fading due to exposure or loss of adhesion, falling off in low temperatures. One should not be sacrificed for the other.
If your business is using regular pre-printed labels, chances are, the labels won’t hold up in your storage environment.
The ability to maintain complete control over your label materials and printing process will allow your business to have a streamlined, efficient process with branded labels that look the part.
An easy in-house printing solution is the QuickLabel QL-120X or QL-850 inkjet label printers. Also, the QL-300 toner-based label printer is a durable option that prints white on a variety of label types such as colored, metallic, and kraft labels. These printers are known for printing frozen food labels that don’t peel off in high-quality 1200 dpi imagery.
With the right in-house printer, you’ll have professional frozen food or beverage labels printed instantly and can be applied to products that are already frozen, or before they go into the freezer.
3. Keep Up with FDA Regulations
Of course, keeping up with the FDA’s changing regulations and formats can greatly affect your product labels.
The intimidating process includes font restrictions, mandatory statements, allergen alerts, and difficult calculations for daily values.
As a food manufacturer, you want to spend your energy on your recipes, production, branding, and sales – not on interpreting FDA labeling mandates or trying to explain the requirements to an outside vendor.
However, it is absolutely necessary to adhere to FDA regulations to avoid recalls and present your customers with the quality and transparency they deserve.
An in-house label printer is especially valuable in these situations. For every change, the label design and format can be immediately customized in your own facility.
What’s more, by owning an in-house label printer, you don’t have to worry about overstock or wasted labels due to changes in regulations. This gives you more flexibility in your printing process, introducing the option of seasonal or promotional runs.
Making your own food & beverage labels gives you the ability to print the exact number of labels you need for what’s in-stock, on-demand.
4. You Deserve to Be In Control of Your Business
With outsourced labels, you don’t get to have complete control over your labeling process. Edits take longer, shipments get delayed and labels are bound to be wasted.
In-house printing has evolved with small, tabletop label printers for businesses. These label printers serve as a central database, with the ability to store, revise, locate and print any design on-demand –ultimately opening new doors for small to medium-sized businesses.
If you want to be in control of your business or are experiencing any of the above labeling issues, it may be time to consider taking your production line in-house.
QuickLabel specializes in on-demand, tabletop label printers. For someone in the food and beverage industry interested in quality, short-run labels, they are worth looking in to.
Click here to view our full product lineup, or contact us for more information!