Which Printing Technology is Right for You?

New to Printing In-House, Or Considering Making the Change for Your Business? It’s Important to Understand the Key Differences in Printing Technologies

 

While no single printing technology is perfect for all applications, it’s important to understand your specific application and the unique challenges it presents.  From there, you can find the best printing solution specific to your needs.

There are a variety of printing technologies on the market today, but which one is the best fit for your business or personal needs?

What are the different fundamental printing technologies used in desktop color label printers?

There are three fundamental printing technologies used in desktop label printing: Water Based Inkjet (WBIJ), Electrophotographic (EP), and Thermal Transfer (TT). Let’s take a deeper dive into each one and examine the attributes that make each of them unique in the world of printing:

Electrophotographic (EP): 

Originally a photocopying technique, EP technology (also called laser or LED printing) provided a way to do higher volume document printing at faster speeds and lower maintenance frequency. Instead of using light reflected from an original document as in the old photocopiers, a laser (sometimes an LED) was used to translate computer data into light pulses that would expose a light-sensitive, photo-conducting drum or belt. The coloring agents used in electrophotographic systems are called toners. They come in two forms – dry and liquid. Dry toners are used in all desktop and office printer/copier systems. Both dry and liquid toner systems are used in electrophotographic digital presses.  Dry toners consist of pigments or dyes embedded inside polymer beads. The fusing process melts the polymer beads to the surface of the paper. In addition to the colorants within the polymer beads are “charge agents” that allow the toner to be charged opposite to that of the photo conducting drum. EP technology provides a unique capability-  EP allows you to print with White ink (toner) along with traditional CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black), so these printers can offer a 5-color format – CMYK + White. With water-based inkjet (WBIJ) printers, you’re largely limited to printing on white substrates using just CMYK coloring. However,  the availability of using white toner with EP printers opens a huge world of possibilities in label printing, especially on colored and clear substrates.  The black matte Castle Vineyards label shown here displays the branding possibilities using white toner provides.

Water-Based Inkjet (WBIJ):

While this technology has been powering our small home and office printers for a long time now, it has matured and become robust enough for the desktop label printing segment in just the last decade. It revolutionized this segment by allowing people to rethink how to best fulfill their needs for short-run prime labels without the constraints of hiring a third party, where long lead times, high minimum order quantity, and outrageous label costs are typically the norm. As this technology continues to improve and advance, its appeal continues to attract new customers in different segments. An inkjet printer creates an image by firing tiny droplets of ink onto the paper. The complete image is built up from many small dots and it’s important to note the quality of an image is determined by the number of dots per inch (DPI) and the range of colors possible. A few different colors of ink can be combined to produce virtually any color (except for white). Cyan (C), Magenta(M), Yellow(Y) & Black(K) are commonly used colors, referred to in the industry as CMYK. The liquid portion of the inks used in these printers is predominantly water, hence “water-based inkjet”.

These water-based inks have color components that can be either dye-based or pigment-based, the ink chemistry and properties differ accordingly. In dye-based inkjet inks, the colored dyes are chemically bonded to the liquid portion of the ink, forming a “solution.” In contrast, pigmented inks are “suspensions.” That is, particles of coloration are suspended within a liquid and held between water molecules. Dyes seep into the paper substrate more easily than pigments, which primarily sit up on the surface of the paper. Ultimately, dye-based inks are brighter and have a wider color range than pigmented inks. Also, they can typically print on a wider variety of label substrates. 

Pigment-Based Inkjet:

Pigmented inks have a longer life span and are more color-fast than dyes. If prolonged exposure to sunlight or other elements of nature is expected, dye-based inks will need some protection like lamination or varnish to prevent color fading over time while pigmented inks can withstand the elements for longer without fading. There are important niches like chemicals or even other consumer labels or packaging applications for which printed labels must withstand exposure to sunlight or moisture for extended periods of time. However, protection may still be required for pigment inks if continuous outdoor exposure over several weeks or months without any color shift is expected.

Thermal Transfer:

Thermal Transfer Printing is the oldest print technology around, the printers based on this technology are ubiquitous in space of monochrome or one-color printing. These printers are fast, economical, easy to maintain, and generally do a good job when the objective is to put on simple information like product manufacturing/expiry dates or bar-codes near the point of sale. At resolutions of 300 or 600 dpi, the labels out of thermal transfer printers are generally not suitable for most prime label applications. However, there are a few niche labeling applications that still favor thermal transfer technology over competing technologies, which is why you’ll still find some manufacturers making 4-color thermal transfer printing systems. There are niche labeling applications that still favor thermal transfer technology, which is why AstroNova still manufactures its QLS 4100Xe printerA few advantages of Thermal Transfer Printing technology include:

  1. Availability of CMYK process AND spot color ribbons such as metallic gold, silver, white, signal red or blue, and many more
  2. Ability to print on low-cost substrates of varying thicknesses with a very high level of durability and resistance to solvents, moisture and UV exposure
  3. Low maintenance requirements & can easily handle dusty, dirty, manufacturing environments

There are several unique applications calling for thermal transfer technology. For example, many electronic applications require that the labels applied are UL recognized, which means they have been tested and proven to withstand a battery of tests as detailed in the UL 969 standard (for example). Or perhaps you’re looking to produce multi-layer flexible electronic circuits in short runs on high-temperature PET substrates.  Thermal Transfer is the technology of choice for such demanding applications.

Next Steps:

Now that you’re aware of the three key technologies available in a desktop format for printing color labels, you can start identifying the right printer and label materials that fit your needs. When buying a label printer for the first time, it’s advised to consider professional installation and a training package. This is not only to ensure the label printer is installed and works properly but to also ensure that you or any employees who will be using the printer are trained to use it properly and perform essential maintenance on a periodic or as-needed basis.

Have any questions on which label printer, inks, or materials will best suit your business and printing needs?  Contact us today, we’re here to help! 

How to Make Your Custom Cosmetics Labels Attractive and Effective

In the cosmetics industry, looks matter. There’s a lot of pressure for product packaging to portray the end results –even when working with small surfaces.  But while trying to catch the consumer’s eye, there are still regulations products must follow. So how can you make your custom cosmetic labels both attractive and effective?

First Things First: Product Requirements 

Regardless of your product line, you need to be aware of the industry requirements.  What are the most common rules and regulations for labeling in the cosmetics industry?

According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, it is prohibited to market cosmetics that are adulterated or misbranded as well as while in interstate commerce.  FDA regulations are required for any product, except soap, intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance.

A cosmetics label is considered misbranded if:

  • labeling is false or misleading
  • the label does not state the name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor or the net quantity of contents
  • the required information is not stated prominently, with conspicuousness and in terms that it is read and understood by consumers under customary conditions of purchase and use the container or its fill is misleading

Read the full list of FDA cosmetics labeling standards here.

Make Compliance Easier 

Ensure products meet all FDA regulations and easily maintain labels with an in-house label printer – this includes overseas,  certifying compliance within each country.

Printing in-house also offers a much more affordable option compared to outsourced printing. By printing in your facility, you have the ability to produce large or short runs of labels as needed with expiration dates, ingredients lists, allergen warnings, barcodes, organic and natural certifications.

Make Sure Your Products Have What They Need 

In addition to FDA requirements, environmental exposure can require a higher need for durability.

If you offer lotion, body wash or facial cleansers, you may want to consider a printer that applies water-resistant labels. This will help protect your labels from fading or peeling.  Utilizing these resistant labels will bring your products to another level of professionalism. By adhering to both FDA standards and product needs, your cosmetics will perform effectively.

Watch how CJ’s Unique Boutique uses their durable QuickLabel printer to label all of their lotions and creams:

Stand Out On The Shelves!  

Looks matter in this industry.

Makers of cosmetics and personal care products don’t just need a lot of labels – they need a lot of different labels. One body lotion alone can be available in dozens of different scents, an array of bottles, tubs and more.  Your product packaging is what makes you stand out from the competition. What catches eyes on the shelves can be the difference between the purchase of your brand over competitors.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to enhance your cosmetics label designs, an in-house label printer is the best solution.  Not only will printing cosmetics labels in-house save money, but it is perfect for short-runs of seasonal products, new scents, sizes, and formulations – especially when it comes to the design process.

Using your own label printer will allow you to control your label from start to finish – making sure it showcases your product as envisioned.

Make Your Custom Cosmetics Labels Attractive and Effective With QuickLabel! 

If you’re looking for a photo-quality, colorfast label printer with high-production rates, we recommend the Kiaro! QuickLabel color label printer (as used by CJ’s Unique Boutique).

The Kiaro! QuickLabel printer is an extraordinarily fast printer with the ability to produce beautiful, vibrant color labels in an astounding 1200 dpi.

“It’s a cost-effective time-saving printer. It creates excellent quality labels for our packaging, and I couldn’t be happier.”
– Ryan Flynt, CJ’s Unique Boutique

By acknowledging your product packaging design, the durability of labels and FDA standards, custom cosmetics labels are able to function effectively while attracting consumers to your products.

Looking to Print Cosmetic or Beauty Labels In-House?

If you’re interested in learning more about creating eye-catching labels in your own facility, feel free to contact us to schedule a free demonstration or speak with one of our specialists!

Let’s Talk Labels: What Media Products Does QuickLabel Have to Offer?

There’s more to labels than meets the eye. There has to be some consideration taken into the presentation, storage and intended use of the product. That’s why we’re here to make it easy for you. So what media products does QuickLabel have to offer?

What Media Products does QuickLabel Have to Offer?

We have four main types of labels and ribbons, each with a variety of options to best suit your product and design, whether it be beverage, shipping, medical, chemical labeling or more.

Let’s break it down for you.

1. Inkjet Labels

QuickLabel has developed special materials that are capable of absorbing the Kiaro! inks so that printed labels do not smear and are able to produce the most accurate colors possible.

Whether you choose a textured paper label for wine labels or a glossy clear synthetic label for cosmetics labels, there is an ideal Kiaro! inkjet label for you.Kiaro_La Crema

We don’t stock a large inventory of finished labels – they are made fresh to order. When you place your order, we produce each order from raw material, using our efficient just-in-time production management system.

QuickLabel also produces and sells die-cut labels for use on our own line of label printers and offer multi-color and single-color thermal transfer label printers that resists fading, abrasion, smudging, and incidental moisture contact.

We even sell labels for use on other printer brands.

Carrying over 100 different label and tag stocks, if we don’t have the material you’re looking for, we can source and test new raw materials to meet your end use requirements. Just ask one of our Media Sales Specialists!

See how Browndog Creamery uses our inkjet labels to not only create delectable designs to match their delicious ice cream, but how our labels maintain color-fastness and quality even in their freezing storage conditions.

To read descriptions of our inkjet label and tag materials, click here.

2. Thermal Transfer Labels 

Enhancing print performance, QuickLabel’s Media Lab created our line of thermal transfer label materials. These produce excellent print quality and end-use durability – especially when used with QuickLabel’s own line of thermal transfer ribbons and label printers.

Our labels also produce high-quality printing on other brands of thermal transfer and barcode printers. Like the inkjet labels, all of our labels are made to order.

With QuickLabel, you have the choice of 70+ Materials. IMG_0458

We manufacture and stock over seventy different pressure-sensitive and non-adhesive printing materials.

To read descriptions of our thermal transfer label and tag materials, click here.

3. Thermal Transfer Ribbons (Black or Color)

The question is “What media products does QuickLabel have to offer?”, which means we are not limited to labels.

We also manufacture and sell barcode ribbon (also known as thermal transfer ribbon) for your barcode printer at a factory.

Our barcode ribbon is sold at a direct low price. From general-purpose black wax ribbon to black wax-resin ribbon and black resin thermal transfer ribbon for every thermal printer brand.

imageQuickLabel manufactures the largest variety of spot color thermal transfer ribbons in the industry. No one has as many thermal transfer ribbons colors as us.

We also sell process color thermal transfer ribbons for our family of digital color label printers which use thermal transfer technology.

  • Black Barcode Printer Ribbon: Wax, Wax/Resin, Resin, Premium Resin, Special Resin
  • Color Thermal Transfer Ribbons: Wax, Wax/Resin, Resin, Premium Resin

4. Laser / LED Labels

We’ve even developed special materials that are capable of withstanding high fusing temperature while producing vivid, long-lasting printed labels.  These labels can also resist moisture, UV light, abrasion, and most solvents – even without lamination.

Our labels are able to portray highly accurate design and multi-level shading for superior print quality and clarity. To read descriptions of our Laser / LED label and tag materials, click here.

Ultimately, we have label materials for any and all product labeling requirements. No matter what industry or storage specifications, we make sure our labels always remain durable and maintain high quality and color-fastness.

To shop our complete list of labels and ribbons and learn more about what we offer, check out our supply store.

Kiaro! Grows Eastern Shore Tea Sales by 40%

eastern shore tea logoBrowse just for a moment at Eastern Shore Tea’s website  and note the first phrase in their description: “Highest quality tea and beautiful packaging are hallmarks of Eastern Shore Tea.

The hallmarks of Eastern Shore Tea are their quality and packaging, and when we traveled to Baltimore, MD, that’s exactly what we came to find.

But first: a little about the owner.

Stanley Constantine, owner of Eastern Shore Tea Company and its parent company Baltimore Coffee & Tea, drinks 10 cups of tea every day.

Baltimore Photographers
Stan Constantine, in his factory, drinking just one of his daily 10 cups of tea.

He’s deliberate and engaged and speaks with a low-end sort of rumble that peaks half an octave higher when he reaches points of interest.

At the mention of his new labels, and the boon in sales since acquiring his new Kiaro! label printer, that octave jumps.

“It’s interesting,” Constantine says, “since we installed the Kiaro! our tea sales have increased an average of about 40%.” 

Then he takes a shallow breath, prepping for the big reveal, “Actually, one of our largest grocery chain customers told me that Eastern Shore Tea sales have increased 50% since we installed the Kiaro!.”

Baltimore Photographers
Stan Constantine with his Kiaro! label printer.

Eastern Shore Tea Company’s quality is unmatched, its process of making tea painstaking, and its customer service superior.

 “We haven’t changed anything – except the label quality,” says Constantine, when talking about the enormous and sustained 40% jump in tea sales, “I’m pretty convinced that the Kiaro! is responsible.”  

How the Kiaro! Did it

 “As I said before we’ve changed nothing else. We’ve changed none of our recipes, none of the other elements of our packaging,  save for the increased quality of the Kiaro!,” says Constantine.

Baltimore Photographers
Eastern Shore Tea has experienced a 40% increase in sales that Stanley Constantine is “convinced is from first-time customers who are taken aback with the packaging.”

“It has  improved our packaging ten-fold, and that’s really supported by the increase in sales that we’ve experienced.”

So the labels look good?

Linda Lang, manager of Eastern Shore Tea Company, and 11-year-employee thinks so. 

“It’s just amazing how good the Kiaro! can make the labels look,” she says, “the colors are rich and bright – it’s just completely changed the way the artwork on the labels looks.”

A Different Approach to Tea

Baltimore Photographers
“For us,” explains Constantine, “it sounds old fashioned, but we won’t sell anything that we wouldn’t drink ourselves.”

“Eastern Shore teas differ from most national brands in a couple of different areas,” says Constantine. All of their teas are flavored naturally: they use real spices in their teas, not liquid flavorings, so in their teas, you’ll find real clove, real cinnamon, real ginger, real lemongrass.

 Eastern Shore Tea starts with full leaf tea, and then to increase surface exposure they use a hammer-mill to cut the leaves down to tea-bag size.

The Kiaro! Joins the Eastern Shore

“We brought a Kiaro! in, set it up, and we printed some logos and some of our graphics. I was astounded with the quality. With the Kiaro! printing at 1200dpi,” says Constantine, “we were blown away by the quality.”

“I was thrilled when I saw the Kiaro! labels for the first time,” says Linda Lang, “ it was pretty exciting. It even will reproduce photographs which is really amazing!”

Baltimore Photographers
Eastern Shore Tea uses two types of packaging for their tea. Their classic, radiant-white ribbon bag for full leaf tea, with luminescent colored ribbons over shining Kiaro! labels. The other; an eloquent self-dispensing box, with the same beautiful Kiaro! labels.

Private Labeling with the Kiaro!

Eastern Shore Tea has seen a large growth in customers requesting private label services, which they are uniquely set up to do because they’re totally vertically integrated.

“The Kiaro! has helped us with that goal,” explains Constantine, “because it’s so easy and effortless for us to create private labels for all of our customers.”

Eastern Shore Tea creates private label teas for major museums, grocers and gourmet food stores around the country, but also for private functions and smaller parties.

“It’s effortless,” says Constantine, “one of our strong points is that our private label minimum is only 24 pieces. The reason it’s so low is that the Kiaro! is just effortless. We can easily print and go to production and it’s out the door the same day. It’s made our life a lot easier.”

Printing Tea Labels on Demand

Baltimore Photographers
“The Kiaro! has definitely made my life easier,” says Lang, “it takes less time to print the labels, there’s less prep time for it – it’s definitely made things easier here.”

Eastern Shore Tea went with the Kiaro! because they needed to print labels on-demand, and as needed.  “In the past, we would have to order 10,000 of every single label. Now,” says Constantine, “we print over 300 SKUs on the Kiaro!. The ability to print on demand has saved us an incredible amount of money because we’re stocking only blank labels and we print as we need.”

Linda Lang loves how the Kiaro! has eliminated their inventory of pre-printed labels, “The labels aren’t sitting on the shelf for long periods of time. It’s just so easy to go and print a few labels with the Kiaro!.” With the Kiaro! Eastern Shore Tea Company prints large or small runs, at 8inches per second, for immediate, on-demand label printing.

“As much as I like the Kiaro!, I like the people at QuickLabel Systems even more. Of all the vendors we deal with, and we deal with vendors all over the world, the people at QuickLabel comprise the best vendor that we have,” says Constantine.

See How They Do It!

We even traveled down to Baltimore and shot some video in the Eastern Shore Tea facility! We watched them print labels, cut tea, package their products and even visited their beautiful store-front. Check it out!

5 Labels We Love!

Check out a handful of our customers with great labels.

I never thought I would pay such close attention to labels, but I now realize that in a sense I always have. I’ve always loved shopping, and from a young age would want the candy that looked the prettiest, or the no-tears shampoo in the brightest packaging. So the only thing that has changed in this respect is that I’m slightly more aware of how labels influence my purchases.

There are so many great packaging and label designs out there, I can hardly make it down a grocery store aisle without stopping to take note of at least a handful of labels (unless I’m really hungry!). So, I wanted to share with you 5 of our customers’ labels that we love.

1. Dave’s Market

Dave’s Market and Le’s Isle Rose gift shop carry such an abundance of delicious foods and gifts. Their stores are much more pleasant to shop in than the average grocery store. We recently took a trip to Dave’s Market to see how they use their Kiaro! inkjet label printer to print a wide variety of labels for their specialties and prepared foods. They love how fast it prints, and are always finding more and more products that they can conveniently label. You can see for yourself how fast Dave’s Market prints labels on the Kiaro! Their gift shop and florist Le’s Isle Rose is lovely, and I personally love these simply elegant labels. Beautiful, don’t you think?

2. Coffee City USA

Coffee City USA is coffee roaster, and as many might imagine they say it’s always a great day there! The owners are a lovely married couple who decided to open their own coffee roasting company after gaining expertise in the specialty coffee business. Not only do they sell coffee and tea, but a variety of other yummy treats and gifts as well. They LOVE printing vibrant labels with their Vivo! Touch color label printer.

3.Freshway Foods

Our Regional Manager, Bill Pizzuti  has a favorite label with this wonderful customer based in Ohio. This company supplies fresh cut produce to a wide variety of locations. These include hospitals, restaurants, and catering companies. With their Vivo! Touch color label printer they can easily and quickly print a variety of customized labels to send with their products. Billy likes this Snack Takes label that is placed on packages of fresh crunchy carrot sticks and celery because, “it’s simply succinct, it reminds me that I’m on a diet and should eat healthier foods, it gets applied to a nice light fresh snack which I think is fit for this summertime weather, and it’s from a great company and great customer.” Do you like this label as much as we do?

4. Kramer’s Salsa

I LOVE salsa! This delicious salsa was spotted by Cassie Dib, one of our Media Specialists.She was so thrilled and told me, “I was so excited when I found Linda’s salsa at Wal-Mart in my hometown of Oskaloosa! Look at that beautiful flexo-printed label. I had to buy a jar and I must say, the salsa was DELICIOUS!! “ Now I need to send her back to get me some. What’s your favorite food to enjoy with salsa? I’m torn between quesadillas and nachos!

5. Urban Herbs

This company sells their amazing spices straight to chefs. But, not to fret you can order their products easily online. Then, thanks to their products you will be the most famous chef in your family, maybe even in the whole neighborhood! Not only do they have a huge variety of spices, but they also have dried beans, rice, sugars, gourmet and coffee beans. This is a great example of how owning a Kiaro! inkjet color label printer can allow a company to print custom spice labels for private label customers. We also love how the side panel is devoted to “Directions for you” suggesting various ways to use this rub.

I hope you love these labels just as much as we do. Which one is your favorite? If you use a QuickLabel printer I would love to hear about it and  your products. Feel free to e-mail me and show me your labels!