7 Tips for Evaluating a Color Label Printer

These 7 Tips Will Help you Evaluate Any Color Label Printing Solution

Whether you’re currently printing your own product labels, or you’re considering printing your labels in your facility, you want to ensure you’re making the right decision and best investment for your business. Many companies consider their first or additional systems for several reasons – keeping up with demand, looking to reduce total cost of ownership or cost per label, or improving operational efficiencies. But, currently, the biggest reason is that people want to control their labeling under their own roof.

While there is undoubtedly a breadth of benefits labeling in-house and on-demand provides, there are several factors to consider before making a decision. Considering label printing systems for your business is more complicated than evaluating a standard at-home desktop printer.

Here are some tips to make this process easier for you:

1. Observe as a full roll of labels is printed
Get an in-person demonstration 

This is vital.  It’s important not to rely on “canned” printed label samples or a video from the manufacturer.  Witnessing the labels print will expose any technical shortcomings in the printer.   Ultimately, you’re the expert on your labels and how they should look.  If print quality and color-matching is a priority, you’ll get the best demonstration of a printer’s capabilities by seeing your label artwork printed.  So, before committing to a purchase, it’s advised to schedule a demonstration and request to watch while your labels are printed in real-time.

2. Ask to see your label format printed
You can evaluate your own labels better than a sample or pre-printed label 

To ensure you see all the capabilities of the printer, provide digital label artwork to your printer salesman prior to the demonstration.  It’s important to note that if your artwork was designed for a different output device, whether it’s your office inkjet or a commercial flexographic press,  your salesperson may need to adjust the colors to match expectations.

Color Label Printer3. Compare “how long it takes to print”, not just “print speed”
Time the print job while you watch 

When evaluating “print speed,” it’s natural to assume that you are evaluating “how fast it takes to produce a print job.”  However, there are many technical reasons why this is not the case.  Factors such as pauses for maintenance procedures, processing time delays, and the time it takes to load a printer with blank labels and inks all have a significant impact on throughput.  These are all factors your production department needs to measure when evaluating.

4. Compare “print quality”, not just “print resolution”
Be the judge

All label printers list a specification for “resolution”, but this does not necessarily imply “print quality”.  “What resolution should I be looking for?” is a notoriously difficult question to answer, given there’s often some trade-off between print quality and print speed.  In addition to the physical dot size produced by the label printer, the halftone printing algorithm, substrate material, and ink set each has a tremendous bearing on the appearance and color gamut of the printed label.  So, when comparing 1200 dpi to 1600 dpi to 2400 dpi, your own perception of quality is much more accurate than the technical specification.

5. Ask how much it costs to print your roll of labels
Request a quote 

Importantly, after the full role of your label designs is printed, ask your salesperson to calculate the cost of the printed label roll, including the costs of the ink and the label material.  This will give you a realistic estimate of the finished cost per label, so ultimately, you can extrapolate how much you’d be paying each time you print your own labels.

6. Determine where you’ll purchase your labels
Select a substrate and a provider 

If you have a special performance or print quality requirement, the odds are that you will want to “spec in” a particular label material that works well with your printer.  So, determine who offers labels created from the material and whether the delivery timeframe and cost of the die-cut label is in line with your expectations.  Be advised, a good label solution provider should be able to offer a variety of compatible materials in a range of different price points.   AstroNova’s GetLabels division offers the widest variety of premium label materials for all of your labeling applications.

7. Ask who will maintain and repair your printer?
Who will service and fix any problems? 

Regular on-site maintenance of a printing system is necessary to prevent breakdowns due to wear.  So, don’t be afraid to ask who will be available to provide on-site maintenance service (or whether you are expected to do this yourself).  Because a label printer is a critical part of the packaging process,  it’s essential to find out whether on-site repair service and 24-hour telephone support are available.  These things may come at an extra cost or may be included as part of the warranty – find out!

Questions? Let us know, we’re here to help!

Interested in how bringing label printing in-house can provide you with significant cost and time savings?
Contact us to schedule a free, web-based demonstration and to speak with one of our specialists!

Enhance Your Printing Throughput with This Customer Favorite Solution

An AstroNova partner recently shared an interesting story detailing how a small commercial printer in the Mid-West fell in love with a TrojanLabel® T2-C digital mini-press. While the commercial printer already owned a few smaller printers, they wanted something that could run wider widths (up to 8.5”), print multiple labels across, and produce faster output. Unlike their desktop printers, they were looking for a machine that was sturdier and built for professional printing.

Originally, they were considering Muratec’s PLS-475i when the TrojanLabel T2-C was introduced to them. While both machines are based on the same fundamental Versapass technology by Memjet, with a quick feature comparison, the commercial printer was undoubtedly interested in the T2-C after a trial showcasing:

 

         TrojanLabel T2-C

 

             Muratec PLS-475i

 

Ink Tank Capacity* 2-Liter CMYK Ink Tanks 250 ml CMYK Cartridges
Maximum Roll OD** 11.8” (300 mm) 9.8” (250 mm)
Digital Front End*** On-Board PC with Touch Screen N/A
Slitting*** In-line Slitters (up to 8 across) N/A

*8 times more ink per, savings in volume
**20% wider maximum roll diameter 
***Additional user benefits 

It’s All in the Details
A perfect combination of a smaller footprint, larger roll capacity, and efficiency 

Right at the outset, the customer loved the job library built into the on-board PC that stores previously run print jobs. The additional abilities to print multiple labels across with perfect registration and put on a semi-rotary finisher later was also extremely beneficial to them. Additionally, the T2-C has a much smaller footprint, about half that of the PLS-475i, so it takes up substantially less space in the print room.

The wide variation in the types of labels printed typically results in a lot of artwork editing and color adjustments. So, the Wasatch RIP combined with the T2-C comes in handy as it allows them to make those changes quickly and efficiently, while the bigger roll capacity on T2-C allows them to do longer runs.

Enjoy a 40% Cost Savings

Equally important for them was the print economics: the T2-C is a tank-based system, including four (CMYK) 2-liter ink tanks versus PLS-475i’s 250 ml cartridges, resulting in a 40% cost increase for Muratec’s inks.  Also, the PLS-475i was priced 33% higher than the T2-C despite the missing features and obvious disadvantages.

With Service and Support Included, the T2-C was a Clear Winner

This customer concluded that it was more economical and sensible to invest in a TrojanLabel T2-C instead of the PLS-475i for their growing needs.  Investing in an AstroNova Service Plan for any service or support needs in the future was an additional benefit providing the customer with ultimate peace of mind.

Interested in How the T2-C Can Provide You with Significant Cost and Time Savings?

Contact us to schedule a free demonstration to speak with one of our specialists!

German Winery Uses QuickLabel Printer to Print Unique Labels In-House

QuickLabel® traveled to Ockenheim, Germany, to check-in with Weingut Schäfer-Zimmermann and see how they use their QuickLabel tabletop label printer to print wine labels in-house and on-demand! 

In Ockenheim, Germany, you’ll find an area where wineries and vineyards are plentiful.  There, nestled in an idyllic, rural area, is Weingut Schäfer-Zimmermann, a family-owned winery. With acres of land being passed down from previous generations, the winery has been cultivating vineyards in various locations around Germany, including Gau Algesheim, Dromersheim, and Budesheim.  Their range of products and offerings include white, rose, and red wines as well as sparkling wines, cocktails, and fruit juices.

QuickLabel® visited the winery to see how Weingut Schäfer-Zimmermann is using their QuickLabel QL-300, a five-color, toner-based label printer.  Drawn initially to the QL-300 because of the opaqueness of the white color output and the quality of labels printed, they’re now able to overprint a variety of details, including gold embossing, onto preprinted wine labels with the help of the QL-300. With a selection of award-winning wines, across various international markets including America, Japan, Spain, Italy, and England, having eye-catching labels to complement the product was essential.

Efficient,  In-House  Labeling

According to Co-Owner, Florian Zimmermann, another reason Weingut Schäfer-Zimmermann chose the QL-300 was due to the amount of corporate and foreign customers who request custom labels.  

“We can use it to fulfill individual customer requests because it’s the only printer that can print in white.  We have a lot of dark labels, including black ones, so white is very useful for emphasizing colors.”

“….Each time we went to the printer, we had to discuss, clarify, and then wait until the labels were ready to print and could be handed over to us.” continues Zimmermann. “It took about 1-2 months before we’d finally have the wine to the customer, and that led to additional costs…So now, I can sit down with the picture or layout from the customer, and I’m done and have the labels run in 15-20 minutes.”

Ease-of-Use 

With five generations of experience harvesting and perfecting their line of wines, Weingut Schäfer-Zimmermann has their process down to a science.  With the addition of the QL-300, now, like their wines, their labeling process has become more natural, too. “The QL-300 has made the process much easier. Now our customers don’t have to wait months until they can get bottles with their own labels on them.  We spent a lot of time looking for a printer that simplifies all of these things; printing in white, printing images, not just labeling in color…and then, we found it.”, says Zimmermann.

“The printer is very easy to understand.  We can now make custom labels without any great losses.  If you order from a wine wholesaler, then you order a large amount; in the end, you have a lot of labels leftover that you just throw away.”

With the QL-300, Weingut Schäfer-Zimmermann now has the opportunity to produce short runs.  Therefore they can meet the variety of individual customer requests they receive, provide their customers with unique souvenirs, offer a large variety of wines – both new and vintage, and provide products for special events like birthdays, anniversaries, or weddings.

Looking to Print Wine Labels In-House?

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can print wine or beverage labels on-demand, feel free to contact us to schedule a free demonstration or speak with one of our specialists!

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!