Welcome to the Label Tech Inc Blog.

Flexo 101: To FSC Or Not To FSC?

We sat down this week with on site FSC Certification Specialist Jim Foye to talk about the in's and out's of being an FSC Certified Label Manufacturer. Here's what he had to say!

It’s been rumored that it’s not easy being green, but it doesn’t have to be hard either. We all want to do our part to help preserve our resources for the future. We recycle cans, plastic bottles and paper regularly, we buy light bulbs that use less energy, cars that use less gas and find more fuel-efficient way to keep warm in the winter. Much of this we do without consideration to our environment, it is more a matter of common sense and practicality. Lets face it, the muscle cars of the late 60’s and early 70’s didn’t go extinct because we wanted to sit in a compact car that had a hard time getting up a steep hill! Economics forced the issue - fuel shortages and rising gas prices gave us no choice but to change our ways. Although it was economics that directed this path, the environment has benefitted greatly from this and many other changes over the last few decades. 

As part or our “green” initiatives here at Label Tech we have invested in areas such as energy efficient heating and lighting systems, the use of environmentally friendly inks and cleaners where possible and a comprehensive recycling program for all our paper waste.

For our customers we offer recycled materials and FSC certified materials for their label printing needs. I think it is safe to say almost everyone knows and understands the processes for recycling and recycled products, so I want to speak a little about FSC. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) helps to deal with the maintenance of the world’s forests through sustainable forestry management initiatives.

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Here is a very brief background on FSC and I invite you to learn more at their website! Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. It was started in 1993 to define environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management. Since its inception FSC has become the most widely recognized certifying body in the world with regards to forest management. To date FSC has more than 143 million hectares of forest in 79 countries around the world. FSC in turn issues chain of custody certificates to companies that convert the certified trees to products such as building materials or in our case paper that is further converted to label stock. FSC has issued over 20000 chain of custody certificates in 107 countries.

Label Tech has held one of these chain of custody certificates since May 2009 and can provide you with material that can be traced back to a well managed certified forest. 

The FSC logo is everywhere and you probably haven’t even noticed it. Next time you go to one of the home improvement superstores flip over a 2x4 and you will probably see the FSC logo. It is showing up on more and more printed collateral all the time. Thanks for tuning in to this weeks blog series on green initiatives. 

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Topics: Going green Green Printer Energy Efficient Printing FSC Certified FSC Commercial Label Printer FSC Label Printer Forestry Stewardship Council

Label Printing Company Talks Green in a Wasteful Industry (Part 2).

Thanks for tuning in for Part 2 of this blog series! If you missed Part 1 click here! If you think it's easy going green, think again! Here we continue our discussion with Plant Manager (and blog fan favorite!) Peter Mullen on the transformation of a soon to be 60 thousand square foot pressure sensitive label printing facility. We hope you like what you read!

We invited in International Paper Products to have a conversation on how to turn waste into a product that would help the environment rather than just putting it into the ground. International paper Products has a program that takes material from companies such as ours and turns it into a Biomass fuel pellet that can power facilities that generate electricity for residents in the area. This made sense, but because the company was out of state and our “recycled material” would need to be trucked 260 miles to their facility for processing we needed to get creative to make it work.

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In as little as 6 months we worked out a deal with them and found a trucking company that could handle the on call service we would require so our compactor would never be shut down. We also purchased 2 extra cans for the compactor so they could be switched out in a short period of time. To save on trucking costs and to be more efficient we haul two cans at a time to International Paper Products. Once we came up with a plan and negotiated the cost we were able to not only turn 95% of our waste into a useful product but we also would realize a savings of about 20% in waste handling cost. By the way- the other 5% goes to Waste Management’s land fill and is used to produce methane gas that in turn heats the University of New Hampshire. The students can thank us later!

This coming spring we are looking forward to building a 20,000 square foot addition to our facility and are currently exploring the idea of geo thermal for the purpose of heating and cooling the new building. If all works as planned we will incorporate the geo thermal into the existing building to supplement the existing system.

Thanks for tuning in!

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Topics: Green Printer Energy Efficient Printing Pressure Sensitive Green Printer Choosing a commercial printer commercial printing new label printer new commercial printer

Label Printing Company Talks Green in a Wasteful Industry (Part 1)

In an industry dominated by materials waste, choosing a green minded label printing company can make a HUGE difference in reducing your own carbon footprint. We sat down this week with Plant Manager Peter Mullen to find out what strides Label Tech Inc has made in going green. Here's what he had to say:

About 6 years ago we took our first step toward green energy by installing a new servo driven compressor in conjunction with an air storage tank. This compressor runs only when air is needed to supply the line and we could see the difference immediately. While our old compressor ran constantly and excess air was lost into the atmosphere, the new one proved to be more often idling than actually running. The original investment for the compressor wasn’t cheap however, after credits from our local energy company we were able to save a considerable amount of money on the unit and the installation. Making financial sense out of the installation gave us a great incentive to become a more sustainable company.

The cost savings for purchasing and installing the new compressor accompanied by the annual cost savings in energy made us realize that this was not only the right thing to do for the environment but that it would also be good for the financial health of Label Tech Inc. Thus began our mission to look for other areas of the company where we could find similar savings in energy.

go green recycle resized 600The next project we decided to tackle was lighting which for us is a big deal. First and foremost we are open 24 hours a day. Also, as a label printing company the quality of lighting is extremely important to us. We contracted with a local company to come in and change out every light in the building from fluorescents in the pressroom, finishing, and warehouse areas right down to the bathrooms, lunchrooms and individual offices. We changed out every florescent tube in the building to energy efficient T8s. Not only are these lights more efficient to run but the life span far exceeds our old bulbs. We were constantly replacing our old tubes at least 2 or 3 times a week but with the new T8s it is over 2 years from installation before we replace our first tube and the quality of light is superior. In any area we deemed unnecessary to have light 100% of the time we added sensors to shut lights off if the room is unoccupied. Again the cost of the lighting was substantially decreased due to credits from our energy company.  As a result of this upgrade we have experienced a savings in the neighborhood of 83,318 KWH annually. Do the math on that one!

In 2010 after looking at the amount of waste we generated and sent to a landfill it became evident this would have to be the next area to attack. We were sending 36 to 39 tons of waste per month to a landfill- UGH! As a forward thinking company, this proved unacceptable- we needed change. We decided it was time to invite in International Paper Products to start having a conversation about changing our waste disposal. In Part 2 of this two part blog series we will go further in to detail as to how IPP was able to help us considerably.

Tune in to PART 2 to find out how we were able to turn 95% of our waste in to useful product!

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Topics: Going green Green Printer Energy Efficient Printing Pressure Sensitive Green Printer

The Da Vinci (QR) Code: Labels that Pack Information!

What is a QR Code and why doesn't my label have one? If you are a manufacturer of pretty much any kind of product searching for a way to give more information to your consumer audience then maybe a QR Code is the way to go! QR Codes (also known as "quick response" codes) are actually two dimensional codes that are readable by smartphones, QR readers and also by computers with webcams. The code itself is comprised of black modules in a square format with a white background and usually contain anything from a URL, maps, text, RSS feeds or a variety of data.

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The QR Code was initially created for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing but now are used in a much wider variety of context. The codes are now popping up in magazines, in advertisements, billboards, on public transportation, consumer products and even on pressure sensitive labels. As the popularity of these codes spread from Japan over to the United States their use has become common. 

Many companies who use pressure sensitive labels are now using QR Codes for a number of applications- promoting their website, offering up more information, or even directing customers to some sort of rebate or coupon program. So how do we create a QR Code for our own use? Several websites are available for generating the codes. Kaywa is a popular site, along with Qurify, and Delivr. After you have taken a moment to create the code you can then upload it to your email signature, facebook page, blog or even your label!

So what is it that makes these little square targets such a great tool for vendors and manufacturers? This question can be answered by taking a look at how your company is handling marketing. Is your marketing plan to push your information on to your target audience or to pull them towards you? 

Information in today's consumer market is key. Consumers are getting further and further away from responding to outbound marketing information like advertisements, direct mail and cold calling. Most people who have a question about a product are going to turn to google before they turn to you. Having great information can help consumers find you. If you can make sure your customer has all the information to make a positive choice to go with your product or service over brand x then using a QR Code may be a step in the right direction.

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Topics: Label QR Codes Making QR Codes QR Code Inbound Marketing

The Seemingly Endless Possibilities of Printing Variable Data Labels.

Have you considered using variable information to personalize a label? Are you currently using a sequentially numbered labeling system to keep track of inventory? Wouldn't it be nice to put your customer's names on their products to personalize them? Well, what is variable information and what can you really do with it? There's more to variable information than just scratch tickets and consecutively numbered labels! We sat down with Plant Manager and variable data labels expert Peter Mullen this week to get his thoughts. Here's what he had to say.

What is variable information and how do we use it? Variable information is just what it says, a constant stream of data that can change label to label or line to line. You can use this information for anything from individually numbered municipal parking permits to a whole system that will allow you to pinpoint the location of any item on any rack in your inventory. Some other areas our customers have used variable data are to personalize a promotional item, bringing a sense of intimacy to your product that can have real impact. Nothing gets your attention more than seeing your name on a printed item, almost guaranteeing the person you are trying to target will read it.

One of the most common ways to use variable information is scratch off tickets which are used for more then just the lottery. I have seen tickets printed for internal use by some of the larger companies in world. These companies use the scratch off ticket as a way to keep their employees engaged by quizzing them on questions dealing with their business and giving prizes for scratching off the correct answer.

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Most companies that print variable data have several ways to accomplish this from ink jet to ION deposition to the new generation of digital printing presses. Ink jet and ION deposition when used in conjunction with a flexographic printing press can produce dramatic static graphics with as much variable information as can fit on the label. These presses due to their speed of running and selection of inks such as water base and ultraviolet make them an excellent choice for larger running jobs.

If your requirements include smaller quantities, then a digital press is the way to go. A digital press offers superior quality and is capable of printing each label with as much information change as needed including graphics. The beauty of printing your labels with a digital press is all the graphic changes can be done with out the added cost of purchasing plates that would be necessary on a conventional press.

Whichever process you chose to print your labels may be dictated by the subject and quantity of the pieces you are printing, but the possibilities to use variable information are endless.

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Topics: Variable Data Dynamic Numbering personalized labels variable data labels variable information labels

Flexo 101: Please Be Kind and Give Me the Rewind (Code)?

Are you new to the world of machine application? Do you wonder what your co-packer means when he talks about rewind codes? Wondering what the core size should be or even the maximum outside diameter is for your roll? If you have any of these questions look no further! You are in the right place! 

Many growing companies who have a product that requires a label will sometimes find that switching over to machine application of labels can save them time and money in the long run. There are essentially two ways that business owners can proceed with machine application if they are tired of putting labels on by hand or just no longer have the time to do it. One- they can hire a copacker, or two- they can buy a machine and do it themselves. By the way, if you are looking for a recommended co-packer or labeling machine we can help you make a good choice

Copackers already have the labeling equipment in place so if you are a small business you might not want to shell out 30K on a new labeling machine and let a good copacker help you grow. On the other hand, if your company is growing like unwanted garden weeds you may want to consider investing in your own pressure sensitive labeling equipment. 

When you put a roll of labels in to an applicating machine there are certain things to take in to consideration. The most important things are how the label is placed on the product, which direction the text and art should be facing, and how the consumer is going to see what the label says or displays. If your copacker is asking you what the rewind code is then he is referring to the direction that the label comes off of the roll it is on. Here is a helpful chart for figuring out rewind codes!

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There are usually two more questions that a copacker or even a label manufacturer may discuss with you. Core size refers to the size of the core that your machine or your copackers machine is set up for. The majority of machine application labels will be on a 3 inch core but sometimes another size will be requested such as 1 inch. Lastly, you may be asked what the "Max-OD" of your roll can be. Simply put this is referring to the maximum outside diameter that your machine can hold such as 8 or 16 inches. 

Thanks for tuning in this week to Label Tech Inc's Flexo 101. We look forward to bringing you more helpful information soon!

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Topics: rewind code automatic label application label application machine application Label Applicator core size max od copacker

Is Your Label Printer Color Blind??

In today's digital environment where most communication occurs online, getting color consistency can be a challenge for some printers. If your printer is color blind, your business could be suffering! We had a chance to sit down with our pre-press department this week to talk about getting color right the first time around. Here is what Clayton Nau, resident expert on color, had to say about it.

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Obtaining predictable color reproduction in the digital age can be a huge challenge because each device - camera, scanner, monitor, or printer - responds to or produces color differently.

Color Science is a big world, and producing accurate color means taking steps and putting into practice good color management. We use the EFI Colorproof XF Color Management System.  Using a dedicated Color Rip (computer) and a state of the art quality proofing device (large-format multi-color ink jet printer), we can produce proofs for our customers that best represent what their label will look like.

We have created our own custom color profiles that allow our proofing devices to match the expected output from our press. Essentially we have fingerprinted our presses to our pre-press proofing system so the customer sees a proof that is identical to what their label will look like. This allows us to compare our color-managed output to industry standard profiles and make adjustments to the output file so the printed piece looks like the label the customer is looking for.

Also, if a specific label changes from a digital print job to a flexo-printed label, or there is a stock or finishing change, we can better anticipate any color shifts that might occur because of these changes and make adjustments accordingly. This can be advantageous for companies who's volumes are getting to that tipping point of moving on to a flexo press from a digital one.

Today, more and more customers supply digital files to us without any hard-copy proof, making color management even more important.  In a perfect world, you push a button and the perfect label pops out.  In the real world, a lot of talented, professional people work hard to assure a print job meets the customer’s expectations.  Color management is one of the fine tools we use to make great looking printed labels a reality.

Stay tuned for more information on printing and how to improve the quality of your labels! Thanks for tuning in!

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Topics: digital printing Color match issues for labels color consistency color inconsistency labels flexographic label printing
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