Welcome to the Label Tech Inc Blog.

Moving From Digital to "Flexo", the Tipping Point

There are a variety of ways to produce custom labels.  Two of the most popular methods are flexographic printing, also known as “flexo”, and digital printing. 

This blog will take a close look at both printing methods and help you decide which is right for your label.

Flexography is a printing process that utilizes plates made from rubber or plastic to transfer an image to a substrate.  This flexible plate is wrapped around a printing cylinder and adhered with sticky tape.  These plates pickup ink and transfer the image to the label material or substrate.   Due to its use of fast drying inks, it becomes a high speed printing process and is an extremely popular method within the food industry.  The substrate shoots rapidly through the press, resulting in speedy, economical and high quality label production.  Flexographic label printing is ideal for larger runs of custom printed labels.  Because of the high speed and volume capabilities of the press, flexo is typically a more economical alternative to other printing processes.  This printing method affords a wide assortment of materials and technical capabilities.  It is versatile and can be used for printing on almost any type of substrate, including polypropylene films, metallic films, and many papers.  Flexo does well printing metallic inks and opaque whites; flexo inks anchor well on a broad range of materials including polyester, polypropylene, florescent labels, vinyl labels, and most coated papers.  Most flexographic printing companies have the ability to make photopolymer plates on site.  Photopolymer plates withstand millions of impressions.  Plates, along with the presses inking system, can deliver a predetermined amount of ink with minimum on-press adjustments.  These fast-drying inks can be solvent based, water based or ultraviolet (UV) curable.  Flexographic printing is constantly evolving and manufacturers are taking successful steps to make flexo even more productive, cost effective, and sustainable while printing with even more consistent quality.

Digital printing is commonly used for short run, full color labels.  This process does not require plates, which makes it easy to implement changes or run multiple lots. 

Digital printing gives labels the professional appearance without the professional cost.

Labels can be printed easily with variable data.  This allows consumers to personalize labels with customer’s names or account numbers. Digital printing relies on CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and key – black), also called 4-color process.  Digital printing is an excellent option for short runs with multiple designs.  The set-up costs for digital labels can be an ideal solution for smaller companies or those wishing to purchase a small quantity of product labels.  Also, the turnaround time for digital labels is quicker by eliminating the set-up time needed to create plates and set up presses.  One of the key advantages of digital printing is the accuracy of the proofing it allows.  Extremely detailed samples can be made of your print job quickly and cost effectively, enabling you to hold a sample in your hands that will be replicated in the final print run.

Digital printing has emerged as a viable option for customers to get high quality on smaller print jobs while also keeping costs down.   It has actually helped make flexo an even better process because of what it forced flexo to accomplish: better registration, rapid changeover, wider color gamut and higher quality prepress. 

 

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Topics: digital printing Large Run Printing flexographic label printing

Proofs - The Proof is in the Proofing

Proofs are important for ensuring accuracy, not just in color reproduction, but in content management and page layout - spelling and type errors, position issues, etc.  Proofs serve many purposes and are very important, one could relate them to the rough draft of an essay. It saves the cost of printing a final document that may contain errors or unexpected color changes.  The primary goal of proofing is to serve as a tool for customer verification of job accuracy. 

This blog will look at all the choices available to the customer when it comes to proofing.

When you place a custom label order you have a choice.  You can request a PDF proof of your artwork, a color proof or a press proof.

The biggest advantage of PDF proofs is speed.  Once the art is finalized, the prepress department sends a PDF proof to the customer.  With a PDF proof you can receive and approve your proof immediately after prepress has emailed it to you.  It is always going to be the quickest proofing method.  If your artwork is fairly simple, with just text and some basic graphics then a PDF proof may be right for you.  You can view your proof on your screen or print it out on your inkjet or laser printer.  Keep in mind that the colors will be different from your finished labels.

Color proofs, also called match prints are proofs printed using color management.  Software associated with the printer utilizes sophisticated technology to simulate the printing behavior of diverse printing technologies.  This software analyses color from a specific device.  For example, a press and applies that to a profile.  This color profile is then applied to the job upon printing for an accurate color representation.

With press proofs you get to see exactly how your labels will look.  If your label is being printed digitally, you can request a digital press proof.  This proof is printed on the same press that will print the finished labels, so the color will be exactly the same.  You can even cut out the label from the proof sheet and stick it on a jar or container to see how it looks there, thus avoiding any surprises.

If your labels are being printed on a flexographic press, a press proof would be too costly.  This is because the whole press would need to be set up with stock, plates and colors just for one press proof.  The alternative, if color is critical, is to be involved in the printing process.  Being on press while the label is manufactured allows the customer to see the final product.  If the color isn’t to the customer’s liking, plates can be adjusted to meet the customer’s needs.

Proof Example

Whichever proofing method you choose, always proofread your label artwork carefully.  It is good to have someone else proofread it as well. It is a lot less expensive to fix a problem before the artwork goes to press than after you receive your labels.  When you think your art is fine, just proof it one more time.  We have learned from experience that the more time you spend studying your proof, the less likely a mistake will make it through to press.

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Topics: color consistency Color Proofing Proofs Proofing

Beverage Labels - Find Out What's Trending

The beverage industry is one of the largest industries in the world and also one of the most competitive.  Beverage manufacturers are looking for any advantage when it comes to having their product stand out on the shelves.  Manufacturers are becoming more aware of the impact labels have on their potential customers and are putting more effort into label design.  Beverage labeling, once almost an afterthought, has come a long way.  No longer a device used for simply naming the product and listing its ingredients, labeling is now an art form, a promotional tool that not only tells a story, but sends a valuable come-closer message to increasingly demanding consumers.  Labels, with their eye-catching design and clear information, are what help customers pick up the beverage in the first place.  A quality drink and satisfying taste will keep customers coming back for more.  This blog will take a look at some of the technology used with beverage labels.

More and more beverage companies are moving away from paper labels towards film labels.

Graphically you can’t do as much with paper as with film.  Film yields a higher print quality.  Paper labels can’t take the same abuse, like getting wet, hot or scratched.  In addition to durability and moisture-resistance, many customers and consumers are seeking an upscale appearance as well.  This can be achieved through design, but also via the labeling material itself.

Manufacturers are becoming increasingly focused on green technology and efficiency.  Beverage companies are always looking for ways to save money without cutting corners, so sustainable technology is top of the list now because of the potential savings that it represents.  This means using materials that cost less and do not interfere with recycling.  Beverage companies are also looking for thinner films.  One of the advantages of going thinner is that it can take some of the cost out of the process because you’re using less material.  It helps the label really disappear on the bottle — the thinner it is, the more it looks like it’s painted on the bottle.  Thinner labels also help beverage companies become more sustainable.  By switching from a 2.6 mil white BOPP to a thinner construction made from 2.4 mil white BOPP, customers can reduce the environmental impact associated with this material.  These results are driven by a 23% reduction in the material weight of the facestock, adhesive and liner.

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Clear film labels are popular in cases where color is among a product’s main features.  It allows companies like Gatorade to show off the product’s color, which often drives consumer selection.  A lot of consumers select Gatorade flavors based on favorite colors and not flavors.  Clear labels are used because beverage makers want the product to interact with the package graphics to create maximum shelf appeal.  The clear, no-label look packaging is viewed as more contemporary, modern and hip.  The no-label look is popular among other non-alcoholic beverages, like fruit drinks, teas and coffee drinks. 

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Topics: Pressure Sensitive Labels beverage labels
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