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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

Why Are You Being So "Pressure" Sensitive? No More Cut'n'Stack!

What exactly does pressure sensitive mean and what exactly is a pressure sensitive label? If you are labeling a product then you should know that you have choices. Have you ever heard of a cut and stack label? How about a paper label? Often times, these can be the direct competitors of a pressure sensitive label.

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Paper labels or "cut and stack" labels are applied to a product with a glue application process. Picture a stamp being licked and stuck to an envelope- it is a similar process when applying a paper label. Most beer bottles have a paper label on them. Sometimes the glue doesn't get applied consistently to the back of the paper label and what you end up seeing as a result is a label that is peeling up on the edges or corners. Paper labels are also very thin by nature of the material that is being used to print. As a result, paper labels can rip very easily. Whether you are making a custom product label, a custom food label, beverage labels, or any other kind of labels, it is good to know that you have choices in quality as well as durability. How your label is printed could very easily determine its shelf appeal.

So what is a pressure sensitive label? Put somewhat simply and a tad technically: pressure sensitive labels form a bond by simply applying pressure to the face of the label and in doing so the adhesive backed material adheres to the adherend! Put very simply- a sticker! Pressure sensitive labels are designed for a multitude of applications OTHER THAN being permanently placed on a product. There are a wide array of pressure sensitive adhesives that can achieve various results ranging from: permanent, removable, repositionable, static cling, freezer grades, light tack or even heavy tack adhesives. The list goes on. 

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The most important part of choosing label adhesives should be done by your printer. If you are having issues with your label not sticking then maybe it's time to look at some other adhesive solutions. Who knows- maybe your current printer doesn't know how to solve your problem! If you have any specific adhesive needs then you should call in an expert. Label manufacturers can bring in their material suppliers to mix and match adhesives with face stocks to find what best works for your label application. If your printer is looking to form a longstanding relationship with you and your company then he should be eager to solve your printing problems!

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Topics: coupon labels Pressure Sensitive Labels Pressure Sensitive Labels beverage labels food labels flexographic label printing bottle label Custom Food Labels Product Labeling Food Label

Flexo 101: A Survival Guide for the Pressure Sensitive Label.

Have you been struggling with designing a label? Do you have questions about what the best material is to run your label on? Do you even know what materials are available? Not sure whether to use varnish or lamination? Have you never heard of a "rewind code?" You've come to the right place. Everyone has been there before- looking for a little bit more education on pressure sensitive labels. If you are already an expert then you might not want to read on any further because this weeks blog is all about the basics of putting together flexo labels! 

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At Label Tech we have dealt with all kinds of label purchasers. Some of these people are extremely educated when it comes to flexo labels- others not so much. There are a lot of new companies out there bringing a new product to market and they are researching what the best way to label their product may be. So what did we do you might ask? We took it upon ourselves to create a "Learning Center" on the Label Tech website so that you can talk the talk when it comes to flexo labels! Right in the upper right side of our website you will find the Learning Center. Here are some of the questions you may find answered!

  • What is the best finish for your label?
  • What is a "Rewind Code?"
  • What is Digital printing?
  • What is four color process?
  • What is full bleed?
  • What is the best size for your label?
  • What are my material choices?
  • What is the ordering process?
  • What is the proofing process?
  • What are these new things called QR Codes?

Note: We feel that having this information can help customers better understand the world of the pressure sensitive label! We hope you find our learning center helpful and if you don't see the answer to the specific question you have feel free to reach out to a specialist. Thanks for tuning in this week to Flexo 101.


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Topics: four color process 4CP labels label tech inc rewind code Label QR Codes Lamination Varnish Pressure Sensitive Labels Pressure Sensitive Labels Protecting Inks Choosing a commercial printer flexographic label printing

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

What the Heck is Four-Color Process? AKA 4CP.

What the heck is four-color process or what is commonly referred to as full color? Well, don’t feel bad about not knowing or having limited knowledge on the subject. In flexographic printing and digital printing it is good to have a brief understanding of what 4CP stands for and what it can do for your labels. CMYK and full color are both commonly referred to terms in label printing. Full color is not anything special so don't worry about your friends laughing at you for not understanding what it means. It is just a commonly referred to term for 4CP. CMYK is important. CMYK refers to the colors that are used in four-color process: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The true meaning of the K is for Key Plate, however to make things simple let's just refer to it as the black plate. Click here to find out about our prepress department. Printing in 4CP allows for the printer to construct any color in the Pantone (PMS) book from these four colors. In doing so it allows the graphic designer who is creating your labels to get way more creative in designing your labels.

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Side note: if you want a "spot color" then you are referring to us picking an actual PMS number out of the pantone book. If you look in a "bridge" book then you can see the difference between making a color out of 4CP versus using the actual color itself. It is a subtle difference but good to take in to consideration when designing a label.

The CMYK process works by partially or entirely subtracting reflective light from whatever surface it is covering. In most cases the surface is white and often times when a Flexographic printer is printing on clear surfaces they will first lay down a coat of white to get a better color reflection, much like a painter laying down a base coat. 

Label Tech Inc has become an expert at four-color process printing. We run 4CP on many of our flexographic Mark Andy presses and we also run 4CP on our digital press. 

Printing a four-color process image and then laying down one or more spot colors can make for a label that has pop or more shelf appeal then your competitors. Stay tuned for more info from Label Tech Inc on labels and labeling. 

Topics: four color process 4CP labels label tech inc digital printing salsa label multiple sku printing Color match issues for labels color consistency color inconsistency labels coupon labels Pressure Sensitive Labels beverage labels food labels flexographic label printing cosmetic labels pharmaceutical labels consumer product labels

Considering what makes your food labels stick?

Label Tech, Inc has been manufacturing food labels for the food industry since 1985. We have assisted customers such as Dunkin Donuts, Pearl Meat, Stonewall Kitchen, Cabot Cheese and many others. Food labeling can be a simple process and at other times often complicated. Are you labeling a glass jar or a plastic bottle? Is your product “hot fill” or room temperature? Are you labeling your product in a freezer or in a warehouse? If you have a product that is going to be exposed to condensation have you considered protecting the inks? There are many more questions to take into consideration.

 

At Label Tech, Inc our customer service department is constantly being trained in the art of application. At Label Tech application is everything.  What I mean by that is the series of questions that we need to take in to consideration in order to make sure your label sticks to your product, and that your customer can still clearly see your branding from the first use of your product to the last.

 

Gringo Jack’s is a small business based in Vermont. They make salsas and hot sauces that are… well… delicious! Jack and Michele who run the day-to-day operations of the company wear many hats. Small business owners are often busy people, their time is valuable. For Jack and Michele, becoming label experts in between running a company and promoting a brand wasn’t an option. They needed a vendor who understood their needs fast and was able to produce in a timely manner. They turned to Label Tech Inc.

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Having a wide variety of salsas and hot sauces we understood immediately that the products we would be filling would most likely be run in combination so as to save Gringo Jack’s money by getting the price per thousand down over larger quantities. Side note- if your label manufacturer isn’t offering you price breaks at higher order quantities then you need to talk to us. Running in combo we were also able to use as many common plates as possible to get the plate charges down.

 

The first questions we had for Jack and Michele were all about application. If you can get the application of the label accurate the first time around, you can save everyone a lot of time, money and headache. One of the sales representatives at Label Tech was able to assess the situation quickly and professionally. Gringo Jack’s uses a hot fill technology- that is to say; the salsas and hot sauces are going into the glass jars at a high temperature. If we used a regular permanent adhesive, the labels would of bubbled and peeled off almost immediately. By switching to a freezer grade adhesive we were able to prevent this issue from occurring. Another issue that we wanted to avoid was having the inks on the front of the label run or smear over time by condensation or sauce being wiped off the front of the jar. By placing a lamination over the label we easily avoided this issue. Jack and Michele have been very pleased by our work.

 

If you are experiencing label issues with a food label you don’t have to put up with it! There are vendors out there who can assist you in having a better presentation with your product. Stay tuned for more blogs from your label experts at Label Tech!

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Topics: label tech inc salsa label hot fill labels glass jar labeling multiple sku printing in line labeling Pressure Sensitive Labels food labels flexographic label printing food label printer

Color Match Issues for Food Labels Conquered by Label Tech Inc Again!

Virginia Chutney is a family owned company based in Rappahannock county, VA. The company has been making specialty chutney's ranging in flavors from Balsamic Fig to Spicy Plum, Rhubarb and many others since Clare and Neville Turner founded the company and settled in VA. 

As a manufacturer of specialty chutneys the company grew and eventually needed a line for filling jars. Once the line was set up to run it was time to order food labels. Filling jars that are hot fill can be tricky when it is time for labeling. When the product is filled in the jar, often times the jar remains hot for some time. Placing a label on a hot jar may sound simple, but if your flexographic label printer isn't adhesive savy, it can make for messy labels. Their label problems didn't end with poor adhesive selection. 

Virginia Chutney was also experiencing issues with consistent label color. If your label printer is sending you inconsistent labels with every shipment, chances are either one of two things is going on: one, he's not printing the labels for you and he's subbing out the work to other printers each time for to find the best margins to make money off of you. If you are buying from a print distributor instead of going direct to a label manufacturer you are most likely paying 15-30% more than you should be for your labels. Or two- he doesn't know what he's doing. If you combine the issues that Virginia Chutney was having with their labels, chances are that's enough for you to look at a new vendor. 

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Label Tech Inc is also a family owned and operated business and they were ready to make a difference for Virginia Chutney. 

Solving color issues is something we are very familiar with. Virginia Chutney has many different products that are all run with the same size label. This allowed Label Tech Inc to switch them over to a digital press for superior four color process label printing and unmatched color consistency. Our HP Indigo Digital press sits in a climate controlled room and our press operators mark down all the color readings on the job ticket. This allowed our press operators to match color exactly on all future repeat orders for Virginia Chutney. 

Freezer grade adhesive allowed us to run hot fill labels for them with no bubbling or peeling of the label after it was applied to the hot jar. Simple solutions are easy once you've been down that road before. Here is what Clare Turner had to say about Label Tech Inc's most recent order for Virginia Chutney: 

Just wanted to thank you for doing such a wonderful job with the Cranfiggy labels - we asked for a rushed job on a small amount of labels and then sent you the wrong UPC and yet you still managed to get them to us well ahead of time.

Our experience with printers has always been complicated but working with Label Tech Inc is a joy and we will recommend you at every opportunity we get.  We will be at the Fancy Food Show (Booth 3026) next week and if you plan to attend please try and visit us.

Thanks very much

Clare

Clare Turner
The Virginia Chutney Company

Label Tech Inc has over 25 years of experience in the label manufacturing business. We have been ISO Certified since 1998 and have a quality control procedure in place for every thing that we do. Please allow us to fix your label problems or take a look at us as a new vendor. 

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Topics: four color process 4CP labels label tech inc digital printing hot fill labels glass jar labeling bubbling labels label not sticking label application multiple sku printing Color match issues for labels color consistency color inconsistency labels in line labeling chutney labels labels peeling Pressure Sensitive Labels food labels flexographic label printing food label printer
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