Does the new year have you rethinking your processes? Maybe you want to streamline operations, reduce costs, or present your brand in a more professional manner. If you’ve been thinking about investing in a color label printing solution, you’ve come to the right place. Technology has come a long way over the past ten years and the latest color label printing innovations make in-house label production a cost-effective way to produce your own professional product and industrial labels.
However, there’s a lot to consider when buying a color label printer. Our 2020 color label printer buying guide goes over them. Your first consideration comes down to the type of labels you intend to print:
- Prime labels — Prime labels are the highest quality labels requiring high print resolution, crisp graphics and text, and vibrant colors. They’re typically consumer-facing labels like product and packaging labels. Dye-based color inkjet label printers, Memjet label printers, color laser printers, and digital label presses are commonly used to print prime labels.
- Industrial labels — Industrial labels are used for a variety of purposes such as mailing and shipping labels, inventory labels and tags, retail labels, service deli and butcher counter labels, carton and pallet labels, transportation and logistics labels, barcodes, and so on. The labels don’t generally need to be impressive or super high resolution, but they do generally need to be durable. Thus, pigment ink-based color inkjet label printers and thermal label printers are commonly used for printing industrial labels.
- GHS / BS5609 labels — These are the most durable of all label types and subject to specific regulations. GHS / BS5609 chemical labels are commonly used to label chemical drums, hazardous goods, and other items subject to chemical, UV, marine, and other harsh environmental exposures. GHS label printers can print regular industrial labels and must use GHS BS5609 labels certified for use with the printer.
Label Printing Technologies
The most common label printing technologies include:
- Color inkjet label printing — Color inkjets use liquid ink and printheads to disperse droplets of ink onto the label. Dye-based inks, which are used for prime label printing, produce the most vivid colors but are subject to fading over time. Pigment-based inks are much more durable and resistant to water, chemicals, scratches, UV light, oils, and other environmental factors but are less vivid in color. Fixed, page-wide print heads offer dramatically faster print speeds than their moving counterparts which travel back and forth across the label.
- Laser label printing — Like traditional printing, color laser label printers use a laser and toners rather than ink. Color laser label printers tend to be fast. Some even include white toner cartridges, allowing you to include white graphics and text on dark or clear media.
- Direct thermal and thermal transfer label printing — Direct thermal and thermal transfer label printers use heated print heads to produce an image. Direct thermal printers do not require a ribbon, but they do require a special type of thermal material to print on. Thermal transfer label printers use heat to transfer the ink on a ribbon to the label material. Thermal printing is typically black on a white label though color ribbons are available.
Once you have an idea as to the type of labels and technology that’s right for you, you can begin looking at the different color label printer models. We are happy to print and mail free label samples on any of the label printers we sell so you can see the differences for yourself. Request free samples here.
Prime Label Printers
- Primera LX500 (4-inch color label printer) and Primera LX910 (8-inch color label printer) — Primera’s prime label printers feature a print resolution of up to 4800dpi, offering outstanding quality in full color. These dye-based color inkjet label printers are ideal for small home based businesses that want to produce professional quality prime labels on demand.
- Afinia L801 and Afinia L901 color label printer / press — If you need to print a larger volume of color label printers, take a look at the Memjet-powered Afinia L801 and L901 color label printers which are extremely fast and built for high volume label printing.
- UniNet iColor 700 and iColor 900 — Another high speed option comes in the form of these laser color label printers from UniNet. With a print width of up to 12.9 inches on the iColor 900, you can print multiple labels across the roll and then use a label finishing system to slit the roll into individual rolls.
Industrial and GHS Label Printers
Thermal label printing is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 4.4 percent by 2025.