Category Archive: Label Solutions
With Manufacturing Day finally here, and Manufacturing Month continuing through October, there’s no better time to reflect of the importance of Made in America products and services. Keeping jobs onshore, and reshoring ones that have left are making for a stronger economic recovery as more people are able to get back to work.
Additionally, by keeping production within our borders, we’re better able to ensure that products and materials meet certain safety requirements. This is especially important for areas like food production. Having close access to facilities means that managers can frequently make trips to inspect equipment and shop conditions, while making sure that food is properly prepared and safe for consumption.
When most people think of manufacturing, they might first think of heavy machinery like cars and airplanes. But just look in your pantry and imagine all of the work that went into getting that food onto your shelves. The food itself was likely weighed, sorted, and cleaned by high-tech instruments. Then, it was moved to a filling station (the packaging containers were also produced somewhere, after all) before being labeled, sealed, and sent off for shipping. Each step plays a vital role, and together we all represent American manufacturers working hard to put quality products into the hands of our customers.
By supplying labels to numerous industries in the United States, Star Label is doing our part and contributing to American production. Separately, we each make a difference to our local economies and workforce. Together, we’re building up an entire country, one job at a time.
In “The Flexibility of Digital Printing: Part 1” we looked at conventional printing, weighing the greater upfront cost and setup time against the faster printing speed. Now that we have an understanding of conventional printing, we’re ready to explore the benefits of digital printing
Digital printing does not require the use of printing plates, which eliminates the cost and time required to produce those plates. What’s more, there’s no need to setup the plates in the press before printing. All of this means that you can go from finalizing your design to printing labels in less time for less money.
This all adds up to one thing: flexibility. Companies can make small changes to their label design without worrying about an initial investment. So for Breast Cancer Awareness month they can add a pink ribbon to their label. Or for the Super Bowl they can add on a special design. The same goes for holidays. Customers can print small label runs without worrying that they’re not making the most of an initial investment.
Digital printing is an ideal choice for product launches. Let’s take, for example, a beverage company looking to introduce five new flavors. Unfortunately there’s no crystal ball that can predict what will be a hit and what will flop. So after a few months on store shelves the company finds that there just isn’t a market for flavor number 4, but flavor number 2 was a bigger hit than they ever could have predicted. With digital printing, they’re not sitting on a stock of 200,000 flavor 4 labels that they printed to get the lowest price per piece. Instead, they were able to place those initial orders in much smaller quantities, and can now adjust numbers for future orders with ease.
As we mentioned in Part 1, the limitations of digital printing are being pushed further and further at a remarkable speed. There’s a common misconception that digital printing is only cost effective for very small print runs, a misconception we’ve disproved with our new HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press. We’re evaluating every job to determine the best option for our customers. There’s a crossover point where conventional printing becomes more cost effective than digital printing. That crossover point is being pushed further back every day.
Every product has a life cycle. Making changes to your label design and taking advantage of holidays and special events can help extend that life cycle. Digital printing also allows you to easily incorporate something new into a tried-and-true design, such as adding social media icons to a label, a request we’re receiving more and more often. Digital printing gives you what you want, how you want it, when you need it. Our new HP digital press has enhanced our digital printing capabilities, allowing us to offer our customers labeling solutions that take advantage of the very best the technology has to offer.
We recently enhanced our digital printing capabilities with the purchase of a brand new HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press. Digital printing is a technology that continues to evolve. With this new press, we’re astounded at the jobs we can print digitally, jobs that would not have been cost effective to run on a digital printer even a year ago.
Before we talk about what digital printing can accomplish, we first need to talk about conventional label printing. And before we begin that discussion, we’d like to make one important note: digital printing and conventional printing each have their own benefits, but neither is a replacement for the other. Both processes have a place in offering a comprehensive array of label solutions.
Conventional printing involves an upfront investment in printing plates. Let’s examine a hypothetical label. We’ll say that this label has three separate items. These items can be anything from a star or a swirl, to a picture of a basketball. We’ll also say that each of these three items is comprised of four process colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). To print this label, we would need to make a photopolymer image printing plate for each of the four colors. That brings us to four plates, each with a one-time cost to manufacture. Now multiply that by 5 product variations, each with its own label, and suddenly you’re up to 20 plates. Once the plates are made, they’re yours.
Conventional printing takes more time to setup than digital printing. But once the process is up and running, conventional printing is faster. One element of a project’s cost is the time it takes to print. So for a large run, the time saved outweighs the initial cost of plates, making conventional printing the more cost effective choice.
Check back for Part 2, where we’ll take a look at how digital printing differs from conventional printing, and go into some applications that are ideally suited for the digital press.
In striving for an effective private label design, it is also important to consider what makes for an ineffective private label design. The number one misstep to avoid is making the label too busy. This can result in confusion, and can cause customers to question what exactly your product is. There’s a fine line between intriguing and confusing, and it’s the difference between stopping busy shoppers in their tracks and sending them in the other direction.
It’s also important that your label designer be aware of all necessary regulatory requirements. There are rules governing everything from minimum font sizes for pharmaceutical and food items, to the proper way to lay out a nutrition fact label. These regulations are ever changing, and it’s inherent that your designer always be knowledgeable on the most up-to-date requirements.
Lastly, it’s imperative that your label be printable. A design may look great on a computer monitor, but if it can’t be manufactured then there’s not much you can do with it. At Star Label our production graphic artists are excellent designers, and they’re experts at achieving the best results with our printing processes. Even if our customers supply their own designs, we’ll preflight the design files to make sure we can print them. If there are elements that don’t work, such as a font that’s too small or a logo that’s too close to the edge of the label, we’ll work with our customers to modify the design and make it printable. If you’re curious about how to prepare an art file, visit our website: https://www.starlabel.com/how-to-prepare-an-art-file.html.
An effective private label design will entice your customers to pick your product up off the shelf. By working with a designer that helps you avoid common pitfalls and adhere to all the necessary regulatory requirements, you can rest assured that your design is working for you and not against you.
When it comes to retail products, there’s limited shelf space and a whole lot of competition. With dozens of products that seem to do the same thing, how do you get a shopper to pick up yours? Different labeling effects and decorating techniques can help do the trick.
The ultimate goal is to get a shopper to pick your product up off the shelf. One way to accomplish this is by using tactile varnishes on your label. Whether it’s raised dots of varnish that look like braille, or soft touch plastics that feel like suede, interesting textures will help intrigue customers and encourage them to grab your product and feel it for themselves.
Iridescent and holographic films are also effective. By changing colors as customers walk by, they can catch customers’ eyes and cause them to look in the direction of your product. Your entire label can be made of these light bending films, or they can be used sparingly as one element of the overall label design.
Another strategy that many private label manufacturers have employed with great success is the inclusion of IRCs—instant redeemable coupons—with their products. These are separate labels that easily peel off of your product, offering shoppers instant savings. Many times this technique is used in conjunction with bundling, whereby a manufacturer will package one product with another related product. Often times this is done to promote a new item, such as shrink wrapping a new shaving gel with a package of razors, or a small stick of deodorant with a bottle of body wash.
Be sure to come back for our next blog, where we look at what goes into an ineffective label design.
One of the most challenging products to label is, believe it or not, a shampoo bottle. The beginning considerations are pretty basic: What kind of plastic is the bottle made of? Is it a fully squeezable bottle? Semi-squeezable? Fully rigid? This lets us know how flexible the label needs to be.
The real challenge comes from silicone. You know those sticker sheets you used to get as a kid where the stickers would peel easily off of that smooth, white paper? The reason the stickers came off so easily is because the paper was silicone treated. Plastic shampoo bottles are typically made through a process known as plastic injection molding, where liquid plastic is injected into a mold hollowed into the desired shampoo bottle shape. To get the finished bottles to release from the molds faster, shops often coat the molds with a silicon release agent, similar to the one used on sticker sheets. This release agent winds up coating the bottles as well.
As you can imagine, a coating designed for easy release makes it difficult for a label to adhere. Some bottles are flame treated, a process that burns off the silicone without melting the bottle. Flame treated bottles are much easier to label. Sometimes however, the silicone release agent is actually mixed into the plastic itself, so flame treating it away simply isn’t an option.
Don’t get us wrong, we can supply a label for each of these scenarios. It’s simply a matter of knowing what we’re up against so we can provide a label that’s up to the task. That’s why we ask the questions we do. Most companies don’t know how their bottles are made, but a quick inquiry to their manufacturer can save rounds of failed label designs.
In our last blog we walked you through the basics, the questions we ask to get things moving. But on the way to crafting the perfect label solution, there are more questions to be asked, questions that change with the application. Here are some examples:
How is the product packaged? This can entail many aspects of a project. Are we providing a label for a bottle? If so, what type of line is it filled on? If it’s wet and messy and liquid is likely to spill over onto the area where the label will be applied, that calls for a different solution than a label that goes on in a dry environment. What is the application temperature? The service temperature? A label could be applied in a 35°F environment, but then the product could go on to be used in a -20°F environment. That has to be taken into consideration. Will the label be applied by hand or by an automated machine? If the label will be applied by a machine, more factors come into play. Orientation becomes critical. We have to know exactly how the label feeds off the roll. Does the side, top, or bottom of the label have to roll off first? What are the requirements of the machine? If the machine can handle a roll with a 20 in. outer diameter, and we provide a 10 in. diameter roll you’ll be stopping your line twice as often as you need to.
What conditions will the product be subjected to? The label solutions we provide need to withstand the same conditions as the products they’re being applied to. In the case of outdoor recessed lighting for example, UL safety labels are required that need to last the life of the product. Knowing the conditions allows us to provide solutions that are up to the task.
Are there any concerns with current labels? If past labels have failed, we need to make sure we provide solutions that won’t. We once worked with a customer who sold packs of baseball cards. People would peel price labels from cheaper card sets and place them over the price labels of more expensive sets. We were able to provide a tamper-resistant solution that put an end to this.
Does the label need to be removed? If you’re supplying fine crystal ware, you want your end users to be able to remove the labels from your products, but you don’t want them to remove those labels in the store. We can employ special label adhesives that break down when exposed to a certain temperature of water. This way customers can’t peel off the labels in the store, but with a wash cloth and some hot water at home the adhesive dissolves and the labels are easily removed.
The goal is to understand what an end user experiences once they have the product in their hands and to work backwards from there. We put those considerations together with the concerns of our customers, and provide a custom label solution that takes care of everyone’s needs.
At Star Label Products, we’re focused on providing the highest quality label solutions for your product. To start that process, we ask our customers the basics of their application:
What are you labeling? This is the most important question, for obvious reasons. We work with multiple adhesives and processes, allowing us to tailor solutions to the exact needs of a project. That all starts with finding out the “what.”
Do you have artwork? If so, can you share it with us? We have a highly skilled Graphics Department here at Star Label. They can prepare your artwork for label printing and converting, or help craft a design that will make your product jump off the shelf.
How do you need these labels supplied? Should they be on a roll? Do you want individual labels? Should there be multiple labels on one sheet? Once again, we are committed to providing exactly what you need.
Are there different versions? If you’re looking to label a line of products, such as fragrances, we can provide variations on the same label design. We can give each label a unique look, while preserving a theme that lets customers know these products are all part of the same line.
How many labels do you need? This helps us determine what printing method to employ to provide you with the most cost effective solution.
What’s the time frame? We’re proud of all aspects of the service we provide here, but we are most proud of our turnaround time. You won’t find anyone faster in the industry. And that’s a good thing, as many of our clients need their labels yesterday. We understand this, which is why at Star Label you don’t pay extra for emergency service. The most important part of getting you the solutions you need is getting them to you when you need them. And we’re happy to oblige.