Digital Label Printing Is The New Norm

Twenty years ago, almost all product labels were printed on offset machines but today digital label printing is the new norm. This is because the two previous disadvantages of colour accuracy and speed are substantially reduced.

Our HP Indigo 6900 label printing machine prints your product labels extremely quickly for a digital machine. The new digital label printing machinery for Renton’s Labels in 2020 has been a complete revelation. This machine is capable of printing hundreds of thousands of labels in one day, something that would not have been possible just 5-10 years ago.

The biggest concern with digital label printing has always been the ability to match PMS colours for your printed labels. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. It is a system that allocates a number to literally thousands of colours. It enables large and smaller businesses for that matter to consistently produce their company logo and other colours in the same colour even if their printing shifts to a different supplier.

All digital label printing machines use a percentage of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black to produce their colours. Flexographic label printing machines and other offset machines produce their colours by using four printing plates and the ink is printed on these plates one at a time, i.e. cyan, magenta, yellow and then black.

For digital machines, the computer program calculates the appropriate percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow and black that will produce the required colours for the printed material. This is called CMYK and when digital printing was just starting out at the turn of the century, the biggest complaint of customers was the difference in colour from digital printing to the traditional offset methods.

That difference still exists but a customer is not going to be able to tell the difference when your product labels are printed digitally on modern state of the art label printing machines. Our new HP HP Indigo 6900 label printing machine can match PMS colours almost exactly. When this is added to the speed of the machine, then there is a compelling case to print most labels digitally. In fact, this year we have printed over 100,000 labels at a time and over 6,000 linear metres on quite a few occasions this year. These jobs would not have been printed digitally over five years ago because the technology would not have been good enough.

These features are all well and good but what does it mean for you, the customer. Basically, you get:

  1. Very high quality labels – at least equivalent in quality to its offset competition.
  2. Faster delivery since labels are printed quickly without extensive setup times.
  3. Lower prices due to faster speeds and lower cost of ink and materials.

When you order your product labels, you are basically paying for five things:

  1. The use of the machine.
  2. The labour involved in operating the machine
  3. The stock including the labels and finishing items such as laminate or varnish.
  4. Ink
  5. Setup – Sometimes a new die is required but no plates are required with digital label printing

Ten years ago, digital label printing was primarily used only for short runs, i.e. those under 1,000 labels but never more than 10,000 labels. It would have taken far too long to print your labels digitally on even such medium length runs due to the higher cost of materials and the extra time needed to print these labels.

That has changed now. Today, the first option is to print your labels digitally and the offset machinery such as flexographic machines are there to backup the digital technology.

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