If I was to ask this question 20 years ago, the answer would almost certainly be no. This is because almost all labels were printed with artwork, converted to film which was then converted to plates. Then the labels were printed in large rolls before being die-cut to the shape required. Then the labels would be prepared in sheets or rolls for packaging.
This label printing process is still used today but it is now predominantly for longer runs, i.e. several thousand labels or more likely, tens of thousands of labels.
The technology for label printing has improved so much that it is actually possible to print tens of thousands of labels digitally. This is something that would not even have been contemplated ten years ago.
The length of a print run is looked at differently from the length of a general print run for brochures, catalogues and other printing like this. The print run length for labels is determined by the amount of stock used. A 30mm circular label will actually use less than 10% of the stock of a large wine label. The longest run we have done on our digital machines is a run for 50,000 labels. The job was for some small circular labels. The labels were printed quite quickly considering the length of the run on our Neurabel 300X Printer. Then the labels were transferred to our Axxis Die-Cutter. The labels were die-cut digitally without the need for a die.
The Advantages Of Digital Label Printing
There are several advantages of digital label printing. Here are seven.
- Speed. Without the need for printing plates, you can get your labels onto the printing press much more quickly.
- Cost. The preparation costs are much lower when labels are printed digitally, i.e. from the artwork to the printer. For example, for full colour labels, four plates would be required for black, cyan, magenta and yellow. This alone can save $500.
- Short runs. The printing of labels digitally allows for the testing of different labels before going into full production and it also means that individuals have cost effective access to label printing services for labels for personal use such as at weddings or other functions.
Now, getting back to my original question which is this?
Is it possible to print labels in one day? Point 1 above shows that it is certainly possible.
This is what you need to enable this to happen.
- You need the artwork to be correct or corrected very quickly. We generally prefer the artwork to be 3mm more at each edge when the colour goes right to the edge of the label. This is called bleed.
- Label stock must be on hand. This is usually the biggest impediment to same day service as we hold a minimum amount of stock as there are many different types of label stocks in use.
- The customer must be local. Australia is a big place so a same day label printing service is restricted to those that are close by.
- Your business must be flexible. You must buy from a company that has the ability and desire to rearrange orders. Often a schedule of the day’s printing is done the day before so there must be room on the presses to include an urgent job.
So, yes it is possible to get printed labels to your customer in one day as a result of relatively recent improvements to technology. I know this as we have been able to do this for some of our customers including one local customer just a week ago.