Once every four years, the big providers of printing and label printing machines gather together to display their new equipment. The Expo was at Darling Harbour this week. Again, the emphasis was on digital printing. The trend is for shorter runs and faster turnaround of general printing and custom labels.
The label printing industry is still the poor cousin to the general printing industry. This is understandable since despite the value of label printing to society there is still far more general printing than label printing.
As a result, the new technology for general printing, i.e. business cards, booklets, brochures, presentation folders and the like, is still more advanced than label printing machines. However, even though there were many more digital printing machines for regular paper stock than there were label printing machines, there was one label printing machine that caught our eye.
Of course, from the customer’s point of view, you do not really care how your labels are printed. Price, quality and speed is really what matters. Well, there are now more label printing machines available that can give you that option. It was less than ten years ago when we had to tell our customers that we could not print a short run of 200 full colour labels economically because we had to pay for colour separations and film and printing plates. This has changed now.
Digital label printing of custom labels in quantities as low as 100 means that full colour labels can now be done economically. There is still a small preparation cost but this is merely the time involved in getting your labels ready to print.
We have not purchased a new label printing machine yet for our business. There is still more testing and negotiating to go. Our technology is sufficient but technology is improving rapidly. For label printing companies like ourselves, the fear is not that technology will stagnate, but instead it is the fear that technology will improve so quickly that the machine purchased today will be superseded by a better model next year or the year after.
Label printing technology has come a long way in ten years. We wait to see what lies in store in 2011 and beyond.