Digital label printing simply means that your labels are printed directly from your artwork. There is no need for plates. Your labels are printed in one step. Your artwork which is typically a PDF file, an EPS file or TIF file is printed directly from this file.
Your file is emailed to your label printer’s computer and that image is then sent to the digital label printing machine.
Digital printing of paper has been around for some time. If you type a letter and print it onto a laser printer, then this is an example of digital printing. This was the first form of digital printing but letters were always printed in black. Next came colour laser printers. These enabled your colour image to be printed directly onto your laser printer.
The next step up from colour laser printers was commercial digital printing machines. 20 years ago, all commercial printing was offset, i.e. artwork had to be converted to plates before printing. Colour separation was needed to produce four plates, i.e. black, cyan, magenta and yellow. These are the four printing colours. Today, a lot of commercial printing is done digitally.
As for digital label printing, this has been around for much less time. In fact, most of the technology is very new and as a result there are very few specialist digital label printers around. Renton’s Labels is one such company. We do not own any traditional printing equipment involving plates. All of our printing is done digitally, i.e. straight from your computer image.
Advantages of digital label printing
There are three main advantages of digital label printing over traditional label printing:
- Lower cost for short runs. You will not pay for the time and materials needed to convert the artwork to plates and then align these plates and then finally test the printing images.
- Faster turnaround. By taking out the printing plates, the labels are printed much more quickly. In fact, your labels can be printed within minutes of the artwork being checked and approved.
- Better for the environment. Digital label printing uses less chemicals, has no plates and wastes much less paper so the environment wins on three counts.
Digital label printing is still in its infancy. This is why there are only a small number of companies worldwide producing labels digitally. Today, most of the labels you see in the supermarkets are printed the traditional way with artwork converted to plates before printing. However, technology is improving all of the time and in the future, it is possible that digital label printing will become the norm rather than the exception.