By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 3
Digital label printing continues to grow as demand for versioned product packaging and targeted, personalized campaigns expands. Depending on predicted run and volume lengths options are available for wide format print service providers (PSPs) looking to get into producing labels, stickers, and decals.
All Shapes and Sizes
When we discuss labels in wide format, it’s more stickers or decals—so in that respect, print-and-cut and print-to-cut capabilities are paramount. PSPs leverage existing technologies with minimal investment and offer add-on services quite easily.
“Many wide format shops already own everything necessary to produce labels. Print-and-cut workflows can produce high-quality labels without any additional investment. Mutoh’s VerteLith RIP software makes it easy to create the variable data printing necessary for label work. The ability to produce labels exists so it’s just a matter of finding a way into that market,” explains Ken Parsley, product applications engineer, Mutoh America, Inc.
The range of label or sticker options is vast. “Labels come in all sizes, shapes, and colors these days. One of the coolest aspects of Roland’s latest print/cut devices, like the new TrueVIS LG Series printers, is that they can both print and cut with amazing quality and speed. Typically, long-run labels are produced on gravure-type presses, but with the development of printers like the LG Series, many buyers have migrated away from long runs and are doing more unique shapes and colors. Advanced UV roll-to-roll printers, such as the TrueVIS LG Series models, offer the ability to do full rolls of labels or stickers because of the newer smart technology take-up systems,” shares Jay Roberts, UV printer product manager, Roland DGA Corporation.
A PSP might wonder, why add labels as a service? Steve Lynn, director, labels and packaging, Durst Image Technology, says customer demand and growth in label printing are primary reasons. “The ability to produce labels could also be brought on as a business segment to reach customers that they aren’t currently serving as clients and helps create a growth track for a PSP. Having more than just wide format services available also helps diversify the business, which can allow stability when socioeconomic conditions change.”
“There is demand for roll-to-roll digital label presses within the wide format print provider segment, more specifically, the demand for cost-effective digital solutions as presses are often used in these environments to augment wide format,” adds Mike Pruitt, product manager, SurePress, Epson America, Inc. Those PSPs making the leap from a wide format print/cut workflow are looking for label printers around the $200,000 price point with the ability to print high print quality with white ink, continues Pruitt. “With a dedicated label press, print shop owners benefit from a lower cost per label as the substrate is less expensive and labor input is less.”
Juan Kim, CEO, Valloy Incorporated, points out that implementing dedicated roll label printers and even cutters helps to maximize a print shop’s income thanks to the higher production volume.
It’s logical that a sticker, decal, or label is a great complement to existing wide format work. It could be as easy as offering a decal with every poster or banner printed. Maybe the customer is looking to hand out stickers at a trade show, the same event you just created a silicone edge graphic frame for.
“Many print shop owners currently print pieces for posters or other portions of client advertising campaigns. Within these campaigns, there may be five to seven different print needs. Having the ability to provide labels helps expand the volume of work for the print provider, allowing the business to serve as a one-stop shop for the customer and increasing the profit potential,” explains Roberts.
Most of a print shop’s existing customers have needs beyond wide format. “Labels can often complement a shop’s existing work by answering a demand that exists with their current clients. It also allows for a print shop to take on new jobs and clients. With the ability to print labels digitally, they can play a major role in a local or test campaign, as they can be produced and delivered quickly to get products on the shelf faster,” suggests Lynn.
Pruitt points out that while these jobs are complementary, they are also on the smaller end of the spectrum where label converters typically do not focus. “This can result in adding more revenue while using the same or similar front-end software.”
“Since labels can be produced without any additional investment they could be added to the shop’s product offerings and fill any gaps they may have in their normal workflow,” adds Parsley.
Based on input from these vendors, adding labels, stickers, and/or decals to a print shop’s product offerings is a win-win. It can be done by utilizing existing print/cut wide format technologies or by adding a narrow format device to your business. Determining which is the best fit depends on the planned volume and run lengths.The next article in this series takes a look at learning curves to tackle when adapting label printing as well as trends in the label space in 2023.
Apr2023, Digital Output