Labels, Labels, Labels!

Printers are always casting about for new opportunities (a NECESSITY these days!). In a phone conversation I had with a knowledgeable print professional this week, the label segment came up. Almost everything has to be labeled in some form or another. So the sheer volume of labels that have to printed is staggering.

You may consider this to be part of the general packaging sector, but label printing and finishing require less equipment (in general) than the other markets segments, such as flexible packaging and folding cartons. Labels are printed on wide variety of substrates. Some are permanent, some are meant to be peeled-off. Some have film coverings.

There are also lots of requirements for many labels that don’t exist for most printed products. The Food and Drug Administration has LOTS of labeling rules that must be adhered to—especially in pharmaceutical labeling.

Label finishing, in it’s basic form, involves taking a printed label roll, slitting it to the desired finished size, diecutting each label (or set of labels), and rewinding the web into rolls with a set label count per roll. Roll core insertion may also be part of the process.

Many of these finishing modules can be part of the label press itself, especially on the newer roll-to-roll digital presses. Other machines may be standalone modules. These are fairly high-tech units. Highly accurate roll registration is required for precise label diecutting, and newer machines almost universally include slitting and diecutting modules that are powered by servo motors, with sophisticated computer controls.

In short, the label finishing (as well as printing) process is quite a bit different from the conventional bindery workflow that many of us are used to employing. But if you’re a printer with a large digital print investment, your operation may be a better fit for labels than you think. It’s certainly worth doing some research.

Don has worked in technical support, sales, engineering, and management during a career in both the commercial offset and digital finishing sectors. He is the North American representative for IBIS Bindery Systems, Ltd. of The United Kingdom.
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  • Eddie

    There seems to be a mix and match when it comes to print and finishing machinery for digital labels, what supplier is leading the way on your side of the pond.