Diversified Labeling Solutions

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 DIGITAL LABEL PRINTING

 

EXCEPTIONAL PRINT QUALITY AND FLEXIBILITY.

  MAY 13, 2020 BY REBECCA OSTERMAN

 

Since its introduction in the nineties, digital printing has revolutionized the printing world by providing an option for easy, on-demand printing. Among other changes, this extremely versatile printing technology has impacted the label business by providing options for short and medium print runs, variable printing and high-quality printing on a wide variety of print surfaces and label stock.

 

 What is Digital Printing

 

With digital printing, an electronic file is converted into a series of dots, otherwise known as a raster image. Essentially, this raster file maps the image to dots on an x/y display grid. The raster image, sometimes referred to as a bitmap will guide the imaging device to print dots in the right place to recreate the image. The image is transferred to the media using ink or toner. Unlike offset or flexographic printing, where the image must first be created on a press plate and then transferred to the media, digital printing re-draws the image for each print.

 

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 Advantages of Digital Label Printing

Because digital printing doesn’t require the creation of a press plate, it offers a number of advantages over offset or flexographic printing. These advantages include:

Faster Production Time

Digital label printing doesn’t require the creation of press plates, which shortens setup time. This can lead to faster production time and order turnaround.

 
Variable Imaging

Because the printer recreates the image with each print, digital label printing allows for variable imaging. Using information from a database, text and graphics can be changed on each printed piece. Labels can be printed with consecutive numbers or multiple barcodes. It’s even possible to print multiple versions of the same label.

 
Smaller Label Print Runs

In traditional printing where it was necessary to create and pay for the press plates for label print runs, small and medium print runs could be cost-prohibitive since there were fewer labels to spread this cost to. Without this additional expense, digital label printing is an affordable option for small and medium print runs.

 
Print Labels as You Need Them

Smaller label print runs and faster turnaround times offer companies options for more effective print management. Digital label printing offers companies the flexibility to print what they need, when they need it. This also allows brands or companies to change labels regularly, such as when testing new branding or keeping up with changing regulations.

 
Exceptional Print Quality

In the early days of digital printing, it was relatively easy to tell the difference between something that had been printed on a digital printer or offset printing. But with advances in digital printing technology today’s digital printing can match the quality of offset or flexographic printing. For example, HP indigo printers can exceed the resolution of traditional printing. Additionally, because each print is created independently, every print is the same. There is no variation in quality throughout the print run. And with automated color calibration options, you can be assured of accurate color matching.

 
Faster Proofs

The minimal setup time of digital printing speeds up the process of creating and approving proofs. Which ultimately speeds up the process.

 
Expanded Media Choices

Depending on the type of digital printing technology used, digital label printing can offer an extremely large media range. For example, HP Indigo printers can print on over 3,000 substrates including synthetics, dark media and metallics.

 Types of Digital Printing

Liquid Electrophotography

HP’s proprietary Liquid Electrophotography (LEP) process uses HP ElectroInk, a special liquid ink. The ink is electrically charged to control its placement onto a photoconductor plate. The image is transferred from the plate to a heated rubbery blanket, where it dries into a very thin ink layer. The complete image is then transferred onto the media. The blanket conforms to the topography of the media, so that the finished image mirrors the texture and shine of the stock and maintains a very high print resolution regardless of the media.

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Inkjet Printing

Aqueous - In aqueous inkjet prinitng, the image is created when drops of ink are sprayed onto label stock. Colors are created using 4-color process printing (CMYK) to produce a color spectrum. It is also possible with some devices to use a PMS match ink color. After the ink is placed, the image is air dried, usually with some heat added to adhere the image to the stock. In order for the image to adhere to the stock, it needs to be receptive to ink. This is usually accomplished by either using a specially coated material or applying a primer during the printing process. Often, the image will also then be varnished or laminated to provide an additional level of protection and durability. Not all papers and films are compatible with aqueous printing.

 

UV Inkjet – Very similar to aqueous inkjet printing, UV inkjet creates the image by spraying droplets of ink onto label face stock. The difference is that with UV inkjet, the image is cured to the face stock by exposing it to UV light. This creates a very durable image. UV printing allows for the use of a wider selection of face stocks than aqueous inkjet production, because the image is cured to the stock.

 

Laser Printing

Dry Toner – Laser printers use heat and pressure to adhere an image to the label face stock. Typically, a drum is electrically charged to be receptive to the toner. The toner is drawn to the sheet by an opposite electrical charge and then heated and pressed to create a fusion to the sheet of paper. These printers use a CMYK process to obtain a spectrum of colors on the final printed label.

 

Liquid Toner – Very similar to the dry toner method above except that the toner is so fine, it reacts more like a liquid. This allows for a somewhat better print image as the toner particles are smaller. Presses that use liquid toner require face stock that has been previously primed for the image to adhere properly or will have a priming station as part of the press.

 

 

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 High Quality Labels with DLSdigital

DLSdigital utilizes a fleet of digital presses including HP Indigo 6900, aqueous inkjet and UV inkjet to provide digitally printed labels. We can print short and medium press runs with up to 7 color process printing as well as Pantone® matching options. No matter what size or label your customers need, DLS has you covered. We can provide high-quality, digitally printed labels in thicknesses from 0.5 to 18 pt., up to 13.39" wide, in virtually any length and ANY shape. And DLSdigital offers a wide variety of face stocks, adhesives, laminates and varnishes to suit all your customer’s needs.

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