Is It Time to Print Your Own Product Labels?

Deciding whether it makes financial and business sense to print product labels in-house on an inkjet roll printer or send them out to a custom printer to handle for you, is an important step in the health of your small business. You may be (a) making an initial decision about printing labels for a new product or (b) pulling the printing task in-house and away from an outsourced custom print house. In either situation, there are several factors to consider when making the decision.

It makes sense to print product labels in-house when:

  • Small quantities are needed. You may need just 100 labels for a special edition Christmas Spice coffee blend. Or you may need 100 different labels for 20 different products. Printing such a small quantity is cost prohibitive with an outside print shop that must perform the changeover and setup process, just the same as it would do to run 10,000 labels. This is a perfect job for a small inkjet roll printer such as an Afinia L301 or Primera LX500.
  • You need a quick turnaround. There is little to no lead time involved in changing out and printing your own labels. Even for a short run like 100 labels, a custom printer will have a lead time and you must wait for its other jobs in the queue to run first.
  • There is an undetermined need. If you are unsure about how many labels you will need by the time the product is fully labeled, then an on-demand, in-house solution is the best solution.
  • A better quality label is needed than traditional sheeted laser labels, which can be cumbersome and is an elementary solution to product label printing.
  • You are testing product labeling to see how it affects sales or your ingredients label needs adjusting to match a change in the recipe. Last-minute or frequent changes to the labels is doable with an inkjet roll label printer.
  • You have the time or an employee has the availability to handle the print job.

The business case for determining if printing labels in-house is right for your company is all based on money. Will you receive a return on investment (ROI) for the equipment purchase? How long will it take to see ROI? Afinia has excellent ROI case studies on its website to provide you with some examples of how other entrepreneurs have benefitted from printing labels in-house and how long it took them to experience ROI. These studies will help you understand the true cost of printing labels in-house, from capital expenditures like equipment to consumables like ink and blank labels.

Choosing Weatherproof Labels that Last

Some businesses have a need for labels that will last through rain, shine, sleet, and snow. If you are in a business such as landscaping supply; garden center sales; masonry products; lab product supply; an entrepreneur providing personal care products like shampoo and body wash; or a small company bottling food products such as sauces, beverages, and coffee, you know how standard labels cannot stand up to the challenge. Weatherproof labels, whether used outdoors in rugged applications or indoors in harsh environments, provide the reliability and longevity needed to maintain product information and brand identity (such as logos) on the packaging in a readable manner.

But wait, if you purchase waterproof labels is that enough? Not necessarily. Weatherproof and waterproof labels are not the same product. But that’s not all you need to know. There is a misconception that direct thermal labels and thermal transfer labels both come in a weatherproof format if you purchase bi-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) material instead of a paper label. Not true. Only thermal transfer BOPP labels, when used with the correct ribbon, are appropriate for meeting the brutal conditions present in “weather” settings. In addition, there are sheeted labels for laser printers rated for withstanding the outdoor elements.

Direct thermal BOPP labels are not appropriate for outdoor conditions, as these labels naturally fade and grey out over time and are usable only for labeling in short-term conditions such as fresh food packaging. They are not UV and temperature resistant like thermal transfer BOPP labels. Direct thermal labels may be waterproof, but they are not weatherproof. Similarly, inkjet sheeted labels are not a good choice either. The label material may be weatherproof, but ink is not waterproof and will run. If you have an inkjet roll printer, you can purchase BOPP labels specifically for inkjet printers from Blanco, that will serve as durable labels.

If you decide a blank label does not fit your needs, you may have a company such as Blanco custom design a label that will withstand whatever environment your application requires.