The Advantages of Digitally Printed Labels

digital label

The cost and setup for labels can be expensive if you’re a smaller company or you just need fewer product labels. This is where digital printing has a huge advantage over flexographic labels!

First Impressions – digitally printed labels results in high quality photo image labels which can make your product stand out alongside its competitors.

Digitally printed labels are vibrant high-quality labels which can be used for practically any project. If you’re new to customised labels, or considering making the switch from flexographic labels to digital labels, we’ve put together some reasons to help you understand the advantages of digital printing.

Fast Turnaround – Producing Digital labels does not require the need for plates, which means you don’t have the expense of a printing plate for each colour that is within the label. The setup time required for the machine/press is a lot less, as no plates are being used, meaning your labels are printed quicker so you receive your labels at an earlier date.

FANTASTIC Quality – Digital presses print at a far higher resolution than that of the traditional flexographic label, consequently the quality of your labels will contain sharp, clear images with life-like colours. However this is also dependent on the quality of the images supplied to produce the label jam

Cost – The fact that no plates are required and that less machine/press setup time means that the cost for digital label printing is considerably lower for a short run of labels in comparison to flexographic labels.

Short Run availability – Unlike flexographic labels where cost is very much dependent on the quantity, (the more produced the cheaper item cost) digitally printed labels can be produced in short runs and at a very cost effective price. This can benefit someone looking for small quantities of customised labels, for example, a new sample range for presentation in view of securing future product orders. Repeat orders are easily set up as the design is held digitally and can be printed again instantly.

Adjusting Designs – With Flexographic printing each design or change of design will require new plates. This can be very cost inhibitive, where as Digital printing also allows for adjustment to design or multi designs with no plate cost. Normally files sent in either Illustrator of pdf format for each design will be sufficient for the printer to work with.

Our digital labels can be produced in paper or polypropylene and both can be either laminated or un-laminated depending on the environment that they will be used in. They can also be cut to any shape or size without the cost of an independent cutter.

Popularity of Digital printing is spreading across many markets due to the capability of printing quantities of custom labels with each individual label containing variable data (different information).– This means that you can add sequential numbering, multiple barcodes and even names from a spread sheet allowing multiple versions of a particular label.

Flexographic label printing has been for many years the method for printing custom labels. Flexographic labels are still suitable for high volume product label orders, but as there are setup costs for each label including label artwork to create each printing plate, setting up the label machinery for each run, mixing inks for colour matching, the digital solution is fast becoming the preferred choice for shorter to medium sized runs.


2D Barcodes Aim to Prevent Falsified Medicines

The Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD)

Falsified medication has continued to be a massive and still growing problem in the European Union as counterfeiters  find more sophisticated methods to contaminate the medicine supply chain causing a serious threat to patients’ safety and health.

To fight this major problem, the EU has introduced the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) which aims to prevent falsified drugs entering the supply chain by using 2D barcodes on medicine packaging. This means that all NHS and other healthcare sites throughout the UK  that dispense drugs will have to install an identification system to scan the 2D barcodes by 2018.

The FMD will require medicines to be uniquely serialised and their authenticity verified before being dispensed to the patient. This will be done by scanning a 2D barcode on the packaging, which is consequently checked against a database to guarantee they are genuine and safe.

The 2D barcodes will also include a product number, batch number and expiry date. This will enable pharmacists to identify counterfeit drugs, ensure they are informed of genuine batch recalls and prevent out of date medicines from being dispensed.

The introduction of this Directive has generated the need for investment in technology to support the reading of 2D barcodes in all pharmacies and hospitals, as well as through the supply chain.

Local pharmacies will most likely be able to integrate new software into the current patient medication record system; however, the larger implication for local pharmacies will be the cost of the scanners that will be required to authenticate the medicines.

Larger pharmaceutical chains will no longer be able to dispense centrally, as this can lead to tampering and falsifying during shipment. All dispensing will have to be done locally.

The biggest challenge is most likely to be in hospitals, as dispensing in hospitals is far more complicated an issue. There will be many different systems requiring different sorts of software packages, to assist the variety of ways that medicines are dispensed in different departments throughout hospitals.


Advantages of Barcoding

Barcodes Improve Operational Efficiency

inventory software databaseKeeping manual logs can be tedious, time consuming and inaccurate. Barcodes allow faster and much more precise recording of data, work in progress can move quickly and be tracked precisely. Much time can be spent tracking down the location or status of equipment, or anything that moves within a company sometimes over many sites. Barcodes allow you to keep better track consequently saving time and money and allowing quicker response to changes and enquiries.

Barcodes Save Time

Depending on the task involved, time saving can be meaningful. Often the most significant examples can be found by taking an inventory. A possible example of this could be a team of 25 working over a weekend to take a stock inventory manually, compared to a team of 4 with reduced time to just 5 hours working with barcodes. Take a standard day-to-day operation where  time is saved and productivity is improved because of the use of barcodes. Booking in a shipment of 10 boxes will take approximately 2 minutes plus to write down shipment codes and serial numbers, compared to around 10 to 20 seconds to scan the barcodes. This can be a huge saving in a busy environment.advantages of barcodes

Barcodes Reduce Errors

Errors in entering data can be very costly and cause serious issues for a business such as higher transport costs, unhappy clients, and down time spent sorting out problems that have been caused. The typical error rate for human data entry is 10 per 1000 characters. Barcode scanners are much more accurate; the error rate can be as good as 1 error in 70 million characters when using laser reader technology.

Barcodes Cut Costs

In short, barcodes are able to reduce costs when used to solve local audit issues or integrated into large worldwide information systems when imported into suitable software, which in most cases can be customised to suit particular requirements.


The Invention of the Barcode

In 1948, Bernard Silver over heard a conversation between the Dean of Engineering and a super market executive asking if Drexel Institute could work out how to capture product information at the retail stores checkout. The Dean was not interested in the project, however, this sparked some interest in Bernard Silver’s mind. Bernard mentioned the overheard conversation to Joseph Woodland, another lecturer at Drexel.
Morse CodeThey both worked together on the idea for a while and Woodland decided that the project was definitely a possibility. Woodland, having left Drexel and moved to Florida, still pondered  the idea. Whilst on a Florida beach he compared the problem to Morse Code and started to draw dots and dashes in the sand. He then pulled downwards with his fingers in the sand producing thin lines from the dots.

From the image in the sand, he came up with the idea of a 2 dimensional linear Morse code and discussed the idea with Bernard Silver. They applied for a patent in 1949 which was granted in 1952. Woodland had joined IBM in 1952 and both Woodland and Silver had hoped that IBM would be interested in developing the technology, however IBM did not consider the project to be financially viable and eventually the pair sold the patent on in 1952 for $15,000. The patent was sold on again to RCA Corporation where attempts to develop the technology for commercial use were made. In 1969 RCA approached the National Association of Food Chains and between them they formed the U.S. Supermarket Ad Hoc Committee for the Uniform Grocery Product Code. It was then in 1971 that RCA’s competition IBM became involved, they moved Woodland to North Carolina where he helped to develop the Universal Product Code know as UPC barcode.UPC A barcode

In June 1974, the first item to be scanned was a packet of Wrigley’s chewing gum at a supermarket in Ohio.

Today around 5 billion products are scanned per day all thank to a few lines in the sand!


Vinyl Labels – A good option

vinyl labels for products

vinyl labels for products

Vinyl labels are now seen more and more on items and products, this is mostly due to the now lower costs to produce and the durability, however also they are also often an easier to apply option than a paper label.

Vinyl labels are now used for beer and wine bottles, security labels also many perfume bottles now have vinyl labels to display the product. Freezer packs have embraced the vinyl label almost exclusively, due to their long life, durability and protection against moisture from either a matt or high gloss film giving added protection.

vinyl labels for vehicles

vinyl labels for vehicles

Vinyl stickers are another great way to advertise your message, sports club, a special event or company. For many years vinyl stickers have been used within the retail motor industry being used in car showrooms and displayed on car windscreens. When cars are sold they are also used to advertise car dealerships in the rear windows of cars when they sold. Owners can even put their own messages on the windows and the body work. These are fixed with a permanent adhesive and very rarely removed.

window vinyl stickers

window vinyl stickers

Low adhesion vinyl labels can be used inside or outside of glass allowing them to be used a number of times making them very versatile and low cost.
 The vinyl stickers can be manufactured in any shape and a full range of colours too so the customer can literally specify what they want. Quantities generally are not an issue as they are normally produced digitally.


Tamper proof labels

Tamper proof labels are one to ensure that a product has not been tampered with or unauthorised inspection of the item has been made, as well as being a way of preventing a label being transferred from one item to another in an attempt to take or transfer ownership.

tamper proof labels void

Tamper proof labels void

There are two main types of security label which depending upon your particular requirements should work well. For warranty as well as label transfer there is the Tamper-evident ‘VOID’ label, which when removed, the word ‘VOID’ appears on the label. This makes it clearly obvious that there has been an attempt to remove the label. These labels would normally be manufactured using durable polyester and allows a variety of printing methods to be utilised, including barcode printing and full colour digital printing if the facility is available.

Tamper-proof labels break up type

Tamper-proof labels break up type

The second kind of tamper proof security label is the tamper-proof destructible label, Should removal be attempted, it breaks up making it very difficult to remove. With this material any attempt to remove the label will result in this label breaking into very tiny pieces. A very popular label especially with schools that can be custom printed to your particular requirements with barcodes, sequential numbering, or even logos against a white background.

White label blocked in black

White label blocked in black

They can also be block-printed in a colour if a plain white label is not what is required.


1D versus 2D Barcodes

You may wonder which barcodes are best, 1D or 2D? It is not which is best, but which is best for the required application.

Bar codes are similar to a font as they display information in a format that can be read electronically. (often alongside a human readable) They are very often used in connection with information held within a database. With the correct software, scanning a bar code of an item number can retrieve information about that item or product such as description, quantity and location.

A 1D barcode itself simply represents the item code in the form of any alphanumeric symbols. The more information placed in a 1D barcode the longer the barcode becomes making them very impractical for a large amount of information.

1D barcode

1D Barcode

We are now seeing more use of 2-dimensional barcodes that can be used to contain multiple pieces of information in a minimal space. This a great scenario, however how does the ability to fit vast amount of information in a barcode make it easier to track inventory?

2D barcode

2D barcode

A 2D bar code can be used to encode data such as a serial number or item and location details for tracking. The information within the barcode can be captured in a single scan and with the correct software can populate a database saving a vast amount of input time and reducing the chance of input error. A simple example is where a label with a single barcode includes the Item, Package Quantity, and Unit of Measure.  When the item is scanned, the data will automatically populate the corresponding field set in the database. The same can be applied to many applications that are using multiple barcodes on a single label or several labels representing the data. 2D barcode information is represented in a single bar code on a single label.

The compact size and the ability to put multiple fields into a single barcode are the FANTASTIC benefits of 2D technology. A 2D bar code can be read in any direction and can be read even with a mobile phone. In fact a 2D imager will normally allow users to capture both 1D and 2D barcodes at any angle.

The specific application being read by the scanner must be considered. If a product has several 1D barcodes that are placed close to each other (such as on the back of a cell phone or on a circuit board), a 2D scanner might have a tougher time reading the barcodes. Because the imaging scanner captures the entire image of the article to be identified, there is less accuracy than aligning the single red laser on the intended bar code.


Labels and Asset Management Software Benefits

Labels with a barcode combined with asset management software will ensure that your office equipment is labelled appropriately.

labels with asset management software

Labels are an important office accessory.

Using asset labels to tag laptops, expensive equipment and other valuable office related items along with capturing their identities to import into asset management software enables administrators and management to easily locate items when required.

A couple of other benefits of using asset labelling are below:

Proof of ownership

Many insurance companies now ask for a proof of ownership from an asset registry before allocating insurance cover. Asset tags with collected electronic data are normally considered as proof of ownership and help the firms to insure their items at the correct level.
The above mentioned business benefits have contributed to the increasing use of asset labels.

Deters possible theft

A security tag can deter opportunist thieves. Police recommend such systems as the thief will tend to go onto an easier target and also items can be returned to the rightful owner if clearly labelled.


Simple Security Tagging can prevent theft of property

Security Tagging is a simple solution for marking property and preventing theft. The thief will in most cases move on to an easier target. The aim for the thief is to resell the stolen item.

For many years Laptops have been an easy target for thieves. Because of the increase in tablet sales throughout the UK, the market for reselling stolen equipment has become even bigger.

security tags for permanent marking

These Security Tags can be customised with the owners details.

However due to manufacturing advancements, measures to safeguard laptops has become somewhat easier. So using security tagging, an individual can mark the equipment with owner information. The result is the resale of the stolen laptop becomes more difficult.

How security tagging can be used in protecting laptops:

Security tagging is one of the easiest ways through which a person can add user identity to a laptop, notebook or tablet. The tags are usually made from plastic or metal. They are glued to the laptop using a strong security adhesive. This makes the tag almost impossible to remove. As a result, if removal is possible there will be adhesive left on the item. Some have reversed tattoos hence leaving a message on the item. This makes resale extremely difficult.

Etching alongside Security labels is another successful way of marking items.