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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

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Custom Label Printing: Inkjet Technology Provides Accurate, Durable Labels

Digital printing is making inroads everywhere, and custom label printing is no exception. Not long ago, if you wanted to print custom labels, your best option was to look for printing companies offering flexography (printing with inked, rubber relief plates). Issues to consider included ink rub resistance, and how to imprint individual barcodes or sequential numbering on the labels. Digital printing is an ideal solution, given these requirements, although not all printing companies have this technology yet.

Epson has recently developed the SurePress short-run digital custom label press. Here are some of the specifications for the press. I will follow up with an explanation of how they will benefit you.

Custom label press specifications

The Epson SurePress, which is clearly just one of the first of an upcoming line of short-run custom label presses, will print on a range of substrates up to 12.6 mm thick and 80 to 330 mm wide. The substrate will not need to be precoated to accept the water-based, pigmented inkjet ink.

Substrates will include coated and uncoated label paper as well as film, and the press will switch automatically between the two black inks (regular or matte) depending on the substrate.

The six-color ink set for this digital press includes orange and green as well as the four subtractive primary colors used in custom printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. This allows for a wide color gamut, which is essential in reproducing corporate identity colors in logos.

In addition, the patented print heads allow for both rapid print speeds and detailed imaging, including fine graduated screening.

Specialty inks ensure the durability and brilliant color of the custom printed labels.

According to company information on the press, the new Epson SurePress AQ Inks are pigment based and resin coated, allowing for quick drying and strong adhesion to the coated, uncoated, and film label base. Heating units that vaporize the ink solvent reduce the drying time and therefore improve productivity.

What benefits does this new custom label press offer?

Unlike a brochure or annual report, a label is primarily functional. It needs to be readable, accurate, and durable. This involves the following characteristics:

  • Water-Fastness: The label needs to be usable regardless of exposure to varied temperatures or moisture. Think about custom bottle labels. Wine bottles that are chilled and then brought to room temperature will produce water condensation on the surface of the glass. If the ink is not water fast, it will run, and if the adhesive is not water fast, the labels will fall off the bottles.
  • Rub Resistance: Industrial labels need to be printed with an ink that won’t rub off. The resin inks and the drying process of the Epson label press ensure good rub resistance.
  • Accurate Color: Many labels include corporate logos. Corporate colors are often difficult for printing companies to match with a standard C,M,Y,K ink set. Adding orange and green to the inkset dramatically expands the number of colors the custom label press can accurately match.
  • Detail Work: Labels often include bar codes and small type. If the barcodes are not crisp, they will cause errors in the bar code readers. The precision of the output provided by the Epson printheads ensures readable bar codes and small type.

If you need short-run labels, start researching this Epson press. Most business printing services will not yet own one. It is very specialized and new. However, representatives of the printing services you trust may be able to point you in the right direction.

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