What is the process of product label printing?

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Product packaging communicates more about a product and its brand than perhaps any other marketing tool. Its point-of-purchase power is undisputed: 85% of consumers say that reading product packaging helps their in-store purchasing decisions. That puts tremendous weight on an effective product label. Creating a powerhouse label, however, requires a firm grasp of the product label printing process.

Here are the steps in taking a product label from concept to finish:

Step 1: Artwork

A well-designed label with eye-catching graphics and the right product information is the foundation for an effective label. Sharing the design concept with the label printing service provider before placing an order is instrumental in preventing any issues during prepress or the printing process.

Label printing companies can also provide input on ways to enhance artwork and label performance with recommendations on font sizing, colors, or special printing techniques such as embossing or foil stamping. They also can recommend the best face material, label size, or die for the application. Final artwork should always follow the requirements established by the print provider. This includes CMYK color mode, minimum resolution, die lines, bleed/safe zones, and acceptable file format.

Step 2: Pricing

Product label printing requires a quote based on all specifications, from size, shape, special printing techniques, number of colors and SKUs to label material, adhesive and quantity. Pricing is inextricably tied to the artwork so these two steps go hand-in-hand in the label printing process. A quote will be provided based on the specs submitted and will include an estimated turnaround time once proof has been approved. Label cost is priced per 1,000, with additional plate and die charges when applicable. Shipping and applicable taxes are additional. A nominal fee for a prototype of the label can be added to the quote.

Step 3: Prepress

Once final artwork has been submitted to the printer, the file goes through a preflight process to ensure it is compatible and includes all elements for printing. A PDF proof will be generated and emailed to the customer for approval. This is a critical opportunity to question or double-check anything that does not look accurate. How the artwork looks on the PDF proof is how the label will be printed.

Once proof approval has been submitted digitally by the customer and received by the printer, the order is then scheduled. Typical lead time at Columbine Label is 3 business days from proof approval; however, during busy times this lead time is longer. Note: changes made after proof approval start the clock over again.

Step 4: Printing

The label printing job then moves to the printing step. By this step, it has already been determined which printing process will be used: digital or flexographic. Digital printing offers economical options with consistent, high-quality color matching utilizing inks developed specifically for the digital printing process. Digital is also ideally suited for lower quantity runs and shortens production time because it does not require printing plates.

If the label printing job requires large quantities or two-sided printing, the labels will be produced on a Flexographic printer using traditional printing plates and water-based printing inks.

Step 5: Finishing and Die-cutting

From the printing press, the label rolls then move to the finishing process. Here, various treatments can be applied to the label, such as embossing, foil stamping, or protective laminates or UV coatings.

The die-cutting step is in-line with the embellishments. Here, each individual label is die-cut and large rolls are slit to separate the rows of labels.

Step 6: Winding

This final step is where it all comes together before the label is finally applied to the product. This is where each large roll of labels is wound to create smaller, more manageable roll sizes for final application. How the labels will be applied determines how the labels are oriented on the roll also known as the unwind position. For labels that will be applied by hand, this consideration doesn’t matter as much. But for labels that will be applied by a machine, the wrong copy position and unwind direction could mean your labels will be applied upside-down and will shut down production. The layout of the label on the roll, and how it needs to be applied to the bottle or package, is a basic science in the custom labeling world. At this step, the rewind machines re-roll labels as needed with quantities required by the co-packer or manufacturer handling it inhouse.

A partner in the process

Done right, custom printed labels are a brand’s best spokesperson. But mistakes and uninformed decisions can be costly. Label printing companies can serve as a true partner in the process, from beginning to end, to ensure high-quality labels produced on time and on budget.

Columbine Label Company has a proud track record to that end. Contact us to find out how we can work with you through every step in the label printing process for quality results that make what you make get noticed.

 

 

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