Wide format printers are used to produce more than banners, display and point of purchase, and other traditional signage. As digital print technologies evolve and new media emerges, micro runs of labels are an ideal business addition for wide format print providers.
Ron Edhlund, president, Proofing Technologies, Ltd., notes the range of 50 to 500 as a sweet spot for wide format label production, but has seen a users produce up to 4,000 shrink sleeve labels for a product launch. The company partners extensively with Mimaki USA, Inc.
Eco-solvent printers, such as the Mimaki CJV30 series, which produces no odor, are ideal for in-house design studios and other operations. The device has the ability to print and die cut labels automatically. With such technology, many different variations of labels can be produced with minimal hands-on involvement.
Print service providers entering into a new niche may find it hard to determine who to market a label product to. One thing they must do is realize the benefit of variability due to cost effectiveness of short runs.
Rick Harris, product manager, product branding business team, FLEXcon, predicts that printers will look to use wide format for more than just proofing prints—they’ll produce unique micro runs where they can obtain high value on personalized labeling.
“Savvy marketers are realizing the importance of target marketing and looking to modify their labeling to appeal to specific regions,” says Edhlund. For example, a beer manufacturer may make a label with the Cubs logo on it for the North Side of Chicago, IL and a Sox logo for the South Side. “These variations are easy to produce on the computer, and now, with the use of wide format printers and JetComp media, they can make short runs of these concepts.”
Fundraising is an ideal way to sell short-run labels and get your name out there. A local manufacturer may donate a product for a regional school, allowing for the creation of promotional labels for a specific team or event.
To excel in this offering, a print provider must be educated on its own capabilities as well as how products will function in the real world. “Like any opportunity, understanding the application is the key to a successful product,” says Harris. “Although identifying the requirements of the label is important, it is equally as important to understand the desired aesthetics and print method,” he continues.
He notes that most of today’s flatbed inkjet presses—such as EFI’s Rastek—are now able to lay down texture to their ink patters, thus providing a matte or etched appearance that enhances and adds depth to the cosmetics of a print. “Optional adhesives and liners are available depending on the application requirements,” he adds.
The in-house print department of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company based in Chico, CA realized the potential of digitally printed labels when it utilized it Roland DGA Corporation VersaCAMM VP-540 printer/cutter. Looking to create custom beer tap labels, a 3.5-mil white gloss permanent adhesive vinyl laminated with a 3.2-mil luster cold laminate was run through the device. This story is just one of many examples of utilizing wide format for more than just signage.
Digitally printed labels are a cost effective addition to current services. Many customers may already request signage and other applications that could be complemented by labels. As with any new niche, a print provider must feel out its target market and gauge the level of interest. Generally speaking, labels will probably rate high.