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Producing labels for short runs

DrinkMore Custom Water has a booming business supplying custom-labeled bottles to its customers. But with a minimum order of a single case (24 bottles), it had to find a way to produce just the number of labels it needs for these short runs. "A minimum order from our regular label supplier is at least 1,000 labels, so it would be cost-prohibitive to order labels for these short runs from them," says president John Walsh. "Plus, we can produce the labels within a few hours if necessary, while the delivery time from our regular supplier is typically a week."

To meet this need, DCW installed equipment to produce its own labels. It started by buying two Stylus Pro 4000 ink-jet printers from Epson America, Inc. (www.epson.com) that use seven-color Epson UltraChrome ink with eight-channel printhead technology that switches between photo black and matte black automatically. The printers offer a maximum resolution of 2880x1440 dpi. DCW's in-house design staff works closely with its clients to develop unique label designs, and it then transmits these designs to the printers over the Internet.

DCW finishes the rolls of labels on a DFS digital finishing system from Allen Datagraph Systems, Inc. (www.allendatagraph.com) that laminates, contour cuts, strips the waste and slits and rewinds the finished labels onto individual rolls. The digital contour cutting done by this system eliminates cost, inventory hassles and leadtime of dies used in traditional die-cutting methods. In-line, pressure-sensitive (cold) lamination is easy with independently adjustable web tension drives for laminate tension and release-liner takeup. The cutter mode can be set up very quickly and economically, making it ideal for short-run productions.

The DFS features SmartMark(TM) automatic electro-optical registration-mark recognition, which eliminates manual registration mark sighting. The SmartMark recognition system uses a simple, 0.25 in.-sq contrasting mark placed anywhere in the lower left quadrant of the print job. The user simply moves the light-emitting-diode marker close to the printed registration mark, and the system does the rest. Cutting is digitally controlled and registers optically in both the X and Y directions.

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TAGS: Labeling
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