Archive for May, 2011

What is “Copy Position” / “Unwind Code” and why does it matter?

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

If you are searching for a supplier of Custom Labels, you will hear the terms “Copy Position”, “Unwind Direction”, or “orientation”. What is it, and why does it matter? The simple answer is that Copy Position is a visual representation of how the label is oriented on the roll of labels. For Hand-Applied labels, copy position usually doesn’t matter - but for Automatically Applied labels the wrong copy position can shut down production! When a machine applies the label, the production line is often only set up to To help you understand this, we should talk about how label applicators work.

For pressure-sensitive labels, the adhesive-backed label adheres to a “carrier” or “liner” that is coated with silicone. When the liner is pulled around a straight edge, the label wants to “shoot” off the edge. That is how automatically applied labels are dispensed. Here is a picture of a label applicator head:
Typical Label Applicator

The label web is pulled over the Peel Plate, and labels are dispensed off the edge. What does this have to do with Copy Position? This Label Applicator Head is usually above or beside a production conveyor. As product moves buy the label is shot out onto the bottle, vial, or box. So the orientation of the label artwork in relation to the product is critical. With the wrong Copy Position, the label might be upside down on the container!

Let’s look at the Industry Standard Copy Position Chart:

Copy Position Chart

So how do you know what Copy Position you need? If your company does it’s own labeling, check with your production team. The equipment they use should be specified for a Copy Position. If you utilize a Contract Packager or private label manufacturer, give them a call. They will often have a Copy Position specification for each type of product they manufacture. You can always call Custom Label and ask for any Customer Service Representative. We are ready to help you with your labeling needs!

So you only need 100 labels?

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

At Custom Label, we cheer for small businesses and start-ups! Sure, we love our big customers too, but it’s great to see a new company knock it out of the park. We were all a “small fry” at one point, right? With Custom Label’s digital printing capabilities we ar often approached by pre-market start-ups wanting to produce their first labels. Each week we are approached with the question “How much for 100 labels?” Or 50, or 10, or…. This blog entry is devoted to answering the question: “When is an order too small?”

At the risk of answering with a question, “How much can you spend per label?”. We can print an order of just 1 label, but the cost for that 1 label will be very high. At Custom Label, we have state-of-the-art digital printing cabilities, very economical for printing small runs. That press, however, is not a simple machine. For all of our orders we must “prep” the art, obtain customer approval of the proofs, calibrate the press, print the labels in roll form, and die-cut and laminate them in a second machine. You can see how the labor hours add up even on a small order. For that reason it is common that the total order cost doesn’t vary much for orders under 1,000 labels. The chart below shows this concept. Buying 500 labels only costs an extra $15 versus an order of 100!


For this hypothetical label, the pricing for 100 Labels is $3,600/M (per 1,000 labels) or $360 for the order. Most of the cost is set-up of the machinery. For 500 Labels, the cost is $750 /M or $375 for the total order. Once the machine is setup and running, it doesn’t cost that much more for 5 times as many labels. As quantities grow, however, the setup costs are “amortized” and the material costs and run labor become more important. See how the 5,000 Label run drops to $ 130 / M, or only $650 for the total order?

What do I do if I really only need 100 Labels?

It all depends on the goal of your label. If your label is going to the boardroom to show your CEO a mock-up of your product, by all means a professional label is needed. Custom Label can produce a 1st Class prototype label for you. But what if you only need 100 labels to test our your new product at a local Swap Meet or Famer’s Market? Here are some less expensive solutions:

Desktop Printer Label Sheets: The major office supply stores all carry label sheets in many sizes for printing on your desktop inkjet or color laser printer in both paper and film versions. The printing will sub-professional and the materials will be inferior, but may be fine for your simple requirements.

Specialty Label Printers: Office supply stores also sell simple inkjet and thermal printers from manufacturers like Dymo and Brother, that plug into your computer. They are limited in the size of label media they can print and most only print with Black. Many simple printers like these are under $150 - but the consumable costs can be very expensive.

Industrial Thermal Transfer Label Printers: If your label requirements are significant and black printing is acceptable you can purchase an industrial thermal transfer machine. These high-end desktop printers plug into your computer, and are controlled by specialty software. Up to 1200 dpi printing can be obtained, but be ready to spend several thousand dollars on hardware and software.

Give us a call at Custom Label and we can help you decide the best path for your labels. Even if you use one of the alternatives above to get started, Custom Label will be ready to jump in when your quantities climb and you need a High Quality label solution!