So you’re in the market for a new label printer but there seems to be all sorts of options, sizes, print types and the cost varies from £200 to £20k. So how do you work out which label printer is right for you? I’m going to give you 5 tips to think about when buying a label printer. Hopefully these will help narrow things down for you but if you have any doubts, wish to see/test any printers, or get samples just let us know.
5 things to look for when buying a label printer
1. Durability of print – This is where you need to think about where your labels will end up. If you’re labels are going on a shower gel, health and safety sign or freezer you might need something more durable. Most Inkjet printers use water based ink which isn’t UV secure or waterproof. You will most likely need something that has a pigment based ink or uses laser/LED technology.
2. Speed of print – Print speeds vary massively so if you’re printing lots of labels you don’t want it to take 8 hours and 3 sets of ink to print 400 labels. Memjet printers are very fast (6 or 12 inches per second) and you don’t really sacrifice the quality. Memjet technology is the most commonly used for high volume label printing.
3. How will your labels be applied to the end product? If you hand apply your labels this doesn’t tend to be an issue but If you use any form of automation you need to be sure that your labels can be rewound onto rolls or cut correctly to suit you product and application. For example, sheet fed printers will be no good if the label is applied using automation.
4. Cost per print – This is key. The general rule of thumb with label printers is that the more you spend on your printer the lower the running costs. It’s not always true but you should definitely understand you’re running costs before you buy a printer. Just because one printer is half the price of another printer doesn’t always mean it’s cheaper.
For example: I was looking at a printer for a company producing around 50k labels per year. We had narrowed it down to two printers that were up to the task. Printer 1 cost £4200 and printer 2 cost £5995. The output and speed were pretty much the same so it looked like an easy decision. When we did the cost comparison per print it highlighted that printer 1 cost just less than 8 pence per print and printer 2 cost around 2 pence per print. Quite a difference here and when you work it out based on the 50k labels per year. Printer 2 was actually £1205 cheaper per year to own, including buying the printer. Then each year following it saved around £3000 ink consumables compared to printer 1. This is where you need to be very careful.
Printer 1 – Cost: £4200
Cost to print single label – £0.08
Cost to print 50k Labels – £4000
Cost to own the printer for 4 years printing 50k labels per year including buying the printer – £20,200
Printer 2 – Cost: £5995
Cost to print single label – £0.02
Cost to print 50k Labels – £1000
Cost to own the printer for 4 years printing 50k labels per year including buying the printer – £9,995
This is why it’s very important to determine your running costs. Ideally you need to print one of your labels to understand the costs. Don’t work from generic samples provided with the printer. Just because the size is similar to what you’re printing, the cost could be way out. When you have the option to print your own artwork as samples do it. It’s usually free and you get to see exactly what your labels would look like. Send us your artwork and we can show you exactly what each printer will cost you to own.
5. What size is your label? – Label printers tend to support either 4 or 8 inches in label width. A few are somewhere in the middle with 8.6″ (220mm) around the biggest label printers go to. This might rule some printers out straight away. Remember that only one of your label dimensions needs to be this narrow. For example, you could have a 12 x 4 inch label (Maybe like a beer label) and print it on it’s side so it fits through a 4 inch wide printer.
There are many more options and things to think about when it comes to choosing your label printer. I suggest you get samples, costs per print and even go and have a play with any printer you’re looking to purchase. It’s nice to know all of this info and the printer limitations before you buy. Our team are here to guide you if you need help and there is no cost to this so what have you got to lose.
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