There is more to the process of manufacturing a label than you might think. The process has several steps at the simplest and many steps if the label is complex.
The process begins with a large roll of blank material, which is purchased from one of a few material manufacturers who take paper or synthetic and add the adhesive and the coating required for thermal printing.
Your label converter then cuts this material to size using a metal “die”. This is a cylinder with a raised sharp outline of the label shape and size. If you order an irregular sized label, you may incur a “die charge”. (If you are told your die is being sent out for sharpening, it is the raised outline that has become dull.)
When finished label has any “preprinted” image the die-cut result is then sent through a type of printing process. The colored ink is pressed onto the label by an etched plate that is on a roller in the converting equipment. If there is more than one color on the label, each color would have a separate plate. This process adds a good deal of complexity to the conversion of a label since not only does the press need to be set up for the printing process, but the “registration” of the label is critical to making sure the print goes on the correct place.
The final step is to take the large roll of finished labels and roll it onto the appropriately sized “core” with the appropriate roll width for the specific barcode printer you are using.
How Do You Save Money When Ordering Custom Labels?
Besides simplifying your requirements (one color rather than several, for example), there are ways to save money:
- Order as many as you can at one time. Setting up the press to convert even a simple label takes time, but, once done, an unlimited number can be produced. The set-up costs are amortized over the full run, so the more you order the less the per label set-up costs.
- Discuss materials with your supplier. There is a wide variety of options for synthetics and for adhesives. Also, some converters specialize in, for example, high or low temperature labels. They purchase large quantities of raw materials, and the savings can be passed on.
- Use a label reseller/broker. It may seem that cutting out the middle-man is a good idea, but a reliable reseller has multiple sources for your label. Besides leading you through the design process, he can select the one or two converters who specialize in your type of label and can negotiate pricing for you.
To get the best quality label at the best price is your goal, and understanding the process can help you achieve it.