A quick history
Historically, flexographic and screen printing have been mainstays for printing durable labels. While flexo offers the superb image quality highly desired in the consumer label industry, it has its limitations, most significantly, the need to produce larger quantities of labels to be profitable. Screen printing can produce the smaller amounts to suit OEMs’ needs, but production can be slower and costly.
Both require a significant amount of time to create plates, screens, and dies, as well as to allow for job changeovers. They also need a substantial amount of space for the storage of those items along with large quantities of label materials and/or finished product for customers. Flexo and screen also require the expertise of skilled operators to ensure proper setup, color management and image registration.
The impact of the long run requirement puts constraints on the end user in terms of label costs and production planning. A power tool OEM, for example, must plan far in advance for what tools they will produce and when, and then order a large quantity of each label required. The printer produces each label on a separate roll as a separate job, and then either the printer or the power tool OEM must store an inventory of labels for use over time. Should a label design need to be changed, any labels currently in storage must be discarded and reprinted, which is costly for the OEM.