Your labels are important to you—and your customers. They’re often a customer’s first hands-on experience with your brand. Like the perfect clothing accessory, the perfect label sets off your product and gives it a polished, memorable look.

Here at Rose City Label, we understand how important this is to your business. We’re mindful of the fact that specific labeling needs often require different approaches to ensure the best possible result. We work hard to maintain a diverse portfolio of production options. This enables us to provide a consultative technique—we aren’t married to any one solution, except the one that is best for your particular label needs.

Our label printing technicians, with an average tenure of over 12 years each, comprise the most experienced production team in the Northwest. We pride ourselves on the ability to recommend the label printing solution that’s best suited to your product and to the project at hand.

Rose City Label has recently invested in digital printing equipment. This modern label technology is our fastest-growing department, and for some labeling needs, it really shines. However, it may not be right for every project. Depending on your needs, conventional printing may still be the best option.

We’d welcome the opportunity to help you determine whether traditional or digital label printing methods would best suit your needs, but considering a few factors should give you a good idea whether digital printing is ideal for you.

Short Label Run or Long?

Digital printing is ideally suited to a short label run. Run length refers to the linear footage of label stock running through a printing press. This will vary depending on the size of each label as well as the number of labels desired. The shorter setup on a digital press makes it an attractive option, both financially and environmentally.

For simplicity, we can advise that a run of around 3,000 feet or less may be a good candidate for this modern label technology. This can vary slightly depending upon the size of each label. Run length is not the only determining factor in deciding which technology to use, but it’s a good place to start.

Static or Variable Label Data?

Multiple versions of a label, such as different color combinations with the same print data, can often be done on a traditional press. However, making such a shift is usually easier—and more cost-effective—on a digital press.

Changing Data? Go Digital

This is perhaps the easiest consideration. If you need variable data, you need digital labeling. Dynamic data elements require that the job be printed on a digital press. Printing variable data such as serial numbers, fluctuating barcodes or numbered limited editions on a conventional press would most likely be cost prohibitive.

Trusted, Unchanging Label Designs

If your label design is mature, stable and unlikely to change, conventional printing methods may be more suited to your project. If your runs are medium to long length and your design is static, traditional printing technology may be the wiser choice. Once the initial plates and setup are in place, they can be used repeatedly on the conventional press without additional charge. For such a project, conventional print methods are likely to be less expensive than digital in the end.

Type of Stock Desired

If you desire an uncoated, textured label stock, digital printing has a clear advantage. Our HP Indigo digital offset press produces an exceptional result on uncoated stocks. The print quality and resolution is slightly better on the digital press. On some types of stock, the difference isn’t apparent. On others, it can be quite noticeable.

Metallic Inks, Die Cutting and Other Conversions

Perhaps digital label printing’s biggest weakness is that it doesn’t allow many options when it comes to converting. Converting refers to everything we do to produce a label, aside from putting ink on paper.
• Complex die cutting
• Back slitting
• Top scoring
• Perforations between labels
Options such as these are not available with digital label printing.

Additionally, digital runs produce labels in rolls as opposed to sheets. If you require certain conversions or need labels delivered in sheets, you’ll need to choose the traditional press for your project. Another popular feature—metallic ink—is not available when using the digital press.

When is Digital Label Printing Your Best Option?

There are many factors to consider when deciding which press to choose for your project. If you need variable data, digital is the clear (and only) choice. Other elements that may lead you to choose digital label printing would include:
• Short label run
• Uncoated stock
• Desire for very fine quality at high resolution
• Graphic design that is still evolving or may change periodically
• You can work with a roll rather than individual sheets
If your project has any of the above qualities, no special converting and you can live without metallic inks, digital printing will deliver an impressive result.

What’s more, digital gives us the ability to produce very low cost press proofs—printed samples on your actual label stock. These can be ideal for prototypes, photo shoots, and presentations to investors.

It’s important to note that not all modern label technology is necessarily digital. Our conventional presses, just like our shiny new digital equipment, are state-of-the-art, high quality machines which produce sharp, crisp labels of the highest caliber. By working Rose City Label, you give yourself access to experienced professional support and an array of printing options.

Ready to discuss how Rose City Label can help you set your product apart from your competitors? Give us a call at 503-777-4711 or send us an email. We’ll guide you through the choices and help you select the best option for your labeling needs.

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This blog post was written by Sarita Stevens

One Response to Is Digital Printing Best for Your Label Project?
  1. I’m glad that you suggested the length of the short labels be roughly 3000 feet or less. My business partner and I are still new to printing digital, but your comments have been helpful because it sometimes offers more variety. I appreciate the helpful advice it has made the starting process easier. Thank you.


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