Design for Quality Flexographic Printing

Design for Quality Flexographic Printing

Small Changes Make Better Labels

Quality flexographic printing begins with design. By outlining reverse type, adding a stroke to white text, and overprinting elements in one color, your label quality will improve dramatically.  There will ALWAYS be a small amount of misregistration on any printing press, and these simple art techniques can completely hide that from the eye of the consumer.

Reverse Copy is the Killer!

Reversing small text out of multiple colors spells trouble on press. Overprinting (and enlarging) will improve print quality.

When 4 or more colors are printed, with text knocked out, they must be in 100% perfect registration to print clean, crisp white text.  Sadly, at high speed this really isn’t achievable consistently.

Small changes that don’t compromise the artwork integrity provide crisp text on every label.


Outlines to the Rescue!

With a small black outline, you can hide any possible movement on press.  This border around the letters hides any stray movement.  It also makes the small type appear more crisp and readable to the eye.  

Additionally, printing the Independent Craft logo in Black, over the other colors, is another good way to avoid any misregistration.  When an element is only printed in one color, it can’t show any fuzzy edges or movement.


Quality Flexographic Printing

Our presses are nearly magic, but they do have limitations.  Yes, Digital Printing is exploding and fast growing at Rose City Label, but it isn’t the perfect solution for every job.  For long run, repeating work, the proven traditional press technology works very well.  This press is over 50′ long and the paper in the press webs up and down between stations.  This means that the total length of paper between the first and last station is over 100′.  If your print registration (precision alignment between colors) is even off 0.001% that will show to the careful eye.  Learn more about quality flexographic printing here.

What is the penalty for not designing correctly?

The results will not be pretty if these guidelines are ignored.  Luckily, this image is generated within our software to ‘simulate’ a movement of HALF a MILIMETER – this wasn’t printed on press, because we applied the proper corrections before we got to press.  Part of this is handled in prepress, the graphics department within a label company that fixes things like this to make them press friendly.  With out hundreds of years of combined experience, we know how to spot these problems early in the process.  The job of the designer and customer is to trust us, work with us, and allow us to help you get the most beautiful label we can make for you.

Questions?  Call us today.  We can help.


High Speed Cold Foil Printing

High Speed Cold Foil Printing

High Speed Cold Foil Printing

This amazing technology doesn’t fully replace hot stamp printing, and it isn’t perfect for every application, but it solves many problems.  This runs at near full press speed (up to 150 feet per minute) and completely avoids the processing on a separate machine.  It takes one full step and station out of process which saves time and money.


First, a special UV-curable adhesive is printed onto the label stock using a standard printing plate – no need for an expensive engraved metal plate

Next the foil is laminated to the label stock with the wet adhesive below it.  Then, the UV lamp cures the wet adhesive throught the foil.

Finally, the foil is peeled away from the label.  You can see where the printed image was left on the label – held down by the cured adhesive. 

Perfect for Labels

This inline high speed cold foil printing is perfect for labels. Here is why:

  • Faster press speeds reduce overall cost
  • No need for expensive engraved copper plates
  • Reduced handling for faster delivery
  • Wide variety of foils available

Thanks for considering this relatively new technology for your next project.  We are growing more excited about this with every job we run.  Call us today!

Elegant Hot Stamp Foil Printing

Elegant Hot Stamp Foil Printing

Elegant Hot Stamp Foil Printing

As we come out of COVID-19 every consumer product will be looking to grow their impact.  Every bottle of beer, wine, spirits and soda will be vying for new customer eyes.  Shopping will be a new beginning and old brand loyalties will largely be forgotten.  Getting out of the gate strong, making a huge impact on your ‘new’ customers right away, can be a game changer for many brands.  Think of this restart after COVID-19 as a blank slate – a true rebirth of physical products in the marketplace.  All the old loyalties and prejudices are gone – everyone is shopping in your category for the first time.

Nothing improves your image more than hot stamp foil printing on your label.  Foil pops off the shelf.  The lighting in a retail shelf or cold case interacts with the label in a way that catches the consumer.  You have read many scientific studies about how consumer eyes track around a shelf – you have milliseconds  to grab customer attention. Using elegant hot stamp foil on your label gives you that edge – the slight margin you need to capture new eyeballs and new customers.  Don’t waste this opportunity to grab your consumer for the first time.

The Machine

Although we have been hot stamp foil printing for years, we upgraded our machine a few years ago to a full servo-driven, state of the art press.  See the machine in action on our YouTube channel.  Basically, the process is the same as it Foil Platehas always been – you heat a magnesium, copper, or brass plate up to 220 degrees and smash the foil onto the label with tremendous force.  The process is the same, but this press is much more precise.  These are the key features explained in the video:

  • Large image area – 9″ x 9″ image area allows us to run very large labels, or run many at a time for better economy.
  • Stable steel frame to transfer needed force with precision.
  • Servo driven register for exacting foil placement.
  • Modern electronics for reliable production into the future.
  • Backed by a world wide company and a US-based service technician.

For all these reasons, the new machine is a fantastic addition to our lineup.  We are thrilled to have this technology in house – staffed by our own people – so we can always meet your needs for hot stamp foil label printing.  When you need an edge in the market after COVID-19, we are here to help.

Design Considerations

Elegant Hot Stamp FoilBecause this is a bit of a crude printing technology, the design must be appropriate.  Fade screens, photos, and extreme detail is not possible with hot stamp foil printing.  The printing plate seen in this image is etched or engraved (depending on the metal) and the fine details are not possible.  Besides the plate detail, the physical process of smashing foil into paper is not as elegant as our other printing press options.  Typically bold logos, sans serif type, and borders are good candidates for hot stamp foil printing.  If you have a design in mind, please send it to us for review.  We can make suggestions to help maximize the impact of your foil elements without wasting money on areas that won’t print well.  Fine lines – especially parallel lines together – can be very difficult.  The result can be a crude, blocky appearance that defeats the effect you are trying to create.  Send us your file for review – we can help get the foil in the right places for maximum impact.

Call Us Today – We have 35 YEARS of Hot Stamp Foil Printing!

We are experts in this area.  For nearly 35 years we have been industry leaders in elegant hot stamp foil printing.  Other label printers send jobs to us!  We are respected in this area because of our knowlege, experience, and results.  This COVID-19 crisis has been brutal on many of our customers.  We are here for you and want to see you rise from this with a better business than ever.  Elegant Hot Stamp foil printing can make a difference in your recovery.  Call us today.  We can help!


Textured Varnish – Feel the Luxury!

Textured Varnish – Feel the Luxury!

Textured Label Varnish

Textured label varnish helps your product stand out. The pictures don’t really do it justice, but we can send physical samples – you will be amazed at the tactile feel of this premium textured label varnish. When it is in yoiur hand, itTextured label varnish just feels different than most labels – you know you are drinking something special.  In this case, the front label on the bottle is a deeply embossed placard that complements this label very well.  Together, they make a premium package for your product.

How do we do that?

Some customers are fascinated with the technology behind their labels, and some really just want the results.  If you like knowing how we get your labels to pop off the shelf, this is the paragraph for you.  One of the key components of high quality label printing is the delivery of ink and coating to the label stock.  The ink (or in this case, coating) is dispensed by a very expensive, finely engraved roller with microscopic ‘cups’ that carry and release coating onto the printing plate.  These rollers have various line screens – numbers of cavities per linear inch.  As the number of cells is increased, the volume of ink dispensed is reduced.  In this case, we used a very coarse, high volume roller to deliver a very thick coating of varnish to the label surface.  The textured label varnish is also enhanced with a fine grain additive – almost like putting sand into the label coating.  Together with the proper volume, pressure, and press speed, this label ends up with a very distinctive tactile feel.

What does it cost?

Now that we have developed this process through trial and error with customrs, all our customers benefit from this knowledge.  Because the textured label varnish slows down the press and uses more expensive materials, it is an upcharge from standard varnish, but it is worth it!  The cost increase is only 5-10% over a standard flat varnsih.  It isn’t for everyone, but if you like the feel in your hand, you will immediately see that it is worth the additional cost.

Call us today!

We have several different special techniques to offer.  Hot and Cold foil treatments, embossing, specialty die cutting and this textured label varnish.  We love printing, but often it is the other embellisments beyond printing that help your product stand out on the shelf.  Call us today for more information.  Now more than ever, you need your labels to stand out to the consumer, and we can make that happen for you.

We Know Trapping (but what is it?)…

We Know Trapping (but what is it?)…

We Know Trapping

We know trapping!  Trapping is a critical part of making sure all the elements of a label fit together.  This is most critical in traditional press printing – it is the compensation for the inherit movement on a mechanical printing press.  Read more to see the details of what it is and how we do it, but rest assured that we know trapping!

High quality labels reflect on your brand, and we take this responsibility very seriously, which is why we pay attention to the details like trapping.WeKnowTrapping - High Quality Printing

Chokes and Spreads

Traditional printing presses have gears and rollers.  There will always be a degree of movement between color stations.  Because of that, we need to create an ‘overlap’ between adjacent colors.  Putting colors next to each other (1:1) with no overlap gives no margin for error and it results in gaps and white lines between adjacent colors.  “Chokes and Spreads” are the common terms to describe expanding one color to cover the other.  This is all done in prepress before we make the printing plates.

Choke Example

Choke We Know TrappingA ‘Choke’ is a contraction or reduction of size of an element.  In this example, a full color image is surrounded by a black border.  They are designed to fit adjacent to each other with no overlap.  However, on a press, holding that perfect alignment isn’t possible, which can result in a white line between the elements, like this (the ‘before’ image).  In order to fix this, we ‘choked’ the outside black border into the color image in the center.  This addition of a very, very small stroke around the border ensures that even with a bit of movement, there is never a white line showing.  We can spot this problem in the graphics phase when plates are being made to avoid a white line like this.  We know trapping.

Spread Example

The opposite of a ‘choke’ is a ‘spread’ and this can mean several different things.  In the example at left, we could have spread the full color image out under the existing black border, but We Know Trapping Rose City Labelfor cost and simplicity, we chose to choke the outside border into the image.  The other very common use of a ‘spread’ is to compensate for the expansion of ink as it is transferred from the printing plate to the label stock.  Without the sread, small reverse type like this would fill in.  Again, this image on the right is a ‘before’ picture of what would happen without proper trapping.  By opening up those white letters, we compensate for the natural filling in.  Trapping is critical to getting you high quality labels, and we know trapping!


We know trapping, so you don’t have to!  Some customers are very curious about the details of our process, so we like to share our expertise. That is great – we love to share our expertise. If you want even more technical information about our type of printing, click here. But, if you only want to see the final result, and don’t care about the technical steps along the way, that is fine with us too.  We are label experts so you don’t have to be.  Rely on us and we will always get you top quality labels, delivered on time, at a fair price. Call us today!

High Speed Rotary Die Cutting

High Speed Rotary Die Cutting

Labels Need a Shape

Nearly all the labels we produce are die cut to a specific shape. Some are simple rectangles, but many are custom shapes. Regardless of the specific shape nearly all our labels to through the process of high speed rotary die cutting before they get to the customer.

Engraved Dies for Long Life

Many of our labels use very flexible, in expensive magnetic dies now. Our off line die cutter used for digital production uses only magnetic dies. Check out the video of this machine here. Even with this rapid growth, engraved (solid) dies are still very popular and useful on our longer run flexographic label presses.

Across and Around

Because the die image is engraved on the rotary tool, we can’t change the orientation on press. The die can only run in one direction on the roll. Once the label is removed from the backing, you can turn it any direction for hand application, but if you are machine applying your labels, then the run direction is critical. Nobody wants labels upside down on their bottle! For clarity, we always refer to the ACROSS and AROUND dimension on a roll label. This image shows the difference, so please be sure your labels are oriented the correct way.

Call Us Today – We Can Help

With 90 years in business and millions of labels printed, we have thousands of cutting dies to choose from. Sometimes (but not often) we have the same label size running in multiple directions on the roll. If the roll unwind is important to you, please clarify that up front before you design your labels to fit a particular cutting die.

Thank you! Call us at 503-777-4711 today!