How technology has changed label printing

It’s over 300 years since the first known label appeared, used to label small medical containers. Things were very different and much more labour intensive.  Paper was all hand-made and printed using a wooden press.

However, at the end of the 1700’s two inventions made label production more efficient – the introduction of the paper machine and principle of lithography. A little later colour printing, which had previously been done by painting coloured labels, also made things easier.

In 1935 the self-adhesive label was introduced in the US, which eventually became mainstream in the 1960’s. Then in the 70’s new manufacturing technologies and progress in electronic reading led to the first intelligent labels. The most well-known being the bar code.

Since then technology has continued to move forward and in the mid 2000’s digital label printing was introduced which has revolutionised label and packaging printing for small and medium businesses, both in terms of cost and design options.

The term digital labels simply refers to the method of print production that has been used to produce the custom labels on rolls.As across most industries over the past ten years, the digital revolution has played a part in the transformation of the label printing industry.

At label.co.uk we have embraced the digital age along with the print technologies and work solely online where we also offer an online calculator service. But that doesn’t mean you lose the personal touch as we are available to offer advice on a one to one basis as well as a bespoke design service. 

Conventional label printing is by no means an obsolete technology. Where long print runs are concerned it’s still a very viable and cost effective option. We produce digital labels (as well as conventionally printed labels) due to the versatile and flexible nature of the processes involved and because they are better suited to the needs of some brand owners, for example those with limited edition products, regular new flavours and innovative packaging and custom labels.Digital print allows shorter and more flexible print runs, with multiple designs on one run keeping costs low.

Globalisation is also playing its part in the form of language variations as well as the need to adhere to differing local laws and regulations. Personalisation of this nature takes advantage of digital technology and custom label printing. We only print our digital labels in digital offset quality, using HP Indigo Digital presses. In conjunction with that, we offer a wide variety of affordable and premium range substrates and premium finishes such as hot foil stamping.

A feature of digital label printing that has been so well utilised in both the energy drink and sports nutrition markets is the ability to simulate shiny, metallic effects on self-adhesive labels of custom size. Simulating metallic effects such as gold, silver and bronze on digital labelscan often be a cost-effective alternative to traditional hot foil labels.

And if you need labels with sequential numbering, barcode labels or QR codes, digital printing is the way to go.  Producing customised labelson transparent films can also be done much more cost-effectively using digital presses.

How far we have come since the days of handmade paper. A label printing company such as ours now relies on intricate management information systems and some of the world’s best web-fed label printing technology to produce our digitally printed self-adhesive labels on rolls.

Elliot Preece