By Courtney Saba
Part 1 of 2
Labels, stickers, and decals benefit from digital print thanks to the growing demand for short-run personalization for everything from party favors to jars of preservatives. These can be created in one of two ways. First, graphics are printed on an adhesive-backed media and then that roll is taken to a separate cutter. Alternatively, print-to-cut devices combine both functions in one piece of hardware to create a label, sticker, or decal quickly.
Print-to-cut models are very rarely purchased solely for producing labels, stickers, and decals—print service providers (PSPs) utilize the machines for a variety of applications including vehicle wraps. But, with the prospect of maximizing business opportunities, printer/cutters enable PSPs to offer labels, stickers, and decals as an add-on service.
Although many print-to-cut devices create labels/stickers/decals, these machines are purchased for numerous applications. “While most of these print providers do offer labels, stickers, and decals as part of their overall spectrum of product offerings, they also use their devices to produce signage, banners, point of purchase (POP) displays, and other types of graphic output,” explains Eric Zimmerman, product manager, color products, Roland DGA Corporation.
Print-to-cut models are used for printing POP displays, banners, t-shirt transfers, and floor graphics, according to Ken VanHorn, director, marketing and business development, Mimaki U.S.A., Inc. Although Mimaki’s CJV300 and CJV150 series are mainly purchased for the purpose of label applications, the devices feature a wide spectrum of capabilities, which PSPs are taking advantage of more often.
On behalf of Roland customers, Zimmerman shares that the vast majority of PSPs utilize the devices for much more than just labels. There are a small percentage of shops out there focusing specifically on labels, stickers, and decals; most PSPs strive to diversify as much as possible in order to maximize business opportunities by accepting a wider variety of jobs, says Zimmerman.
It is key for vendors to educate PSPs on the benefits of offering label applications as an add-on service to present business versatility and increase revenue.
“Mimaki shows the cost savings for these add-on services to PSPs at trade shows, open house events, mini road shows, and a network of Mimaki dealers,” says VanHorn. According to the company, Mimaki also holds an advantage by using its silver metallic and white ink capabilities through how-to videos accessible on its website.
Roland provides users with useful tips related to label/sticker/decal production through Roland Academy, accessible on its website. Product managers also discuss these applications in print/cut-related presentations at various trade shows. Additionally, Roland offers brochures, white papers, and various online resources related to label applications. “These tools and resources help users improve workflow, create customer-pleasing output, and increase profitability,” suggests Zimmerman.
Demand, Customers, and Software
The demand for output in this space tends to vary. For example, it ranges from schools and organized sports programs to small and mid-sized businesses and organizations. Roland’s print-to-cut devices are generally used for short- to medium-run production of labels, stickers, and decals. According to the company, its product offerings for these applications range from the compact, yet powerful 20-inch VersaStudio BN-20 desktop printer/cutter to wider models such as the 64-inch VersaCAMM VS-640i.
VanHorn agrees with Zimmerman on the basic size of the customers in this space. They are usually small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies, looking for print runs from 250 to 5,000 units. Mimaki also has requests for smaller quantities, such as local town administrators asking for labels ranging from political posters to reflective vehicle identification.
A print-to-cut device is usually equipped with software that creates points on the media directing the cutter where to cut, which in turn creates the desired shape of the label/sticker/decal. In most cases the learning curve is easy if the customer is already familiar with design software.
“Mimaki offers an easy-to-install plug-in called FineCut for these design software packages to create points for cutting and generate crop marks for prints that need to be laminated before cutting. Mimaki also offers Simple Cut and Simple Studio software for creating simple cutting shapes and designs. These two simple cutting packages are used mainly for Mimaki CG-FX11 and CG-SRIII cutting plotters,” shares VanHorn.
Producing high-quality labels, stickers, and decals with a Roland print-to-cut model requires a basic understanding of the VersaWorks RIP software, which is user friendly, so the learning curve is short.
It’s not often that you find a shop that focuses primarily on the creation of labels, stickers, and decals. With the tools and resources, many PSPs look to label applications as an add on to increase business opportunities and in turn maximize their revenue. In the second part of this series we look at available print-to-cut devices.
Jun2016, DPS Magazine