By Cassandra Balentine
Part one of two
Desktop and tabletop label printers are ideal for a range of businesses and organizations. Examples of applications these solutions address include product labels for bakeries, wineries, and butchers. Further, they are installed in industrial and government settings. Print provider may consider investing in a smaller label printer to accommodate short-run requests and proofs/prototypes.
Desktop label printers are most simply defined as digital printing machines with a small enough footprint suitable for desktop or table placement. Tabletop is another term, which generally applies to slightly bigger machines.
“Desktop machines are smaller and more compact, allowing them to rest on a standard, general-purpose desk, much like document printers ubiquitous in offices. Tabletop printers are larger with a more substantial, industrial build, requiring a sturdy table solely dedicated to housing that hardware,” offers Mohit Bhushan, global director of product management, AstroNova Product Identification.
Desktop label printers enable both industrial and commercial organizations to produce high-volume color labels for production use. “These printers are applicable to a variety of businesses and organizations—some that need large amounts of similar labels printed and others looking to customize each label,” says Bonny Chou, product manager, commercial labels, Epson America, Inc.
Chou adds that desktop label printers offer lower costs and inventory compared to preprinted labels because the printers allow businesses to have more control in the printing process.
Bhushan says adopters for these technologies include businesses of any size that would like to print their own labels in house. “Typically, the brand owners who have multiple SKUs and need smaller label quantities—ranging from tens to a few thousands—see the value in printing those on demand and not relying on outside help,” he offers. He says they also tend to find digital printing to be quite intuitive and easy since the printing process isn’t too different from document printers from a user perspective.
Commercial printers are also warming up to these technologies, specifically those looking to adopt digital print methods to start meeting requests for shorter run sizes in a manner that is more efficient and affordable than a larger analog press. “They know the future is digital and they see these machines as a gateway towards adopting bigger digital presses in the future to do much larger jobs,” says Bhushan.
Desktop color label solutions are ideal for a range of environments, including medical applications where color helps identify the correct device to use; chemicals, where GHS labeling requirements must be complied with; and retail, where color labels help customers find products more readily and draws attention. Further, craft beer/wine or food product business owners appreciate the flexibility of printing labels on demand without being forced to buy thousands of pre-printed bulk labels to get a lower price per label. “Businesses can add customization or make design challenges at any time without having to throw away pre-printed labels or wait weeks for new labels to arrive,” shares Chou.
Chou believes the addition of color to labels can aid any type of industry with business process improvement. “Having color on a label makes operations in manufacturing or warehouse environments much simpler, providing aid with placing products away in the correct location and locating products faster.”
In terms of initial investment, there are range of options now in desktop/tabletop printers. “These can range from just under $7,000 to $30,000 for the base printer model price. Generally speaking, the higher priced models offer more advanced features and a lower supplies cost to justify the cost of upfront investment,” offers Bhushan. “For example, the Trojan-Label T2-C inks come in two-liter ink tanks for each color. Those ink tanks offer a price advantage of 20 to 40 percent savings over other printer models based on the same inkjet technology that use 250 ml cartridges instead.”
Benefits and Limitations
Several benefits are associated with digital color desktop and tabletop label printers. There are also limitations to consider.
Desktop label solutions can bring productivity, a reduction in the cost and waste associated with pre-printed labels, and a reduction in process lead time, shares Chou. He adds that color plays a monumental role in capturing and focusing attention. This is increasingly important as labels become more complex due to GHS requirements with color and symbol codes for chemicals and hazardous materials or USDA regulations for fresh food or snack and baker applications.
In addition to bringing productivity in house, desktop and tabletop label printers are more affordable than printing presses. They also tend to be easier to use, set up, and maintain over time. “These printers are also reliable and offer excellent print quality that meet quite a range of label applications across different industries,” shares Bhushan.
In terms of limitations, desktop and tabletop label printers aren’t ideal for very long, continuous runs due to roll size—most printers max out at 12 inches, as well as cost per label considerations. Additionally, Bhushan points out that they typically won’t offer finishing capabilities like die cutting, lamination, or varnish due to form factor limitations. “So, if a customer is interested in those capabilities they need to invest in secondary equipment or a larger, floor-top press,” he shares.
Meeting Label Demands
For short-run label demands, print providers and businesses may consider investing in a desktop or tabletop digital label printer. Depending on volume and turnaround requirements, they present a great option of in-house label printing.
In part two we highlight several label printers classified as desktop or tabletop.
Read part two of this series, Labels within Reach.
Aug2020, DPS Magazine