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Digital Press for Labels: The Printing Advantage

Traditionally, before the digital press for labels made its printing advantage so clear, label and sticker printing has been done on big, mechanical flexographic printing presses. This has always been a complex and expensive process, involving outputting your artwork to film in order to create flexographic printing plates - which are then loaded on to the printing press, the inks are mixed and the machine is calibrated. All this must take place before you can print a single label or sticker. The digital press for labels changes all this - it brings custom label and sticker printing into the 21st century.

4 Main Advantages of Using a Digital Label Printer

1. Speed

With no plates to create, and very little setup of the machine, a custom label job printed on a digital label printer can be printed in minutes - not hours. Many flexographic printing presses can take several hours to set up for a four-color process job, whereas our digital printing press is ready to go almost immediately. Using our digital printing process, we can have 4 or 5 jobs for digital product labels out the door while the old style printing press is still being set up!

2. Quality

If you want high resolution and vibrant colors then you need digital printing. Our HP-Indigo WS4500 printing presses can print at 230 line screen, whereas most flexographic presses print at 133 or 150 line screen. You can really see the difference in the custom labels' detail and color. If you are selling your products at the retail level, you really should consider digital label printing just for the quality of the label it produces.

3. Cost

Because there are no plates to create, no film to output and minimal machine setup, fixed costs for the digital printer are very low in comparison with flexographic shops. So if you want to print a relatively small number of custom labels (say less than 25,000), you will always get a better price with digital printing. This way you can order only the products you need, rather than a huge number of custom labels just to get the best unit price - which obviously affects your cash flow in a positive way.

Additionally, custom label designs and content can change frequently. With digital printing you simply submit new artwork and we can start printing your new custom labels, whereas in flexographic printing you would need to have new plates made every time you make a change to your label or sticker (typical plate charges are around $120 per set for a single design) - so if you have multiple label or sticker designs the plate charges can add up very quickly.

"Gang running" - this is a term that refers to the ability to combine several different designs into a single printing press job. In flexographic printing, this is impossible - as each custom label design requires separate plates and setup and therefore each product carries substantial cost overheads. In digital printing, you can "gang" together multiple labels and designs (so long as they're the same size) into a single job. For example, if you have 10 designs of a 3" x 4" custom label and want 250 stickers of each design, we treat that as a single 2500-label job and price it accordingly.

4. Flexibility

Perhaps digital printing’s greatest power is its flexibility. With digital printing you can print 1,000 custom labels and every label can contain different data. That’s right - completely variable data printing. Whether you want to include names from a database, consecutive numbers, multiple barcodes, or just several versions of the same label, digital printing can handle it with ease. Don't take our word for it, though! You can see what our digital press for labels can do for you by requesting some custom label samples.

Learn More

HP Indigo WS 4500 Digital Label Printer

These articles explain in more detail how digital label printing works and how choosing a digital label printer or a flexographic one could work to YOUR advantage.

State of the Art Technology

HP Indigo WS 4500 Digital Label Printer

Lightning Labels is the first label printer in North America with two HP-Indigo WS4500 state-of-the-art digital label printing presses. These high-tech beasts are capable of printing labels up to 11” x 17.5”. With resolution capabilities of up to 230 line screen or 850 DPI in 4-color process mode, this means you can have as many color variations as you like for the same price AND there are no plate charges!

HP’s patented ElectroInk technology uses liquid inks (not toner) so you get perfect offset quality every time. For detailed information about the properties and attributes of this ink, download our PDF about ElectroInk.

We stock a variety of substrates (materials) to print your labels on; By far our most commonly used substrate is known as BOPP (which is a fancy industry term for polypropylene) - it comes in White, Clear and Chrome finishes, is very strong, impervious to water and oils, and is perfect for almost any indoor application. We also carry a White Vinyl material for outdoor uses - it is thicker, more fade-resistant and suitable for such things as bumper stickers or equipment labels.

In addition, we have access to a variety of "specialty" stocks - one example is a cream-colored textured paper stock known as Estate No. 9 - perfect for the wine industry or where a more "antique" appearance is required.

For the "finishing" phase of the label production process, we have two Rotoflex Rotary die cutters. These machines can laminate, under score, die-cut, strip, slit and roll your labels in a single pass with top speeds of 300 feet per minute. We buy only the highest quality dies from the leading die manufacturer.