The Label Printers
Tell me about The Label Printers.
We were founded in 1967, starting out as an operation with just a few employees and today we have 65 employees working at two facilities in Aurora, IL. Letter presses produced most of our work at the company’s inception. Along the way we added flexo presses and eventually digital technologies such as electron beam imaging, UV inkjet, and digital offset. I joined the company in 2000.
What types of customers does The Label Printers have?
Our customer base is quite diverse. Brand protection/security labels are a focus, as well as pharmaceuticals, electronics, prime labels, nutraceuticals, and health & beauty. We produce everything from one color labels to multiple-kind, four color process with variable imaging. Pretty much if you can name it, we do it.
How did you find out about Domino?
We had one of your competitor’s UV inkjet systems in here and were looking to get another. That company no longer manufactured the one-color UV ink jet systems so we had to look elsewhere. We hit the internet and pinpointed Domino based on what the website and your salesperson had to say. We then took a trip to the Domino facility in Gurnee, IL. One advantage is Domino being local
What did you think about what you saw at Domino?
Well, as excited as we were by the website and what we heard from the salesperson, we were even more impressed when we visited Domino. It is a great facility. The team we met with answered all of our questions and was very accommodating. We came out of there with even more of a desire to form a partnership with Domino.
Tell me about the NEED to implement the Domino K600.
Well, let me go back a bit…more and more, customers want variable information printed onto film, which is why we got involved with UV ink jet in the first place. Our electron beam imaging system does not print well on films. At that point we ended up going with a different supplier. That was first and foremost getting into the UV ink jet technology. We switched to Domino for two major reasons. Number one was the 600 dpi (up from 316 dpi that we had been doing). Number two was the fact that it had the automated cleaning system for the printhead…that was huge. It saved us over an hour a day. With the other system the heads have to cool down for up to an hour before the heads can be capped for the night. It is a manual process. The Domino cleaning and capping system is automated so the operator does not have to wait for the heads to cool. Gaining an hour of production time is a big benefit.
Tell me about the types of applications being run on the Domino K600.
We have only had the Domino system since fall 2012 so we haven’t explored its full capabilities yet. So far, we print serialization, QR codes, security settings, bar codes…more for identification purposes and brand protection. We are using the 13.3” print bar.
What are some of the BENEFITS that you have seen so far by using the Domino K600?
With our previous system, at the beginning of each day, we were purging the heads, printing test patterns, making sure that we had no air in the lines to jet out, etc. With the Domino K600, we don’t have to do any of that. Automatically we are saving about 15 minutes each and every morning. There is a lot less guesswork involved. In addition, there is a lot less material used for the test pattern in getting a job ready to run. It gives us a significant saving in the make-ready time. The automated system that cleans and caps the printheads can be run while the operator is on break or lunch. This is a vast improvement over the operator taking time out of a production run to manually purge and clean the printheads.
How often are you having the Domino system automatically clean and cap the printhead?
That depends on the types of jobs we’re producing on a particular day, but roughly every four hours or so.
What about the print quality. What have you noticed?
With the print quality of the Domino K600, not only do we have more dots per inch, but we have less ink that we are using. With our previous system, we were limited to one droplet size, so we would change the voltages to put more ink down and control print that way. “Going from a droplet size of 80 picoliters with our previous system, to being able to utilize a droplet range of 6 to 14 picoliters is amazing. The Domino K600 has enabled us to decrease our ink consumption by over 10 times. So we are putting less ink down on the material, and we can print smaller information more legibly.” Today, customers more than ever want to get as much information on as little real estate as possible. So the Domino system definitely helps us with that.
What about StitchLink? The Domino printheads are automatically stitched together within the print bar so that customers can print such things as graphics and bar codes without having to worry about stitch lines or bar codes not scanning. Is that important to your business?
It has been important and will become even more critical as our work becomes more diverse. Yes, barcodes need to be seamless, but so do numbering schemes. For example, If you have five numbers in a row, and two of them are on one head and three of them are on the another head, or because of layout purposes you have two-and-a-half on one head and two-and-a-half on the other head, that caused alignment problems with the five-head system that we had. Now, with the Domino system, it’s seamless. It’s simply this is where the image lands and we know we are going to get seamless transition between the heads.
What amount of time was spent on trying to stitch together the heads with your previous system?
Worst case scenario we have spent, depending on the condition of the heads, anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour trying to stitch heads together, moving images around, trying to get the best resolution. Yes, we’ve spent up to an hour trying to accomplish that and sometimes we weren’t successful. We had to kind of go with what we got and that can compromise quality. On the Domino system we simply don’t have to do that.
When heads are manually being stitching heads together to get the print just right, some material was being wasted in the process, correct?
Absolutely. It takes a minimum 50 feet of material with each attempt at a change, so we have wasted probably thousands of feet of material trying to do that.
Has The Label Printers been able to get new print jobs because of the Domino K600?
Yes. Because we can print smaller and more legibly, it is nice for printing down to 3-point type. Also, for any type of authentication codes, QR codes, bar codes, etc. it is going to print crisper. Prior to obtaining the Domino K600, we had some difficulty printing a good, consistent code for customer trials. We are now able to so without any hassle. Quite frankly, we put it on and just print it! Before, we had to painstakingly manipulate variables in order to achieve the desired results.
What speed range are you running?
Has the Domino K600 helped increase sales revenue?
Has the Domino K600 helped increase sales revenue?
Yes, it has definitely helped revenue and I think there will be more to come now that what we have seen what it can do. We have only had it for a few months so I expect it to continue to take off.
Do you think your profit margins will increase as well?
Absolutely. We are able to put down less ink while increasing legibility - UV inkjet ink is not the cheapest ink around. Also, since the uptime is much greater using the Domino, waste will decrease.
How was the Domino K600 system cost justified?
Well, anytime you can decrease make-ready time that’s a good thing. Again, the uptime on the Domino is a significant upgrade from our five head system. When that increased by at least an hour a day, well, that’s a pretty easy sell.
I understand that you have purchased an additional Domino K600. What was the drive behind that?
We are replacing an older unit with the Domino. We have the work for it and we need to continue to look toward the future. We could probably limp along with the older system with compromised quality, but we had to look at the fact that the system needed some head replacement. We had to analyze what we wanted to do…start replacing older printheads on a system that is technologically obsolete, or do we want to go with the latest and greatest? It’s a significant investment to replace the older system’s print head and we liked what we saw in the limited time we have had the Domino K600. The advantages were obvious, so we decided to add a second one. Fortunately for us, we have the work and we need to produce it efficiently with the best quality that we can.
What do you foresee moving forward regarding digital printing?
Basically, what has limited digital print up until now is cost and/or speed. The costs associated with it will diminish as the speeds increase. Digital printer press suppliers keep pushing the faster speed envelope while being able to achieve offset or better quality. Digital offset is still the king as far as process work is concerned, but inkjet printers continue to get closer. A few years ago, you would only print very low volume work digitally because of the slow press speeds. Now, because of the faster press speeds, medium volume work can also be produced digitally. These presses are going to continue to get faster and/or wider and eventually dwarf conventional printing. It’s just a matter of when.
Anything you would like to add?
So far, the Domino K600 is everything that we expected it to be based on our diligent research. We are excited to be able to partner with Domino on our digital endeavors. Domino helps us meet, and even surpass, our customers’ expectations and should enable us to gain new ones.