How to overcome frustrations with your laser labels
Written by Oliver Stockton, Managing Director, CILS
A supplier and manufacturer of subsea equipment needed to identify their subsea tooling as part of their product traceability and rental process. Previously they used silver laser labels with a secondary clear film cover to protect the print.
They were printing their labels using a laser printer that worked well in their subsea environment. However, the over-laminate made the label they were protecting look unprofessional. They formatted their labels in Microsoft Word which they found frustrating to use.
They wanted an easy to print and apply, professional-looking label that could withstand subsea conditions to apply to the smooth base plate of their tools. They needed a low supply of 200 labels per year, and small size of approximately 40mmx50mm.
Our technical specialist advised them on the best option for their needs:
To switch to a more durable laser printable label
Laser printing is an effective way to print durable equipment labels.
Laser labels should easily resist basic oil, grease, and seawater when matched correctly to the application. If the wrong laser printable label is used, durability may not be sufficient, and a secondary clear laminate label may be applied over the top.
This laminate label is used to protect the laser print but is often used to keep the base label stuck down as well. If this is the case the label has been incorrectly specified.
Click here to see the durability of CILS laser printable labels.
Also, a laser printable label with a solvent acrylic adhesive will cure and create a permanent adhesive that will not deteriorate, in this case to the subsea tools.
To use label printing software
If you are happy with your printer but frustrated creating labels using Microsoft Word, then read on.
Microsoft Word's label functionality is geared mainly towards basic address labels or similar.
We recommend using NiceLabel software. It is easy to design and print your own durable labels from your laser printer, and you can include bar codes and incremental serial numbers.
A4, A5, and Mini sheets
Durable labels don’t have to be manufactured on A4 sheets, (LTR for the US) they can be manufactured on any size sheet provided the printer will accept it.
Laser printers can print on small photo paper, therefore it can even print labels on a mini-sheet, as long as your label supplier is able to provide them in this format.
Durable labels are not meant to be passed through a laser printer more than once. Doing this compromises the performance of the special computer imprintable coating, so mini sheets may only suit you if you are printing one or a few labels at a time.
If your label design has a lot of print on it and the print is close to the edge of the label, you may have alignment issues in your laser printer.
However, if your laser printer is in good condition and your sheet(s) of labels are correctly and carefully lined up in the feed tray, you should have no problems with A4 or (LTR) sheets.
We have supplied hundreds of millions of 5mm x 17mm labels on A4 (LTR) sheets for decades without problems.
Change print methods
The quality of thermal transfer printing is more precise than a laser printer, and they feature a label sensor to ensure your label is printed in exactly the same place every time.
Click here to see how easy it is to set up and print from a thermal transfer printer.
Professional label design and print software like NiceLabel can be used to drive thermal transfer printers.
There are many different types of durable label materials and ribbons. By correctly matching the two, the label will resist harsh solvents and chemicals far beyond the limitations of a laser printer.
There are even acetone and xylene resistant combinations where you will not need a laminate over the top of the label.
In our case study, we provided a CAB Mach II printer which has the label design and print software already built-in, so you will no longer need Microsoft Word. By using a CILS-ARA durable ribbon there was no need for a secondary clear film/laminate cover. We recommended CILS-TSSPET(LSE) satin silver polyester durable label material that has a permanent solvent acrylic adhesive suitable for slightly textured surfaces.
The new labels are in place in the workshop and are working well. The entire package only cost £550 including 500 labels. Our customer is now considering switching how they print all their other durable labels to produce them using their thermal transfer printer.