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Printing your variable data onto durable labels for you - how much does it cost?

Oliver StocktonWritten by Oliver Stockton, Managing Director, CILS



The cost of printing your unique data onto durable labels depends on various factors, so it is impossible to provide a price list. We factor in the following:

  • the size of the label
  • the amount and complexity of data
  • the number of labels you need
  • the print method we will use

Here is some insight into the cost calculations for printing variable data onto your labels for you. This is the third of a series of blogs explaining how computer imprintable labels are priced.  

The equipment we use

Method - 1. Thermal transfer

We typically print your variable data, bar codes, etc. using industrial versions of the same generally available thermal transfer printers that you could buy because they are fast, efficient, the label rolls are easy to handle, the print is exceptionally durable and the print quality is good. The factors that affect the pricing are:

  • set-up time
  • time taken to print
  • the amount of foil used
  • quality control

Method – 2. Laser printer

It is far less usual for us to print onto laser sheets because labels with variable data are easier to handle on a roll but it’s not a problem if required, particularly for large labels.

Method – 3. CILS 3.0® Print technology

If you want a colourful, high definition printed label that also contains variable data as part of the design, we use our unique CILS 3.0® print technology instead of thermal transfer. The price factors are the same as above but with durable ink being used rather than thermal transfer ribbon. 

Click here to see more about our thermal transfer and laser printing options.

The complexity of the data and design

This affects the printing speed and therefore the price. We don’t charge for the design or artwork approval preparation of your variable data labels, however, the more data on a label and the more database fields that the data comes from, the longer it takes to ‘buffer’ the data when sending it to print.

This slows the printer down and can increase the cost. In a lot of cases, we simply print rolling serial numbers and barcodes which are all processed through our label printing software so they don’t slow the printer down resulting in lower printing costs.

The size of the label matters

It goes without saying that the larger the label the more thermal transfer ribbon or CILS 3.0® ink is used and whenever possible we provide multiple labels across a roll. Ribbons for thermal transfer printers are rarely less than 76mm (3”) wide and if your label is only one across and 25mm (1”) wide, you will be wasting 50mm of ribbon along the width for every mm in length!

Quality control

Labels are quality checked and any labels that are below standard are swapped out so that you are assured of accurately printed labels, in sequence and ready to use.

Compare the price to printing your labels ‘in house’

To keep pricing simple, we calculate all the factors involved and quote variable data printing on a per label basis so contact us and let us know what you would like printed on your labels and see whether outsourcing your label printing is more cost-effective than printing them yourself.

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