What You Need to Know About Sustainable Printing

In the UK, thesustainable printing printing industry is considered to be the 4th largest in the world. However, while there are over 6,000 printing companies there, very few of these have taken voluntary steps to reduce their impact on the environment.

Over the last few years, the printing industry has gotten appalling publicity because it used several chemicals that were hard on the environment. But due to rising demand for climate and carbon-neutral products and practices, printing businesses are going green, adopting environmentally-sound, best-use practices so that they can achieve a low carbon footprint. And, the printing industry has also jumped on board with something called sustainable printing. In fact, sustainable printing is becoming an industry standard.

What Is Sustainable Printing?

Sustainable printing is a more aggressive approach to going green. This approach involves consideration of the environment where several facets of printing are concerned.

Paper

A company can engage in sustainable printing by using paper that’s ancient forest friendly. This means that any certified papers or inkjet labels a company uses must contain a high amount of post-consumer waste. As well, this type of paper must not contain any virgin products that came from old-growth, endangered or ancient forests.

When a company uses Carbon Balanced paper, they can be sure that the World Land Trust has balanced the carbon impact.

Responsible Ink and Shipping Practices

Although not a new product, soy ink is one of the most significant components of sustainable printing. Soy ink releases less than 5% VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds into the air, which results in improved air quality. Soy ink can also assist the paper recycling process, because it can be removed more easily from paper than other ink such as petroleum-based ink. To the business that uses it, soy ink can also be a cost-effective choice. Soy ink spreads 15% farther than other inks, and tends to be brighter in colour than other inks.

Of course, there are caveats with using soy ink. One is that soy ink can take longer to dry than its petroleum-based counterparts because it has no VOC solvents to help with evaporation.

Avoiding the use of mineral oils, which have poor biodegradability, is another way to engage in sustainable printing.

Certifications

There are several certifications which a printing company may work towards. One of these is the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership or SGP. This voluntary program certifies those printing companies who have chosen to subscribe to the SGP`s standards.

Similarly, paper producers can also enter into the sustainable printing arena by applying for certification from the Forest Stewardship Council or FSC. The FSC promotes the intelligent use and conservation of forest resources. Other organisations include the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

Batch Printing

Certain methods of batch printing can also make a printer sustainable. In this scenario, set up and production is spread over every job in the batch. Unlike conventional printing which sees each job produced on an ad-hoc basis and being solely responsible for emissions, batch printing involves the collection and distribution of print orders in a way that saves resources.

Project Involvement

A company can also engage in partnerships with other organisations having the environment as a primary focus. Some examples are the WWF and the Climate Partnership for Forest Protection.

Engaging in sustainable printing is not only easy on the environment, but it is also able to be undertaken without compromising the quality of the products being printed. As well, this practice can result in a company being able to save a lot of money in the long run.

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Tips for Designing Your Own Labels

Having your own unique labels can help your products to stand out from the rest. And there are lots of software options available that allow you to design your own security labels from home. But what can seem like an exciting task can quickly turn into a nightmare. Thankfully, this list of tips can help you avoid the pitfalls of label design.

Layout is King

Designs having several images, shapes, text boxes and the like. And how you position them within your label’s dimensions is crucial. If your labels are small like most, then too many elements will cause them to look messy and cluttered, and may even result in them being difficult to read.

Some software can also make positioning different elements like text boxes difficult. It all depends on how much control your software gives you over those elements. For example, if you are using a program like Microsoft Word to create your labels, you may have difficulty getting elements to stay together on one label without them ‘jumping’ to the next page.

Limit Content Quantity

The amount of content on your labels is another thing that must be considered to ensure a clean and uncluttered result. Although you may be tempted to add more content, this can negatively affect both the visual appeal and readability of your labels. The fewer elements that are present in a label design, the cleaner and more professional it will look. As well, a label with less content will also take less time to produce.

Borders, Alignment and Backgrounds

Borders can make a label look neat and clean. But they can also wreak havoc with your label content. If there is existing misalignment on your label, adding a border will only make misalignment more obvious. As well, borders can cause issues with printing because most printers are not able to print right to the edge of a sheet of A4 paper. To be sure, check your printer’s manual or settings to confirm that it can or cannot print edge-to-edge.

Similarly, if you want your labels to have a coloured background, you will need to ensure that your printer can print these coloured blocks in the same sharpness and quality over several labels. As well, you will need to ensure that each label is within your printer’s printable area.

Design Layers

Having to layer elements of design on top of one another is an even trickier thing to accomplish when creating your own labels. Most software will allow you to layer, for example, text and images. However, there are likely to be limits on the number of layers your software will allow. One way to avoid this difficulty is to design your label with all its layers, and then ‘flatten’ or merge all of the layers into a single image that can be placed on your label template.

However, once a design has been merged or flattened, it cannot be edited further. So if going this route, it will be important to ensure that you have your design the way you want it before finalising it. If you are using Word to create your labels, you can both ‘group’ and ‘ungroup’ an object to merge and separate image layers as you need to.

Once all of your label’s design elements have been set, doing a test print is the next most important step. Test printing will instantly reveal any issues with alignment or communication errors between your computer and your printer. Test printing should occur on regular paper until all elements have been confirmed to be placed and printed correctly.

Understanding Black Ink Types

If you thought there was only one kind of black ink that could be used in your printer, you are not alone. Many people aren’t aware that there are actually two kinds of black ink: matte and photo.
Matte black ink is most commonly used on non-coated paper, and will usually print darker. However, if used on coated paper such as photo paper, matte black ink will not dry.

Photo black ink was born when manufacturers were unable to get matte black ink to dry on coated paper. For this reason, photo black is used in applications where paper has been coated with semi-gloss, glossy, lustre or semi-matte layers.

Printing With The Correct Ink, Correctly

The printer drivers of the computer which communicates with the printer are what usually determine which ink is best for the type of paper it will be printed onto. Interestingly, this choice may or may not be available in the print dialog box. The good news is that there are printers which will switch ink types as necessary, depending on the type of printer paper that has been inserted.

Experimentation can be another way to ensure that the right ink has been chosen for the inkjet labels being used. The choice between photo black and matte black ink can be made manually if this option is available in the printer window. While a print job using photo black on uncoated paper may cause the print shade to be darker, it is highly unlikely that doing this will completely ruin a print job.

Because matte black ink will not dry properly on coated paper, printing in this way will require caution, as smudging can easily occur. In this case, it is probably best not to consider a document printed in this way to be a final product.
Should ink not dry when you print with matte black or you don’t observe an increase in darkness, photo black ink may be your best option? On the other hand, if the ink dries and appears richer and darker, matte black may be the better choice.

Printing with Older Printers

If you own an older printer, you may need to clean or purge the printer’s heads and lines before switching from one ink type or another. Because a high loss of ink is common with older printers, it may be best to choose the best ink for your inkjet labels printing job and then keep using that ink. As well, consider the cost savings of purchasing a new printer versus repeated ink loss with an older machine.

If You Can’t Choose Between Matte Black and Photo Black

If you want to have the freedom to use both types of black ink when you need to, then it may pay to purchase a new printer. Most modern printers will have one of the two following features:
Two sets of heads, lines and slots for two black ink cartridges;

Two sets of lines and slots, but only one head, shared by both black ink cartridges. If the printer is of the first variety, no further action is required, as ink selection will be made automatically. Printers of the second variety will require ink type to be changed by choose from a menu or via a button located on the printer itself. This will result in ink loss, but it will be minimal.

The system used by your printer can easily be identified; simply look for a ‘change ink’ button on the printer itself, or within the printer’s menu. The system type can also be identified by consulting the printer’s manual.

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Fixing Common Printer Problems That Can Affect Print Quality

Choosing to print labels on your own instead of using a service can seem like a cost-effective solution. But it can quickly turn into a stressful and time-consuming nightmare when things start to go wrong. In fact, you may wish you could just take a hammer to your printer. But the reality is that, despite the headaches they cause, printers are a necessity when printing inkjet labels or anything else, for that matter.

There are many things that can go wrong with a printer that can make label printing a stressful chore. But these common issues have easy fixes.

When Printing Has Lines, Is Spotty, or Isn’t Dark Enough

There’s nothing worse than buying labels, aligning your text and printing a sheet, only to find that it’s pale, intermittent or has horizontal lines through it. This can actually be due to more than one issue. Spotty text or images can be due to a clogged print head, which can be cleaned by pressing the appropriate button on your printer and then printing a test page. The same applies if you notice horizontal lines through the text on your labels.

For text that appears faded, try consulting the print dialogue, which can be accessed by right-clicking on your printer in Windows Explorer, and then choosing Properties. Under the Print Quality tab, check to see whether “Draft” or “Economy” has been selected. These options use less ink, and so will appear lighter.

Your Ink Is Out – Or Is It?

If you’ve tried to print your labels and were warned by your printer that your ink is low or out completely, you may be ready to rush to the ink store. Many printers are notorious for being unreliable where it comes to ink level warnings. But you can circumvent your fibbing machine by using several hacks like resetting the cartridge or print a test page to discover the real truth.

Printing Your Labels Is Taking Forever

If you’re beginning to think that watching corn grow is more fun than waiting for your labels to print, then you have a problem. Text labels and even those containing images should not take very long to print at all. If slow printing is your issue, the solution will likely be in your printer settings. Ensure that your printer is set to Normal, and Photo Quality, as the latter will take far longer to print, as there will be more DPI or dots per inch being dropped onto the paper.

All of Your Label Text Won’t Fiat

Admittedly, this may be more of a user issue than a printer issue. But if you can’t fit all of your desired text onto a single label, you may first want to shrink the font size. If this makes your labels harder to read, consider using bolded capital letters in a simple font like Arial. If possible, you may want to consider using bigger labels to eliminate this issue altogether.

Your Print Jobs Disappear

If you’ve told your printer to print and it never does, it could be trying to send the job to another printer. Check to see whether you may have a past printer in your control panel that you previously set as default. If you have Windows 7, it may have selected a new default unbeknownst to you. If this is the case, just enter the Printers and Faxes area, right-click your desired printer, and set it as the default.

Utilising the solutions above can go a long way to saving time and money when printing your labels, not to mention saving your sanity.

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The Tamper-Proof Label

When it’s important to have additional security, the tamper-proof label can guarantee that an item will not be compromised. However, although its name may lead one to believe that their item is 100% secure, no label can make that claim. However, the tamper-proof label can make it much more difficult for an item to be threatened in some way.

Just as with the wax seals of old that would reveal instantly whether or not a letter had been opened, the tamper-proof label will break or self-destruct in some way when removal is attempted, or will mark the surface of an item with a message that someone has tampered with it.

Information Contained On Tamper-Proof Labels

The tamper-proof label can contain an astonishing amount of information, from the owner’s name and contact details to their company logo and address, and beyond. As well, these labels can contain information about an individual product or piece of equipment, making them very useful for inventory purposes.

Tamper-proof labels exist in many forms, from asset tags to holographic labels to labels made from polyester. They also employ several different types of adhesives.

Low Residue Adhesive

The low residue adhesive is usually used in situations where an item’s package will be kept by a company. If removed, a tamper-proof label with low residue adhesive will reveal a hidden message on both the label’s surface and the surface to which it was applied, usually the word “void” or something similar. Once removed, this label will leave some residue on the surface to which it was applied.

High Residue Adhesive

In situations where a product’s packaging will be disposed of, the high residue adhesive label is usually employed. A tamper-proof label with high residue adhesive, if removed will leave a very sticky residue, as well as a message or specific pattern on the surface of the product to which it was applied.

No Residue Adhesive

Packages that are going to be reused, as well as those items which are expensive are usually the best scenarios for the non-residue label. As its name suggests, no residue is left behind when this label is removed. However, a hidden message is revealed and left on the product itself once the label has been removed.

Where Should Tamper-Proof Labels Be Used?

There are several scenarios that are suited to the use of tamper-proof labels. Virtually anywhere that high-value moveable assets exist, tamper-proof labels can be used. Items like laptops, tablets and other such electronic equipment are often a target for thieves due to their portability and ease of concealment. As well, these types of items are in high demand, and so can be easily resold. This kind of theft costs businesses millions of dollars per year.

Tamper-proof labels should also be used in situations where compliance is required by insurance companies. For example, companies which supply the military with equipment are mandated to install tamper-proof labels on some of the products they sell in order to ensure fewer losses. Other organisations such as hospitals, government offices, warehouse and educational institutions also use tamper-proof labels to secure valuable items and equipment.

How Can Tamper-Proof Labels Benefit You?

There are several benefits to using tamper-proof labels. An organisation employing these labels can launch a deeper investigation to identify the source of the tampering.

Many labels contain colour headers that themselves contain identifying information about the department, shelf and other such data about an item. This can prevent the unauthorised transfer of an item from one department to another.

The tamper-proof label’s many security features make it a valuable addition to any company’s or establishment’s inventory.

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