Printing custom labels has become an easy way to save money and time for busy businesses and individuals. Custom labels can facilitate a variety of tasks, from shipping and organization to product labelling and asset tracking. However, it can be frustrating to find that certain types of labels are not compatible with your laser or inkjet printer. Not all labels can be used interchangeably in these two printer types—which many people find out the hard way when a costly jam occurs.
No Longer One or the Other
The reason many labels are specified for use in either an inkjet or laser printer is that these two technologies employ different printing mechanisms, and many people are unaware of the difference between these two types of printing. Inkjet printers work by spraying ink onto the sheet of paper, and are useful especially in tasks that require excellent quality, such as labels with detailed graphics or rich colours. Laser printers use heat to melt toner into the paper; these printers are generally preferred for high-volume or rushed printing jobs (though, of course, there are exceptions for both types).
Since the laser printing process is so different to the inkjet method, label makers will often tailor their products for use in either inkjets or laser printers. For instance, some metallic or polyester labels are not recommended for use in inkjet printers; while using anything but high-quality label sheets can run the risk of melted adhesives and repeated jams when exposed to the high temperatures of a laser printer.
Fortunately, however, some companies do manufacture labels that are friendly to both types of printers. These interchangeable laser/inkjet labels eliminate the need to squint at the fine print to see what type of printer you need. By balancing the technologies of inkjet and laser printing, these labels provide great results regardless of your printer type (although there are some limitations if using a colour laser printer).
There are many types of inkjet/laser labels on the market to suit your needs, including removable ID labels, media (CD/DVD) and address/shipping labels, as well as a multitude of colours and types from white and pastels to fluorescents. You can even purchase a variety of differently shaped inkjet/laser labels.
Tips for Printing Custom Labels
Using inkjet/laser labels can help you avoid many printing-related issues. However, there are certain things to avoid when printing any custom label job in order to make the task more hassle free. Although the packaging might promise jam-free performance, this will not apply if you are misusing or incorrectly loading the sheets into your printer.
The following are some tips to keep in mind in order to maximise your label printing:
Do not attempt to print multiple times on a single sheet of labels. Every sheet should be fed only once through the printer; attempting multiple passes with the same sheet can cause the adhesive to melt, the edges to curl, etc.—which in turn can lead to costly, aggravating jams. Some companies make mini label sheets for smaller jobs, so you will not feel the need to reprint on a sheet that has only a few labels used.
Fan the sheets before placing them in the printer. Label manufacturers usually recommend placing the label sheets on top of 25 to 30 sheets of plain paper in the tray for the best performance.
Store any unused label sheets in their original box in a cool, dry place. Depending on the temperature and environment, labels can be stored for at least a few years.
Whenever you attempt to print custom labels in your own printer, make sure you carefully follow the instructions on the printer and your design package. If in any doubt, it is often quicker to consult a printing professional for advice than persisting with trail and error.