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Compact Color Label Printers: Are They Ready for Prime Time?

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Earlier this month, we chatted with Basat Khalifa from DuraFast Label Company. He had mentioned that there are various types of color label printers on the market ranging from chemical drum label printers to barcode printers, name tag printers, and more. Wanting to learn more about these differences, we’ve scheduled a few more interviews with Mr. Khalifa. Today, we asked about compact color label printers.


Q: How are today’s compact color label printers different from, say a desktop address label printer from Seiko or Dymo?

A: I love those black and white address label printers for their size, simplicity, and affordability. Plus, they serve a real need in the market. They’re great for shipping departments, food service counters, and general office use – like for filing. But there’s a world of difference between a thermal black and white label printer and a modern compact color label printer such as the Primera LX500, which I’ll use as an example.

You see, the LX500 is designed to print what’s known in the industry as “prime” labels. These are your customer-facing product labels. They give your products personality, style, and visual appeal. The Primera LX500 prints full color labels at a resolution of 4800 dots per inch. This rivals the print quality from commercial printing services, yet you can print your labels right at your desktop in the quantity of your choice.

Q: That brings up another question, why the emphasis on “on demand” label printing? What does that really mean in terms of day-to-day usage?

A: Let’s say you make handmade soaps or candles that you intend sell to luxury hotels and spas. The label needs to reflect the elegance of your product and the spa experience, and it may even need to be branded with the resort’s name. Your first order is for 400 products. In order to get a label with the level of quality you need, you’d likely go to the local commercial printing company. However, the printing service has a minimum quantity of 20,000 labels (or more). That would leave you with 19,600 extra labels, possibly branded, that you may or may not ever use.

If you had your own color label printer like the Primera LX500 or Epson TM-C3500, you could print those 400 labels as soon as the order is finalized, complete with custom branding. You wouldn’t have to pay for 19,600 labels that you’ll never use. Meanwhile, if you get a smaller order of say, 10 products, you could print those 10 labels on demand.

Q: Are there other uses for something like the Primera LX500 or is it strictly for product labels?

A: It’s quite versatile, as are competing models like the Epson TM-C3500 label printer. For example, we often recommend the Primera LX500 to companies that want to print visitors badges. The Epson TM-C3500 is an excellent choice for printing retail labels and tags, event tickets, wristbands, pharmaceutical labels, carton labels, and colorful food service labels. It features durable, smudge-proof inks but prints at a lower resolution.

Recommended: DuraFast Label – Everything You Need To Print Your Own Professional Quality Labels In-House

Q: It sounds like there’s a lot to consider when buying a compact color label printer.

A: There is, but we try to make it as easy as possible. Our label specialists are great listeners and problem solvers. Once we have a good idea about the customer’s needs and challenges, we can point them in the right direction as well as show them the most affordable choices for their budgets.

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Q: What factors determine printer price?

A: Color label printers have a wide price range. For example, the Primera LX500 is 4800 dpi printer and only $1225 USD. It is the lowest cost printer in the market, yet others printers that are only 1200 dpi are much more expensive.

The price of the printer is composed of the following items: print quality, print speed, type of ink cartridges used, and performance rating. Meaning, is the printer rated for industrial applications where tens of thousands of labels will be printed each month or just for small jobs?

The Primera LX500 has a great price for such a high resolution, but it lacks the speed required for high volume printing. It also uses a single ink cartridge and is designed for small jobs where you are printing couple of hundred labels per month only.

In contrast, at $8495, a printer like the Epson TM-C7500G is an industrial grade printer for high speed, high resolution and high performance with one of the lowest ink cost in the industry. Likewise, the Epson TM-C3500 costs just $1850. It is a low resolution label printer but with high speed and low ink cost for industrial applications.

Q: I imagine there are just as many differences between the other types of color label printers?

A: Ah, yes. I look forward to sharing those with you next time we speak.

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