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New Compact Color Label Printer Enters The Entry-Level Prime Label Printing Market

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In January, we spoke with Basat Khalifa from DuraFast Label Company about popular compact color label printers. Since then, a new player in the entry-level prime label printing market appears to be a serious competitor to Primera Technology’s LX500. We asked Basat to tell us more.

Basat Khalifa

Q: Could you tell us a little about the entry-level label printing market?

A: This market consists of small businesses, including home-based businesses, that need to print professional color labels in small quantities. For example, imagine a small one- or two-person business that makes gourmet candies to sell at local venues like farmer’s markets, candy stores, and festivals. They want their product labels to look impressive, yet they only need a few hundred candy labels per month. Commercial printers have huge minimum requirements, set up fees, die fees, and more, making it cost prohibitive to just buy professional labels. It’s expensive! Plus, small businesses don’t need that type of volume. Affordable high resolution color label printers like the Primera LX500 allow them to print photo quality color labels at 4800dpi right at the desktop in the exact quantities they need.

Q: So, who’s been leading the market so far?

A: Up until the end of 2016, Primera Technology has dominated the entry-level color label printer market with its Primera LX400, LX500, and LX500c color label printers. These compact label printers were the most affordable, high resolution color inkjet label printers on the market. No other printer came close to the print quality — or amazingly low purchase price — of this product line.

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Q: What happened to change that?

A: Afinia Label is now shipping the Afinia L301 color label printer in this market segment, targeting small, home-based businesses. The L301 produces full color labels at 4800dpi just as its competitors does, and it is comparably priced. While the Afinia L301’s specs are fabulous, the real threat to Primera Technology has to do with its HP thermal inkjet print engine, which uses two separate ink cartridges, one for color (cyan, magenta, and yellow) and one dedicated only to black ink (the most commonly used color).

Q: My desktop printer does the same. What’s so revolutionary about that?

A: You’re right. HP thermal inkjet technology is tried and true. It’s also disruptive to the loss leader printer / ink revenue model used by companies like Primera Technology. With this model, printer manufacturers sell printers at incredibly low prices and make their money off of the ink revenue generated afterward. This means consumers get a deal upfront, but end up paying a lot of money for ink cartridges when they actually use the printer.

Primera LX400 and LX500 color label printers have the highest ink cost per label in the industry and are likely the most profitable printers from Primera Technology. Since Primera Technology announced the LX400 color label printer back on January 16, 2007, and then replaced it with the Primera LX500 on May 4, 2016, these two printers have been among the most popular sellers. The number one reason for this popularity is the low cost of purchase combined with the print quality of the labels produced. This tends to be the first printer many small business customers purchase due to its affordability.

Q: Are they happy with their purchase?

A: Generally speaking, yes — at least initially. The Primera LX500 is an amazing color label printer for its intended purpose. However, many customers are unaware of the high cost of operating such a printer until after their purchase.

Plus, many find themselves printing more and more labels as their business grows. Their ink costs increase. Most don’t realize how much they are actually paying for the inks to print their own product labels on demand until they do a comparison with some of the competing printers.

At DuraFast Label Company, we’re committed to helping customers get the right printer for their needs. One of the tools we use is a free cost analysis where we educate customers about the true cost per label using their current label printer and then show them various options within their price range. Let’s just say that some people at Primera are less-than-happy with us for this reason.

Q: So it all comes down to ink?

A: It’s a huge part of the equation and a serious, but often overlooked, consideration. With a single tricolor cartridge system, such as with the Primera LX500, a huge amount of ink is wasted.

Black is the most frequently used color on all labels. It’s used in the text, barcode and graphics. Single ink cartridges produce black by blending cyan, magenta, and yellow ink. If the tricolor cartridge finishes up any one of these three colors, then the entire cartridge has to be replaced and the remaining two colors go to waste. This is ink that you have paid for but cannot use and must replace. Single cartridge systems tend to have a high cost per label because of this wasted ink.

The Afinia L301 reduces this waste, which could potentially save a lot of ink, by having a dedicated black ink cartridge and a separate color cartridge for all the other colors.

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Q: What are the other parts of the equation? Why else might someone opt for the Afinia L301 over the Primera LX500?

A: In addition to lower ink costs with the Afinia L301, customers will also be able to print larger labels on it. The L301 prints labels up to 6 inches wide versus only 4 inches on the LX400 and LX500. This gives small, home-based businesses more label printing options.

Plus, the unwinder on the L301 can hold label rolls with a 3-inch core. This means that you can use any of our LX900 labels with the L301, giving you a very large selection of labels at a lower cost. Yes, the Afinia L301 uses the same labels as Primera Technology’s LX900 color label printers. The LX900 has the largest label selection when compared to the LX400/LX500. Note that the Primera LX500 cannot use LX900 labels, so, even though it’s newer, the Afinia L301 has a much larger selection of label stock.

Q: You mentioned the Afinia L301 and Primera LX500 are comparably priced. What are we actually looking at price wise?

A: Initially, the Afinia L301 looks slightly more expensive at $1595 USD compared to the Primera LX500 at $1225 USD. This price gap closes quickly once you start buying replacement ink cartridges. At DuraFast Label Company, we’re sweetening the deal even further by including $100 worth of free labels with the purchase of the Afinia.

So, for $1595, customers receive the Afinia L301 color label printer and a free bonus bundle worth more than $100 to help them get started:

– Free label rolls — Choose up to $100 worth of label rolls from our vast selection of materials and sizes.

Q: It sounds like the Afinia L301 could take some market share away from Primera Technology…

A: That’s what we’re seeing based on the feedback from our customers. A low retail price, amazing print quality, lower real world costs, and more label printing options make the Afinia L301 a serious contender in this market segment. Plus, when you consider the added value DuraFast offers in the form of free labels, you cannot beat the Afinia L301. More importantly, you will spend a lot less every month on your ink cartridge purchases.

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