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Looking for advice for high-quality inkjet label sheets

Discussion in 'Paper & Other Media' started by Mars, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. Apr 12, 2017
    Mars

    Mars Printing Apprentice

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    Greetings,

    I'm hoping some of the experts here will be able to give me some advice.

    I print relatively small labels (~ 3" x 4" and 3" x 1") that are applied to ABS plastic (video game cartridges). For years I had been using 8 1/2" x 11" inkjet sheets, which had my label designs die cut into the paper. This worked out great, as the paper label material resulted in a high-gloss output, was fairly thick, with vibrant, accurate colors.

    Then one day the paper mill changed the paper. I didn't know this until I ordered another 1,000 sheets, printed a sheet of labels, and was wondering what the heck was going on. The new paper was thinner, had a much duller gloss, and worst, colors were way off and washed out. Black in particular prints as not a deep black as it previously was, but as a dark gray. Cannot get an accurate red out of this paper, either. And, probably due to its thinner nature, labels tend to peel up on the edges (especially in areas of heavier ink).

    I've tried several printers (including high-end inkjets from Epson and Canon), and they all result in the same, poor output.

    While I sometimes order large runs of labels from third-parties, I need the ability to print labels for custom projects from my customers. Sometimes I need to print a single label, other times short runs of up to a hundred labels.

    I have requested samples from many different companies, and it seems most everyone is using this same type of inkjet paper now. And if not that, I've had people send me even worse paper.

    I am desperately looking for a high-quality inkjet stock that I can have die-cut and then print myself. Ideally from the same company (that is, they stock the paper and can cut it for me after I purchase a die).

    Thanks in advance for your help!!
     
  2. Apr 12, 2017
    Roy Sletcher

    Roy Sletcher Indolent contrarian Platinum Printer Member

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    Where in the world are you located?

    Based on the quantities you mention it is extremely unlikely you were dealing with a paper mill. More likely a retail reseller, paper merchant, or possibly even a paper broker.

    Can you get the specifications of the self-adhesive material that was successful? This will enable you to identify the base paper AND the properties of the adhesive. With that information you can consult a paper industry grade finder for your geographic area and identify the same specs from an alternative Mill/merchant/broker.

    The paper industry has suffered greatly in recent years and mills have closed, and product lines have been rationalised.

    What you are asking for does not seem unreasonable, but the new reality is you may need to order a larger quantity than previously to be taken seriously by the paper merchants.

    Looks like you may be faced with an increased cost for this product.

    rs
     
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  3. Apr 12, 2017
    Mars

    Mars Printing Apprentice

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    You are correct, I was not dealing with the paper mill, I was purchasing the paper from RippedSheets.com. They told me that the paper mill changed the paper and that the previous label sheets they had sold me for years were no longer available.

    I do not have any specific details on the paper I was using (it's not something a vendor like RippedSheets.com gives you, they just describe them as "Glossy Inkjet Labels"). In talking to them, I do believe they mentioned the previous paper had a "clay" content to it. Here's what I was buying:

    https://www.rippedsheets.com/sheet-labels/102700-resin-coated-water-resistant-photo-gloss.html

    I write them periodically to see if they've abandoned the terrible paper they switched to. I just wrote them again, but I don't expect to get a positive response.

    I'd be happy to pay more for the paper if it's similar to the paper I used in the past. And I'd also be willing to purchase larger quantities, but I'm a small business and cannot afford to buy enormous quantities of paper. I sure wish I had known the paper I was using was going away, or I would have stocked up on it at the time!
     
  4. Apr 12, 2017
    The Hat

    The Hat Printer VIP Moderator

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    Hi @Mars and welcome, just looking at the rippedsheet site and I can see what the problem is, they specialise mostly in Digital laser labels and if you wish to continue to purchase from them you’ll need to get a sample pact of the many different types of labels they now produce, you may find one that will be acceptable for your Xerox printer.

    I use several different types of vinyl labels for inkjet (Hard to get) and I get them from Decatur Texas of all places, :ep it costs an arm and a leg for shipping but worth it for their quality, so why don’t you give them a try online... http://papilio.com/
    P.S. Papilo are great for suppling sample test packs...
     
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  5. Apr 12, 2017
    Mars

    Mars Printing Apprentice

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    @The Hat, RippedSheets.com has greatly increased their offerings over time. Back when I first started using them, they had a relatively small number of products, and both the laser and inkjet sheets I was using were excellent and served me well for years. But even the laser sheets seem to have gotten thinner. And while the Phaser 7800 I own has fantastic output for a laser printer, prints have a satin finish. I much prefer the high-gloss finish from the labels I was using for years until the paper changed. I won't be purchasing additional inkjet labels from RippedSheets.com unless they improve their offerings.

    Thanks for the link to Papilio. I'm also in Texas, so shipping shouldn't be too bad as long as they don't inflate their rates. Their inkjet photo paper sounds promising, and I just ordered ten sheets to see how they print. My problem would be that I'd need the sheets die cut, which means I'd need to have it shipped to another company first. Doesn't look like they offer custom die cutting, although I will write them and ask.
     
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  6. Apr 12, 2017
    The Hat

    The Hat Printer VIP Moderator

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    @Mars, Papilio do laser labels in many different forms and they also do stock die cut labels, so maybe you can get one that would suite your requirements, I wish I was a lot closer to Papilio then I’d get much more from them, you have the option of driving up from Austin... ;)
     
  7. Apr 12, 2017
    Mars

    Mars Printing Apprentice

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    Unfortunately I generally cannot use stock die-cut sheets various companies offer, as my application requires two specific size labels. They are rectangular, with corner cuts, but they are not square or common sizes. And I generally put both label types on the same 8 1/2" x 11" sheet.

    I use the Phaser 7800 for printing full-color booklets, and it does a great job of that. But much prefer the finish of inkjet labels.

    It would take over three hours to drive up to Decatur from here, so not really worthwhile, especially in the relatively low quantities I need.
     
  8. Apr 15, 2017
    Mars

    Mars Printing Apprentice

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    I received the Papailio "Photo Glossy Adhesive" labels yesterday and had a chance to try them out today. The output quality looks great! Rich colors, deep blacks, similar in quality to the labels I was in the past. However, these particular labels are quite thick, 6 mil stated on the box, a touch thicker when I measured with a digital micrometer. And, while I like the thickness, for my application you can see the white edges of the paper, which is not ideal.

    I'm excited about this paper, but I think the obvious white edges are a bit too much. This effect is considerably less noticeable with the thinner labels I'm using now, and I haven't really noticed it with thicker labels I've used in the past. Labels with a 4 mil thickness seem to work well (the old RippedSheets.com labels I used were 4.5 mil, I have some other labels here another company printed for me that are 4 mil and look great). Surprisingly, the labels I'm using now are also 4 mil, although they seem thinner (maybe not as stiff?) But after looking at several applications of those labels, you don't really see white edges like this.

    I'm also wondering if these 6 mil labels were die cut, if when printed the ink would then run into the edges and help reduce this white edge effect. Thoughts?

    Doesn't look like Papalio offers a 4 mil version of this paper. Open to suggestions on where I might find a similar product, but not quite this thick. Or if it might be worthwhile to have a die made and order die-cut sheets and take a chance that this effect will be less pronounced on die-cut sheets.

    Thanks!

    papilio_cart_1.jpg

    papilio_cart_2.jpg
     
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  9. Apr 16, 2017
    Roy Sletcher

    Roy Sletcher Indolent contrarian Platinum Printer Member

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    Hi Mars,

    Always dangerous for onlookers to offer opinions without possession of all the facts. I don't think I can be of much help, but for better of worse here is my observation.

    1: The white border appears more prominent than I would expect, given that you claim the substrate is 6 mil. (About 150 microns for our EU friends not familiar with the arcane inch unit)

    Further, the image you uploaded shows the diecut edge with a somewhat uneven and ragged look. Could be worth examining the images under a 25 power glass or loupe to see what is really going on. (Unless it is just an aberration in the image)

    A less than "clean" cut with a blunt die-cutting die could give that effect. Are you die-cutting the entire sheet of Paper, adhesive, and backing sheet. If so the white edges could easily be a quality control issue, especially if the adhesive starts to build up on the die effectively reducing the sharpness.

    If you are using in small quantities a solution could be to get a pile of 50 or so labels and paint the white edge with a black "sharpie pen" or similar. I notice from your picture most of the printed background adjacent to the edge is black. Not ideal, but an economical solution to the cosmetic issue of unwanted white borders.

    Enough crazy ideas for now. Good luck with finding a solution. There has to be a solution, just a case of finding it.


    Roy Sletcher
     
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  10. Apr 16, 2017
    Mars

    Mars Printing Apprentice

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    Hi @Roy Sletcher, thanks for the response.

    At the moment I only have uncut 8 1/2" x 11" label sheets. I printed several labels on a single sheet and then cut them with a paper cutter. One of them I used a corner cutter to cut the corners. So, yes, the cuts are not ideal, I just wanted to see how the labels would look on the game cartridges. I would only use die-cut sheets once I have selected media that works well.

    I wasn't expecting to see the prominent white edges. It's possible this effect would be lessened with die-cut sheets, and I was hoping to get some feedback on that. Would be unfortunate to pay for a die and order label sheets sonly to see that the white is still as noticeable.

    I went back and measured the Papailio label thickness again. It's actually 8.5 mil thick and the backing is 3 mil thick (and both together measured as 11.5). So, that's pretty thick, and thicker than advertised. I really do like the thickness of the labels, but I can't really live with the white like that, as it's pretty noticeable unless you're looking at the labels head-on.

    Oh, there's no way I'm going to use a marker to paint the edges. I also suspect any type of marker might bleed into the edges of the label, although maybe not. Just too time consuming for the number of labels I go through.

    I think the solution will be using slightly thinner labels. Maybe something that's actually 6 mil would work better, but the best labels I've ever used were 4.5 mil (never used thicker labels as far as I'm aware). It seems looking for labels advertised as glossy"Photo" sheets will lead to better label materials in terms of thickness, color reproduction and darker blacks.

    I like the thicker labels for several reasons:

    1) While I clean the cartridge label surface before applying labels, sometimes you still have small particles on the plastic, or you transfer particles from your fingers to the labels while handling them. The thicker labels minimize the appearance of bumps on the label surface.

    2) Sometimes there are imperfections on the cartridge surface. Thicker labels hide these imperfections better.

    3) Atari 7800 cartridges have two large "holes" in the label surface in the upper left and right corners. This was an unfortunate cost-cutting measure on Atari's part. Thinner labels will indent easily over these holes. The thicker the label I can get away with, the better the labels will hold up in this regard.

    4) Labels with heavy ink tend to peel up on the edges. That's another reason I applied some labels to cartridges, as I wanted to see how they look after a day or two. Thicker labels certainly help reduce this effect. I expect these 8.5 mil labels won't curl up at all!

    Thanks again for your feedback!
     
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