Posts Tagged ‘Inkjet Printer’

Q) Does It Matter What Sort Of Printer I Use To Print My Labels? A) YES!

Monday, January 9th, 2017

You might be surprised at just HOW important it is to use the right printer (and print settings) when you are printing your own labels. Your choice of printer determines a number of factors that can have a big influence on the quality of print that you can achieve when printing labels (that is, if you can print labels at all).

Type Of Printer:
All of our labels are supplied on A4 sheets and are designed specifically for use with standard desktop inkjet printers and laser printers. You may have noticed that all of our label products are marked with a particular printer compatibility – Laser Only, Inkjet Only, or Laser & Inkjet.

This is because the two types of printers use two different printing methods and our labels are generally made with materials that suit one of these print methods. Laser printers use heat and pressure to bond a dry powder called toner into place, which means that laser labels are made using materials that have a smooth, consistent surface and that are heat resistant (paper laser labels, for example, will have a much higher moisture content than standard sheets of paper). Inkjet printers, however, will disperse inks (usually water-based) onto a surface where they will dry in place to form the final printed image or design. Inkjet labels, therefore, may have a slightly porous surface to absorb some of the ink and allow it to dry in place much more accurately.

If you try to print laser labels with an inkjet printer or inkjet labels with a laser printer, the best you can hope for is extremely low quality print – at worst you could damage your labels and your printer so you MUST make sure that the labels you buy are compatible with your printer.

You may also find that certain label products are only available for ONE type of printer. For example, all of our Waterproof Labels are laser labels – this is because laser printers create waterproof print, whereas inkjet printers tend to use water-based inks that will run or smudge if they get wet (or even if they’re simply handled a lot).

Model Of Printer:
The next factor is the exact model of printer that you intend to use. Some models of printer will have limitations that make them entirely unsuitable for printing labels, while others will have features specifically designed to produce high quality print on labels.

As a general rule, if you want to print labels you will need to use a general purpose printer – not an All-In-One Printer or a printer that is designed for a specific purpose other than printing labels (e.g. Photo Printers). All-in-one printers are designed to do a lot of different tasks to a reasonable standard (rather than doing one specific task to an exceptional standard), which means they are often too limited in their specifications to print labels properly (if at all). General purpose printers will usually include a range of hardware and software features that are designed specifically for use when printing labels – to improve the print quality and alignment accuracy that you can achieve.

Some printers will also be limited in the types and thicknesses of materials that they can accept and process properly; labels are made from a variety of materials and are naturally thicker than paper because they are made up of several layers (there are at least three: face material, adhesive, and backing sheet, with some labels having extra layers such as special coatings).

The best thing to do is to check the manufacturer’s manual for the following:

  • Specifications: there should be a section that lists the hardware features and specifications of your printer, including whether or not it has a media bypass tray, along with the types and weights of materials that it can accept.
  • Recommended guidelines: if your printer does have features for printing labels then the manual may also include recommended guidelines for how to print labels (including any specific print settings you should use).

While we don’t recommend any specific models of printer (you do, after all, need to buy one that is suitable for your unique set of printing requirements and budget), we do recommend the OKI and HP brands, as we have found that their printers tend to be able to handle large volumes and thicker materials very efficiently.

Printer Hardware Features
As we mentioned above, you should make sure that your printer has a media bypass tray; this is a secondary tray, usually located just above or below the paper tray, that is designed to accept thicker media (such as labels and envelopes) and to bypass at least one set of rollers within the printer, which produces a straighter path through the machine and reduces the chances of your label sheets rotating slightly as they are printed (improving the accuracy of alignment that you get).

You may also want to check if your printer offers the following features:
Wide Edge Feed (Long Edge Feed) AND Narrow Edge Feed (Short Edge Feed); most printers will have trays that use narrow edge feed, which means that your sheets feed into your printer narrow edge leading (portrait). If your printer offers both types of feed you must make sure that you only use the narrow edge option (and check that your print settings are also set to this option). All of our labels are made with layouts that are designed to feed narrow edge leading, while our paper labels also have a grain (like wood) that goes in this direction. If you feed your labels into your printer wide edge leading (against the grain), you may find that they start to separate from the backing sheet, which can cause your label sheets to jam in your printer.
Edge-To-Edge Printing; also known as “borderless” printing, this feature will allow you to print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet. Most standard desktop printers cannot do this, which means there will be a border around the edge of your label sheets that your printer simply cannot print – if any part of any of your labels fall into this unprintable area, you will need to adapt your design to make sure that these areas of your template are left blank.

Printer Software Features (aka Print Settings)
Finally, you need to make sure your printer offers suitable print settings for printing labels – AND that you have actually selected these settings when you print. Before printing, check your Printer’s Properties for the following:

  • Page Size: this must be A4 (you should always check this as some printers will sometimes default to American Letter).
  • Media Type/Weight: choose a specific “Labels” print setting if one is available; if not, choose a “Heavy Paper” setting to get the best possible print quality on your labels.
  • Scaling: make sure that no scaling options are applied (for example, a percentage or any “Fit To Page” options).
  • “Ignore Printer Settings”//”Use Driver Settings”: these options will cause your printer to ignore any specific settings that you have selected to use when printing your labels and will use a default set installed in your printer’s driver (software) instead.

Visit our Help Pages for more tips and advice on printing your own labels or visit our List Of All Materials page to view all of the label products available from Label Planet along with their printer compatibility.

5 Ways That Your Printer Can Make Your Labels Better (& 1 Way That They Can’t)

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

When it comes to printing your own labels, the accuracy of your template is undoubtedly one of the most important factors in determining how well they turn out. Another major factor, however, is the printer that you use AND how efficiently you use it; some printers offer specific features that can vastly improve the print quality and accuracy of alignment that you can achieve when printing your own labels and ALL printers can turn the process of printing your own labels into a nightmare if you don’t set them up correctly.

This blog post lists a few of the ways that your printer can help (and hinder) the process of printing your own labels.

  1. THE MEDIA BYPASS TRAY
    The media bypass tray is a secondary tray, usually found just above or below your main paper tray; the media bypass tray is designed specifically to process media made using thicker materials than standard sheets of paper (like labels!) and offers a straighter path through your printer by bypassing at least one set of rollers – this improves the accuracy of your printer’s alignment by reducing the chances of your label sheets rotating slightly as they go through each set of rollers.
  1. THE START PRINT POSITION & THE UNPRINTABLE AREA
    Ever printer has its own level of print accuracy and starting print position (i.e. the place on the A4 sheet that your printer starts printing from); if you bear these two factors in mind, you can adjust your template to suit your printer specifically, which will allow you to design around these factors and create the best possible (and most accurate) template for your particular printer.
    Similarly, most desktop printers are unable to print the full area of an A4 sheet (which produces a kind of border around the edge of your label sheets called the “unprintable area”), which means that if you are aware of where your printer can and cannot print, you can tailor your design to make sure it all falls within the “printable area” of your particular printer.
  1. THE PRINT SETTINGS
    Most printers offer a variety of print settings and properties to choose from, which means that you may well be able to improve the print quality and accuracy of alignment that you can get simply by making sure you use the best possible combination of settings available to you.
    The key settings to check are any that relate to the Media Type or Media Weight; these settings will automatically adjust the way your printer prints to suit a particular medium type and/or weight – with some printers including a specific “Labels” setting that should be ideal (as an alternative, we recommend choosing “Heavy Paper”).
    There are a few other settings that may not improve the print you get BUT will absolutely destroy the alignment of your template if they are wrong. You should therefore always check the following as well:

    • Check that the Page/Media Size/Layout is set to A4.
    • Check that no scaling options (such as a percentage or “Fit To Page”) are selected.
    • Check that no options such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Driver Settings” are selected.
  1. THE PRINTING METHOD
    Desktop printers tend to be either laser printers or inkjet printers; some label products are tailored to suit ONE of these printing processes only, which means that to get the best out of your labels you should make sure that you choose labels that are compatible with your type of printer.
    All of our label products will have their label compatibility listed on their range page, product page, and product packaging. You should NOT ignore this compatibility listing; if you print laser labels with an inkjet printer or inkjet labels with a laser printer the best you can hope for is poor quality print that smears or flakes away – at worst you may end up damaging your printer.
  1. THE SPECIFICATION
    Every single model of printer will have its own unique set of specifications, which reflect the type and level of printing that a specific model is capable of and designed for. For example, more basic models of printer will be limited in the types and weights of materials that they can print onto successfully. Generally speaking, the more expensive the model, the higher the specification should be; a cheaper “All-In-One” model is designed to do a number of tasks to a reasonable standard and will be limited in the types of materials that it can process, while dedicated printers will be designed to do one task (printing) to a very high standard and will be able to perform that task across a range of material types and weights.
    Ideally, if you are printing labels, you should try to use a printer that has label-specific specifications, such as the presence of a media bypass tray, a specific “Labels” print setting (or settings), and the ability to process a variety of materials and thicknesses. You can find ALL of this information about any model of printer by checking the manufacturer’s manual (usually available from the manufacturer’s website).

AND ONE THING THAT YOUR PRINTER CANNOT IMPROVE:
Even if you’ve chosen the perfect printer, set it up properly, and carefully selected the perfect combination of print settings, your labels are never going to print out properly if you don’t take your time setting up your template.

This is why we always recommend doing a test print onto blank paper first; you can confirm that your printer is correctly set up AND double check that your template is correctly aligned before you start printing onto your actual label sheets.

For more tips & advice take a look through our Help Section and our Blog; you can find Word & PDF Templates (along with more detailed label size information and printing advice) for all of our label sizes in our Template Section.

FAQ – What’s The Difference Between Laser Labels & Inkjet Labels?

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

If you’ve been looking through our website, you may have noticed that some of our labels are listed as being “Laser Labels” and some are listed as “Inkjet Labels” – meaning they can ONLY be printed with a laser printer OR with an inkjet printer.

This is because these labels are made with materials that have been chosen because they work more effectively with one of the printing methods – laser printing or inkjet printing. Laser printers and inkjet printers work in two very different ways and one way to improve the quality of print that they can achieve is to make sure that you use materials that are compatible with one of those printing methods.

Laser Printers – Heat & Pressure + Toner
Laser printers work by using heat and pressure to bond toner (a dry powder) onto the surface being printed. This means that the materials used to make laser labels will be chosen because they can withstand exposure to high temperatures (without being damaged or deformed by the printing process) and offer a smooth surface that the toner can bond with more efficiently. Paper laser labels will also have a higher moisture content to prevent the paper from drying out and cracking during the printing process.
Our label products designed specifically for use with LASER printers are: Freezer Paper, Gloss White Paper, Gloss Transparent Polyester, Removable Gloss Transparent Polyester, Matt Transparent Polyester, Gloss White Polyester, Matt White Polyester, Removable Matt White Polyester, Silver Polyester, Silver VOID Polyester, Tamper Evident Vinyl, Fluorescent Paper, and Gold & Silver Paper.

Inkjet Printer – Dispersal Of Ink
Inkjet printers deposit ink onto the surface being printed, where the ink dries in place with some or all of the ink being absorbed by the material being printed. This means that inkjet labels tend to be made with materials that have a porous surface, which will help to absorb the inks and allow them to dry in place more efficiently (creating a higher quality of print).
Our label products designed specifically for use with INKJET printers are: Gloss Clear Polyester.

We also have a range of label products that can be printed with EITHER a laser printer OR an inkjet printer:
Permanent Matt White Paper, Removable Matt White Paper, Super Removable Matt White Paper, High Tack Paper, Gloss White Photo Quality Paper, Premium Quality Paper, Opaque Paper, Matt White Polyethylene, Coloured Paper, Removable Coloured Paper, and Kraft Paper.

These days, both inkjet and laser printers are capable of producing high quality, high resolution print, which means there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two. Some prefer to use inkjet printers if they are producing high resolution prints of photographs or graphic designs, while laser printers will ALWAYS be the better option if you need to produce WATERPROOF print (inkjet inks tend to be water-based, which means they will run or smudge if they are exposed to water or handled a lot).

You should always make sure that you use a laser printer to print laser labels and an inkjet printer to print inkjet labels; if your labels are NOT compatible with your printer you will find that AT BEST your print will be of poor quality (and likely to smudge or flake away) while AT WORST you could actually damage both your labels AND your printer.

If you aren’t sure what sort of materials your printer can process, it’s always worth checking your printer’s manual because the manufacturer will have created a specification list that indicates the materials that your printer can (and cannot) process; you may also want to take advantage of our free sample request service so you can test your printer to see how well it handles different materials before you make an order.

All of our label products are listed along with their printer compatibility on our List Of All Label Materials page; click on the “View Products” links to find out more about each label range (including the sizes available) or to place an order. For more printing tips and advice, take a look through our Help Section and our Blog Posts.

Top Tips For Setting Up Your Printer To Print Labels

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

While you might think that you can just pop your labels into your printer and press print (as you would when printing onto normal blank sheets of A4 paper), you should always take the time to set up your printer properly to improve both the print quality and the accuracy of the print alignment that you get on your labels.

This is because your printer’s settings and setup actually has a lot of influence over how well and how accurately your template will print onto your labels – and if you don’t take the time to select the right settings, you might well find that your perfectly presented template ends up misaligned and your print starts to chip or flake away from your labels.

We’ve put together a hit list of things to do BEFORE you press print to make sure you end up with perfectly printed labels.

  1. Use the media bypass tray (if your printer has one)
    The media bypass tray is a separate tray that is usually just above or below the paper tray; where the paper tray is designed specifically for processing blank sheets of paper (which are usually 80-90gsm in thickness), the media bypass tray is designed specifically to handle thicker materials – including labels.
    However, as the name suggests, not only is the media bypass tray designed for media other than paper, it also bypasses at least one set of rollers within the printer – this means it offers a straighter, more direct route through the printer, which reduces the possibility of your sheets rotating slightly as they are pulled through and around each set of rollers and this improves the accuracy of your print positioning.
  1. Check your printer settings
    Printers tend to have a whole variety of settings that are designed to adjust how your printer works to suit the medium that you are printing onto and the type of document or file you are printing. Most printers will have settings that will greatly improve the print quality that you can achieve when you print onto labels and you should always go through your printer’s properties to find and select these options before printing your labels.
    Look for:
    Page Size/Media Size/Page Layout/Media Layout: you MUST make sure your printer is set to an A4 page size or the alignment of your template will be completely distorted as your printer attempts to print to a page size that is larger or smaller than A4.
    Type/Weight: these options will relate to settings that are designed to improve the print quality on a specific type or weight of media; some printers offer specific “Labels” settings, while others will offer similar settings under the heading “Heavy Paper”.
    For example, with laser printers, the “Labels” or “Heavy Paper” settings will increase the heat that is applied and slow down the speed of your printer, which helps the toner to bond firmly in place on the surface of your labels.

These small tips can help save you a lot of time and money (and heartache) by ensuring that your printer is set up to properly handle labels. As always, we also highly recommend doing a test print of your template onto blank paper first, so you can check for any possible issues with the alignment (and make corrections) before you start printing onto your labels proper.

For more handy tips and advice, visit our Help Pages or our Blog; alternatively, you can download a template from our Template Pages and have a go at printing your own labels today! Remember, we also offer a free Sample Request service, so you can always request a couple of sheets to use as a “trial run” to check for yourself that your printer is capable of printing the labels that you need.

FAQ – What Should I Do If I Can’t Print My Labels Myself?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Here at Label Planet, we only supply A4 sheets of blank labels; while we are more than happy to talk to customers to give them advice on how to go about designing a template and printing their labels themselves, we do not offer any design or printing services.

However, we know that some customers will not have access to a suitable printer OR may not be confident in their own abilities to design a template and to print their labels themselves. In this case, we would recommend trying the following:

  1. Ask a family member, friend, or colleague if they can help
    If you’re only looking to have a few labels printed, it’s always worth asking around to see if someone you know would be happy to give you a helping hand – especially if you happen to have anyone within your social circle who has a bit of a knack for design or has some experience of printing labels.
  1. Check to see if there is a printing company in your area
    Most towns will have a local printer on their high street; there are a number of different chains of small, local printers and a whole host of independent businesses who should be able to handle all sorts of printing jobs – including labels.
    Remember: you may want to get a few quotes before committing to this option as you will have to make sure your budget includes the cost of your blank labels and the printing service.
  1. Take a look into a more bespoke option
    If your labelling requirements are a bit more substantial, you may wish to take a look into larger printing companies who will be able to undertake bigger bespoke printing jobs that involve large quantities and very detailed specifications. These companies will usually offer a larger range of services, such as the opportunity to have them design your labels, as well as print them.
    Remember: if you want to go for a more bespoke option, you will need to bear in mind that this will be the most expensive option and larger businesses may have minimum requirements for the amount of labels that they will accept in a single order.

To take a look at the full range of blank labels available from Label Planet, take a look at our Complete List Of Label Materials page to see if we have a suitable label for your particular application. If you decide that you want to give printing a go yourself, head over to our Templates Section to download a template for your labels or take a read through our Blog and Frequently Asked Questions pages for some printing tips and advice to get you started.

Label Planet Tips For Choosing The Perfect Printer

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Over the years, we’ve picked up all sorts of tips and tricks when it comes to printing the perfect label – and that knowledge includes a few useful pointers when it comes to picking the perfect printer.

While we would always recommend doing a bit of research and talking to someone who actually specialises in supplying desktop printers for more specific advice, we do have a few helpful tips to get you started.

Should I Buy A Laser Printer Or An Inkjet Printer?
Well, this one is a matter of personal preference BUT we would advise you to consider the following:

  • Laser printers produce waterproof print – inkjet printers DO NOT
    Inkjet inks are generally water-based, which means they will run or smudge if they get wet. If you need a printer that can create waterproof labels, you’ll need to buy a LASER printer (or buy an inkjet printer and either source specialist waterproof inks OR source a transparent cover to stick over your labels to protect the print).
  • Laser printers tend to be able to process a larger variety of materials
    At Label Planet, our range of laser labels is larger than our range of inkjet labels, so you might want to consider the kinds of materials you want to be able to print on and then choose a suitable printer.
    All of our products are labelled with their printer compatibility; visit our “List Of All Label Materials” page to view ALL of our label products and their printer compatibility.
  • Different printers will offer different levels of image resolution
    Historically speaking, inkjet printers were always the best option if you needed to produce high quality, high resolution images (especially if you needed to print photographs); today laser printers are capable of producing sharp, crisp images that are of an equal resolution to those produced by inkjet printers BUT inkjet printers do still tend to offer specific “photographic” print options – so if you know that you also want to print photographs, you may want to opt for an inkjet printer.
    We would also point out that some printers will try to claim that they are better than others because they offer a much, much higher print resolution; however, for most printing applications (where you don’t need to produce high end graphics and artwork that will stand up to intense scrutiny), having a higher resolution is only beneficial up to a certain point (after which the difference in the quality of image produced becomes negligible – at least to the human eye).
  • You have to budget for your printer AND for your consumables
    If you’ve got an eye on your budget you may be tempted to opt for an inkjet printer (which tend to cost less than their laser printer counterparts). HOWEVER, you need to remember that printer manufacturers make most of their profits on the consumables that you buy for your printer rather than on the printer itself; in other words, while you might be able to get a really cheap inkjet printer, the ink cartridges it needs are likely to be quite expensive (and small – meaning you have to replace them more often). Laser printers might have a higher starting price BUT their consumables (toner cartridges and images drums) tend to last longer, which gives them a lower overall consumables cost than that of inkjet printers.

Should I Buy An All-In-One Printer?
If you need to print labels then NO – we would not recommend choosing an All-In-One printer.

These machines are designed to do SEVERAL tasks (e.g. printing, scanning, copying) to an ACCEPTABLE standard; whereas printers are designed to do ONE task (printing) to a HIGH standard. All-In-One printers are not able to cope with labels as well as standard printers; they tend to struggle with processing thicker materials, produce a lower quality of print, and do not offer the same level of precision and control over the print alignment.

Do You Recommend Any Specific Brands?
We recommend both OKI and HP printers; from our own printing experiences, we have found that these printers offer high duty cycles, high quality print on a range of label materials, and a good quality of accuracy in the alignment that they can achieve.

So What Should I Look Out For When Choosing A New Printer?
We recommend that you take a look through the specifications of the printer(s) you are looking at – taking into account the features and print settings offered by the printer, as well as looking at the specifications of what the printer can handle. For example, we highly recommend choosing a printer with a media bypass tray and a high “duty cycle”.

The media bypass tray is designed to process materials that are thicker than paper (such as labels) and offers a straighter path through the printer (to improve the print alignment); the manufacturer should supply a specification list of the weights, thicknesses, and types of materials that both the paper tray and the media bypass tray can (and more importantly cannot) process, so it’s worth taking a look through this information to see if a particular model of printer is suitable for printing labels.

The duty cycle is the estimated number of pages a printer should be able to produce in a given time frame (usually a month) while maintaining a consistent quality of print and standard of operation – you should choose a duty cycle that is higher than the actual amount of printing you anticipate you will end up needing to do to ensure that your printer can handle this amount.

What If I Can’t Find Or Don’t Have A Printer That Is Suitable For Printing Labels?
If the right kind of printer proves elusive, or your budget simply doesn’t stretch far enough to cover the costs of getting a new printer, there are two things you can try:

  1. Ask around at work or at home to see if someone has a suitable printer that you can borrow.
  2. Many towns have small high street printers who will be able to print your labels for you; you can order your labels from us and have them delivered either to yourself or directly to your printer and they will take care of the printing for you. Obviously, you will need to contact the printers to get a quote for how much it would cost to have your labels printed in this way and decide if this is a financially sensible option for you.

For more tips and advice, take a look through our Help Section and our Blog. To get started printing your own labels, simply visit our Template Section to download the template(s) you need to design and print your labels.

FAQ – Why Does It Matter What Sort Of Printer I Use?

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Some people assume that a printer is a printer is a printer and that it makes no difference whether they’ve got an inkjet or a laser printer (with some blissfully unaware that different kinds of printers even exist). Unfortunately, because labels are a very different medium to paper, the printer you use can make a big difference to the process of choosing and printing your labels.

Labels are made up of a number of different layers (meaning they are thicker than paper AND contain an adhesive layer that you need to be aware of) and are made using a variety of materials, which means they need extra care when printing. Furthermore, many label products are made with materials that are compatible with ONE printing process only (in order to create the best possible print quality), which means customers need to think carefully about the products they choose to use with their printer.

What are the differences between laser printers and inkjet printers?
Laser printers use heat and pressure to bond toner (a dry powder) onto the surface of the material being printed. Lasers are used to charge areas of an image drum (or the material itself) to attract or repel the toner so that it is applied to the drum or material in the correct position. A fuser unit then applies heat and pressure to bond the toner in place.
This has the benefit of creating print that is highly durable AND waterproof.

Inkjet printers, however, disperse droplets of ink from a printhead onto the material below to form the required image; the ink then dries in place with some or all of the ink being absorbed into the surface of the material being printed.
Standard inkjet inks are water based, which means that the print will run or smudge if it comes into contact with water.

What are the differences between the materials used to make laser labels and inkjet labels?
Materials used to make laser labels will have good heat resistance and a consistent, smooth surface that will allow the toner to bond firmly and evenly across the surface to help produce a sharp, clean print. Paper laser labels will also contain moisture to help combat the drying effects of the heat used to bond the toner in place.

Inkjet labels, however, will be made with materials that have a porous surface to allow some of the ink to be absorbed in place; this allows the ink to dry more efficiently and accurately, which improves the quality and resolution of the final print.

Customers should be aware that while choosing a label that is compatible with their printer has the benefit of improving the print quality, it is also a necessity because it is likely that you will not be able to print your labels at all if they are not compatible with your printer. For example, toner may not bond at all with materials designed for inkjet printers, while inks may not dry properly on laser labels, which will result in your print smudging across the surface.

What other things should I think about when using my own printer?
– Always use the media bypass tray to print labels. The standard paper tray is designed specifically for paper (80-90gsm) while the media bypass tray will accept thicker materials AND provide a straighter path through the printer involving fewer sets of rollers (rollers may cause slight rotation of your sheets as they pass through the printer, which can reduce the accuracy of your print positioning). Some basic printers and “All-In-One” models do not have bypass trays and tend to produce less accurate alignment.

– Always check to see if your printer offers specific settings for printing labels. These settings will automatically select the best combination of print settings for this particular medium. Laser printers, for example, often have a specific “Labels” setting (or “Heavy Paper” setting) that slows the printer down and increases the heat applied during printing – this allows the toner to bond firmly in place even when printing onto the thicker and more varied material types used to make labels.

– Finally, check your printer’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations for the types and thicknesses of materials that your printer is able to process. You should NOT exceed or ignore these recommendations as this could cause damage to your printer. Some manufacturers may also supply printing guides for different media, such as labels; if your printer’s manual includes a guide to printing labels, you should take note of the advice provided.

You can find a full list of our label materials and their printer compatibility on our All Label Materials page and view more printing advice and tips by visiting our Advice section.

FAQ – Will Your Labels Work With My Printer – AKA – Will My Printer Work With Your Labels?

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

For some of our customers it comes as quite a surprise that – sometimes – it isn’t quite as simple as 1. Buy some labels, 2. Put labels in printer, 3. Press print. For some it’s also a surprise that their printer isn’t just a “printer” that can, well, print anything.

While you might think that a printer is a printer is a printer, there is enough variation in these products to catch some people out if they don’t check a few all-important things first.

1. Do You Have An Inkjet Printer Or A Laser Printer?
This may matter more than you think. Inkjet and laser printers use two very different printing methods and these differences have two key consequences when printing labels.

  • Labels are often made specifically for one kind of printing method; in order to get the best possible print results, the materials will be designed with that particular printing method in mind. For example, inkjet printers disperse ink onto the surface being printed, where the inks then dry in place – labels designed for inkjet printers often have a porous surface, which allows some of the ink to be absorbed and so improves the quality and resolution of the final printed image. Likewise, laser printers use heat and pressure to fuse toner onto the surface being printed and so materials for laser labels will often contain moisture (to combat the heat applied during printing) and will usually have a smooth, consistant surface that allows the toner to bond evenly across the label surface.
    Most importantly, you will find that you CANNOT print laser labels with an inkjet printer or inkjet labels with a laser printer – you must make sure that you purchase labels that are suitable for and compatible with the printing method used by your printer.
  • Inkjet printers generally use water based inks, which means that print produced by these printers is NOT WATERPROOF; if labels printed with an inkjet printer come into contact with water, the print will run and/or smudge. Laser print, however, will remain firmly in place even after being submerged in water.

2. Do You Have A Media Bypass Tray?
A media bypass tray is a second tray that is usually located just above or below the standard paper tray. Where the paper tray is usually set up specifically for sheets of paper, the media bypass tray is set up to accept thicker materials – including label products, which tend to be thicker simply because they are made up of a number of layers (face material, adhesive, backing sheet etc). The media bypass tray will also often provide a more direct route through the printer, with the sheet being handled by fewer sets of rollers as it is pulled through the machine – this tends to improve the accuracy of the positioning of the print, a feature that becomes much more important when printing onto labels.

3. Do You Have A Speciality Printer, A General Use Printer, Or An All-In-One Printer?
These days, you have the choice of a variety of “types” of printer, which will be designed either for a specific use, general use, or many different uses. This can have an impact on how efficiently you can print labels and, indeed, if you can print labels at all. Speciality printers (e.g. photo printers) are designed to do one specific task extremely well and, if that task is NOT printing labels, you may find that these printers will struggle to adapt to different tasks. At the other end of the scale, all-in-one printers are designed to do a lot of different tasks (e.g. print, scan, copy) BUT not necessarily to a high standard; while all-in-one printers may seem like the better option financially, you may find that they simply cannot cope with tasks that require a higher level of accuracy and print quality, such as that required when printing labels.

Our labels are designed specifically for standard desktop inkjet and laser printers, which should offer an ideal combination of print settings, hardware features, accuracy of print position, and print resolution when printing labels. While they may not be able to produce the accuracy and print resolution of printing presses used by companies in the printing industry, a standard general purpose printer should be capable of most label printing tasks.

4. Does Your Printer Have Any Guidelines Or Restrictions About The Materials And Dimensions It Can Process?
All printers will have a section in their manual that outlines the manufacturer’s recommendations for the types and sizes of materials a particular model of printer has been designed to work with. Some printers may be limited in the materials they can successfully process and most will have recommended maximum weights and thicknesses of materials that they will be able to print.

If in doubt, there are two things you should do:

  • Check the specification sheet of the labels you are looking at purchasing for the weight/thickness of the labels and compare this to the guidelines provided in your printer’s manual.
  • Request a sample of the labels you are interested in so you can try printing a sheet or two before committing to a full purchase.

Why does it matter if I use an inkjet or a laser printer?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

All of our label products are listed along with their printer compatibility; laser, inkjet, or both. While some of our label products can be used with laser AND inkjet printers, there are a number that can only be used with ONE type of printer.

Why is it important to only use laser labels with a laser printer and inkjet labels with an inkjet printer?
Laser printing and inkjet printing are two VERY DIFFERENT methods of printing; products that are intended to be printed using laser or inkjet printers only will be manufactured using materials that work specifically with that particular printing method, in order to get the best possible print.

What are the differences between laser and inkjet printing?
Without getting buried in detail, these printing processes work like this:

  • LASER: static electricity is used to attract (or repel) toner so that it forms the image to be printed on an image drum, before the toner is transferred to the medium being printed and bonded into place using heat and pressure.
  • INKJET: droplets of ink are deposited from a printhead onto the medium being printed, where they dry in place to form the final printed image.

So how do the materials differ?
Materials designed for use with laser printers will have good heat resistance and will allow the toner to be bonded in place on the surface of the material being printed, while materials designed for use with inkjet printers will have a slightly absorbent surface, which will absorb some of the ink droplets and so allow the ink to dry in place more efficiently and accurately, which helps to create a higher quality, higher resolution print.

Alright, but what would happen if I used the wrong material in the wrong printer?
At best, you would end up with extremely low quality print results. If you use laser materials in an inkjet printer, the materials won’t absorb the ink and the ink will fail to dry properly, which could result in smearing and smudging. If you use inkjet materials in a laser printer, the toner won’t bond with the material properly, which will likely result in the print cracking or flaking away entirely.

While you may simply find that your print results aren’t very good, you could also end up with bigger problems as using the wrong materials with the wrong printing method can cause damage to the materials you are printing (such as shrinking or curling) and may even result in damage to your printer.

Therefore, you should ALWAYS check that the labels you are printing are compatible with your printer; our List Of All Material Types page lists the printer compatibility for each of our materials – this information is also available on our product Range Pages and our individual Product Pages.

FAQ – Common Issues & Questions When Printing Labels: Part 1 Printers

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

We’re doing a two part special on the most common problems that arise when printing labels, starting with printer issues.

Can I print on ANY of your labels with my desktop laser / inkjet printer?
NO. Some of our ranges are designed to be used with laser or inkjet printers ONLY.
You CANNOT print onto inkjet labels with a laser printer or onto laser labels with an inkjet printer. The materials are designed to work with one of the two printing processes and you will find that they will not work well (or at all) with the other.

What’s the difference between laser and inkjet printers / printing processes?
Laser printers use heat and pressure to bond toner (a dry powder) onto the surface of the medium being printed, while inkjet printers disperse ink (a liquid) onto the medium being printed where it dries to form the final print with some or all of the ink being absorbed into the top layer of the labels.

I have a laser printer but I’m having problems with the print coming off my labels. What’s happening?
There are a couple of things that could be causing this. The most common reason for print scratching off is that not enough heat and/or pressure has been applied during the printing process. To correct this, you should check your printer’s settings and ensure that the media type or weight is set to either a “Labels” setting (if your printer has one) or a “Heavy Paper” setting. This causes the printer to slow down and increase the heat applied during printing. Alternatively, the problem may be with the material you are printing. As the laser printing process requires heat, many papers designed specifically for use in laser printers will contain moisture to help the toner bond in place; if your labels have been stored incorrectly they may have dried out, which causes the toner to rub off after printing. This can also occur if you try to feed the same sheet of labels through a laser printer twice; paper labels lose some of their moisture as they are printed, which means that there may not be enough moisture to print them properly if you attempt to put them through the printer for a second time.

I have an inkjet printer but I’m having problems with the print smearing. What’s happening?
As with laser printers, there are a few potential causes for this problem. Firstly, you should check if your sheet of labels has come into contact with water or other liquids. Inkjet inks are water based, which means that if they come into contact with liquids they will run or smudge. Secondly, your printer may be dispersing too much ink or the top coating of your labels may be oversaturated with ink; in either case, the ink isn’t dry properly, which leads to smearing. This can occur in designs that include a lot of different colours or large blocks of colour (you can work around this by reducing the amount of colour in your design or purchasing coloured labels). The best way to solve this issue is to alter two of your printer’s settings, “Print Quality” and “Paper Type”. The print quality settings allow you to prioritise either the print quality or the print speed. A “Best” or “Photo” print quality setting makes the printer operate more slowly but with the dispersal of more ink to create a higher quality of print, so you may wish to try the “Normal” or “Draft” settings. The paper type setting will also adjust how the printer runs in order to create the best possible print results for the type of paper being printed onto (such as coated, uncoated, photo paper, or gloss paper). You may also want to consider removing the labels from your printer as soon as they are printed so you can place them on a flat surface while the ink dries properly. A final possibility is that there is an incompatibility between the label material and the printer/inks you are using; inks have slightly different compositions, which can produce a large variety in the print quality. Try using a different printer/inks to see if you get better results.

I’m trying to print a coloured background but I’m getting a white border down one or more of the edges.
Unless you buy a printer with edge to edge printing, you’re probably running into an issue with printable and unprintable areas. Most printers cannot print to the very edge of an A4 sheet, which means there is an area that they can print (the printable area) and an area around the edge of the sheet that they cannot print (the unprintable area). Unfortunately, there is little you can do if your labels fall outside the printable area of the sheet. You may need to take your labels to a printer or get hold of a printer that is capable of edge to edge printing, choose a different size or layout of label (so that all of the labels fall within the printable area), remove your coloured background, or use coloured labels.

My printer isn’t accepting my labels / my labels are jamming in the printer.
The most common cause for this is unclean printers. Over time excess ink or toner builds up in your printer, along with dust and grime, which can cause printers to stop functioning properly. You should use an alcohol based cleaner on a regular basis to help avoid this problem; you may want to set a regular schedule for cleaning your printer or simply give it a quick clean each time you replace the ink or toner cartridges. The build-up can affect all parts of your printer, including the print head (in inkjet printers), the fuser unit and image drum (in laser printers), and the rollers. This can cause a multitude of problems including poor quality print, sheets jamming in the printer, or sheets not being accepted into the printer to begin with.
Other causes of sheets jamming include using the standard paper tray instead of the media bypass tray (which is designed specifically for thicker materials), using materials that are incompatible with your particular printer (some printers can only accept materials up to a certain thickness, while others may only be able to process paper), or feeding the labels into the printer in the wrong orientation (the fibres in paper lie in one common direction; this is the “grain” and if you feed labels into your printer against the grain they will jam or even start peeling off the backing sheet while they are in the printer). If you have a laser printer, you may also want to check for issues with your fuser unit; when fuser units start to fail they are more likely to overheat, which causes the adhesive in the labels to spread and the sheets will jam. If you find that the labels or your printer are unusually hot, or if standard paper feels hot to the touch after printing, then you may need to replace your fuser unit.

I want to produce waterproof labels, can I use my inkjet printer?
NO. Inkjet printers use water based inks, which means that if the print comes into contact with water or other liquids it will run or smudge. Laser printers, however, use heat and pressure to bond toner (a dry powder) into place, which means the print is fully waterproof.

My design is printing out skewed. What’s happening?
When your labels are printed, they are pulled through your printer by a set or sets of rollers. As each sheet passes through these rollers there is a slight chance that the sheet might rotate very slightly. To prevent the risk of this happening, you should use the media bypass tray; this tray is usually located just above or below the standard paper tray, which creates a straighter path through the printer (with fewer sets of rollers).

I’ve printed my template on two different printers; why is the alignment different for each one?
Simply put, all printers are slightly different, which means the accuracy of the alignment can vary by a few millimetres. If you are intending to use different printers, you will need to do a test print for BOTH printers, and you may need to make adjustments for each one.

I’m looking to buy a new printer, can you help?
While we don’t supply printers ourselves, we do have a few hints and tips to get you started:

Laser or Inkjet: inkjet printers used to be more popular because they were capable of cheaper, high quality print in vivid colour, but nowadays laser printers are available that can produce excellent quality colour print at similar prices. You should consider the types of documents and items you need to print and remember – if you want to create waterproof labels you will need a laser printer.

Costs: when working out your budget, you need to factor in both the cost of the printer AND the long term costs of replacing the consumables that go with it. While toner cartridges for laser printers are more expensive than inkjet cartridges, you need to remember that toner cartridges are bigger than inkjet cartridges, so you’ll need to replace your inkjet cartridges much more often. For either type of printer, you should also check if the printer will accept compatible (and often cheaper) cartridges from third party manufacturers/suppliers. If you are purchasing an inkjet printer, you also need to check if you will need to buy two cartridges (one black and one colour) or four cartridges (one black, one magenta, one cyan, and one yellow).

All in One versus Standard Printers: all in one printers (which do multiple functions such as faxing, copying, and scanning documents) often seem like a good, cheap alternative to a standard printer but it’s worth considering this choice carefully. While they may save you money and space, they are often designed to do a multitude of functions to a reasonable standard, rather than performing a specific function to a high standard – so if print quality is an important factor, you may wish to avoid the all in one models.

Printer Specifications: it is always worth checking through and comparing the specifications of the models you are looking at. You should ensure that the duty cycle of the printer (the number of pages a printer should be able to print in a certain time frame while maintaining a consistent quality of print and standard of operation) exceeds the amount of printing you will need to do, and – if labels are a definite requirement – you should ensure that the printer has a media bypass tray and check the manual to see what materials/thicknesses the printer is able to handle.

Printer Models: from our own experience, we’ve found that OKI printers have a high duty cycle, produce a high quality print on a range of label materials, and have short paths through the printer to improve accuracy of alignment. HP printers are also capable of printing labels to a high standard.

Part two of this special post will be available on our blog tomorrow.