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Finding the right digital label printing partner

Labels Finding the right digital label printing partner


by Danny Mertens

It is very important that you take your time to consider the different suppliers out there and compare all pros and cons. The decision you make now will have far-reaching consequences for any future investment in (digital) printing technology. So what do you need to look for in a printing supplier? And how do you distinguish the great from the not so great? In this article we will offer some guidance so you can make the decision confidently.

You know more or less what you need but you haven’t decided on a printing partner yet?

Before you contact a printing press supplier, there are a couple of things you need to get sorted. It is crucial that you know which type of labels you are planning to produce because this will determine the materials, the color gamut, finishing options and other technical specifications of your press. Will you be printing mostly labels for Health & Beauty; or will you be active in the food segment or in Wine & Spirits? Make sure you know exactly which kind of print jobs you want your new machine to handle before rushing to a supplier.

Want to know even more about choosing a printing supplier?

Questions that need to be answered

When you visit a print fair, most suppliers will do everything they can to show you the best possible labels printed on their machines. Unsurprisingly, they will use the most common substrate to give you the nicest result. However, that is not a realistic approach as in real life conditions will often be more demanding.

So the question that definitely needs to be answered is: Can the digital press of my choice deliver the quality and turnaround times my business needs? What about finishing options and substrate range or color management? Any machine has downsides so try to find out what the downsides for this particular machine are. Are they more numerous than the upsides, then it may be best to start looking for another supplier.

What about service and support?

Now that you have some basic answers to your questions, you have a shortlist of possible presses that may serve your needs. In the next step, try to find out more about the supplier’s service plan and support. The digital label printing business thrives on fast turnaround times so you need to know what time it will take the supplier to send over a technician, should your machine need repairing. Remember that your customers probably won’t hesitate to switch to another printer if you can’t deliver the goods on time. So get a supplier with great support in your local area.

How do you recognize a trustworthy print partner?

A good printing supplier will give you a realistic overview of the machine’s capabilities, without ignoring the downsides. They will take into account your specific printing needs and try to come up with the best possible machine to get the job done.

A digital press may be able to print flexible packaging, shrink sleeves, wraparound labels and self-adhesive labels but is it realistic to think you will be able to run all these applications each with their specific requirements, short run, on one machine, and still be profitable? Furthermore, your machine operators will need to master the specific qualities of all the different substrates and you will need to invest in specific finishing equipment. A good supplier will point out all these issues so you don’t run into surprises when implementing your new piece of equipment.

Finally, a trustworthy printing supplier will give you full disclosure on costs now and in the future and share insights if additional costs, such as substrate pre-coating, are relevant. Implementing your machine into your current workflow will require additional costs that are best calculated in advance. Your supplier will assist you during this process and even give tips on how to further optimize turnaround times. In that sense, try to find a supplier with years of experience. Newcomers aren’t a good idea as you will be needing all the digital label printing expertise you can get.

In short, a good supplier:

  • values open communication
  • thinks proactively
  • gives a realistic offer based on your business needs
  • does everything to help you make the best possible decision
  • has tons of experience and is willing to share

Want to know even more about choosing a printing supplier?