It’s not uncommon for label printing projects to encounter bumps in the road on their way to completion. These problems often include a design that looks great on your computer monitor but doesn’t look the same on press. Or, maybe the colors on the label don’t match your brand standards. Another very common road bump is missing fonts and artwork that your label printer needs to make sure the job is a success.
Not to worry. Here are some of the road bumps and pot holes you may encounter on your next label job and what to do to fix them.
Road bumps and how to avoid them:
Attempting to do accurate color matching from a computer screen
No two screens display color exactly the same way, nor do they match up with the way in which a flexographic press prints colors. This means that what you see on the screen may not match what comes off the press.
The only way to determine exactly how a label will print is to run a proof on a printer that is calibrated to the exact color settings of the flexo press. At T&L, we use a color match proofing system to ensure our label colors are spot on, every time. We don’t eye-ball it, we let a computer do the match
Here’s how our system gets the color spot-on, every time: We utilize a high-end digital proofing printer that is calibrated to the exact color profile of our flexographic press. We show these proofs to the client and also give a color matched proof to our press operator, so he has a precise understanding of the color values that must be achieved on press.
Most label printers don’t have a color match proofing system which makes it much harder for you to imagine what your job might just look like, or NOT look like..
Sending incomplete art files
Sometimes, we receive artwork in the form of a PDF file and frequently the file doesn’t contain all of the data we need to create a high-quality label. Missing logos and fonts are often the stumbling blocks. If we’re lucky, we can re-create the artwork but this process gets complicated because of the huge number of fonts that are available today.
The best format for label artwork is EPS. This file format contains the vector and font data we need to successfully complete the project.
There’s a difference between digital and flexographic printing
Often, food companies will trial multiple variations of products and labels as part of their consumer research process. They will produce small batches of products and will digitally print 100 or so labels of each variation to be used in limited-run consumer tests.
Once the food company has finalized their product and label design, they use flexographic printing to produce the labels in quantities, because it is much less expensive than digital on a per-label basis.
There’s only one problem with this approach: Labels produced on a digital press will not look the same as those that are produced on a flexographic press. Many digital presses are doing color matching of label designs using a range of 6 to 8 colors whereas a flexographic press will typically use just 4 colors to properly match them. It’s more accurate.
The best solution is to use printed proofs whenever possible.
Properly formatting vignettes in label designs
A common mistake we see in label designs is improperly formatted vignettes. Vignettes are gradient screens and often, they are formatted using a color range that goes all the way to zero (gradient fades to white) . A flexographic press cannot accommodate a gradient screen value of zero and as a result prints the file incorrectly.
Taking a proactive approach, T&L we typically open the file and adjust the gradient to print correctly. In other words, we don’t simply run the files a customer gives us – we take steps to ensure they will print properly, saving you time and money.