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Color labeling has posed somewhat of a conundrum to label printer hardware vendors, many of whom are still unsure about the use cases for such a solution beyond GHS labeling for chemicals manufacturing and distribution. That said, there are several hardware options and brands in the marketplace today – this list includes cab Produkttechnik, Carl Valentin GmbH, Epson, Primera Technology, QuickLabel Systems, and VIPColor. What is interesting to note is that although thermal is the print technology-of-choice for barcode labeling applications, there aren’t many on-demand thermal color printers available today. Leading vendors in the barcode printer marketplace put it down to product design and engineering complexity, and the limited application potential for color labeling today.
VDC’s recent conversations with leading resellers and labeling solution providers in the United States indicates a preference amongst their user base for pre-printed color labels over on-demand printing options – end user organizations are wary of the expenses associated with acquiring and maintaining color label printer hardware, along with that for media and consumables, making it a cost-prohibitive investment. For now, GHS labeling mandates have helped resellers see a sharp uptick in on-demand color printer sales, with the two more popular choices being the two-color thermal transfer printer from cab and the inkjet printer from Epson.
From VDC’s perspective, potential exists for other on-demand color labeling applications that will help with such marketing initiatives like brand building and creating visual identification. Rather than making investments in pre-printed label stock that may or may not be fully used, there is an argument to be made for printing color labels on demand especially for low volume, high variation labeling applications. These on-demand options can eliminate the need for managing high inventory levels (of pre-printed labels) and long lead times.
To gauge interest in color label printing, a topic generating much interest and confusion in equal measure, VDC will survey key decision makers from end user organizations in the industrial supply chain with direct responsibility as it relates to labeling investments. With this study, VDC will highlight current and planned spending on color labeling solutions, investment drivers and barriers, and the leading feature and/or technical considerations, while also profiling some of the leading hardware participants in this market.