A Guide for Label Manufacturers and Converters
Last Update: 5/13/16
Note: If you are reading this document, you probably already know that media making is a complex process and can sometimes be more of an art than a science. This document attempts to collect our current knowledge about making media for our NeuraLabel 300x printer. As we continue to learn and gain additional information, the contents will be updated accordingly. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to contribute to this topic.
- Min media width is 1.5”. Clients must use a small media snap-in adapter
- Max media width is 8.5”
Rolled media is preferred to fanfold for the following reasons. Please see our blog for more information.
- Less likely to stick to itself
- Friendlier to printer; less likely to jam
- Requires special equipment
Media may be simple continuous roll with no marks, as is needed for label press.
Media may be die-cut, in which case it must have black calibration marks on the reverse side corresponding to the individual die-cut labels.
We recommended skipping the perforations for rolled media, unless the user requires them. Please see our blog for more information.
Die Cut Media Size
- Min Mark distance (media page size) is 1.5”
- Max mark distance
- Original spec 22 inches
- Modified spec may be up to 38 inches, with additional printing restrictions
NOTE: When using label sizes with mark distance below 4 inches or above 22 inches, additional speed restraints may need to be manually selected in the printer driver.
Full Bleed Die Cut Media Size
To achieve Full Bleed or Full Coverage label media, the edges of the labels on the label backing must be 0.25” apart to allow for the built in page margins. Top/Bottom printer margins are 0.117” needing an exact value of 0.234” which we round up to 0.25”. This topic has further discussion in the next section on Mark placement.
The mark sensor is approximately in the middle of the page on the paper path. The sensor triggers on the leading edge of the media. The sensor is looking for a black mark.
- Thickness of mark: 0.25 inches – 0.75 inches
- Width of mark: 0.75 inches – width of the page
- Center on page
Mark should be dark carbon black.
Possible Mark Appearance Problems:
- Blotchy or Smudged
Placement of Mark
Placement of the mark is with respect to the leading edge of the page (perforation). Depending on the specification, the mark may be placed below the label gap or over the narrow gap. If the gap between labels is greater than 0.125″ (usually 0.25″) then the mark should be placed over the gap (Full Bleed Mark Placement).
NOTE: Label printing placement will only be as accurate as the mark placement. If the marks are not consistently placed on the label, consistent label printing cannot be expected.
“Regular” Mark Placement
There is flexibility for placement of the mark because of the Mark Adjust variable in the printer driver. For media that will not need “full bleed” printing, the top of the mark should be placed about 5 mm from the edge to correspond to the default Mark Adjust setting of 20. This is commonly used for larger GHS labels. Again the exact placement is not critical because the driver allows for a relative placement with respect to this mark.
“Full Bleed” Mark Placement
For “full bleed” labels a special mark requirement is added. The edges of the labels on the label backing must be 0.25” apart to allow for the built in page margins. We have found that the 0.25” gap (matrix removed) can falsely trigger the mark sensor for some media; to prevent false readings, we move the 0.25” mark across the gap. (We understand that triggering on the gap is actually preferred; we are investigating; today we need the black mark covering the gap.)
Possible Mark Placement Problems:
- Irregular or Inconsistent placement with respect to label edge. (see next section)
- Mark not placed on gap when gap is 0.25″.
If possible the matrix should be removed from media before the media is used in the 300x. If the application requires the matrix to be left on, it must be at least 0.2” on all sides and sections of the media to prevent the waste matrix from peeling off and getting stuck inside the printer.
Shaped (non-rectangular) labels
Because the NeuraLabel 300x is extremely accurate, usually +/- 0.03”, it is possible to print shaped labels such as circles, cones, and custom shapes. Here are guidelines for this type of media.
Follow Matrix guideline. Remove if possible; no matrix less than 0.2” wide.
Follow Mark/Gap guideline. If the backing is removed, at center of media (about 0.75”) make sure there are no media gaps that can inadvertently trip the mark sensor. Place the mark across this gap.
If matrix has been removed such that there are large areas of backing with no label, consider how the leading edge will load into the printer. The flimsy backing will not easily load into the printer.
Summary of problems of odd-shaped labels with matrix removed:
- Media difficult to load because backing material with no label won’t readily go into printer
- Solution: User loads media through printer and then starts print
- Mark sensor trips on large gap in backing where no label
- Solution: Create large mark up to 0.75” at center of label at the gap
Other interesting information about precision die-cut printing:
- The label batch will be very precise, however the first 1-3 labels within a batch for small sizes may not be placed as accurately as the remaining labels in the batch. This is label size dependent. The accuracy guidelines apply after start up.
- The last labels at the end of the media roll may not be as accurate because the media is not constrained within the print path.
- Larger or stiff labels may require Robust Mark Detect to be enabled for increased accuracy.
Tight Release Liner Coating
The release liner controls how easily the label releases from the liner. Media made for the 300x printer should have a tight release liner to inhibit the labels from coming off in the printer. When making or ordering media tight release should be specified.
Media Type and Top Coating
NeuraLabel has done extensive testing on a variety of Media Types by a variety of Manufacturers. Labels of the same general type can have drastically different results. It is critical to understand the quality results of the media before creating labels; a few sample prints are worth a lot. NeuraLabel is happy to test media.
Please visit our Qualified Media database. https://www.neuralabel.com/Qualified-Media.php
For the most part, the adhesive does not affect the end print. We understand that there are many types of adhesives and that they are application specific.
Most backings are not a problem for the 300x printer. Very stiff backings can prevent the media from flowing through the printer and result in print defects. A sample print should be tested before production.