Produce Color Labels On-Demand With Information From Color Label Solutions

Durability = On-Demand Color

Labeling Solutions ( is a full-service provider of labeling, tagging, and bar coding solutions including label printers, labels, tags, ribbons, and supporting equipment such as asset and inventory management software and hardware including bar code scanners and handheld mobile computers. For thousands of customers in the US and Canada, Labeling Solutions is their one-stop source to address a variety of labeling requirements.

Located in South Portland Maine, Labeling Solutions has expertise serving customers in the seafood industry across the US. According to Donald Tomkinson, President of Labeling Solutions, “we had an opportunity in the seafood industry with a customer who needed to classify fresh-caught inventory on a daily basis, quickly and accurately replacing tedious manual counting. Based on these requirements, we started looking for a color printer that could produce on-demand, color-coded tags with 2D barcodes and text. Most importantly, we had to find printable, durable tags that could withstand 3 or more weeks in salt water.”

Based on this requirement, Donald contacted me to find a solution for the opportunity. As for the ink part of the solution, I was not worried. In the TM-C3400, Epson uses Durabrite inks; an aqueous-based pigment ink that is significantly different than inks used in most inkjet printers. To learn more:

The durability of these inks is one of the key enablers for Epson to obtain the BS5609 Certification with Kimdura media from Neenah Paper. Take a look at my earlier blog post on this topic: To receive this certification, the ink and media are required to withstand more than 3 weeks in seawater.

To get a durable tag, I contacted Stafford Press ( Since 1991, Stafford Press has been a leading supplier of “custom” labels to many AIDC resellers across the country. They take great pride in providing solutions to their dealers and product identification requirements.

According to Dave Long, President of Stafford Press, “after testing showed our existing 4 mil poly tag was not stiff enough, we developed a new 8 mil poly tag to meet the Labeling Solutions requirements. For both the 4 mil and 8 mil poly tags, we use the same material certified in the BS 5609 test. This tag material is not only durable but also produces very good print quality.”

  • Labeling Solutions developed a comprehensive solution comprised of several “best of breed” components:
  • Epson color printer
  • BarTender label software from Seagull Scientific
  • Durable color tags
  • Handheld Mobile PC with Windows Mobile and 2D scanner
  • Notebook PC
  • Physical Inventory Counting Software

The scanning handheld mobile PC scans and stores inventory levels as well as provide output for business application to reconcile. To design the tag formats, Labeling Solutions uses BarTender software from Seagull Scientific ( According to Donald, “I quickly moved to BarTender when I came into this business 7 years ago. With the basic label and database capabilities combined now with the extended integration capabilities of modules such as Commander, I prefer this market leading labeling software.”

With the printer, tags, and application completed, Labeling Solutions completed their first deployment. Donald says, “For the first print job, we printed 6,000 tags with 32 different classifications. Each tag has a 2D barcode, text, and color code to make it easier for the workers to identify quickly the category of seafood. It was a “layup” to use durable color tags as a part of this solution.”

If you like this story, you may find my earlier post on the use of color to classify products of interest also:

Moving to on-demand color labels and tags will improve all types of work processes; including classifying, fresh-caught inventory. Contact me to discuss how color can be added to your or your customer’s business.

PS: I have an update to this story. After 7 months in salt water, Donald sent me a picture of the tags.

According to Donald, “The color coding and bar code on the tags have no apparent degradation after 7 months in salt water. These results are a testament to the ink and tag material combination used on Epson TM-C3400 color printer.”

These results really do show the durability of the ink/poly media combination.

Posted at 9:57 AM
Guy Mikel

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