What are the costs of operating a color-label printer?

When it comes to operating a color label printer, there are a few key cost drivers that you should be aware of,

  1. Printer acquisition cost
  2. Label stock cost
  3. Ink consumables cost

Printer acquisition cost.

Your upfront investment. Generally, an inkjet color label printer will cost less than a laser printer. 

What should you consider when buying an inkjet color-label printer?

Well, that depends on a few things,

  1. How many labels do you need on a daily or monthly basis?
  2. Do you expect seasonal or unscheduled product demand?
  3. What is the widest label that you need?
  4. What do you print predominantly – Prime or informational labels?

If you are printing occasionally or less than 500 labels/day, then a decent entry label printer is all you need. These printers typically cost between $1,000 – $2,000.

This category of printer has fewer features and less capable than medium/high end printers. They usually have a small-capacity ink tank or use a tri-color ink cartridge. And they are slow – typically prints at less than 1 inch/second (ips) for the best quality or up to 4ips for a draft or a subjective “acceptable” print quality. 

Before committing to a purchase, we recommend evaluating the printer that will give you the print quality and speed that best fits your application and operation.

Furthermore, beware of the higher ink consumable costs and shorter lifespan compared to industrial-grade printers.

In summary, an entry-class printer is more expensive to operate long-term.

If your products are cyclical, seasonal, or customized, you may run into a capacity issue, and you may land up compensating with

  • Multiple printers. That means higher operational, maintenance, and consumable ink costs overall than an industrial-grade printer.
  • Supplement with outsourced labels. That means dealing with MOQ, delivery lead time, inventory costs, and inflexibility. Things that you are trying to avoid in the first place when you switch to in-house printing!

Do you need labels that are broader than 4 inches?

There are many purchase options for a 4″ inches printer. However, if you intend to print wide labels (e.g., carton or GHS labels), you need to look for a large format color label printer that will give you more flexibility to print both product and logistic labels with the same box.

Label stock cost

Label stock contributes 70-90% of the label cost while inks make up the rest.

Synthetic PP, PE, and vinyl labels are more expensive than paper base materials but offer better waterproofing, abrasion resistance, etc. 

On the other hand, the ink cost depends on the ink coverage and may vary widely from printer to printer. 

Hence, to fully appreciate the overall label/cost, always insist on a cost analysis for your label design from the manufacturer before deciding to buy the printer.

Ink consumable cost

Generally, the more expensive the printer, the cheaper the ink consumables due to pure economics – Industrial printers provide reliable performance over five years for large-volume printing. 

Ink consumable includes printhead, inks, and waste ink collection tank.  

Some printer manufacturers offer replaceable printheads, while others market a permanent printhead. There are pros and cons to each product strategy. 

All parts/components of a printer are subjected to wear and tear, meaning a permanent printhead will require a trip to a service center at some point. You must identify a manufacturer who can support/reduce your production downtime when such a time comes.

The cost of operating a color-label printer can vary widely depending on the business needs and application.

To fully appreciate the cost and benefits of VIPColor printers, schedule a virtual/live demo and consultation session today.

You will also receive a customized cost/label and an ROI (Return on investment report) worth $80, which comes with the Free consultation session.