Label Inventor Recalls Discovery
Adapting to Change
Initially, Trade Printers used transfer tape to create the products, which worked well for continuous form and unit set formats. But, the upsurge in laser printer usage required design changes.
"Transfer tape is a differentially coated liner and tough to use with feed rollers," explained Stewart, whose knack for innovative problem solving led to his being dubbed "The Professor." "We had to develop different liners and adhesives that would feed well through hundreds of different kinds of laser printers."
Now, super-thin liners, including imaging liners, have virtually eradicated the jamming issues, and laser printers are designed to be more forgiving. "Today's printers will work with anything from a 15 lb. paper substrate up to heavy 125 lb. tag stock," observed Stewart.
"It's also critical to use the correct adhesive and watch the coat weight since too much causes the forms to jam," he added. "The thinner the liner, the easier it is for the adhesives—which are really semi-liquids—to flow out of the edges. Any kind of cold flow with adhesives is death for the integrated label. Yet, you must still have enough tack for it to work for the application. It's a balancing act."
Manufacturing typically begins with a regular forms press and requires additional processes and equipment to finalize the integrated label portion. While the bulk of integrated labels are designed for variable imaging by end-users, a fair amount of pre-printed labels exist as well, such as for product identification and contact information purposes.
At Ace Forms, Pittsburg, Kan., integrated form/label combinations currently account for approximately $150,000 in annual sales. Lindeye Webb, sales coordinator, expects continued major growth for the product line due to the cost-savings benefits for end-users. Having a multi-part solution built into a single substrate also saves time and reduces the types of errors that occur when dealing with individual elements. "This is particularly valuable for the medical and pharmaceutical fields where chain-of-custody is essential," she said.