Laser Labels Anticipate Continued Growth
Manufacturers discuss emerging markets and value-added applications.
Spurred by the introduction of laser printers in the 1980s, laser labels continue to be a profitable product for distributors, with new applications and processes spawned regularly to meet end-users' demands.
"Lasers are pretty hot right now," noted Melinda Fulton, marketing manager at Continental Datalabel, Elgin, Ill. As pin-fed labels have faded from their former preeminence, laser and thermal labels have taken over.
Mike Evans, marketing service manager for Lancer Label, Omaha, Neb., a PrintXcel company, said that he has seen steady growth in stock laser label sales over the past three years.
John Strecker, vice president of sales and marketing at Data Label, Terre Haute, Ind., concurred, adding, "Value-added and custom products have followed the same trend, with the exception being smaller run lengths due to the slowdown in the economy."
Advances in manufacturing processes have addressed the most common complaints about laser labels, including jamming and curling. Strecker said that Data Label had addressed jamming by removing 1⁄32˝ of the face stock and adhesive from the full perimeter of the sheet.
"At considerable expense, we converted all of our stock laser label sheets to window-stripped sheets, and complaints about feeding jams all but disappeared," Strecker said.
Beyond the Obvious
Address and shipping labels make up the bulk of the orders, manufacturers say, but distributors should look beyond these workhorse applications.
"One unique idea is moving companies," Evans said. Such customers often need large quantities of labels and require custom printing or specifications. "Our PressAbels laser sheets have been a perfect fit for this industry," Evans said, "because it requires a product that will stick to many types of surfaces—such as furniture, glass and cardboard—and then be removed easily."
Vaughn Gordon, Continental Datalabel sales manager, suggested that distributors go after transcription applications. "In hospitals and medical offices, doctors transcribe their notes to computers, then print them out on labels that are put on the patients' charts," he said.