Posted on Leave a comment

Getting the Most Out of Your Printer

Maintain your printer to save money

Thermal Transfer printers are very useful to manufacturers and retailers alike. You can produce high quality labels and media at a fast and economical rate. The printers themselves however are not immune to wear and tear, and this article will help you to extend the life of your printer. Less repairs and replacements means cheaper running costs and more profit!

Hopefully you’re already cleaning your printer as advised when you first purchased it. If not, here’s some things you can routinely do to reduce wear and increase the print quality.

transfer example


Clean your print-head regularly. Most printers are advised to be cleaned with alcohol – normally available as pre-soaked disposable wipes. These will come in small paper sachets and are one use. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the print-head every time you replace a carbon ribbon, though this can vary on model and ribbon quality/length.

As the printer runs, small particles of dust and carbon can get deposited on the print head itself and become stuck during heating. This reduces the heat transferring from the print head to the carbon ribbon and so reduces the print quality. A potential solution to this is simply turning up the heat on the printer but this is strongly discouraged. As you’ll see below, having a higher heat than necessary will wear out the printer faster.

Printers in dusty environments will suffer from this greater, especially if a large volume of printing is being performed each day.

Instead, if the print quality drops from what you’re used to, give the print head a good clean and try printing again.

Setting the heat


As the printer runs, the print head melts the ink on the carbon ribbon, and transfers it to the label/media. Depending on the area of ink transferred and the speed of the printer, the heat may need to be adjusted. Too low a heat doesn’t melt the ink enough so it won’t transfer. This results in broken and incomplete print. Too high and you risk not only a bleed effect on the transfer, but you’ll wear out the print head much faster.

To set the heat correctly, first set the desired speed for your printer. Try and keep the speed as low as possible for your requirements. Bear in mind that the faster you run the machine, the more heat you’ll need and the faster the print-head will wear out!

Once you have set the speed, set the heat to the lowest setting. Print off a few items and check the quality. If it’s not satisfactory, turn the heat up by a small amount and print again. Repeat this until the print quality is ideal.

Remember, if the print quality drops during use, don’t just turn up the heat but clean the printer first. This will prolong the life of the printer saving you money.

Dust Cover

Always use a dust cover where you can to prevent dust settling on the labels before printing. This will not only reduce the amount of dust entering the machine to clog up the print head, but also reduce the required heat to stick the ink to the label or media saving you time and money.

Carbon Ribbon Quality


Carbon ribbons are not made equally. Even if you remove the variation between wax, resin and wax-resin hybrid ribbons. There are many variants of wax and resin that have specialities for certain applications. They also come in different qualities.

Using a low-quality carbon ribbon can be great for short-term savings, but in the long run they will create extra wear on your printer: Small parts of the ribbon breaking off increasing the amount of dust inside the machine or really budget ribbons can rub or scratch the print-head as it passes, dramatically reducing it’s usable life.

Ribbon Width

carbon overprint 1Incorrect
carbon overprint 2Correct

Ensure you have a sufficiently wide ribbon to cover the label.

If you use a ribbon that is thinner than the label width, the print-head will be exposed during printing. This greatly increases the wear and tear on the print-head and reduces it’s lifespan.

For the examples illustrated to the right, if you’re printing artwork that is 45mm wide onto a 55mm wide label, use a 75mm wide ribbon and not a 50mm wide ribbon.

The ribbon itself acts as a barrier to protects the print head from the labels and their adhesive. It might seem wasteful to use such a large ribbon for the label but there are lots of sizes of ribbons available.


Perhaps the greatest benefit of following these tips is not the money you’ll save in repairs but the time you’ll save in fixing problems, from bad print quality to “dirty” labels.

Labels are an important part of product packaging, especially if it’s something the end-customer will see. Fixing your label print quality without affecting cost, and you’ll reap the benefits.

Posted on Leave a comment

Picking the Right Price Gun Label for You


  1. Summary
  2. Machine Print
  3. Number of Lines
  4. Pre-print
  5. Adhesive
  6. Label Material
  7. Examples


One of the most common problems our customers have is not knowing which label type they need. The solution is easy if you follow the steps below.

Machine Print
What your gun prints on your label

It’s important to first decide what you want your label gun to print on the label. Think about what you are going to be labelling and note what the label is going to show. This is what you can change for each label you eject from the gun. We’ll refer to this as Machine Print

This could be simply the price e.g. £99.99

Date information such as best beforeuse by or manufactured on e.g. 01/01/2015

Perhaps a stock numberbatch number or identifying code e.g. AZ123456

Industry specific information such as beef traceability or tracking info.

Nothing is actually a viable option. Perhaps you just want to attach a label which has your brand, or contact information. In this case you’ll have this information pre-printed rather than printed by your gun. We’ll cover this later.

How many lines are needed
One, two, three or more?

Now you’ve thought about the machine print you want to display, the number of lines on the label you need are how many pieces of information you need. If you want to show just the price then you only need a one line label. If you wanted to show the batch number and best before you need a two line label.

Try to use as few lines as you can, because the cost of both the labels and the guns will increase as you need more lines.

Label guns and labels generally have a maximum of three lines, anyone who needs more than this should look at label printers instead.

What the labels have on them before they go through the gun

So we now know what machine print we need, and how many lines we require. The third step is deciding is what the labels should have pre-printed on them. This serves two functions:

  • Explains to the reader what the machine print means.
  • Alters the style of the label, including branding.

Explaining the machine print

The primary reason to use pre-printed labels is to have a way of explaining what the machine print means. Without it, we could read a date on a label, but not know whether it was the use by date or the date of manufacture.

one line label showing the price doesn’t need any pre-print. This is because the price is usually printed with a currency symbol by the gun.

one line label showing a date needs to have the date explained. This could be for a use by date label on food, or a date of manufacture date on perishable goods.

two line label showing a batch number and a price might need some pre-printed text to explain that it’s a batch number, but if you’re only using it in-house, then you’ll know what it means without having to display it. As the price currency symbol would be printed by the gun, you could actually use a plain label for this, saving you some money, at the expense of confusing some readers.

three line label showing batch number, date of manufacture and a price would probably need some clarification to explain what each part meant. You may even want to consider using a label printer instead to make your labels clearer and smarter.

Altering the style of a label

Now you have all the functional parts of your label planned, you may want to add that personal touch. This could be a simple colour scheme, a company logo or simple artwork. This will depend on the products you are selling and your target customers. Don’t underestimate how much brand association is worth. Permanent labels will be on the product until the packaging is disposed of, and peelable labels are often removed by customers after purchase, giving you the focus of their attention on your label.

Colour schemes can vary greatly. The cheapest option is to just change the colour of the pre-printed text, so your “best before” would be pre-printed in red, or green, or any other colour you want.

You can also change the label colour, to great effect. You can have any colour you can think of, including fluorescent – though these cost a little more than standard colours.

Combine both printed colour and label colour to match your company’s brand colours for additional affect, or really draw customers in to a great offer with a bright and contrasting combination.

Company logos and artwork can be made to specification. Just remember that the label you are having designed is quite small, so any image you use should be clear and understandable at a glance. Simple borders or watermark style designs can add a unique twist to your label. Come up with some ideas and ask the supplier for proofs of your designs, so you can see exactly how your labels will look before you order them. This combines your passion and creativity with the manufacturer’s knowledge and experience.

Depending on manufacturer and label type (see below) you may also be able to choose a finish such as gloss, satin or matt. This explains how reflective the label is, from gloss being the shiniest to matt being the dullest.

Make your labels stick

We now know what our label will show, but now we need to decide which adhesive is supplied with the label. Typically there are three variants.

  • Permanent adhesive doesn’t want to be removed shortly after being applied. When you try to remove a permanent adhered label, you will leave behind the back of the label. Ideally used for labels which the customer will not need to remove, such as showing date information. This also makes permanent adhesive ideal for preventing fraudsters from transferring labels between products.
  • Peelable adhesive can be removed from most surfaces easily, even after being on the product for a long period of time. They do come off in one go and don’t damage the label, leaving very little if any glue behind. This is ideal for showing the price on items which would be purchased as gifts where the customer would want to remove it without evidence after purchase. Peelable labels last just as long on products as permanent labels do, they are just easier to remove.
  • Freezer adhesive are somewhere between permanent and peelable at room temperature, but their true strength is their use in fridges and freezers. Below a certain temperature the adhesive hardens and becomes permanent, where normal label adhesive would become unreliable. Manufacturer specifications vary for which temperatures are suitable, so check with the individual supplier.

Label Material
Go outdoors!

For most cases, a paper label is suitable, but there is an alternative. Plasticised outdoor labels are weatherproof. Use these if you’re going to be displaying the labels outdoors. They come with a specialised adhesive for resisting the elements.

Just be sure to use UV-resistant inks in your gun to stop the gun ink from fading in the sunshine.


Let’s give some real life examples now:

The High Street Shop

I am about to open a retail shop, and want to price each item. Most of my goods could be bought as gifts, so I need the labels to be removable.

The person above only needs one line of machine print. As they are only showing a price, there doesn’t need to be any pre-printed text, and the labels need to be removable for customer’s gifts, so this example best suits a 1 line plain label with peelable adhesive.

Packaged Food Retailer

I am self-employed making sandwiches and selling them myself. I already have stickers showing their prices, but I need a new label to show the use by date on the packaging.

In this example, the customer only needs one line of machine print – the use by date. To best show what this date means to the customer, they should add a line of pre-print – use by. As the packaging will be discarded after opening and the chance of the item being a gift is low, a permanent adhesive suits this scenario best.

The best label for the sandwich maker is a 1 line label, pre-printed use by and using permanent adhesive.

Factory Shop

I run a family owned warehouse which produces goods. We’re about to open a small shop on the premises, but need to control our stock. We use an internal numbering system to identify our goods, and need to show the best before date too, as the goods are perishable. I’m concerned about unscrupulous customers swapping the labels around and deceive us.

The Factory Shop owner needs to show both a date and a number, meaning that the machine print requires two lines. To ensure they are clear, the owner decides to use two lines of pre-print on the label to explain what the date and batch number mean, in this case batch no and best before.

As there is a chance of label swapping being a problem, permanent adhesive is recommended. Unless the shop owner decides that his customers will want to gift their products, he should choose a two line label, pre-printed with batch no and use by using a permanent adhesive.

I’d also like to colour the label after my company’s brand colours – blue and red. I don’t know whether it would look better with a blue label and red text, or the other way around, what can I do?

For custom options like colour schemes, it is best to contact the supplier of the label and ask them to supply a selection of proofs. This way you can see exactly what the labels will look like before you buy.

Gardening Retailer

I run a large garden store selling plants, ornaments and accessories. Most of my stock is kept outside, and I am fed up with my labels washing off. If I can find a label that’ll resist the weather, can it show our company logo on the label as well as the price? We use the image of a rising sun, I can send you a picture if you want.

The gardening retailer only needs to display a price in their machine print so they only need a one line label but if they want artwork shown on the label, they may be better off using a two line label. The best course of action to follow would be to send the supplier the artwork and ask for some proofs made. Then a decision can be made between different layouts and styles.

As the labels are being used outside, outdoor labels are highly advised to stop them from washing off, and don’t forget to use UV resistant ink in the gun to stop the price from fading. There’s a lot going on here, so discussing specification with the supplier is the best option to combine their knowledge and the retailer’s design.

Posted on Leave a comment

EU Law Changes to Nutrition Labelling


  1. Summary
  2. Exempted Food and Drinks
  3. Nutrients
  4. Reference Intakes
  5. Nutrient Reference Values
  6. Closing Thoughts


The EU laws regulating the information on the back of foodstuffs is changing. This is because of EU Regulation No. 1169/2011.

How does this affect you?

Effective Dates

The provision of nutrition information is currently voluntary (unless a claim is made). From 13 December 2016, this will be mandatory for most pre-packed foods. This includes products sold through distance selling.

If you are currently, optionally providing nutritional information to customers, you should already be conforming to the new format from 13 December 2014.

Exempted Food and Drinks

Except where other EU provisions apply, the following list of foods are exempt from mandatory nutrition information display:

  1. Unprocessed products that comprise a single ingredient or category of ingredients;
  2. Processed products which the only processing they have been subjected to is maturing and that comprise a single ingredient or category of ingredients;
  3. Waters intended for human consumption, including those where the only added ingredients are carbon dioxide and/or flavourings;
  4. A herb, a spice or mixtures thereof;
  5. Salt and salt substitutes;
  6. Table top sweeteners;
  7. Products covered by Directive 1999/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 February 1999 relating to coffee extracts and chicory extracts ( 1 ), whole or milled coffee beans and whole or milled decaffeinated coffee beans;
  8. Herbal and fruit infusions, tea, decaffeinated tea, instant or soluble tea or tea extract, decaffeinated instant or soluble tea or tea extract, which do not contain other added ingredients than flavourings which do not modify the nutritional value of the tea;
  9. Fermented vinegars and substitutes for vinegar, including those where the only added ingredients are flavourings;
  10. Flavourings;
  11. Food additives;
  12. Processing aids;
  13. Food enzymes;
  14. Gelatine;
  15. Jam setting compounds;
  16. Yeast;
  17. Chewing-gums;
  18. Food in packaging or containers the largest surface of which has an area of less than 25 cm2;
  19. Food, including handcrafted food, directly supplied by the manufacturer of small quantities of products to the final consumer or to local retail establishments directly supplying the final consumer.

EU Regulation No. 1169/2011, Annex V


Nutritional information will need to be shown per 100g or 100ml.

The minimum font-size used in the nutritional information is 1.2mm x-height

Information is displayed in a table with the numbers aligned, though a linear format is permitted if insufficient space.

Where nutrients are not present or in negligible amounts, they may be mentioned in a separate sentence. See below for an example of this.

Mandatory Nutrients

The nutrients which much be included (except when the food or drink is exempt, see above) in the nutritional information are:

  • Energy in kilokoules (kJ) / and kilocalories (kcal)
  • Fat
    • of which saturates
  • Carbohydrate
    • of which sugars
  • Protein
  • Salt

Food and Drink Federation, Mandatory Back of Pack Nutrition Labelling

Optional Nutrients

The mandatory information can be supplemented with the following optional nutrients: mono-unsaturates, polyunsaturates, polyols, starch and fibre, provided they follow the order below.

Some vitamins and minerals may also be shown, providing they exist in a sufficient quantitiy. See the Vitamins section below for more information.


When nutritional information is shown, it must be displayed in this order:

  • energy
  • fat
    • of which saturates,
    • of which mono-unsaturates,
    • of which polyunsaturates,
  • carbohydrate
    • of which sugars,
    • of which polyols,
    • of which starch,
  • fibre
  • protein
  • salt
  • vitamins and minerals

EU Regulation No. 1169/2011, Annex XV


The units of measurement to be used in the nutrition declaration for energy (kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal)) and mass (grams (g), milligrams (mg) or micrograms (μg))

Nutrition Information Examples

Reference Intakes (RIs)
Formerly Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs)

Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) are being replaced by Reference Intakes (RIs).

Reference Intakes %RIs can be shown in the nutrition table per 100g/100ml and/or per portion/consumption unit.

In addition, where %RIs are given the following statement is required in close proximity to it:

Reference intake of an average adult (8400kJ/2000kcal)EU Regulation No. 1169/2011, Article 32.5

The values of the reference intake is as follows:

Nutritional information may be additionally displayed as a percentage of the reference intakes per 100g or 100ml, providing

Energy or nutrient Reference intake
Energy 8 400 kJ/2 000 kcal
Total Fat 70 g
Saturates 260 g
Carbohydrate 260 g
Sugars 90 g
Protein 50 g
Salt 6 g

EU Regulation No. 1169/2011, Annex XIII, Part B

Portion Indicator

If information is provided per portion or consumption unit, this must be quantified in close proximity to nutrition declaration. For example:

1.5L = 6 x 250ml servings.Food and Drink Federation, Mandatory Back of Pack Nutrition Labelling

Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs)Formerly Recommended Daily Amounts (RDAs)

Recommended Daily Amounts (RDAs) are being replaced by Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs).

Vitamins must be declared per 100ml and the %NRV per 100ml provided.

You can also provide the information per portion.


Vitamins and minerals may only be shown where they exist in a significant amount.

If the product is a beverage, at least 7.5% of the vitamin’s NRV must be present in 100 ml.

If the product is not a beverage, at least 15% of the vitamin’s NRV must be present in 100 g or 100 ml.

If the product contains only one portion, at least 15% of the vitamin’s NRV must be present in a single portion.

Vitamin A (μg) 800
Vitamin D (μg) 5
Vitamin E (mg) 12
Vitamin K (μg) 75
Vitamin C (mg) 80
Thiamin (mg) 1,1
Riboflavin (mg) 1,4
Niacin (mg) 16
Vitamin B6 (mg) 1,4
Folic acid (μg) 200
Vitamin B12 (μg) 2,5
Biotin (μg) 50
Pantothenic acid (mg) 6
Potassium (mg) 2 000
Chloride (mg) 800
Calcium (mg) 800
Phosphorus (mg) 700
Magnesium (mg) 375
Iron (mg) 14
Zinc (mg) 10
Copper (mg) 1
Manganese (mg) 2
Fluoride (mg) 3,5
Selenium(μg) 55
Chromium (μg) 40
Molybdenum (μg) 50
Iodine (μg) 150

EU Regulation No. 1169/2011, Annex XIII, Part A, I

Vitamin Example

Closing thoughts

There is a lot of detail within the EU regulation changes, and this post only covers a few central points. If you are unsure or uncertain about the changes and how they affect you, seek professional advice.


All information supplied should be used as a guide, and is as correct at the date of posting. All content provided is taken from the sources below, and edited for clarity except where quoted.

The Price Gun Shop has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided on this website. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind. The Price Gun Shop does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained on this website.


EU Regulation No. 1169/2011. Retrieved 14/10/2015 from

Food and Drink Federation, Mandatory Back of Pack Nutrition Labelling. Retrieved 14/10/2015 from