Yesterday, some of our engineers took a trip down the road to the Great Lakes Label Summit. At the event we enjoyed a comprehensive tour of all aspects of the label making process from dye mixes to foil applications, ending with the final application process. Great Lakes Label makes thousands of labels seen on the shelves of pharmacies, grocery stores, garden centers, and across many other industries.
It was particularly interesting following a label throughout the entire creation and application phases. To begin we saw how all the exact colors are mixed based on mixture formulas coming from only 11 colors. From these 11 colors they can make almost any color you can imagine. After the dyes have been created, the next step is to set up the press. With over 10 different phase options, the printing press is a system that could take hours to set up for a single label roll. After the press is perfected for a particular label, it could take only a matter of minutes to finish an order of labels due to the pure speed of the machine. It is quite extraordinary to watch the machine print elaborate labels in a matter of seconds.
After the labels are printed, we were able to see how mass application happens. Anyone that has spent time decorating a scrap book, knows how annoying and time consuming peeling and placing stickers can be. These machines apply the labels so fast, you could call it ludicrous speed!
As times and technology progress, it is truly amazing to see the speeds this entire process can be completed. Not to mention, the incredible printing techniques that are being developed to make the labels pop off the shelves. We were able to see the new technologies up close that make holograms on labels to appear 3D. These foils can be laid over an image to add dimension. A common application we saw for this was the premium movie theatre cups that advertise newly released hit movies.
Overall, this experience was very informative and fun. With PCL’s materials lab growing, it is interesting to see how our lab could be a resource to identify the best avenue to take when making labels for different industries. Tests such as our Sutherland Rub or Vibration Transit Tests could show issues with labels in transit environments before complete production begins. This testing could prove to save time and money if a label is found to fail in its projected transit environment.