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Description

Finding the balance between faster label printing and printing visually appealing labels

Solution

Loftware Label Manager (LLM) was primarily designed to print labels on the shop floor for production and shipping, conveying the necessary information in a compact and efficient manner, then producing those labels as quickly as possible. However, over the past two decades the tools have been added to increase the aesthetics of your labels. This comes at a cost to performance. Below is a discussion of each tool, how they can add to the aesthetics of your label and how it may influence your label printing speed.

Graphics

Loftware has the ability to add graphics or logos to your label, but with certain limitations. Loftware is not a graphics program. The graphics tool properties are rudimentary for minor adjustment to an already refined image. These limitations are based on general capabilities of thermal transfer printers. Specific graphic functionality will be linked to the printer make and model you are using.
Most industrial barcode printers will not effectively print color or grey scale graphics, since they can only turn their individual pixels on or off. Silhouette or black and white graphics work quite well.
While graphics and logos add instant recognition to your label, they can detract from the speed at which these labels will print. Each time you submit a job to Loftware, the graphics tied to a given label will need to be transmitted to the printer. There they are typically stored in the printer's volatile memory; this may vary depending on the make and model of printer. The image handling and transmission time will depend on the size and complexity of the graphic. Typically, if you are printing several hundred labels with a fixed image, the delay will only accompany the first label. If you are printing labels with a variable image, you may experience a delay each time the image changes. Other factors that influence the re-sending of the complete format would include the image data as well. Simple rule of thumb: the larger the size of the print stream that must be sent initially and then resent for each label, the longer the time it will take.

Fonts

Fonts can play a major role in print speed and aesthetics. There are two types of fonts: Native and True Type.
Native fonts usually print the fastest. These fonts are resident in the printer memory. Loftware simply transmits the call to that memory location in the printer and coordinates of where to place them on the label. The amount of data transmitted is extremely small and the handling required is minimal. While these fonts print fast, they can be blocky and pixilated.
Native scaleable fonts are native to the printer but are usually rendered in a similar manner to a TTF. You can recognize a scalable font by looking at the properties box in Loftware Design32. If the "Font Category" is set to Native Fonts and there is a "Points" setting, then you have a Scaleable font. Loftware recalls them from the printer memory, but because they can be any size, Loftware has to submit more information to define them. This extra data will add time to your print operation. These fonts tend to be more visually appealing, less pixilated and the size is much easier to control, since it is not limited to a multiplier of the original font size.
True Type fonts are generally the most visually appealing fonts, and you can print using any font available in Windows, on the machine that Loftware is running on. (Local system using LLM or LPS server) Using true type fonts gives you access to fonts like Script, New Times Roman, Courier, etc. While visually they look very nice, they impact speed performance significantly, because Loftware has to render and send each character to the printer as a bitmap, similar to how graphics are sent. This can cause the amount of processing time and data to be transmitted to increase several fold, depending on the number of fields using TTFs on the label. This extra processing can translate into a pause of several seconds at the beginning of each print job, and each time the text changes between consecutive labels.

Print Speed/Darkness

A balance of speed and darkness needs to be found to optimize print speed and clarity for your application. These two separate settings are found in the same location in Loftware.
Use one of the following ways of accessing these settings:

  • Select File | Media Setup. Click Label Options.
  • Press F5. Click Label Options.
  • Click the grey box in the upper left corner of the label design work area. Click Label Options.

Print Speed settings are measured in inches per second, and as you increase speed, you may see changes in the quality of your printing as the print head elements heat and cool faster to keep up with the stock feed rate. Many manufacturers of both printers and stock provide suggested optimal settings for use with the stock.
While the darkness setting will not actually impact your label printing speed, it can impact the look of your label and the longevity of your printer's print head. You want to select a darkness that gives you a clean label print, but not any darker. Print heads that are set too dark/hot will fail sooner, can cause the ribbon to break and bleeding at the edge of lines or characters on the label. This comes from the crayon portion of the ribbon that is transferred to the label stock.

Conclusion

The printing process is comprised of a set of variables; any one or combination of these can influence print speed and quality, such as connection type. Some examples are printer model, printer resolution, label stock, etc_ The above settings can all be manipulated by Loftware at the label level and in some cases through printer options and at the individual printer level.

 

Article Number

 2009237

Versions

 Loftware Label Manager Design

Environment

All supported installation environments.