Archives for posts with tag: labels

The history of barcode printing goes back in 1948 and features Bernard Silver, a graduate student and his friend Norman Woodland. The demand for a system that would automatically read product information during checkout came from the president of Food Fair, the local food chain in Philadelphia.

Using Morse code as inspiration, Woodland and Silver proceeded with their ideas, and in 1949 filed a patent application for a new system of printing patterns and reading system. Two years later, Woodland moved to IBM and tried to interest the company in developing the system.

Despite the interest, the conclusion was that it would take patience for more adequate technology to be developed in the future.

The next person to work on what we nowadays know as barcode was David Collins. As he was working at Pennsylvania Railroad, he became aware of the need to automatically identify railroad cars. He developed an interesting method using blue and yellow reflective stripes attached to the side of the cars, encoding a six digit company identifier and a four-digit car number. Light reflected off the stripes was fed into one of two photomultipliers, filtered for blue or yellow. This system had its faults, but was another step that contributed to the universal adoption of the barcodes.

In 1971 IBM remembered they still employed Woodland, so a new facility in North Carolina was established. Gradually, after failures and improvements, the barcode started to be adopted by more and more commercial chains, especially after exact data regarding the return on investment for a barcode scanner became available.

As expected, extremists and supports of the conspiracy theory did not greet the barcodes very friendly. But their advantages eventually neutralized extreme opinions.

Resource: Wikipedia

Barcode labels are extremely useful. They can be used to keep track of patients (medical history, allergies), rental cars, airline luggage and you name it. Recent advanced technology makes it possible for barcodes to be printed and labelled, respecting a very high level of accuracy.

Labelling is a very important process that has come a long way from a mere piece of paper stating the product name, to a precise label that must contain detailed and real information. Knowing that there is advanced technology you can rely on is very important. ALS, Advanced Labelling Systems offers a range of fast, reliable and economic label printers that answer today’s needs of being informed.

ALS Fast Labeller


From the seed that is planted by some blistered hands to the product that is displayed on a shop shelf, there is a long way of hard work, profits and losses. Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is aimed at improving farmers’ lives. It targets small communities, gives shoppers the opportunity to reduce poverty through a simple purchase. Although the initiative was more than laudable, something else was needed to make the small community shops more connected and responding to the demands of the supermarket chains that owned the majority of consumers.

The solution was found in 1988, when the first Fairtrade label, Max Havelaar, was launched under the initiative of Nico Roozen, Frans van der Hoff and Dutch ecumenical development agency Solidaridad. The independent certification allowed the goods to reach the supermarkets. Fairtrade labelling allowed consumers and distributors alike to track the origin of the goods and make sure they benefited the farmers at the end of the chain. Label printers make it possible for other business to use the label, but its use on packaging requires prior license agreement.

In 1997, the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) was created, with the goal of inspecting that the standards were met across all countries that had adopted the system.

In 2002 FLO launched a new International Fairtrade Certification Mark aiming at increased shelf visibility and easier cross border processes.

At present, there are Fairtrade Certification Marks on many products, the most popular being coffee, tea, bananas, mangoes, cotton, etc.  There are an estimated 14 million people in the developing world that depend on cocoa production. 90% of cocoa is grown and harvested on small family farms of 5 hectares or less, while only 5% comes from larger plantations. Coffee, so much in demand, and so much a product we are used to, requires a lot of hard work. It takes four years for a coffee plant to yield fruit.

The reputation of fair trade has soured over the past few years and more and more young people and children are educated in this direction.

Fairtrade is an example to understand the value of a label. It can enrich a life, financially speaking, it can save one, in the case of food labels, it can help shape the prestige of a brand.

Maybe not that poetic, it is industrial labelling that helps a message – information or brand, get conveyed.

In thermal transfer printing the material is applied to paper or other materials by melting a coating of ribbon so that is stays glued. The process was invented by SATO corporation somewhere around 1940 and has almost become the standard in label printing.

The ribbon, sometimes called the foil is a polyester film which has been coated on the label side with a wax, wax-resin or pure resin “ink”. Another layer of protective coating keeps it from sticking to the printhead. A previous article that you can read here presents presents more details about the types of printer ribbons and their usage.

Zebra thermal transfer ribbons are a type of well known print ribbons that come in the three variants mentioned by the article, are smudge resistant and produce a crisp black image with excellent high speed performance. They provide very good print quality and image on most European uncoated and coated paper facestocks. The ALS Store are approved partners for Zebra Ribbons.

These transfer ribbons can be paired with zebra thermal transfer labels using thermal printers.  Pulses of heat supplied by the printheads transfer an image from the ribbon to the label. When the correct label and thermal transfer ribbon are used in combination, the result is an image with outstanding visual quality and resistant to many elements. Exposure to indoor or outdoor UV light is one of the main cases considered, that is why carbon black is one of the most desirable pigments in black ribbons, as it is very light-stable.

As labelling industry is more and more demanding, it is imperative to use the best thermal transfer ribbons and labels. Also, it is worth mentioning that there is a clear distinction between direct thermal printing and thermal transfer printing. Although the process of direct printing costs less, the results are more sensitive to light and abrasion, this reducing the life of the printed material. The process is appropriate for materials such as general receipts, coupons and event tickets.

When durability is required, thermal transfer printing is the solution. Labels and asset tags are just two examples that fit into this category.

Barcodes are one of the most utilised items in the retail business word where most products will hold a label that has a printed barcode on it. We won’t talk about what barcode does as everybody already know.

Though, being one of the most used items in the retail world, it also stands a close chance as being the most boring things too. Typically, black strips on a white background for scanning purposes, printed on paper or cardboard by inkjet or thermal ribbons. Boring!

But, who says barcodes cannot be fun? We will share some images today of a collection of fun barcodes that has creative and innovative designs, which in terms of practicality, can be used perfectly well within the business world.

On September 15th 2011, the Food Standards Agency and Defra (the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) published new guidance on food packaging and labelling. Specifically it relates to the use of ‘use by’, ‘best before’, ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ date markings on food.

It is suggested that confusion over these different dates is one of the leading factors in the UK’s £12bn food wastage.

Here’s a breakdown of what they mean:

  • ‘Use by’ – this relates to food safety.  Consuming the food after this date may be unsafe and it is illegal for retailers to sell produce after it has gone past its use by date
  • ‘Best before’ – this relates to the quality of the produce. Eating the food after its best before date may mean that it doesn’t taste as nice or it might not look as appetising.  However, there is no an immediate health risk from eating this food
  • ‘Display until’ – this is the date the retailer wishes to remove this product from display and is used for stock control
  • ‘Sell by’ – this is very similar to ‘display until’

It’s easy to see why shoppers get confused.  With the many different dates, some consumers misinterpret the dates and throw away food earlier than needed.

Throwing away food on its ‘display until’ or ‘sell by’ date would mean safe food without any drop in quality would be wasted.  Likewise, throwing away food on its ‘best before’ date often means food that is perfectly safe to eat is wasted.

The exception to this rule is eggs.  Eggs should not be eaten after their ‘best before’ date as there is a risk of salmonella food poisoning.

Under the new guidelines, it is suggested that the use of ‘display until’ and ‘sell by’ dates be removed and that retailers utilise other stock control methods.  Likewise, that there is a clearer distinction between which products should have a ‘use by’ date and which would use a ‘best before’ date.

For example, fish, ready meals and many dairy products would have a ‘use by’ date.  Whilst tinned food, cakes and biscuits would only require a ‘best before’ date.

What does this mean for current food retailers and producers? It might mean a huge waste in stock if they cannot re-label it.  However, they can also utilise a contract-based over labelling service which would use industrial labelling machines to print over the current labels with any new or updated information the packaging requires.

Do you think this will have an impact on your food waste?