The A4 Label sheet market in Australia
Copier and laser labels
Since the 1960s with the invention of Xerography, commonly known as photocopying, A4 sheet labels have been the simple” go-to” inexpensive label alternative for industry, medical and small office, home office(SOHO) use.
They have evolved more than any other form of short-run personal label printing.
This was partly due to the demise of Data processing labels which were also known as EDP or computer labels( printed through dot-matrix printers). Imagine having to find the label size you wanted to print, create your label data and then try and source the label you wanted, then finding out they came in 1,2,3,4 or 5 labels across and you had to fit in so many characters per inch across and down the label to fit in with whichever program was built into your computer.
Some of these computers took up the space of an entire room and spat out listing paper reports all day long as part of running the accounts department for the most part.
Hospital patient admission labels and large supermarket and FMCG warehouse picking labels were the main markets for these types of labels.
Companies like Coles and Woolworths, Franklins, Davids Holdings, P&O cold stores, and Fauldings used millions of labels per day.
As well as photocopiers which required a master list of names and addresses to copy for example a mailing list of address labels to adhere to envelopes to send out the daily invoices or Monthly statements.
Wikipedia states”The introduction of the low-cost laser printer in 1984 with the first HP LaserJet, and the addition of PostScript in next year’s Apple LaserWriter, set off a revolution in printing known as desktop publishing. Laser printers using PostScript mixed text and graphics, like dot-matrix printers, but at quality levels formerly available only from commercial typesetting systems. By 1990, most simple printing tasks like fliers and brochures were now created on personal computers and then laser printed; expensive offset printing systems were being dumped as scrap. The HP Deskjet of 1988 offered the same advantages as a laser printer in terms of flexibility but produced somewhat lower quality output (depending on the paper) from much less expensive mechanisms. Inkjet systems rapidly displaced dot matrix and daisy wheel printers from the market. By the 2000s high-quality printers of this sort had fallen under the $100 price point and became commonplace “.
Any of the brands listed below can be used to print A4 laser or inkjet printer labels
Nowadays life is simple, we can elect to buy a monochrome or colour laser or inkjet printer and easily print labels from a database.
Instead of the boring old matt white paper address label, we can now print just about any colour label on a multitude of self- adhesive label materials.
We can also manually create artwork or information and simply copy and paste into a Microsoft word label template, a PDF label download or a custom made label software package.
So what are the main differences and advantages of laser printers over inkjet printers for printing labels?
From my personal experience
I have had a cheap Hp inkjet printer for nearly 10 years and I am very happy with it, for printing letters and documents from PDF’s, etc.
The limitations since I started seriously using it to print labels are the limitations in materials I can use as the ink does need special paper to dry.
It is also markedly slower than a laserjet pro 400 monochrome printer I acquired recently as it was going to be thrown out.
So I rescued it for material print testing purposes and it lays down toner on just about everything.
Inkjet printers are popular due to their small footprint on a desk.
The four-color model is the most common, it has one black ink cartridge and a tricolour Cyan, magenta and yellow).
- Good for photos on the right media
- Nice colour matching from CMYK files
- Cheap to buy, I saw one for $28.00 at Officeworks recently.
- The text quality not as good as a laser
- Ink can be expensive and add the cost per page.
- inks will run and fade if exposed to moisture and UV light.
- As I said they are slower so laser is the go for volume
- Inks do not last very long as the cartridges are quite small even the XL packs.
If laser printers lose out to their inkjet counterparts on account of price, they are way ahead when it comes to speed of printing. Users who need large volumes of printing also prefer laser printers. Laser printers are more suited to general office use than inkjets. The least expensive laser printer can print around 20 pages per minute. Depending on the quality of your printer you can purchase a laser printer that prints from a range of 20 – 50 printer sheets per minute. Factors that affect how fast the printer prints include: if you are printing in colour or black , if the high quality black text is printed, and if you want to print quality photos.
The most common model found in offices is the monochrome laser printer, which produces sharp black text that most inkjet printers cannot match. Color laser printers are suitable for those who need to occasionally print colored graphics in addition to the usual black-and-white documents.
Basic diagram of how a laser printer works. (Image Source: Oki Data)
A single-pass color laser printer prints at the same speed for both black and white as well as in color.
Laser printers are capable of producing good quality prints on most kinds of printing paper particularly label paper.
- Excellent text quality
- Cost per page is lower than inkjet printers
- Built to handle high-volume printing
- The printer is more expensive to buy.
- They take up more room with a larger footprint.
- Toner can be expensive unless you shop around.
In our next article, we will go into details about the history of the A4 label sheet market, facts and figures, the materials and the major players.