Digital Labels vs. Traditional Labels: A Comparison of Features

Digital Labels vs. Traditional Labels: A Comparison of Features

Labels are an essential part of product packaging. They provide valuable information about the product and its ingredients. While traditional labels have been around for decades, the emergence of digital printing technology has opened up new avenues for label design and production.

Digital labels offer many benefits, including customisation, durability, and ease of use. However, traditional labels still have advantages like high-quality output and printing capabilities.

So here, we will compare digital and traditional labels and discuss some differences. Understanding the differences between these two label printing methods can help you make an informed decision when choosing the best option for your product.

Printing Capabilities

Traditional label printing uses analogue methods like flexography, letterpress, or offset printing. These methods produce high-quality output, but they require considerable time and effort to set up.

Digital labels, on the other hand, use digital printing technology, which allows for quick and easy printing without the need for plates or setup time. Digital printing also allows for variable data printing, which means you can customise each label with different information like batch numbers, expiry dates, etc.

Quality

The quality of labels is an important consideration when choosing between digital and traditional printing methods. Traditional labels offer high-quality output, but many factors, such as ink density, paper type, and print alignment, can affect this quality.

Digital labels, however, can produce a wide range of quality levels, depending on the type of printer, ink, and material used. In fact, digital printing technology can produce finer details and more complex designs than traditional printing methods, making it an excellent choice for brands looking for high-quality labels with intricate designs.

Durability

Traditional labels usually use paper or plastic materials, which can be prone to damage from moisture, sunlight, and other environmental factors. But digital labels use a wide range of materials like vinyl, polyester, and polypropylene, which are more durable and resistant to damage.

Moreover, you can print digital labels with UV-resistant inks, which helps protect the label from fading and other damage caused by sunlight.

Customisation

Customisation is an area where digital label printing excels. Label makers generally print traditional labels in large quantities with identical designs and information.

However, businesses can customise digital labels with variable data printing. It means each label can have unique information like batch numbers, barcodes, and QR codes. Thus, with digital printing, you can go for more intricate designs and print on a wide range of materials, such as metallic or transparent films.

This makes digital labels an ideal choice for companies that need to print labels for different products, variants, or regions.

Ease of Use

When it comes to ease of use, digital label printing has some advantages over traditional label printing. For starters, you can customise digital labels easily and print on demand, allowing faster turnaround times and reduced waste. It also allows for variable data printing, meaning each label can have unique information, such as product codes or expiration dates.

In contrast, traditional label printing requires printing plates, which can be time-consuming and costly to set up. Any changes to the label design or information require a new plate, which can further increase costs and production time.

Hence, digital label printing offers greater ease of use and flexibility than traditional label printing.

Design Flexibility

Design flexibility is another key difference between digital and traditional labels. Digital labels offer great design flexibility, allowing for a wide range of colours, patterns, and special effects. You can print gradients, shadows, 3D effects, and other complex designs that are difficult to achieve with traditional printing methods.

Traditional labels have limited scope in terms of design flexibility, as the printing method may not be able to achieve certain design elements. The cost of any design changes can also be high due to the need to create new printing plates.

Minimum Order Quantity

Minimum order quantity is important when choosing between digital and traditional label printing. Digital label printing allows for smaller print runs with no minimum order quantity, which is ideal for businesses that require smaller quantities or frequent label changes.

In contrast, traditional label printing typically requires a minimum order quantity due to the setup costs of printing plates. It can be a disadvantage for businesses that require smaller quantities of labels or need frequent label changes.

Overall, digital label printing offers greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness for smaller print runs, while traditional label printing is more suitable for larger, fixed print runs.

Cost

Traditional labels can be expensive to produce, especially if they require custom plates or setup time. Digital labels, on the other hand, can be quick and easy without the need for plates or setup time, which makes them more cost-effective for short print runs or custom orders.

However, the cost-effectiveness of digital labels can vary depending on factors like the size of the label, the number of colours, and the material used.

Conclusion

Digital and traditional labels each have their own features and advantages. While traditional labels are popular for their high-quality output, digital labels offer a range of benefits like customisation, durability, and ease of use.

When deciding between digital and traditional labels, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your product, as well as your budget and printing capabilities. Ultimately, the choice between digital and traditional labels will depend on various factors, and choosing the option that best meets your needs is important.

DAL is a great label printing partner. They deeply understand businesses and their label requirements, so book a consultation and discuss your needs.