Q: What is the primary reason why companies embrace the Gerber System for label and decal production?
A: Traditional processes of printing that require large minimums and expensive dies cannot meet the growing demand for prototypes and small runs with variable die sizes and shapes. If a company produces or private labels small quantities (ie: tens, hundreds and thousands, not millions) of custom products that require unique markings (logos, data plates, control panels, etc.), they will be hard pressed to find outside sources who can service their short run needs. The Gerber system is versatile and responsive.
Q: How does Thermal Transfer printing differ from other printing processes?
A: The main differences are that thermal transfer is a dry process that produces very durable results from fusing colored resins into compatible media. Thermal transfer printing is void of odors, chemicals, cleaning agents, and messy ink or toner. And products made with thermal printing are ready to be used as soon as the work is finished--no drying time.
The Gerber’s use of spot colors is most similar to screen printing. It uses vibrant spot colors rather than process colors (used by ink jets and laser printers) to give you solid print without dot patterns. Thermal printing also allows you to print colors including metallic, fluorescent, chrome/mirror, transparent, invisible, matte and gloss, etc.
Q: Why does the Gerber System use a pin feed pattern on the edges of the material?
A: This pattern insures the material always stays on track and in registration from color to color. Even after laminating the material can be easily loaded and aligned for cutting because of the pin feed holes. Due to excellent registration from the pin feed, material can be processed many times for different attributes of the job such as printing, kiss cutting, die cutting, and back slitting.
Q: How does the Gerber system die cut the shapes?
A: The Gerber plotter plots a cut with a very small swivel knife where ever you tell it to. You can tell it exactly what shapes to cut in the software. Then once it is done printing, you load the material in the plotter and align the cut target. The plotter then knows exactly where to cut. You can also change the shape or the size of the shape on the fly without any die charges whatsoever.
Q: What’s the difference between a die cut, a kiss cut, and a back slit?
A: Die cut shapes look as if they we cut with a cookie cutter. The label and liner are cut all the way through. In many cases there will be a back slit on a die cut label or decal. The back slit across the liner makes it easy to fold the label and crack the liner open so you can remove it. Back slitting can also aid in application since the slit can be positioned to allow the end user to remove the backing along the edge you want to apply first. Kiss cutting is when the label is cut through the film, but not the liner. When you receive labels on a sheet or roll, they are “kiss cut.”
Q: Why does the Gerber System only print one color at a time?
A: The great majority of industrial label & decal jobs are 1 and 2 colors. Therefore, printing with 4 process colors would be overkill, increase the cost of running the job, and the colors wouldn’t be as vibrant. It also keeps the cost of the printer within reach of most companies.
Q: How durable is the print from the Gerber System?
A: Three to five years outdoors on all colors except Pink (2 years) and a couple of others like fluorescent colors. Indoors the print will last much longer. To increase further durability, you can use a laminate that contains UV resistance, with the added benefit of resistance against abrasion, cleansers, extreme heat, chemicals, etc. See our laminates page for more information.
Q: What is the maintenance schedule on the Gerber System?
A: Wipe the print head every few jobs, and once and a while change the scrapers that clean the material. The blades on plotters need to be changed periodically as they will dull over time.
Really, that’s about it.