The other day a potential customer called and was interested in finding the best label printer for printing chemical drum labels with a very limited budget. He wanted to understand the differences between the Epson GP-C831 color label printer and the Primera LX2000 for printing 8 by 12 inch chemical labels. I invited him to our office where I could personally show him the differences in speed, print quality, and cost. An in-person visit wasnâ€™t an option due to geography so he asked me to make him a quick video so that he could see what I was doing in our office.
The Prospectâ€™s Label Printing Goals
This prospect is a chemical manufacturer based in Texas, USA looking to produce in-house, on-demand chemical labels for their drums â€“ on 8 x 12 labels that will be compliant with GHS BS5609 labeling requirements. However, he wants to make sure that printing these labels in house would result in the same quality that they get currently when purchasing their pre-printed labels â€“ at a similar or lower cost.
He was very concerned about the uncertain ink cost and that the actual cost may be more once they start to produce these labels. He needed an understanding of the true cost of printing these labels and how this cost could change over time as label production increases.
Other concerns included: ease of use, maintenance, service requirements over time, and downtime if the printer goes down. The company could not afford lengthy downtime in case the printer went down. Therefore, he wanted to determine if it would be necessary to purchase multiple units for backup purposes. Since labels would be printed for items being produced on the production line each day, the whole production would be shut down â€“ at great cost to the company â€“ if the printer breaks down. Wanting to avoid the risk of downtime, they may need to consider purchasing an extra printer unit and increase their budget.
Before making a buying decision, he needed to know the answers to the following questions:
- How fast does the printer print the 8 x 12 chemical labels? Will it keep up with our production requirements?
- What is the ink cost to print the 8 x 12 chemical label, in the best print quality mode?
- What is the cost of the replacement print head for the label printer?
- What type of maintenance is required for this label printer?
- What happens if the printer stops working and our production comes to a halt? How quickly can the printer be fixed? Will we need to buy a second printer to avoid this issue and keep our production line running?
After having gone through this exercise with this potential customer, I thought it would be a good idea to create an article for our blog and share this experience with other potential customers who may be trying to see which printer is the best choice.
Anyone interested in printing GHS BS5609 compliant chemical drum labels could benefit from seeing the differences between these two label printers.
Comparing Two GHS Label Printers Side by Side
- The print speed for each label (I made a video so that you can see it)
- Print quality differences (which you can also see in the video)
- Ink costs per label
Primera LX2000 Label Test Video
I immediately called Primeraâ€™s support center and talked to Cory Barret, who recommended changing the media setting to Vintage Paper in the driver setting. Though I thought using â€œvintage paperâ€ to print chemical labels was not intuitive, the changed setting definitely improved the print quality as the colors no longer bled. However, Cory said we should always give the LX2000 chemical labels some time to dry completely.
Watch the Primera LX2000 print 8 x 12 chemical labels below:
Primera LX2000 Label Test Results
It took a bit over one minute to print one label on the Primera LX2000 with an ink cost to print our test label of 26.7 cents USD.
If you are running your production line for 8 hours per day, then the Primera LX2000 will produce 480 labels per day and a total of 2,400 labels per week.
Note: In addition to ink cost, the Primera LX2000â€™s print head needs to be replaced at a cost of $300.95 USD.
Epson GP-C831 Label Test Video
Next, I printed the same 8 x 12 chemical drum labels on the Epson GP-C831. I didnâ€™t run into any problems with this print job. I used the Synthetic Media driver setting. All of the labels came out totally dry, even the black parts. Thereâ€™s no need to wait for the labels to dry before handling them.
Watch the Epson GP-C831 print 8 x 12 chemical labels below:
Epson GP-C831 Label Test Results
Where it took the Primera over a minute per label, the Epson ripped right through them at a speed of about 5 labels per minute. Thatâ€™s five times faster then the LX2000! Itâ€™s even faster if you factor in the extra drying time required for the Primera labels. The Epsonâ€™s speed advantage can make a huge difference in production, especially if you need to print many labels at once.
If you are running a production line for 8 hours per day, the Epson GP-C831 will print 2,400 labels per day and a total of 12,000 labels per week.
Faster print speeds often require compromising on print quality. However, this isnâ€™t the case with the Epson GP-C831 versus the Primera LX2000. As you can see in the photo below, both labels look great. The label on top was printed with the LX2000 while the label with the tractor feed was printed on the Epson GP-C831, which is tractor fed.
Print, Ink Cost, and Speed Comparisons
Itâ€™s really hard to tell the difference between the two labels side by side. The Primera LX2000 printed darker background colors. The biggest difference is the fact that the Epson GP-C831â€™s label has tractor feed tracks on it.
The ink cost per label on the GP-C831 is 8.3 cents USD whereas the LX2000 ink cost is 26.7 cents USD â€” 3 times more! Plus, the GP-C831 never needs a print head replacement, providing even more savings.
Print speed becomes increasingly important as volume increases. Based on the fact that the LX2000 will print one label per minute and the GP-C831 will print 5 labels per minute, you would be able to produce 480 labels during an 8-hour shift day with the LX2000 and 2,400 labels with the GP-C831. In a week, the difference is even more dramatic with the LX2000 producing 2,400 per week and the GP-C831 producing 12,000 per week.
8 x 12 GHS Labels Produced Based on an 8-hour Shift:
Ink Costs for 8 x 12 GHS Drum Labels: (Per Label and Per Production)
Note: The costs above are for the ink only. You would also have to add the label costs to get your total cost. The GP-C831 8 x 12 GHS Chemical labels we used above sell for $355 for a carton of 600 (SKU 805003). Thatâ€™s basically 0.59 cents per label. This cost is based on a single carton of 600 and depending on your volume requirements, this cost would go down for larger volume customers. So the total cost to produce the above 8 x 12 label with the Epson GP-C831 was 0.673 cents and the total cost to produce the 8 x 12 label with the LX2000 was 0.857 cents.
As far as maintenance goes, the Epson GP-C831 does not require any scheduled maintenance or print head replacement for the life of the printer. However, the paper path should be kept clear. This label printer is very easy to operate and works great with all of the leading Windows-based label design software like BarTender and NiceLabel.
The Primera LX2000 is Primeraâ€™s newest label printer launched earlier this year. Since itâ€™s launch, Primera has issued numerous firmware updates. We are hopeful that this firmware will stabilize over time. The only other maintenance requirement is that the print head needs to be replaced regularly.
All printer manufacturers offer a general one-year parts and labor warranty as well as an extended warranty for up to 3 years, both of which require you to ship the defective printer to their service depot for warranty repair. This generally results in downtime of about two weeks when you factor in transit time to the service depot, repair time and transit time back to you.
If you were to purchase an LX2000 that later failed, would your production line be able to manage without the printer for such a long time? If not, your only option would be to purchase two units so that you always have one backup unit in case of a printer failure.
The Epson GP-C831, on the other hand, offers an upgraded warranty called â€œSpare-In-The-Airâ€ for an additional cost of $125/year. This can be purchased for up to 3 years. If the printer has a hardware failure that cannot be resolved over the phone by Epson support staff, Epson will ship you a replacement GP-C831 printer within one business day. Though the replacement printer is not brand new, it is fully covered for the remainder your Epson warranty. Upon receipt of the replacement unit, return defective unit to Epson. Epson pays the shipping cost both ways.
The Epson Spare-In-The-Air warranty is popular with our large industrial customers who need quick resolution of hardware issues.
Keep in mind that the GP-C831 printer is only $1995. Add 3 years of Spare-In-The-Air warranty and your total is just $2370.
The Primera LX2000 is $3795 with the standard depot warranty.
Which Printer is Right for You?
Both of these printers are capable GHS chemical label printers, but with differences you should be aware of.