Based in Milton Keynes, with a workforce of around 25 people, hf Chocolates imports chocolate and confectionery products in bulk from suppliers in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain and the US. More recently, it has added a number of British suppliers to its range. The company supplies the products as they are or re-packaged to the retail trade – mainly the independent or specialist sector - and wholesalers. It also offers an ‘own label’ design and print service to customers that require low quantities of items with their own logos and branding.
hf Chocolates produces colour labels in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Prior to investing in the ColorWorks C7500 printer, the company was using a desktop vinyl printer and cutter that was good for quality and handling a variety of labels but was very slow and impractical for anything other than short runs, so it had to buy pre-printed labels for large volume product orders. Ambrose Boyd, Commercial Manager, hf Chocolates, says: "For us, being able to produce bespoke labels on-demand was really about gaining flexibility and the ability to respond to market quickly as buying pre-printed labels was simply too cumbersome and not at all cost effective, unless huge volumes were involved. We had a clear idea of what we needed – a fast printer that could print high quality consistently and was cost-effective, not just from a purchasing point of view but also running costs and manning levels.” Other key requirements for hf Chocolates was a printer that would align circular label graphics correctly throughout the run and high-capacity ink cartridges, which would cut production time and wastage.
The ColorWorks C7500 was supplied by Epson Colour +Plus Gold Partner KTEC. "We have worked with KTEC for a number of years so they know our business well,” says Ambrose. "We had the demo and checked our existing software was compatible with the ColorWorks C7500, it was obvious that it was the solution for us. We looked at other machines but nothing else came close to its speed. Our main focus was printing on circular labels as we had many problems doing this previously. This printer passed the test!”
The compact ColorWorks C7500 colour label printer has been developed to help manufacturers meet a wide variety of in-house, on-demand, customised labelling requirements. It incorporates Epson’s permanent PrecisionCore Micro TFP line printhead which has been specifically developed for use in the commercialgrade, industrial labelling market and lasts for the lifetime of the printer. This advanced printhead ensures excellent reliability alongside the ability to print 600 x 1200dpi quality labels on a wide variety of materials, including matte, gloss and synthetic media, in a wide range of formats and sizes up to four inches wide at a fast 300mm/sec. Sharp, high-quality results are achieved through the use of Variable Sized Droplet Technology (VSDT) which produces ink droplets in a range of precisely controlled sizes. Nozzle Verification Technology and dot substitution helps prevent misprints and dead pixels to ensure consistent printouts.
Using Epson DURABrite Ultra pigment ink in high-capacity 300ml cartridges, the ColorWorks C7500 produces fast-drying labels that are smudge, water and fade resistant. The printer is easy to use, integrates into most operating systems and features an auto-cutter as standard and an optional rewinder for roll-to-roll printing.
The ColorWorks C7500 was installed and set up by one person in a day, with very little disruption to the company’s day-to-day production. Ambrose says the printer has been a game changer for the business: "On our previous printer we could print around 98 labels in 45 minutes; on the ColorWorks C7500 we’re producing 200 plus labels in a few minutes! It’s now very easy for us to produce short-runs of customised labels and because of its speed, all labels can be printed as and when needed so we don’t need to hold large quantities of stock. Printing on-demand has also eliminated the risk of packaging error, such as using the wrong pre-printed labels. The whole production workflow is much smoother and more cost-effective.”
One of the largest jobs in terms of volume of labels that hf Chocolates produces on the printer is for the Candy Cables confectionery bags - with an average volume of around 10,000 of the 70 x 70mm round labels being output per month. The labels are all applied manually using a printed template for the different bag
In the future, hf Chocolates are looking to expand its range of labels which will be produced using the ColorWorks C7500. Ambrose says: "We’re currently looking at what jobs can be moved over to the new printer. It makes perfect sense that the more labels we can run through it the better, not only from a speed point of view but it also cuts our staffing and production costs considerably.”