Most of our longtime customers know that we're always working to improve our processes, making them better without increasing prices for our customers. Our labels have gone through a couple revisions in our history and knock on wood I think we've finally settled on the final process.
We've had four major revisions to the process. The first revision, long before we even had a website had us printing labels individually at a Kinko's and then applying a laminate using heat over it. The end result was good but not perfect. Labels were a little too thick and the gloss wasn't quite right.
The second process had us printing our own labels on a high end laser printer in house and applying a chemical compound over it. These turned out better than the first labels in terms of the laminate but the print quality wasn't 100%. I could tell the difference between our carts and production carts even if most people couldn't. The chemical compound was still a little thick which had the side effect of having the labels peel at the edges under certain conditions.
I wanted better print quality and so we teamed up with a guy who runs a professional print shop that primarily produces marketing materials. We tested a few different paper stocks and settled on one that was perfect. The printer was a half million dollar machine that produced prints which were better than I could have ever imagined. Unfortunately our chemical made the inks bleed and so we had to mess with our formula. We found one that was easy to apply and didn't make the inks bleed. There was one major drawback though and that was durability. At first it seemed okay but we had a few customers who had problems with the laminate peeling from the paper or getting scratched too easily. We did a ton of testing under various conditions and determined that it just wasn't good enough for our standards.
We tried many formulas and different laminates. Over 100 different things were tried. We talked with people in the printing industry on many occasions. This was a long (and expensive) process.
With all we learned and with the input of people we talked to we were able to come up with the perfect formula. We have been using our current formula for nearly 6 months now and haven't seen a single defect. It's durable, the level of the gloss is identical to production carts and we are still able to print using the super high quality printer. I'm very happy to say that we have found something that has met and exceeded all our expectations while still letting us do print runs as low or as high as we want. The best part of course is that our customers think it's perfect as well and that's the most important part.