The Difference Between Water-Based and UV Inks for Labeling

When it comes to labeling, the choice of ink can significantly impact the final product’s appearance, durability, and environmental footprint. At Century Printing and Packaging, we understand the nuances of both water-based and UV inks and have positioned ourselves as experts to help our customers make the best decisions upon choosing labels.

There are a variety of differences between these two types of inks including environmental, durability, and price distinctions.

Environmental Differences

Water-based inks are renowned for their eco-friendliness and do not contain harmful chemicals that may affect the environment or human health. They are FDA-approved for direct food contact, so if there’s a film that wraps around the product, like a nutrition bar, or if there’s a label that goes directly on a fruit or a vegetable, water-based inks will be the best choice. Not only are they visually appealing and informative, but they are also ideal for labels used in the grocery industry. While some UV inks are known for being low-migration, Century Printing and Packaging choose to strictly use only water-based inks for our direct food contact materials.

Durability

When it comes to durability, UV ink comes out on top—with its superior brightness, resolution, and color vibrancy compared to water-based inks. UV inks contain photopolymers that are exposed to UV light during the printing process. The resulting reaction produce flawless colors that stand out. Additionally, UV inks are more durable and resistant to degradation, making them suitable for tough environments like beer labels that may come into contact with water or ice. Water based inks in the same environment may require the additional protection (and cost) of varnish or laminate.

Price

In terms of cost, water-based inks are the more economical choice. They are significantly cheaper than UV inks, which can cost four to five times more per pound. This cost difference is something we consider when pricing our services to ensure transparency and value for our customers.

At Century Printing and Packaging, we have been using water-based inks since our establishment in 1997. Our expertise also extends to UV inks, allowing us to guide customers based on their specific needs and end usage. Whether achieving a particular look, ensuring food safety, or enhancing durability, we have the experience and know-how to deliver the best results.

When choosing between water-based and UV inks, we recommend considering your labels’ end usage and priorities. If food safety and cost-effectiveness are paramount, water-based inks are the way to go. However, UV inks may be more suitable if you’re looking for superior color vibrancy and durability.

When deciding between water-based and UV inks, several factors must be considered—from whether the ink will be used in the food industry to its desired performance. Carefully weighing these factors can help you make an informed decision on which type of ink to choose. At Century Printing and Packaging, we are here to help you navigate these choices and ensure your labels meet your unique requirements.

Wofford Student Conducts Timestudy

Century Printing & Packaging has been committed to the community for over 25 years and ensures a strong future for manufacturing in the Upstate of South Carolina by hiring high school and college students for part-time positions or internships. One of these students, John Bailey Moore, is a Junior at Wofford College, majoring in finance. He participated in a semester-long program designed to give students like JB opportunities to engage in work experiences outside of mainstream classes.

Interim at Wofford started in 1968 as an opportunity to explore possible career paths and find internship programs and independent studies that pique their interest. It gives students the liberty to explore and innovate, study something new, or leave their comfort zone when the semester schedules aren’t in the way.

In choosing an interim, JB sought first-hand experience and exposure to a real-world business environment. Getting an inside look at the inner workings of a successful organization was what motivated JB to pick an interim in this industry.

John Bailey decided to reach out to CP&P about an opportunity with Ben and Neil. They assigned and presented him with two different tasks to take place over a month during his interim period–

The first was a time study on production equipment. This analytical examination would allow the team to better understand what each employee was doing on the production line and how specific equipment was used precisely during the day. This information is valuable for decision-making in running an efficient business and productive team.

For the first eight days of the study, JB was on the floor at 6 am with the production team. JB’s drive and commitment could be seen from day one– as he started when the machines were turned on and left when they were turned off. In great detail, JB would walk from each press to log the data on the job order, time of day, and press performance.

This pinpointed data was collected 400 times a day, and by the first week, JB had already collected vital metrics and data for the Century Management team. Not only was JB engaging in such a precise process of data collection, but he was also learning about the presses along the way. He learned about the differences between hybrid, digital, and flexo printing purposes and procedures to gain more profound knowledge within his study.

Digital printing is an ideal choice for jobs that require multiple SKUs or multiple versions. This type of printing provides consistency in production with computerized color management. So that label to label, the colors are uniform with no variation between operators.

Flexo printing is fit for longer runs with a minimal number of SKUs. It uses printing plates and inks that must be changed for each job requirement, thus requiring more manual work and time for setup.

In hybrid printing, the two types of print are combined, bridging the gap between them. The hybrid model can produce longer runs and higher label counts while maintaining consistency, repeatability, and efficiency benefits from job to job.

After the data was collected, JB diligently took the weighted averages of each data set and turned them into actionable numbers for Ben and Neil. Looking at the daily averages, weekly averages, and specific data points, like which machine ran the longest, gave CP&P vital statistics and takeaways.

The second section of JB’s project involved an in-depth water usage analysis. This task asked, “how much water was being used daily?” As businesses take a more environmentally friendly approach to usage and waste, the importance of water sits near the top of the list.

JB examined how the team used water after jobs and where the areas for reducing water were within the processes throughout the day. Four of 5 presses owned by CP&P use water-based inks, primarily what the water and washouts are for.

JB would check in with the managers every time they’d run the water system or turn on the sinks and, in doing so– developed an estimate of how much water the sinks could hold and how full they were at the end of each day.

As a result of JB’s study, CP&P has done two things to improve the efficiency of their business as they continue to scale. Ben and Neil decided to purchase a parts washer, which is now routinely being implemented to recycle water so that the team uses less water when cleaning parts at the end of a production day. This has resulted in cost savings, increased efficiency, and better use of water as a resource.

Because of the numbers that JB collected while on the production line, Ben and Neil can now integrate real-time data into their pricing models. This specificity of his data has provided better insights to pull from when determining current and future business and financial endeavors. The Century Management team is currently integrating this real-world data into their pricing models to ensure their costs are accurate and they can offer customers competitive pricing.

“If my data can help Ben and Neil better price job orders, I feel like I contributed to his business,” John Bailey said as he realized how much relevancy his data and study brought to the overall operations of CP&P. During this season of inflation, obtaining real-world data over estimations is crucial to maintain realistic costs and remain dialed into the current economy.

According to JB, the conversations with Ben and Neil were more valuable and relevant than any class he had taken. John Bailey enjoyed asking questions about the business and the “why” behind Ben and Neil’s decisions while he was there and getting thoughtful, in-demand answers in return.

“My favorite part was when I got to tie what I was looking at for 7, 8, 9 hours a day, and how it applied to my finance major,” says JB.

John Bailey focused his attention on all aspects of Century’s business operations that make it a success, including its morning huddles and how its employees maintain high business standards every day. From the production meetings to the sales meetings, JB saw firsthand how Ben and Neil ensured that quality was the same on every single job. JB appreciated that anyone in the office, on the floor, or running the presses was kind and open to helping and explaining different aspects of the business to him.

Ben and Neil are building a vision for their employees to sell to their customers. Seeing that vision come to life was a significant takeaway from JB’s interim experience at CP&P.

Being a part of the surrounding community is a priority for Ben and Neil as they work to stay connected with the next generation of young professionals. CP&P will continue to offer opportunities like this to students in the area. Exposure and experience are invaluable to anyone looking to uplevel their career or personal development like JB.

25th Anniversary of Century Printing & Packaging

25th Anniversaries offer an opportunity to reflect on all the highlights, challenges, and hard work it took to reach such a recognizable occasion. Each milestone over the last quarter of a century comes together to showcase the accomplishments of one family business and offers a point of celebration.

As we step back to see how far Century Printing & Packaging has come, it’s important to remember where it all started. Back in 1994, Ben and Neil’s father, Don, had a company that sold plastic bags in the textile industry. The family built up a good business, and even though they worked on supplying imported bags to major retailers in the sports industry, the textile industry began to decline. With the writing on the wall, they knew they needed to switch gears into a different sector to take their business to the next level.

The printing and packaging market has seen healthy growth over the last decade and is supported by a recognizable demand for high-quality labels. Around this time, labeling had a low barrier to entry in terms of start-up costs. In 1997, Ben and Neil saw this as an opportunity to jump into a new business idea.

The origin point of CP&P started in a small, converted bathroom. An unused bathroom at the same warehouse the Waldrop family used for their plastic bag business was repurposed and turned into the first press room. Neil ran the press, Don sold the labels, and Ben ran the plastic bag business– that’s how Century Printing & Packaging began in 1997 in Greer.

As the father-and-son business began to pick up momentum, growing pains emerged. Finding more space and purchasing another press was necessary to alleviate production times. In November of 2001, the Waldrop family built a building in Greer, SC. Not only this, but 9/11 halted the economy, and the significant commitment they made felt enormous.

CP&P had eight employees during these crucial years and invested in a second press to expand their business ventures. Both the investments in the building and the press proved profitable, and in 2003 the building was paid in full, and in 2004 another essential press was added.

Today, CP&P employs twenty-eight workers and owns five presses.

Over the last 25 years, CP&P has stayed true to its local roots in Greer. The business is active in the community and has helped fuel dozens of reliable jobs for those in the surrounding area. Building up and staying in one location has allowed CP&P to establish a sense of community in Greer while offering support and forging long-term relationships with local customers and suppliers.

In 2022 with the production of over 350 million labels, CP&P takes pride in its customer relationships and the continuation of exemplary business practices. CP&P serves customers right around 40 states in the U.S. and works with companies like Aiken Chemical, DiscoverFresh Foods, New York Butcher Shoppe, and Westbrook Brewing Company.

The team at CP&P is constantly bringing in new business. Whether from outbound sales, word of mouth, referrals, or recommendations, CP&P is ready to provide customers with the highest quality labels and streamline the process from idea conception to final product.

CP&P diligently increases their online marketing efforts year after year. Focusing on strengthening their online presence has significantly grown the business and its future development. This digital presence continues to open new opportunities for CP&P and builds more authentic relationships– giving them a better reach into the industry and solving their customers’ everyday challenges. Remaining relevant online is vital for a thriving business, generating engagement, and getting in front of the right clients– and CP&P doesn’t shy away from ensuring that’s a priority.

Being a small, local business has its challenges. Still, CP&P has proven time and time again how their dedication to exceptional customer experience and consistent, high-quality products can and will always compete with large corporations. CP&P brings the human aspect back into the business and doesn’t hesitate to find new innovative ways to deliver memorable customer satisfaction.

In 2018, CP&P added a digital press to keep up with the growing demand and evolution of the labeling space. Furthermore, this past year in 2022, a hybrid press joined the production line and has begun to pave the future for the team at CP&P.

Digital printing technology has allowed CP&P to keep up with the growing demand and the production of labels that can withstand various conditions, have seamless scannability, and a long shelf-life. Customers are looking for quality and sustainability. By staying competitive with the addition of digital and hybrid presses, CP&P remains top of mind as brands search for attractive labels that will sell their products.

Not only does the investment in digital presses ensure stellar quality and shortened turnaround times, but they also cut down significantly on waste and eliminate plates in sustainable efforts to combat environmental challenges. The carbon-neutral materials and use of polymer-based inks emit fewer greenhouse gases. CP&P additionally uses has access to paper from renewable forests, reducing their environmental footprint compared to traditional printing and packaging methods.

Despite rapidly changing customer behavior and consumer buying shifts, CP&P upheld its customer promise throughout the pandemic. CP&P aided in the increased production of labels in the disinfectant and grocery industries as they adapted to the changing economic climate. Supply issues continued to manifest during this time, making it harder for the team to get the supplies they needed to produce for their customers. However, even in times of crisis, CP&P overcame worldwide obstacles while always pursuing its mission to be an integral part of their customers’ businesses.

25 years down. So, what’s next for Century Printing & Packaging?

As Ben and Neil stay on top of trends, it is evident that more printing will move to a digital model. CP&P already has set goals to add more digital presses in the coming years, as their reaction to what the market is expecting will play a large part in how the business grows and moves forward. As customers also become more conscious of their buying decisions, CP&P will work hard in the background to ensure that more water-based inks are used to reduce their environmental footprint.

When Don, Ben, and Neil started in 1997, they weren’t sure how far the company would go. CP&P originated around a time were few local label companies existed. This presented an opening in the market for them, and they haven’t looked back since. What they brought to the table from their plastic bag experience was different than what traditionally had been seen in the labeling industry. For example, keeping inventory for their customers wasn’t standard practice when they started the business due to the fear of getting stuck with inventory. However, Ben and Neil believed the risk was low, and overall, that has proven correct– allowing CP&P the upper hand in meeting their customer’s needs and expectations quicker than other providers.

One thing that differentiates CP&P from other larger companies is their dedication to their employees and their employee’s reciprocated commitment to CP&P. Some employees have been with the company for over 15 years and have witnessed the steady growth firsthand.

Over the last 25 years, CP&P has proven to be integral to the part they play in the result of their customer’s products. A necessary piece of CP&P’s profound success has derived from enabling solid partnerships with customers and going above and beyond in executing their visions. The following 25 years aren’t promised to come without challenges, but CP&P’s promise to their customers remains unwavering, which is why customers will continue to return for years.

Observations after LabelExpo 2022

As we are beginning the last quarter of 2022 and the holiday season, it is a good time to reflect on trends we are seeing in our industry:

State of the Label Industry

  • Demand for labels is up
    • As customers are able to solve supply chain issues and hire more personnel, they are producing more products that require labels
  • Flexible packaging demand continues to be strong
    • Continued growth in “Grab and Go” products which are a good fit for wraps
    • Many consumer facing companies are switching to or emphasizing flexible packaging to reduce landfill space
  • As inflation hits consumers, more are shifting focus to buying food at groceries stores rather than restaurants
    • Alcohol packaged for retail sales rather than kegs or bulk for restaurants
    • Produce packaged for grocery channel rather than food service similar to what we saw in early 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic
  • Delivery services to home has peaked
    • We are seeing more packaging being designed for retail channels rather than specifically for delivery via services such as InstaCart
  • Delivery vs Price
    • Although price is always a consideration, purchasing decisions are currently being driven by ability to deliver by needed date
    • Supply chain Issues are present for our customers in a lot of areas other than labels. An example is food grade CO2 for beer
  • Reshoring
    • As large manufacturers deploy capital to shorten supply chains, opportunities for label converters emerge.
  • Hiring is easier
    • Labor markets are beginning to loosen up in a lot of areas, including the Upstate
  • Supply chain has returned to pre-pandemic levels for many supplies
    • We are able to purchase most items at pre-pandemic lead times
    • Paper continues to be a challenge. The Supply Chain is still not recovered from the UPM Raflatac strike yet, and may not before the middle of 2023.
  • Freight/Transportation continues to be a challenge
    • Delivery lead times continue to be longer than pre-pandemic
    • Costs much higher
    • Lead times expected to extend as we move into the holiday season
  • Digital Print is increasingly a good fit for a larger variety of jobs
    • Able to run multiple skus for brand owner without plate changeover
    • Small runs for seasonal/cost, cost specials

What sets us apart from our competitors is our commitment to the success of our clients. We view each customer relationship as a partnership, and want to leverage our 25+ years of experience to help solve labeling and packaging challenges.

Century Printing and Packaging is still a family business, locally owned and operated that believes in building relationships with customers in order to meet or exceed their expectations by focussing on customer support and service while implementing the most innovative and creative printing and packaging technology available.

“Enjoy our website and know that we are a value-driven company that works hard every day to earn the respect and trust of our customers.” Ben Waldrop, President

Vendor Relationships Are Critical to Business

Businesses can’t do business without doing business! Let that one sink in for a moment. In order to produce your product or perform your services, you have to rely on multiple businesses, suppliers, and vendors to get the job done. Companies involved in manufacturing have to deal with a wide variety of vendors to make their products or goods. In today’s marketplace, the kind of relationship you have with your vendors is critical due to supply chain disruptions, logistics, and labor issues, not to mention the rate of inflation.

One of Century Printing and Packaging’s oldest vendors is Wilson Manufacturing. Wilson makes rotary tooling in hard, solid, and engraved dies, anvils, and print cylinders as well as flexible tooling (magnetic dies). Flexible tooling provided by Wilson is ideal for printing pressure-sensitive labels of different shapes and forms. We sat down with Kevin Harfst, Southeast Territory Sales Representative at Wilson to discuss their products, work, and relationship with Century.

Tell us about Wilson Manufacturing

Our start is similar to Century’s but we are a little older. We started in the mid-70s in a garage. Mr. Wilson had left a big company that made presses that did both printing and die-cutting. He saw the potential for more tooling and started his own company. Since those days we’ve grown into about a $20M company. Most of our growth has occurred in the last 20 years as we discovered some cutting-edge technology with machine sharpened tooling.

Why was that so important?

Once we were able to machine sharpen these dies that had historically been hand sharpened, which is exactly what it sounds like. Guys would sit around and look through a jeweler’s loop and have these dies that would sit on a jig in front of them and they sharpened the blades by hand using different types of scraping tools. Machine sharpening is much faster and the quality is second to none compared to hand sharpening.

Describe Wilson’s relationship with Century?

Century and Wilson have been working together for at least 20+ years. Over the years they have dealt with different people at Wilson and they have been there every step of the way as we have grown and watched them grow as well. I got involved with them about five years ago as I moved from our west coast territory to the southeast region where most of my family is located. They are definitely the gold standard for customers from the point of communicating, and understanding exactly what they need and their work. The needs we are able to service for them and what they come to us for we’re able to hit that on the head 100% virtually every time. We have bigger clients, but they have been so consistent from year to year and the growth they’ve had has definitely kept them in a higher customer weight class.

What do you think about Century entering its 25th year?

The growth of Century Printing and Packaging over the past 20 years is something that we have paid close attention to and they have certainly helped us grow as well. As they have embraced and invested in cutting-edge technology so have we. They were one of the first printing companies to start doing magnetic dies and cylinders. And just recently they are the first in the U.S. to invest in a brand new hybrid printing platform.

How did Covid affect your business?

We have not been as challenged to the extent that the printing companies and label companies have been securing materials with supply chain issues and material shortages. 80% of our steel is made in the U.S. so we have not had an issue getting our raw materials, but it’s only a matter of time as the inventory of steel in the United States is predicted to come down. Covid really affected us in a different way. Because many of our customers are in different parts of the country their businesses were closed at the height of the pandemic. Now everywhere is pretty open and going.

Describe your role at Wilson

Primarily sales, but I do more than quoting and order-taking because I have a technical background and I’ve been doing this since 1996. I like to get out and get into the companies that I call on to see their production and talk to their production team to go over various tricks of the trade that we can help them with to make their product run better and help their press operators feel more at ease. I also get involved with the crew that does the estimating and purchasing so they can use some of our benefits like our web services that can help them in ordering or getting information on a specific product.

What is a trend in your industry?

Adjustable anvils are big. It is tied in with the problems customers are having with getting their materials. All of these materials they run through their presses get die cut from the top, but these rolls of material go over what is called an anvil. You have a male-female setup in the die station with the die top-cutting and the anvil being the surface below that the die cuts against. What we’re seeing is that the materials have such a variation amongst the liners so by creating an adjustable anvil we can accommodate the variations in the different liners.

At Team Century you hear a lot about the importance of relationships with customers and vendors can you address that?

What Century is doing is custom printing and die-cutting. They aren’t servicing a blank label market, or a generic product where someone calls in and they have an inventory of what they need. It is total custom printing from the artwork down to the shapes they cut. By being able to build a customer-vendor relationship from the standpoint that Century and Wilson have it works out very well if you can trust each other. And know that each can take care of needs as they arise because every die that comes along on our end is different and a lot of the materials they may cut are different from time to time. They may have a dozen standard materials, but they branch into different laminates, varnishes, liners, and substrates. So having a proven relationship built on trust with someone you know is going to be able to deliver specifically what you need is critical. It’s a win-win!

Century Printing and Packaging is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company located in Greer, South Carolina. Flexographic, roll stock film, flexible packaging, digital printing, nutraceutical, food, and craft beer labels are among our extensive print products and technologies. We are family-owned and operated. Call us today about all of your printing or packaging needs. Our southeast location allows us to have a two-day shipping point via FedEx or UPS ground to 80% of the U.S population and we can expedite as necessary.

Ben Waldrop
President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
800.344.7509