The Best Color Label Printer
by John McIntyre
BEST INKJET COLOR LABEL PRINTER
ColorWorks C4000 Color Label Printer
It's hard finding the best color label printer for your needs, but after combing through many customer reviews, speaking with manufacture reps and testing multiple label printers, we've selected the Epson CW-C4000 as the best color label printer for small businesses. With Epson's ColorWorks C4000 Inkjet Printer you can print at 4" per second at 1200 dpi. It comes in two versions: Matte and Gloss. If you are looking to scale higher and product more labels the Primera LX900 or Epson CW-6000P is a great option.
Our Top Choices
The Top Pick
Our Premium Pick
How We Selected Printers To test
For our lineup, we selected an assortment inkjet color label printers available on the market. We tried to avoid product reviews with consistently negative reviews mentioning the same problems. We narrowed our selection to color label printers from top brands with good reputations for warranty, reliability and quality.
Color Thermal Transfer printers use a different technology similar to the same printer technology you get with receipts after you make a purchase at the store. The transfer of heat makes it more prone to smudging. So, we excluded thermal printers from our review and focused on inkjet color printers.
We capped the price of the printer models at $7,500 since there were lots of good options. There are many other features to be had beyond that price range, but unless you are scaling your label production to a Walmart level, it probably won’t make sense for you to spend much more.
The Best Color Label Printers for Small Businesses
4" per second
360 x 720 dpi
4" per second
1200 x 1200 dpi
5" per second
1200 x 1200 dpi
5" per second
1200 x 1200 dpi
8" per second
1200 x 1200 dpi
8" per second
1200 x 1200 dpi
10.4" per second
1200 x 600 dpi
1.8" per second
4800 x 1200 dpi
5.2" per second
2400 x 1200 dpi
Dye & Pigment
5.2" per second
Dye & Pigment
4" per second
4.5" per second
4" per second
4.5" per second
1200 x 4800 dpi
6" per second
1200 x 4800 dpi
4.5" per second
1200 x 4800 dpi
Finding the Best Color Label Printer
It can be difficult to find the best color label printer to meet your specific needs. If you are looking for an in-house printing solution for your business, you need to consider several things to find the right printer.
Color label printers are an affordable and convenient substitute for the ordinary desktop printer. Did you know that you can purchase a great label printer without exceeding your budget? If you are looking for the right color label printer to meet your specific needs, however, you need to consider certain important factors.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Color Label Printer
There are tons of color label printer options on the market. Unfortunately, most people will probably go for the lowest priced printer and call it a day. However, this is often a poor purchase on their part.
Because, in addition to figuring out the cost of ownership, you also need to think about what you will get for your investment. Therefore, A low-cost color label printer may not be the cheapest option in the long run. It may also use more consumables and ink than a more expensive printer.
By considering the following factors, you will be able to find the right color label printer for your needs. Our experts have prepared this guide to help you make an informed decision.
There are many things to consider when purchasing a color label printer and price is one of them.The prices of the label makers vary with the capacity, quality and speed of the label makers. If you are buying for your business, you must go for heavy duty high price label makers, as it will give value to your business as you bring your printing solution in house. You also need to consider the costs of the consumable such as inkjet label rolls, inks and other supplies.
Print Speed & Quantity
Color label printers differ in time and speed they use to complete a print, so you need to consider how fast you will need your color labels before your purchase. For commercial label printing you want to make sure you can produce enough labels at an acceptable quality. The Epson CW-C4000 is a excellent entry level printer to get started with commercial printing.
As you print faster with many printers, you have to sacrifice in print quality as the production rate increases. Some printers print better quality labels in the same amount of time. Small businesses requiring high volumes of labels may find the entry level label printer too slow. You want to check out the Epson TM-C7500 for higher volume label production printers.
Most at home desktop printers may print upwards of 600 DPI or longer. DPI plays less of an important roll in printing than most folks would believe. Your art work is the most significant facet of a good looking print. I recommend you create your art work using a vector based graphic program like adobe illustrator. This will let you make a searchable picture that can be adjusted to any DPI setting your printer is capable of.
Type of Printing
You need to consider the types of labels you plan to print when looking for the right printer. Some printer inks and printers, for example, are compatible with certain models or types of labels. Matte Polypropylene labels, for instance, work with pigment-based inks. Glossy labels, on the other hand, generally work with dye and pigment-based inks. You do not want to spend your hard-earned money on a setup that will smudge on your label designs after the first run.
It is important to consider the cost and typical life span of a printer’s print head, which is one of the most important parts of a printer. Furthermore, it is the most delicate part of a printer and will cost you more than your labels. You need to find out how often you will have to replace this component and how much it will cost you.
Are you looking for an Inkjet or Thermal?
Inkjet label printers use ink to print text and graphics on a wide range of labels. They are quite common in small offices and homes. A good inkjet label printer will produce high-quality and sharp images, measured by the DPI or Dots per Inch. To compare the print quality of an inkjet printer, look at its DPI print resolution.
If you are looking for a thermal label printer, you have two options to choose from. These are thermal transfer and direct thermal. The first option uses heat to activate or trigger pigments from the printer’s ribbon to create the ink marked onto a label. Direct thermal printers, however, apply heat to the chemical label, turning it black in the process. This type of printer is ideal for printing receipts and shipping labels.
For your color label printing needs, you might want to narrow down your choice to inkjet printers. This is because they tend to produce more vibrant or colorful labels compared to thermal printers. Also, if you are operating a thermal label printer in a hot environment, there is an increased risk of fading and melting.
Before you purchase any type of printer, you should remember that you will also need a consistent supply of consumables. These include label rolls, ink cartridges, and other maintenance accessories.
Some label printers have a specific level of individual ink cartridge consumption, while others use a 3-color ink cartridge. If you are looking for a printer that uses less ink, go for one with individual ink cartridges. This is especially important if your label designs use a primary color. With a tri-color ink cartridge, however, you will need to replace it once any of the colors runs out.
Size of the Labels you Plan to Print
It is important to understand that certain label printers have size restrictions in terms of print width. You do not want to purchase a printer used for chemical-drum labels to print lip-balm labels. You need to choose a color label printer that will meet your specific needs.
Cost per Label
When selecting a color label printer, you need to consider the label costs. Most label manufacturers will offer a lower cost the more rolls of label you order. That said, you do not want to find yourself overstocked with label rolls. Therefore, you should determine how many labels you need to print each month and get a steady supply instead of buying in bulk and having them take up valuable storage space.
Did you know that some labels, such as nutritional facts and medical labels, have FDA regulations? If you are planning to print such labels, you must meet certain regulations before distributing your products. Other types of regulations include mandatory statements, font size, and allergen disclaimers.
Print Volume Requirements
Not every color label printer on the market will meet your design and printing volume requirements. If your business prints large amounts of color labels, you should go for a high-speed label printer. If you choose one that prints slowly, it will have a negative effect on your productivity, which will end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. The quality of your printing will also vary depending on your printing speed.
Where you will Store your Products
You should consider the environment where your printer and consumables will be before making your choice. The last thing you want is to have unattractive products and wasted label rolls on your shelves. If you use the wrong type of label for frozen food products, the condensation in your freezer may cause the labels to wrinkle. Other types of labels will fade from prolonged exposure to the sun. Therefore, ensure the label rolls and label printer you purchase are compatible.
Choosing the right type of label for your products
You want to take into account the material to which you are applying your label. The sort of tag you need will be partially dependent on the material it must stick to. A label that's acceptable for cardboard might not function as well on metal or plastic. It is important to ensure you choose the right Color Label Printer for Your Small Business.
For example, nearly all businesses ship goods in corrugated boxes. But if you send in wax boxes, and you use labels with adhesive designed for corrugated boxes, then you will be disappointed when you discover that those labels do not adhere to your wax boxes. Epson TM-C3500 Label Rolls have a variety of options that are compatible with different needs.
Label size is vitally important because the info you print on it has to be simple to read. It has to be large enough that all of the information -- whether it is a speech or a bar-code -- can be read or scanned. Additionally, it can't occupy too much space, because then you are wasting precious space that could be used for different tags, or perhaps for branding purposes (such as you wish to exhibit your company's name or logo on a transport box or food packaging).
As soon as you've considered the first two guidelines, you will need to ascertain how long the label should last. Again, being mindful of your tag's function should make this a relatively simple question to answer. An address label does not have to be that high quality in most cases.
You might notice that a few labels peel right from glass bottles, leaving no adhesive residue or parts of label, while others don't. When choosing the correct label for you product is important to have to correct adhesive.
Some label materials use a "removable" adhesive which would leave little or typically no residue. The problem with these labels is that they have a poor shelf life and will fall off several products following a brief time period.
Another scenario is the label material is using a standard acrylic adhesive, but the label inventory material is a "synthetic" based substance, usually a polyester, vinyl, or polypropylene. These synthetic materials do not tear and may be pealed of in 1 piece the majority of the time and the adhesive will usually come along with it. Paper labels aren't durable enough in most instances to be peeled away and will leave behind adhesive in addition to the paper material itself.
A simple way to check the distinction between a paper and synthetic material is to do the "tear evaluation". Paper labels will rip like paper, while synthetic materials either will not rip/tear but rather elongate and stretch.
Bear in mind that, removable adhesive is obviously more costly than a normal adhesive since it is scarcely ever used. Paper is more economical in comparison with synthetic materials. Synthetics are largely oil based products.
To get a label to be waterproof, it would need to be printed on a synthetic material (polyester, vinyl, polypropylene). It would also have to be printed utilizing a durable printing technologies. Laser, UV, and a few pigment dye printing are the best options. If you are likely to be using inkjet or flexographic printing, you would have to laminate your label to protect it from smearing the print.
GHS Labels for Chemicals
GHS stands for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals and is a global system used to label chemical substances for transport. If you are shipping chemicals such as fragrances or cleaning supplies, you want to make sure your labels are GHS compliance. The labels will also need pictographs, product identifiers, signal words, hazard statements and precautionary statements about the chemicals being transported. It must also use a strong adhesive that won't wear down over a long period of time even in environments with high heat, considerable humidity, a risk of corrosion or other potential issues.
Label Printer Maintenance
There are a few basic things you can do to keep your color label printers running in top form. Good maintenance is critical to keeping your label printers operating properly and avoiding costly repairs or replacements. With Epson printers you will have to purchase Epson maintenance box every cycle as it collects all the ink wastage.
You should clean your print-head each time you replace the ribbon or a roll of labels. Cleaning takes no more than one minute every time, but it can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars in unnecessary print-head replacements.
Be sure to you are also using the correct label media, so you are not having to use excessive print darkness to compensate for labels that can not survive sunlight, moisture, chemicals, or other environmental factors. Primera LX500 Label Rolls have a wide variety of label sizes and options for various use cases.
Before you install a new media roll, use an air duster and employ some air blasts into the media sensor. Doing this every time will help remove any residue and dust left behind by your previous media roll.
Of course with all type of label printers, you want to make sure you have sufficient ink to print your labels. There are some printers that use individual cartridges for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and some that have Tri-color cartridges that combine Cyan, Magenta and Yellow with a separate Black cartridge. If your labels are primarily one specific color, you're better off looking for a printer with individual cartridges instead of tri-color cartridges.
It's also important to decide if your labels need pigment based inks or dye based inks.
The Top Pick - Epson CW-C4000
Topping our list as the best color label printer is the Epson Colorworks C4000. Released in early 2022, this printer produces crisp images, offers a wide range of connectivity options, and comes from the world-class Epson brand.
The Epson Colorworks C4000 is a direct upgrade over the Epson Colorworks C3500, which we have also reviewed. The C3500 is no slouch and has been a top-value label printer for years. Unfortunately for the C3500, technology advances and it does not compare favorably to the new C4000.
Utilizing the Epson Microplezo Inkjet technology, the Epson Colorworks C4000 prints high-quality labels at an impressive print speed of 3.9 inches per second. This technology also provides the Epson Colorworks C4000 with the highest printing resolution, 1200x1200, on the market. This combination provides businesses with high-quality product labels without any delays.
Connectivity options are another area where the ColorWorks CW-C4000 Color Inkjet Label Printer shines. With Wi-fi, Mac, Linux, SAP, and more options, the Epson C4000 will fit in seamlessly with any business.
When it comes to value, there are no comparisons. The price of the Epson Colorworks C4000 is possibly the most impressive part of the unit. Coming in at $1,850 USD, the Epson Colorworks C4000 is the exact same price as the C3500 yet provides much more features.
The Epson Colorworks C4000 is as powerful as the flagship C6000 series but has a much smaller footprint. This gives the Epson Colorworks C4000 the best price to performance ratio we have seen to date. This makes us proud to include this printer on our list of Top Pick color label printers.
- Outstanding print speed
- Wide connectivity options
- The relatively low price point
- Wi-Fi connectivity may not be as reliable
Top Pick: Epson CW-C4000
With Epson's ColorWorks C4000 inkjet label printer, you can dramatically reduce label costs, increase operational efficiencies and print high-quality, durable labels on demand in four colors (CMYK) at speeds of up to 4 inches/second.
A LabelBasic Exclusive
Get $200 in Free Labels when you purchase an Epson CW-C4000 from LabelBasic.
The Premium Pick - Epson ColorWorks CW-C6000P
Before you purchase both the A and P Epson C6000 or C6500 series color label printer, you need to understand that they come in either matte and gloss version. If you are planning to purchase either of these versions, you should know that the printer software will lock into your choice. Based on the software, therefore, you will have to buy the glossy or matte black ink for your printer for your future printing needs.
The Epson CW-C6000P released in 2020 is our premium pick. It's great for enterprise businesses looking to extend their printing capabilities with there existing network setup. The CW-C6000P is the first peel-and-present design offered by Epson. The built in sensor ensures the next print job is queued up until the label is taken.
The CW-C6000P prints labels up to 4 inches wide in width and uses standard label rolls up to 8 inches in Outer Diameter and 3 inch cores. It also uses individual ink cartridges to conserve ink.
Epson's CW-C6000P is designed to work with existing networks. With ESC/Label and ZPL II Interface Languages you can add this printer without reprogramming your existing systems. It is also great for enterprise environments as IT and support teams can remotely monitor and control print status, generate email alerts and deploy firmware updates from your smart phone or computer.
- Reduced errors
- Ability to print personalized labels on demand
- Increased production efficiency
- Vibrant colors to draw attention to important information
- Annoying Label detection method during first time setup
Premium Pick: Epson CW-C6000P
With Epson's ColorWorks CW-C6000P inkjet label printer, you can label directly off the printer with no additional applicator required. The peel-and-present design allows you to use durable quick drying labels right off the printer directly to your application.
A LabelBasic Exclusive
Get $250 in Free Labels when you purchase a Epson CW-C6000P from LabelBasic.
The Budget Pick - Primera LX500
Primera's LX500 Color Label Printer is an affordable desktop color label and tag printer. Its high-yield, tri-color ink cartridge keeps cost per label low. Fast print speeds and an optional built-in guillotine-style cutter allow users to quickly and easily print and cut their short-run labels.
- It is quite durable
- Based on its price, it is a worthwhile investment
- Great quality printing
- It is easy to set up and use
- It is ink-thirsty
- The cartridges tend to malfunction
Budget Pick - Primera LX500
The Primera LX500 prints in full color photo-quality pictures on highly water-resistant and scratch resistant tags. It generates professional-looking unique tags such as photo images, illustrations, graphics, text and bar codes.
Other finalists we tested
Epson TM-C7500 & Epson TM-C7500G
The Epson ColorWorks C7500 comes in 2 Variations - TM-C7500 and TM-C7500G. The TM-C7500G color label printer prints on gloss label rolls, while the TM-C7500 printers onto mattle label rolls. This printer is priced at the higher end of the spectrum and you should get this if you are doing large volumes of label production each month.
Epson's TM-C7500G comprises a specially modified Epson pigment ink, which is designed to print on shiny surfaces such as high gloss paper, glossy polypropylene or shiny transparent labels. This makes the print more muted in color than dye-based inks. Color tags printed on the Epson TM-C7500G will not be as vivid as those printed on a dye-based inkjet.
Epson's TM-C7500 uses matte tag rolls and pigment-based ink to make smudge-free tags which will not fade or crack. They dry instantly, allowing for prompt application. Epson TM-C7500 is a matte label printer which takes matte label media only, as its inks will not work with glossy media.
- It is ideal for people looking for reliable performance, efficiency, and high volume printing.
- It comes with a special pigment ink designed to print on glossy paper, such as shiny transparent and polypropylene labels.
- It creates smudge-free labels that do not fade or crack.
- It has an extremely fast print speed.
- It has a resolution of 1200DPI.
- It has a print head designed to ensure the whole working life of the printer, making it ideal for volume printing.
- It uses four individual ink cartridges, which minimize wastage.
- It has a 4" width size limitations.
- It is in the higher end of color label printers in terms of price.
Afinia Label L301
The print quality is exceptional, along with the label printer offers a lot of flexibility for many small companies. By way of instance, it can change from printing product labels to bar codes or colorful labels to use at the office.
However, the Afinia L301 isn't fast. Its printing speed is approximately 1.8 inches per second when printing a little (about 2.2 inches wide) label in normal manner. The slower print speed is generally great for printing small batches of labels on demand but can develop into an issue when printing volume increases.
For the low-volume tag printing needs of small businesses, the Afinia L301's ink consumption is manageable. However, ink costs should be factored in for companies which publish over 3,000 labels per month.
- It uses state-of-the-art HP thermal inkjet technology.
- It has a built-in manual cutter designed to help users minimize the lining at the end of the tag.
- It is a flexible printer able to print variable label sizes.
- When compared to its competition, it has a relatively slower print speed.
- It is ink-thirsty and uses two ink cartridges.
Afinia Label L502
The Afinia L502 is rated as a mid-level production and industrial build quality. Compared to the L501, the 502 has a metal casing and has software updated to print faster and includes a pause and print feature.
The L502 prints at 8.5 inches with and can hold label rolls up to 8 Inches in outer diameter. It can also print BS5609 Chemcial Labels.
One drawback of the L502 is the low capacity inks (26ml color and 78ml black) that runs out pretty quick depending on the ink coverage of the label you are printing. Compared to an Epson 80ml CMKY inks, the cost of printing almost doubles with an Afinia Printer compared to Epson.
One thing to keep in mind, Afinia uses HP thermal inkjet technology (aka Bubblejet), that means the printheads will have to be replaced after a while at a cost of around $100 a time. This cost isn't usually calculated in the
Manufacturers, who publish small quantities of labels each month are perfect customers for this printer since the LX900 will create professional quality labels on demand. On the other hand, larger manufacturers needing high volumes of labels may find the Primera Label Printers too slow because of their demanding, high volume manufacturing environments. You might want to check out the Epson TM-C7500 for higher tag productions needs.
The print resolution is up to 4800 dpi versus just 1200 dpi on other printers. LX900 has individual inks for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. This means you only need to replace the ink cartridge that has been depleted instead of the entire cartridge. The LX900 also prints onto many different inkjet-qualified label and tag materials.
The LX900 uses the most up-to-date in high-resolution inkjet technology to print vibrant, vibrant labels for your goods, packaging and boxes. Individual ink cartridges for each color allow you to replace only the colors which require replacing. You will save yourself money and time on every job you print
- Amazing print quality
- Prints up to 4800DPI
- Four separate ink cartridges designed for prolonged use
- Incredible versatility
- Accepts 3-core roll labels in a wide range of inkjet materials with a width of up to 8.25 inches
- It can be quite difficult to set up
The Primera LX910 is the pinnacle of label printing from Primera. This device is one of the highest quality printers on the market and certainly one of the more costly options. Thanks to its print results, the Primera LX910 label printer is often used to produce the most recognized labels on the market.
This deluxe printer can do it all in style. Every label can contain your logo, brand images, information, and so much more. It uses an ultra-high yield capacity tri-color ink cartridge as well as the interchangeable ink for pigments and dyes. This allows it to create labels that catch everyone’s eye.
Even though this printer is designed for small runs, it still offers impressive print speeds. It can print at a speed of 4.5” per second. It has a daily print volume of 5000. One of the features that we like about it is the size of labels it can work with. It can print using labels as wide as 8.25”.
The labels printed by the Primera LX910 can be used in various fields. From shipping to clothing, and even groceries and frozen goods, the Primera LX910 shines in any environment. It comes with all the accessories you need to get started and setup is super easy.
This printer is a designer's best friend. Whatever you can create and put on a label template, this unit will make it print perfectly. You will also get quick service and additional updates with Primera. Investing in an LX910 now and can save you thousands down the road. Just be ready to spend a bit for the initial investment.
- Prints wide labels
- One of the best print qualities on the market
- Not good for high quantity print runs
The Bottom Line
Doing business often requires mailing things to customers or customers. Whether you're invoicing a customer, mailing a brochure or shipping a product, you will need to make sure it gets to the proper destination and receives attention when it arrives and finding the best color label printer can have exactly those effects.
Creating custom printed labels provides you with another marketing tool to utilize your business communications. The labels are not much more expensive than plain speech tags, with total costs determined by design components. The Epson CW-C4000 can help you make good quality labels without breaking the budget.
Larger producers needing high volumes of labels may get the entrance color label printer too slow due to the demanding, higher volume manufacturing environments. The Epson TM-C7500 prints at 10.4" per second and can meet higher tag productions needs. The Epson CW-C6000A and CW-C6000P are also good options if the TM-C7500 is out of your price range.
Custom printed labels are an excellent marketing tool that businesses should utilize. Interestingly, custom color labels are not much more costly to produce than plain speech tags when you consider the total costs determined by the design components. You can produce great quality tags and labels without breaking the bank.
Top Pick: Epson CW-C4000
This printer can dramatically reduce your label printing costs. It also reduces ink waste since it uses individual color ink cartridges.
John McIntyre, Writer
John is a American who grew up to be a nerd with a philosophy degree and too many hobbies to count. He emigrated from California to New York in 2013. While he is not writing he is busy taking care of his two kids Claire and Vicky.