This app-controlled thermal printer produces classy looking labels to get organised and customised ribbons for celebrations, without the need for expensive inks.
Epson has just launched its first ever label printers aimed at crafters. The industrial design is compact and sleek, the results are… whatever you want them to be. The printer is teamed with an app that offers a wide range of designs.
Media-wise, you can buy rolls of sticky tape and ribbon in various colours. The LW-C610 is compatible with 50 ribbons and tapes up to 24mm in width. Its smaller, lighter sibling, the LW-C410, costs half as much but only works with 36 tapes and ribbons up to 18mm in width.
Both use thermal printing, which is long-lasting, resistant to heat, UV and weather. The LW-C610 is sharper, printing at 360dpi (dots per inch), while the LW-C410 prints at 180dpi resolution. The other main difference is that the LW-C410 must be powered by 6xAA batteries. The larger LW-C610 is more flexible: it can either be plugged in to mains power or use 6xAA batteries.
You can custom print stickers (the tape ranges from metallic to matt) with text and fancy borders, and also your own barcodes and QR codes. This makes it perfect for small businesses as well as home crafters.
You can even print your own ribbons. Our first impulse on testing was to see if there’s a market on Etsy for custom sweary gift ribbons. There were in fact a bunch of sellers doing custom ribbons, mostly for cute stuff like wedding favours. Sweary ones? I didn’t ask! It’s a good point though: if you’re organising a wedding or a large celebration, printing your own could be a big saving.
The printer was tested with an Android phone and its associated app that easily paired via Bluetooth. The app’s name however, ‘Label Editor Mobile’ made it difficult to find in the app drawer.
The tape cassette loads easily and the side cover of the printer pops on magnetically. The printer comes with a 4m long sample roll of 12mm black on white. Rolls of other tapes all cost £10.99 each but they vary in length, from 5m (ribbons) to 9m (metallic tape).
There is a built-in cutter to minimise waste which you can turn off in the app if you prefer. Print a small label and the end is cut but the label still sits there, poking out of the machine rather than falling. However, the ribbons don’t work with the built-in cutter: it says clearly on their packaging that you’ll need to cut them with hand scissors.
Labelling of foodstuffs was easy and enjoyable. You can sit the printer on the worktop and label as you sort, or sit on your backside but with a feeling of getting something done. Speed is impressive: printing begins almost immediately.
The printer was used to label various boxes in the kitchen, but it was the custom ribbons that impressed the most. Get beyond the writer’s block of figuring out what to print on the ribbon that will wrap a precious gift and it’s a marvel. Printed custom labels quoting song lyrics for a child’s birthday looked superb and utterly professional.
In the app, you manually set the tape width and then have various tabs, to type the text, choose the font, add images, borders, barcodes, QR codes and more. You don’t need to tell it which type of tape you’re using, just the width.
Barcodes and QR codes work brilliantly and are ideal for small traders. You pick the style and type in the code yourself and the app generates it. Borders and icons work well. Images are monochrome and small but the resolution is good and you can adjust the black/white threshold or introduce dithering to make impressively good little stickers.
The app is easy to use but well featured. For example, delve into the menus and you’ll find a mirror option, to print back to front. So you can print window stickers or put your labels on the inside of clear boxes.
After you tell it to print, a print dialogue box pops up where you can decide how many copies are needed and whether to automatically cut or not. You can set it to print ten times with no cutting if you want one long ribbon with a repeated saying.
The results are classy and tapes are the only consumables – there’s no ink to buy or make a mess with because the printing is thermal. The price of the tapes is fair: 5-9m is enough for a lot of labels.
Our only quibble was that the back of the sticker rolls isn’t scored, so it’s a bit tricky to peel off the backing: you need to get a fingernail in to the edge to separate label from backing paper. But this may be a necessity for the machine to work well. If you’re someone who likes to label stuff around the house, or you run a small business, the Epson LabelWorks LW-C610 is a good buy. It’s easy to print with and you’ll discover extra uses. Let the custom gift ribbons commence!
Dymo LabelWriter 550
A compact thermal printer designed for address labels. Rather than wireless and app, it connects to desktop via USB. But it prints blisteringly fast – up to 62 address labels per minute.
Brother P-touch CUBE PT-P300BT
A compact, Bluetooth label printer similar to the smaller Epson. It prints on tapes and ribbons up to 12mm wide (so narrower media). You can even buy iron-on nametape for it.
Epson LabelWorks LW-C410
The smaller sibling of the LW-C610, this does a similar job but with a lower resolution (up to 180dpi) and on tapes up to 18mm wide. It can only be battery powered. But it’s small and handy for on-the-fly labelling.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.