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Tagless PrintingFebruary 20, 2020

5 Steps to Tagless Tags

Tagless Printing
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Utilizing pad printed tagless tags instead of heat transfers or screen printing has many benefits. Namely, this method is more cost effective, durable and is much more sustainable. If you are still unfamiliar with the tagless process, be sure to read up on what is tagless label printing. Once you have made the decision that making the switch is in your future, there are a few steps to take.

Step 1: Choose your Tagless Tags Machine Provider

When choosing your machine provider, look at the offerings beyond pricing. With tagless pad printing, consumables will need to be readily available. Ensure the company you work with has local stocking warehouses spread out around the world to provide quick delivery of garment printer inks, laser plate-makers, plates (cliches), pad printing pads and more. Additionally, seek out companies who have a comprehensive training program. While tagless pad printing is quick and easy to learn, operators all learn at different paces. Having the assurance that you are backed by your supplier is paramount. Aside from the machine itself, look at the other consumables the company offers. It is best to choose a company that is able to provide the complete tagless tags solution and not just a few items here and there.

Learn more about Inkcups’ complete t-shirt label solution.

Mixing Ink

Step 2: Identify your Plate-Making Method

After you have chosen your pad printing machine provider, it is time to decide which tagless tags plate-making method is best for you. If you are constantly changing artwork for yourself or for a customer, a laser plate-maker is the best option for you. This computer-to-plate process eliminates the need for chemicals and additional steps. This process is much faster and human error-free. Aside from these two plate-making methods for tagless tags, another option is to ask your machine provider if they offer the service of etching plates for you.

Have a company etch the plates for you

If you are new to tagless tags or, if you are not changing over your graphics frequently, our suggestion is to have the company you are purchasing your equipment from etch the plates for you. This provides a smooth transition into the world of pad printing. At Inkcups, we will analyze your product to identify the depth of the etch as well as the plate material you should be using and send perfectly etched plates directly to your facility.

Purchase an exposure unit

While purchasing an exposure unit is a smaller initial investment, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for all businesses. Utilizing an exposure unit to make plates (cliches) for tagless tags takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete the process. It also includes chemicals for exposing the plate. In addition to these steps, there is also room for human and machine error. Companies who are familiar with this process or, who are not changing graphics frequently will benefit from this process.

plate-making method

Purchase a Laser Plate-Maker

Although a larger initial investment, a computer-to-plate process is easier for speed, changeover and accuracy. A laser plate-maker works by importing your file into the specific laser software and then hitting start. Depending on the size of the artwork, a plate can be created in as little as 1 minute. This process is much easier and leaves little to no room for human error. All in all the end ROI will be much greater. From here, it is important to decide which laser is best for your needs. Inkcups provides fiber lasers and a WFC laser– all of which are great for etching plates for tagless tags.


Step 3: Choose your Plates to Print Tagless Tags

All in general, all components of the tagless tags making process are vital to the integrity of a print. Choosing the correct pad printing plates (cliches) depends on a number of factors including the particular laser plate-maker you have, environment, material you are printing on and the cost. Again, the previous step will determine which plate (cliche) to use. For example, choosing an exposure unit as the plate-maker of choice might narrow your plate selection down. While utilizing a laser plate-maker will open this up to multiple laser plates.

Step 4: Select the Proper Pad Printing Ink for Tagless Tags

Pad printing inks for tagless tags are especially important as they come into contact with skin. When it comes to contact with children’s skin, the type of ink becomes even more important. Look for apparel-specific ink. Many companies will provide an all-purpose ink for apparel and other items but the key is to make sure it is strictly for apparel pieces. Additionally, important apparel ink compliance certifications to look for include:

  • Oeko-Texo Eco Passport
  • California Prop. 65
  • ASTM
  • ROHS
  • EN-71

Additionally, if the company meets the requirements of major garment manufacturers, it is safe to say they will be perfect for any apparel piece. Be sure to check a brand’s restricted substance list (RSL) to see what their requirements are.

tagless printing ink machine

Step 5: Assemble all Components to Print Tagless Tags

Once the machine has been purchased and all consumables have been properly vetted, it’s time to print! Follow the company’s set-by-step instructions on how to mix the ink (and what to add), and how to assemble the machine. If any questions arise, call the company directly to get the help you need. It is important that this transition or new venture is smooth and works well for your business model. See our tagless pad printing technology.

Additional resources:


Sustainability in the Printing Industry – Heat Transfer vs. Pad Printing

Eco-Friendly Label Printing: Inkcups’ Commitment to Sustainability


The 5 Best Applications for Tagless Labels

Case Studies

Sully’s Brand: Pad Printing in our Own Backyard

Landmark Improves Labeling with Inkcups

Tagless Pad Printing gets Intimate


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