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We’re continuing our conversation with Basat Khalifa, CEO of DuraFast Label Company, about the new Afinia L501 color label printer. Today, we want to know how the L501 compares with the VIPColor VP495.
Q: The VIPColor VP495 competes with the Afinia L501 for what type of labels?
A: The VIPColor VP495 color label printer uses HP pigment inks to produce durable industrial and BS5609-compliant labels including chemical drum labels, horticultural labels, outdoor labels, and durable goods labels. So, it competes with the Afinia L501 Pigment color label printer in this market. Both use fade- and water-resistant pigment inks that come in individual ink cartridges, so they both do a good job in minimizing wasted ink and keeping ink costs low.
Q: How do they compare as far as print quality goes?
A: Honestly, the Afinia L501 has the edge here with its 2400dpi. The VIPColor VP495 comes in at 1200dpi, which is still good — just not as crisp as the L501. When looking at the labels, the print quality is very similar. We can print sample labels from each label printer so that our customers can compare the print quality for themselves before they buy.
Q: Which one is faster?
A: The Afinia L501 is slightly faster compared to the VP495’s print speed of almost 4 inches per second.
Q: What traits do these two label printers have in common?
A: They both print labels as wide as 8.5 inches, making them both a great choice for larger format labels like chemical drum labels. They both are equipped with label unwinders that can hold large labels on a roll (up to 8” OD) or use fan-fold sheets if desired. Both can produce BS5609-certified labels when paired with suitable BS5609 label stock certified for use with that particular label printer.
Q: What traits set these two label printers apart from one another?
A: The Afinia L501 features newer HP thermal print technology whereas the VP495 is running an older version. The biggest differentiator, however, is the fact that the Afinia L501 can be converted to use dye-based inks (or purchased straightaway as the “Afinia L501 Duo” model which comes with both print heads and ink cartridge sets). Thus, it can be used to print high quality product labels known as “prime” labels. To get this same functionality with VIPColor’s product line, you’d need to purchase both the VP495 and its dye-based sibling, the VIPColor VP485 prime label printer. So, instead of a small price difference between the two label printers, you’re looking at a secondary investment of nearly $3,000. If your company needs to print both types of labels, going with the Afinia L501 is the smart choice. It’s better across the board as a pigment-based GHS chemical label printer and it can also be configured to print prime labels.
Another consideration involves software. Since the VP495 has been on the market for many years, it can only be used with the BarTender software that ships with it. There are no native Windows drivers available. Therefore, you cannot print through many Windows-based applications. In contrast, the Afinia L501 ships with Windows drivers, therefore allowing you to print labels from any Windows-based applications. Plus, if desired, you can still use BarTender and NiceLabel design software.
Perhaps most important of all, feedback from customers is that Afinia Label has great support. Afinia offers free technical support for the life of the product. There is a big difference in the quality of customer support provided by Afinia Label and VIPColor. Generally speaking, VIPColor seems to discourage customers from calling them for support and refers you back to the reseller. In many cases, the reseller may not be around by the time you need support. Therefore, you are stuck.
Q: So, it’s safe to say you’re partial to the new Afinia L501 over the VIPColor VP495?
A: Having used both printers, I would highly recommend the L501. The user interface and ease of use on the L501 is much better. Plus, the L501 has a cutter built in, and allows you to switch between dye and pigment inks as needed. If you think you might need to use dye-based inks to print prime labels, I’d seriously consider the Afinia L501 because of its “Duo” personality, exceptional quality, and cost advantages.