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Custom Printed Labels – What is a Bleed?

Printing bleed is a term that is used to describe a printed area that extends beyond the final trim size on the outer edge of a custom label.  Bleed allows the printer to saturate a label with ink color or graphical outputs from edge to edge without any exposure of unprinted areas surrounding the printing impression.  While most digital label printers like Planet Label have the ability to print within a 1/32″ tolerance, a 1/8″ bleed that extends beyond the perimeter of the desired final trim size for the label allows the printer some added margin of error in producing your labels.

Custom Label with Full Bleed

The image above illustrates what is referred to as a full bleed, or in short a situation where color and images extend beyond the trim area in all directions.   A partial bleed which is shown below, includes only certain elements of the custom printed label that will extend beyond the trim area.  With a partial bleed, the designer risks the possibility that the outer perimeter of the label may not have complete ink coverage.  In essence, the designer is relying on the accuracy of the printer to cut or trim the label to the outer edge of the label impression with virtually zero margin for error.

Custom Label Examples with Partial Bleed

Partial bleeds are more common in instances where the background color of the label is transparent, or will be taking on the natural color and texture of the material that the label will be printed to.  Die cutting tolerances in this case may not be as much of a concern to the designer as only partial graphic elements of the label will extend beyond the trim area.

For more information on artwork, see our page on specifications for artwork on custom printed labels. Now that you’re familiar with printing bleed, and know the difference between a full bleed and partial you’re one step closer to setting up your files for the perfect custom printed label!

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