Epson Launches LabelWorks for the Home, Office and Factory

LabelWorks LW-400

LabelWorks LW-400

LabelWorks LW-300

Since autumn last year, Epson has launched its new LabelWorks label printers in Europe, North America and South East Asia, with plans to roll out these products in other regions in the latter part of 2012 and beyond. Although the company has long manufactured such products for Japan and other limited markets on an OEM base, it is the first time Epson sold products outside East Asia under its own brand.
This article looks at how Epson developed its LabelWorks product.

Different market needs

A few years ago, Epson decided on the infrastructure it had built developing label printers for the Japanese market (OEM only) by manufacturing and selling label printers under the Epson brand in Europe and America. The development team immediately brought label printers manufactured for Japan as samples to its North American sales company, Epson America Inc. However, the development team soon found that the market needs in the United States were different. While label printers manufactured for the Japanese market were designed to be placed and used on a desktop, customers in Europe and America, however, were used to holding printers like this in their hand. "I was shocked to learn that our work in Japan would not translate overseas," recalled a member of the product design team.

There were two major label printer rivals overseas, and Epson was the latecomer. Epson could launch products, but this would be meaningless if these products didn't directly address customer needs. The development team therefore pledged to completely redesign the products while implementing as many ideas as possible from the sales companies.

Gathering up ideas

The team faced one challenge after another over the year and a half leading up to the launch of the label printers. In addition to designing the products, it was necessary to gather ideas from various markets and incorporate them into product plans.

As a result of the negotiations between the design and sales teams, the label printer specifications changed several times during product development. Product development normally begins with the development team gathering information on requirements from sales companies. It then proceeds to product planning, aesthetic outward design, engineering design, and, last, manufacturing. In this case, however, Epson needed to start with a redesign of the outward appearance, so there were no product samples to work with. Without samples, the sales companies could not learn customers' needs before product launch. The development team hastily established the basic outward design and created mock-ups, but they ended up having to modify the design and change the specifications several times based on the sales companies' feedback.

Ultimately, the label printers the team came up with were extremely compact and incorporated the extensive know-how that Epson had acquired over the years.

Even though Epson was a newcomer, the label printers ended up being highly polished products, with the external design being recognized in the highly regarded iF Product Design Awards held in Germany in February 2012.

LabelWorks LW-900P

Finished products

Known for its compact, energy saving and high-precision technologies, Epson was determined to bring its years of expertise to bear on its new LabelWorks range. As such, the development team created a series of extremely compact models designed to meet the needs of customers for the home, office and industry.

With customers increasingly concerned about the environment and reducing waste, Epson created tapes with dramatically smaller side margins to cut the amount of wasted tape. Labels are perfectly sized and automatically printed with a perforated back, making them fast and easy to peel and stick. The new products also come equipped with hundreds of symbols, frames, fonts and barcodes-more than almost any brand of label maker-making them suitable for a variety of uses in the home, office or factory. LabelWorks can also be used with tapes for a wide variety of uses, including metallic, fluorescent and glow-in-the-dark tapes, and those containing water-resistant materials.

New markets

Going forward, Epson believes its label printers can add value for customers in a wide range of scenarios. These include printing labels for hospitals, offices and companies, both large and small, and name tags, reminders and instructions in schools and homes.

There is also considerable scope for growth in factories, especially in Europe and America where these products are mainly used in the office and home. Epson has designed LabelWorks to increase usability in such scenarios, and will continue to refine these features to meet customer needs.

Please refer to your local Epson site for details of these and other Epson products.
(Note that product names and availability vary by region.)