Marketing Automation Platform
Downtime in your production simply isn’t an option. But at any moment, an unpredictable event can arise like low ink levels, maintenance and clogging, putting your operations on hold anywhere from an hour to an entire shift. So how do you prepare for the unexpected? One option that we see put into practice by many customers is the investment in a spare inkjet printer – a reliable, on-hand system that can quickly be fired up on a production line when your regular systems suddenly quit.
So what exactly should you be looking for in a reliable back-up inkjet printer?
Extended shutdown features – There is no planning when you might need to pull in a spare printer, meaning it could be sitting idle for an undefined amount of time. Many small character printers take time to boot up and flush printheads that have not been in use for some time. These printers often require full system flushes or draining when being prepared for extended shutdown periods. When purchasing a small character printer to use a spare, choose one that doesn’t have extensive shut down procedures and is designed to fire right up and start printing after sitting idle for as long as 3 months at a time.
Long shelf-life – Thermal inkjet printers that utilize snap-in and -out replacement ink cartridges make great spare candidates. Ink cartridges can be kept in-stock and on-shelf so your printer is guaranteed to have a supply of ink when it is pulled into operation at a moment’s notice.
Additionally, for high-resolution inkjet printers that take fluids from bottles, industry-leading inks are formulated to last as long as 18 months on the shelf and still consistently deliver high contrast print messages. Similarly for your case coding, look for printheads that remain start-up ready for up to 12 months. To ensure peak performance of ink fluids and printheads, always store according to recommended temperature and humidity conditions.
Protected internal electronics – Look for systems that have a protective covering to maintain and preserve the internal electronics. Not only is thermal jet printer technology a low investment option that produces high resolution text, graphics and barcodes up to 1” high, but the easy-to-change cartridges are simple to store on-shelf in case of emergencies.
Ask yourself whether it is more costly to invest in spare printers for your food production line or to risk unplanned downtime. The investment to protect your productivity is more than likely to pay off if you’re making an informed decision about the inkjet systems you’re keeping as back-ups. Our product specialists can help you determine what the best spare system type is for your application needs. Call today or send us an email for our recommendation.
Continuous inkjet (CIJ) is the technology of choice for food packaging coding as the solvent based inks adhere to a variety of materials like cartons, plastics, films, foils, metal and glass. CIJ is ideal for food packaging in that it offers high speed, non-contact small character printing and enables food processors to incorporate inkjet codes into their functional safety and traceability processes.
Companies that produce food products are very aware of the financial and public health risks of a recall and therefore understand the necessity of being able to track products through the supply chain. For added food safety security, continuous inkjet printers can utilize specialty functional inks:
Thermochromic inks are developed for the canning industry and show a color change effect when processed through a retort or autoclave process. In addition to visual confirmation of successful canning it is a robust ink that penetrates thin coatings of oil and grease and resists removal by oils, waxes, fats and varnishes.
For secure coding of high-end products subject to counterfeiting or for products and packaging that require discrete codes for internal track and trace, identifying origin or verifying authenticity, there are inks that are nearly invisible to the naked eye but fluoresce under UV light. These fast drying, solvent based inks are water resistant once dry.
Traceability of food product is key to a company’s ability to react to a recall. In addition to providing coding technology that allows companies to trace product, Diagraph and Linx offer the following specialty functional coding inks that enhance food safety:
Linx Thermochromic 1281 or 1291
Our choice for fully functional, easy to use inkjet coders are the Linx 8900 Series line of printers. The Linx 8900 Series inkjet printers provide high quality batch, date, lot and expiration codes which are critical components for supply chain traceability. The Linx models are also durable workhorses in wash down environments and are easy-to-use featuring a robust, sealed printhead, one-touch fluid refills, a highly visible touch screen user interface and point-of-print viscosity control. The Linx 8900 Series line of printers support both thermochromic and UV fluorescent ink applications.
Continuous inkjet is just one option for adding essential date codes, lot codes and batch codes to your food and beverage products. Want to learn more about how your choice of coding solution contributes to food safety and traceability? Download our full whitepaper.
Coding for Safety & Traceability in the Food Supply Chain: A Comparison of Continuous Inkjet & Laser Coding
It is estimated by the US Grocery Manufacturers Association that over half of recalls cost companies over $10M. In addition to the financial implications, recalls for defective products could be harmful to the health of your customers and ultimately damaging to your reputation. These two major factors support the necessity of product identification in the form of date codes, lot codes and batch codes to track and trace in the event of a recall.
Two common automated marking and coding solutions for food packaging are continuous inkjet and laser coding. Which solution best fits your application is dependent on a number of factors. To help you in this evaluation process, we have outlined a few consideration questions:
Continuous Inkjet Considerations
Continuous inkjet (CIJ) can mark onto virtually any substrate type, rounded or flat, ranging from plastic bags, glass jars, metal cans, paper cartons and more. Because of the variety of ink types and colors available, you can achieve a high-contrast mark on nearly any color packaging.
Laser Coding Considerations
Laser, by comparison, creates a permanent mark on most surfaces although not all packaging types will guarantee a high-contrast batch, lot or date code. The etched marks from laser will last, although on clear plastics and glass the coding may not be as easily visible as black ink from CIJ.
Continuous Inkjet & Laser Coding Considerations
Accurate batch, date and expiration codes are essential for customers and retailers alike. If your production lines perform multiple changeovers for different products each shift, this leaves room for errors. Leading CIJ and laser solutions have features for storing unique, variable messages and icon-based interfaces that can be operated without extensive training for message creation and retrieval. Reliable, accurate coding methods will keep your line running in uptime and ensure speedy recall of products in that event.
If your products have high retail value, they may be susceptible to counterfeiting. There are internal tracking and security codes that can be made on a product discreetly, that are only visible under certain circumstances by the manufacturer to verify authenticity and product origin. For CIJ, one option is security UV inks that are nearly invisible until exposed to UV light.
The low-contrast, permanent marks created from laser etching are a benefit in the case of anti-counterfeiting codes. Codes can be applied to packaging in an inconspicuous location without compromising the appeal of the packaging design.
These are only a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting between continuous inkjet and laser coding for your food or beverage packaging line. For more information on how coding ties into food safety and traceability, download our full whitepaper.
All food and beverage manufacturers have a commitment to efficient operations and strive to increase output with maximum uptime. Many of these manufacturers require variable information such as lot or batch codes, expiration dates, or barcodes on their product and make use of Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) to achieve these required codes. For high speed, non-contact coding in your food packaging or bottling environment, CIJ printers with known durability features will offer the following benefits:
Routine wear and tear on your CIJ machines is a reality when they are running in high-speed, industrial environments such as a food packaging or bottling lines. Invest in CIJ printers designed for maximum uptime with minimal effort and that have specific features that prove durable in industrial production environments.
See the Linx 8900 printer in action! Call 800.722.1125 or contact us for a free demonstration.
If you’re a manufacturer integrating traversing CIJ and thermal transfer overprinters in your form, fill and seal machines, consumables contribute to your total cost of ownership in a major way. You may identify with some of the following common pain points related to coding onto flow packs, plastic sleeves and sachets, and it is crucial to your profitability to find a solution for overcoming these issues:
There are alternatives available to you to avoid these common pitfalls in multi-lane coding operations. Look for these two features in your system to minimize parts, fluids and ribbon costs in the long run:
1) A single consumable – To avoid the mess and additional training, specifically evaluate options using a single roll of ribbon for all of the print heads.
2) Ribbon saving mechanisms – Once you have evaluated a multi-lane coder with ribbon instead of ink, ask about ribbon saving mechanisms. Industry-leading applications ensure minimum gaps between prints and can result in up to a 50% reduction in ribbon waste.
Are you in the process of evaluating multi-lane printing and coding technologies to meet your unique form fill and seal machine requirements? Download our free Hidden Costs of Multi-Lane Printing guide.
The Hidden Costs of Multi-Lane Printing Whitepaper
Many companies, especially in meat and dairy processing, struggle with the requirement to mark variable information onto slick packaging for a couple key reasons:
The packaging substrate High surface tension substrates like HDPE, polypropylene (PP) containers and caps, treated and untreated Orientated Polypropylene (OPP) for flow wraps and stand-up pouches, glass and metal all make ink adhesion difficult.
The manufacturing environmentFood packages of butter, margarine and salad dressing often leave a thin layer of condensation or grease on the packaging surface, inhibiting the preservation of code quality.
For manufacturers who experience difficulties using continuous ink jet (CIJ) coders on substrates and products with slick or greasy surfaces, specially formulated inks that cut through light films of oil or condensation are necessary to preserve print quality and contrast.
Linx’s new 1063 Grease Penetrating Black is a dye MEK based ink, developed for the market-leading Linx 8900 Series CIJ coders. 1063 Grease Penetrating Black ink has aggressive adhesion before and after refrigeration and resists removal by a wide range of oils and chemicals such as acids, alkalis, detergents, petrol and water. It dries in seconds and provides excellent contrast and legibility on transparent or light colored materials and, as the name implies, penetrates light layers of condensation and grease for a robust, durable mark.
Talk to a Diagraph specialist today at 1.800.722.1125 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss whether the new Linx 1063 Grease Penetrating Black ink may be a solution to your slick or oily manufacturing conditions.
(March 1, 2017) - Linx Printing Technologies is launching two laser coders that will open up the benefits of laser technology to more companies and applications. Key benefits of the new Linx CSL range are even faster printing speeds and greater versatility, making the coders ideal for a wider variety of products. Quicker and easier installation and set-up help to make laser coding simpler and more accessible.
The Linx CSL10 (10 watt) and CSL30 (30 watt) laser coders feature a new, more powerful processing board with the ability to relay the message from the control unit to the marking head more quickly, delivering higher speeds. Ideal for the requirements of high speed packing and bottling lines, the coder can handle complex messages and graphics without any loss of quality. Both models apply crisp codes onto many different packaging materials including coated paper and card, plastic, glass, rubber, coated metal and anodized aluminum.
A new marking head has been introduced for wide web applications, enabling the coders to code across multiple lines using just a single laser where previously two machines would have been required. An area of up to 440mm x 600mm can be coded – ideal for applications such as flexible sheet for lids.
In addition, a wider range of marking heads and positions mean that the Linx lasers offer over 20,000 standard configurations, and can therefore be tailored to the precise requirements of each coding application. This unique feature makes the Linx CSL10 and CSL30 the most versatile laser coders available. Tailoring the laser application to the customer’s precise requirements means optimal use is made of the laser system, contributing to the lasers’ long tube life.
An increased choice of conduit lengths – 3, 5 and new 10m sizes – together with a more flexible conduit design, detachable marking head, connectors and conduit, and quick disconnect umbilical cable, have made installation of the coders easier, particularly where the lasers cannot be placed close to the power supply or where space is limited. These same features speed up service times and make it simpler to relocate the machines in the factory.
Both models can be specified in an IP65 version, allowing the coder to operate in harsh, wet and dusty environments such as frozen, dairy, beverage, chemicals and construction.
Both the Linx CSL10 and Linx CSL30 retain the proven features of Linx laser technology including a highly efficient operating system that delivers one of the longest tube lives on the market – around 45,000 hours – and its unique VisiCode® function for producing unsurpassed high quality codes on glass and PET while reducing energy usage by up to 50%. An enhanced version of its LinxVision® operating system allows for fast and simple set-up that minimizes errors.
About Diagraph, An ITW Company
Diagraph, An ITW Company is a leading manufacturer and distributor of marking, coding and labeling systems and supplies, and has been in the product identification industry for over 120 years. Diagraph’s products include all-electric printer applicator labeling systems, Linx continuous ink jet and laser coders, large character ink jet printing systems and thermal transfer overprinting systems. For more information, call 800.722.1125 or email email@example.com.
There is a great debate in the packaging technology industry around the core driver of automated labeling equipment. Which is a superior labeling power source — pneumatic air or electric? Pneumatic labeling systems are built around timing-based commands that drive label movements based on the reliability of the pneumatic air supply, while all-electric labeling systems are built around real time data-based commands that allow for total control of the labeling process.
The difference between the two approaches is night and day — like the difference between VHS and high-resolution digital streaming technology. The more that manufacturers understand the advantages of all-electric labeling, the more pneumatic systems will go the way of VHS tapes and rotary phones.
Every labeling system, regardless of core technology, can incorporate sensors for feedback. Recall the times you have seen a product strike a pneumatic labeler’s actuator arm while moving down the packaging line. This happens all too often with pneumatic labelers because the control of the label feed and actuator arm is not reacting to real-time feedback from sensors, it is following pre-programmed timing commands and relying on the programmed settings for the pneumatic air supply (regardless of the actual pressure in real-time).
Free from the timing control constraints found in pneumatic air powered machines, Diagraph’s all-electric labeling systems can interpret feedback from smart sensors in real-time to allow for total control of the label throughout transit. Combining strategically placed sensors with brushless DC servomotors allows Diagraph’s labeling systems to operate with extreme precision, guaranteeing one-to-one label-to-product matching time after time. The all-electric, servo-driven actuator maintains speed consistency, while “smart” sensors confirm that a label is present for application and even provide the ability to control impact on the product being labeled. The system doesn’t have to rely on inconsistent air pressure to manage this process.
Another advantage of the all-electric method over the pneumatic air method centers around the tamp pad. Pneumatic driven label applicators utilize venturi vacuum technology to control the transit of the label from the tamp pad to the product. Nearly the entire surface of a pneumatic machine’s tamp pad needs to be covered by the label to maintain proper suction. Unlike pneumatic machines, Diagraph’s all-electric label applicators utilize an electric fan to create vacuum, allowing Diagraph labelers to accommodate multiple label sizes utilizing a single tamp pad. This saves time during label size changeovers as well as money.
With more than 120 years in the marking and coding industry, Diagraph has a rich history of providing highly durable and reliable labeling and inkjet solutions. Diagraph was the first to offer all-electric labeling solutions to handle all modes of label application including tamp, swing and tamp-blow. The result is a robust lineup of automated labeling solutions that offer benefits only found in all-electric systems that don’t compromise on labels sizes or performance.
Do one of these two scenarios occur in your end of line production?
Both of these situations are costing you in manual labor and downtime operations. Preventative maintenance measures can help lower the rate of manual interventions and part replacement, saving you in the long run and keeping your line running efficiently:
No matter your choice for end of line coding solution – labeling or large character inkjet – Diagraph has the expertise to help you evaluate your total cost of ownership. To better understand what hidden costs of end of line coding may be adding to your bottom line, read our full whitepaper:
The Hidden Costs of End of Line Coding Whitepaper
The meat packaging industry has coding and traceability requirements similar to other food industries, yet the cold and humid environments indicative of the industry can pose additional challenges for packaging equipment not experienced in more temperate facilities.
In the past, a typical minimal requirement for meat packaging would be batch and/or lot numbers and “best-by” date codes. Moving forward, code requirements are becoming increasingly complex and often may include allergen information, animal reference codes, genetic modification information, and country of origin.
Many meat and poultry packing plants make use of Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) printing technology to meet the coding requirements on primary packaging. CIJ is cost-effective with a wide range of fluids to ensure coding adhesion and legibility of the mark in refrigerated environments on both porous and non-porous packaging.
With the meat industry known for particularly harsh processing and packing environments, small character CIJ printers must maintain optimal print quality throughout use. The Linx 8900 Series CIJ printers are uniquely designed to withstand these tough conditions.
Superior Print Performance Monitoring – Print performance measures like time of flight and viscosity readings are performed directly in the printhead, automatically adjusting the ink and solvent mix in real-time to guarantee optimal print quality throughout use. Monitoring these critical readings in the printhead as opposed to in the printer body provides a more accurate analysis of the environment at the exact location of where the code is being applied – this guards against the frequent clogging issues experienced in cold temperature and high humidity environments by competitor technologies.
With ever changing coding requirements, the flexibility to easily modify codes is critical. The Linx 8900 Series CIJ printers have features designed for ease of use in cold environments to keep your coding on track.
Large 10” touch screen – The Linx 8900 Series features a highly visible color capacitive touchscreen that can be accessed while wearing gloves; a real time saver in a refrigerated environment.
Icon Based User Interface – Similar to smart phones, the Linx 89xx Series has an intuitive user interface for easy to use message selection and prompted content editing.
Customizable carousel – You can place your most used editing and printer functions on the home screen. Reduce costly coding errors by minimizing steps to change messages by making use of prompted fields.
If you’re in the meat or poultry packing industry and want to know more about continuous inkjet solutions for your production, call 1.800.722.1125 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.