For sachet or stick pack packaging, the Allen MLi-TE multi-lane thermal transfer printer is a top solution for coding individual expiration dates or lot codes upstream. Multiple lanes can print quickly and simultaneously, utilizing one ribbon to avoid multiple consumables running out at various, unsynchronized times. The Allen MLi’s configurable design requires only one controller and one consumable for up to 12-lanes of print, greatly simplifying packaging machine maintenance and reducing downtime.
Once your packet is coded, sachet or stick pack packaging requires a specialized system to form the packaging receptacle, fill the product into the packet, and seal the ends to secure the product for transport. These systems are known as FFS - form, fill, and seal machines - and they come in two different varieties: (1) Vertical (VFFS) and (2) Horizontal (HFFS). Vertical uses gravity to aide in the filling process, where horizontal is generally high speed by using mechanical methods for filling.
Today we’re doing a Q&A with an expert stick pack OEM, Viking Masek, to cover the key points to evaluate when selecting stick pack equipment to integrate with a marking and coding solution like the Allen MLi-TE.
Stick pack machines are perfect for packaging a wide variety of powder, granular, and liquid products. Powder products can be dense, fine, loose, and particulate materials. Liquids can be substances of differing viscosities including water-like fluids, gels, and pastes.
Stick packaging is very popular in many industries, especially with powdered drink mixes, liquid and powder pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, and granular ingredients like sugar. Contract packagers in the medical and dietary supplement industries also highly favor stick packaging equipment.
Single serve and controlled dosage packaging is very popular with todays’ consumers, spanning across many generational demographic groups. Millennials and young professionals love stick packs because they are portable, convenient, and fit unobtrusively into their busy lives. The aging population uses stick packs because they are lightweight and often feature easy-open options like tear notches, making it easier for those with limited dexterity to handle and use the product. Moms and dads are attracted to stick packs because they can easily feed their children with a single, easy to open, controlled serving size package that requires little clean up and virtually no utensils.
When it comes to selecting the proper stick packaging equipment for your unique product, there are experts available to guide you every step of the way. However, there are a few major considerations they will take into account when recommending machinery. These include:
All stick pack machines can utilize the following product fillers:
Stick pack machines can be built to accommodate different stick widths (most popular are 23 mm and 35 mm), convenient designs including pour spouts and specialty die-cut shapes, and can also feature easy-open options like tear notches and micro-perforations. Available with IQ/OQ pharma construction, stick packaging machinery is a great solution for pharmaceutical packaging.
Often stick pack clients desire to print expiration dates or lot codes on their stick packaging. There are many multi-lane printing options available, including Diagraph’s new Allen MLi-TE multi-lane thermal transfer printer.
First, do your research. This can be done via the internet, on the phone, or in person through your professional and personal networks. Attend industry trade shows and strive to see available equipment in person. When you’ve narrowed down your packaging OEM choices and are looking for more details in the form of a proposal, prepare by defining key points the equipment manufacturer will need so to provide the most accurate configuration for your specific needs. The key items that must be defined differ from powder to liquid products.
Remember that with most capital purchases, and especially when it comes to a piece of equipment you will rely on for a vital part of your production process, you often get what you pay for. Consider not only the initial purchase price of the piece of machinery, but total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO will include costs for things like training, maintenance and parts, installation, and tax implications.
Located in Southeast Wisconsin, Viking Masek manufactures, sells, and services flexible packaging machinery for food and non-food industries worldwide. Our focus on packaging innovation and investments in both technology and people makes us uniquely poised to take on unique packaging equipment projects, both large and small. Have questions about flexible packaging? Contact us today for a free Packaging Equipment Consultation.
Companies using non-contact high speed Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) technology to mark information (including expiration dates) on their product may not be aware that a key component of their marking system – the fluids – also have expiration dates. CIJ fluids need to be able to adhere to a variety of substrates and dry within seconds. Individual ink drops are manipulated by the application of a negative electrical charge. The technology works because the ink is conductive and able to accept the charge for proper placement to generate characters, barcodes, and graphics. CIJ fluids have expiration dates tied to the ability of the ink to maintain the charge for best print quality. Common maintenance of CIJ printers includes periodic refresh of fluids and filters to keep the printer running at peak performance with optimal print quality.
Linx Printing Technologies has introduced two new CIJ models to the 8900 Series, models 8920 and 8940. These new models offer Advanced System Monitoring which provides real time information about the health of the printer. It monitors printer operating parameters which can identify dirty air filters, dirty fluid filters, and ink degradation resulting from harsh environments and aging. Any CIJ printer under these conditions will experience increasingly poor print quality or even printer failure.
Advanced System Monitoring will provide a warning if any of the above items have been observed. Dirty air filters should then be cleaned to allow the printer to maintain proper cooling of electronics. Dirty ink filters can cause lack of pressure and increased wear on the pump, and ink degradation will result in poor print quality. Dirty ink filters and ink degradation indicate that it is time to change out the service module.
The system monitoring allows you to identify and alleviate problems with the printer before they result in poor print quality or costly downtime. This is predictive maintenance in its purest form and brings manufacturers closer to 100% avoidance of unscheduled downtime.
Function and benefit highlights of Linx Advanced System Monitoring
Still have questions about how you can prevent downtime activities in your production line? Call 1.800.722.1125 or email firstname.lastname@example.org about the Linx Advanced System Monitoring.
The latest Continuous Inkjet Printer from Linx Printing Technologies, the 8900 Series, reflects the fundamental Linx design philosophies of Ease of Use and Reliability and is supported by the MK11 hermetically sealed printhead that protects all critical components during operation and cleaning.
The most notable of the 8900 Series' features is the auto flush multi-stage process – the industry’s most thorough automatic self-cleaning process – which allows Linx printheads to run cleaner for longer. Bonus benefit – less solvent waste! Few competitors flush both nozzle and gutter, leading to longer start-ups and more frequent printhead cleaning. Comparatively, older competitor printheads require a scab of ink to form on the nozzle to keep their ink line sealed or a mechanical screw to join the nozzle to the gutter to keep air from fluid lines during shutdown.
In the unique Linx printhead auto flush process, both nozzle and gutter are solvent cleaned then left to dry with a vacuum purge. The head feed valve closes and stops nozzle weeping, leaving the printhead clean and dry for a period of storage or an overnight stop. This entire process is initiated with a simple press of a button, cutting out time needed for operator shut-down procedures and increasing productivity.
Linx Printhead Autoflush Diagram
(Simplified for demonstration)
As a result of the easy-to-use, push-of-a-button auto flush system, operators can pick up where they left off, with full confidence that the Linx 8900 will start-up quickly and easily without additional cleaning. The process improvements have been tested and reveal with typical inks and in typical application environments, customers can expect 100 starts and stops without the need to clean the printhead. Testing actually found 3 months as typical, and in some cases can go up to 6 months.
Diagraph has been assisting customers for over 120 years improving production line efficiencies with simple, reliable, cost-effective coding and labeling solutions. Contact us at 800.722.1125 to learn more about the Linx product line.
A different laser technology has been getting some new press lately, thanks in part to growth in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) market. Fiber lasers aren’t new, but their application in the consumer packaged goods market has definitely hit a growth spurt. Product packaging is evolving and making use of different materials, like High Density Polyethylene or HDPE which is most desirable for its high-quality presentation, durability, and versatility in handling liquids from automotive oils to shampoo and specialty drinks. It’s no mistake then that the fastest growing laser marking technology is fiber laser which has the ability to mark directly onto HDPE as well as a range of materials not previously well served with CO2 lasers.
What then, are the other key differences between CO2 and fiber lasers?:
Fiber lasers don’t necessarily use more power, but do use power differently. The laser beam produced is in a different part of the light spectrum and is a much tighter beam. This is what allows the laser to mark materials that other lasers can’t, such as HDPE. Or, mark into other materials better such as rubber and metals.
By comparison, fiber laser can be quite small and compact. Instead of a bulky tube of gas, fiber lasers use optical fiber as their lasing medium. The exact science of it can be quite detailed but the bottom line is: these lasers are compact and have a small footprint. This allows for easy and convenient installation to the packaging line.
Like most industrial equipment, fiber lasers do come with their own set of safety requirements which can be managed safely through proper guarding and training.
CO2 Versus Fiber Laser Feature Comparison
Comparison of CO2 and Fiber Laser Marking Materials
The good news in the FMCG packaging and product identification market space is that there are lot of new materials and innovative packaging designs. Even better, Linx Printing Technologies has introduced a fiber laser with easy integration, reliable operation, and the flexibility to deliver high quality codes across the widest range of materials for both static and dynamic applications. This durable product, which includes the IP54 rated marking head, enables the coders to operate in more challenging environments with the fiber laser beam source lasting more than 100,000 hours.
If you have any questions about the benefits of lasers, or specifically about the Linx FSL20 (20W fiber) or FSL50 (50W fiber), feel free to reach out to one of our marking and coding experts here at Diagraph. We are happy to walk you through the best options to meet your specific application needs. Call 1.800.722.1125 to speak with an expert today!
Did you know there were 80 GMO labeling bills introduced in 20 states in 2015? On July 1, 2016 the first GMO labeling law will go into effect in Vermont. The Vermont law requires raw agricultural commodity and processed food producers who sell food products in or into the state of Vermont to mark the lowest saleable unit of food packaging with a disclaimer that clearly and conspicuously reads “produced with genetic engineering.”
Although the labeling message requirement is clear, the law does not specify exactly how manufacturers need to apply the mark to the packaging container. Determining how to apply the mark is entirely up to the manufacturer’s discretion.
Moving forward, food producers need to keep a keen eye on the changing regulations regarding labeling of food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Unless or until there is a federal law regarding labeling, individual states make the rules on whether or not products sold in their state need to have labeling that includes warnings such as “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering”. Companies need to decide whether to change their formulations to eliminate GMOs, adjust the geographical markets they sell into, or modify their labeling to meet individual state requirements. The path of least resistance and expense will usually be to change the labeling.
If your product has regional or national distribution, how do you manage specific variable information for sales to a specific state? Diagraph provides a solution with its Linx 8900 Series Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printers.
If you can use the same GMO call out to cover the requirements of all the regions you sell into, then you can create, store, and easily select the GMO message to be printed onto your product. If different GMO messages are required, you can choose to print all of the necessary GMO messages on each package or easily create different messages and select the appropriate one for a specific manufacturing run. Regardless of the flexibility you need and the type of packaging material you are marking on, the Linx 8900 Series has you covered.
The 8900 family of CIJ printers is capable of printing between one to five lines of text, logos, and barcodes, and is designed for maximum efficiency and minimal effort. The stainless steel cabinet boasts a minimum IP55 rating, which makes it suitable for a wash-down environment. The 8900 Series printers are designed to run reliably and feature the ability to program 4 to 50 production line settings and up to 1,000 unique messages to enable quick and painless change overs and message updates.
With easy change overs and high quality, high speed print, companies can easily add any required GMO text to existing packaging using Linx CIJ.
Although CIJ technology is ideal for meeting nearly every GMO labeling need, there are a variety of technologies available to you to stay in compliance with the law. All-electric label applicators and thermal inkjet printers may be good alternatives depending on your operation. Contact us today for a free consultation to determine which technology is best suited to meet your unique needs: 800-722-1125 or email info @ diagraph.com.
Diagraph is now offering a newly formulated non-porous ink in an improved 45Si cartridge that will offer Thermal Jet Series technology users greater print quality on some of the most challenging non-porous substrates. Some of the enhancements that make the TJNPMX cartridge the go-to choice for tough non-porous applications include:
3x Darker Print
The new formulation found in the TJNPMX cartridge allows for print messages up to three times darker than the standard TJNPM non-porous ink offering. This allows for greater contrast and improved barcode scan-ability.
2x Greater Throw Distance
The improvements found in the 45Si cartridge allow for a print throw distance up to 3/8”, enabling manufacturers with low volume operations to consider the Thermal Jet Series technology solution as an alternative to traditional continuous inkjet (CIJ) solutions.
Extended Decap Times
The TJNPMX ink formulation combats a common issue found with HP Cartridge technology solutions – printheads that sit idle between prints tend to clog and need to be de-primed to get the print quality back to an acceptable standard. The new formulation allows for excellent decap times lasting up to several hours, assuring consistently high print quality over time.
Non-porous substrates that work well with the TJNPMX formulation include:
QR Code Print Sample:
Alphanumeric Print Sample:
Not completely satisfied with your non-porous print quality? Request a print sample today. Call 1.800.722.1125
Coding is a CRAFT
Top 3 Tips for Choosing a Coding Provider
It can be difficult to choose a marking, coding and labeling equipment provider with so many available. These tips will help you find the best provider for your business:
1. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – This seems like an obvious consideration, but year after year manufacturing companies new to marking and coding make equipment purchases that cost them big over time. Ensure you understand your ongoing costs for equipment parts, consumables and service as well as downtime costs associated with routine maintenance before making a purchase. TCO varies widely from manufacturer to manufacturer.
2. Ease of Use – Can your line operators easily change messages, refill fluids or labels and perform preventative maintenance with as little impact to uptime as possible? Equipment that is the easiest to use and most reliable features design elements that are engineered directly into the machines (as opposed to being applied after-market).
3. Service Support Structure – Coding providers who are most responsive to your needs have field service operations dedicated to your neighborhood. Look for providers that offer telephone support and have layers of expertise available within the organization to ensure that your unique application gets every consideration necessary.
At Diagraph, we are dedicated in solving your coding and labeling challenges. Diagraph has been assisting customers for over 120 years improving production line efficiencies with simple, reliable, cost-effective coding and labeling solutions. Visit us at www.diagraph.com or contact us at 800.722.1125.
If you are at the Craft Brewers Conference this week in Philadelphia, please stop by at see us in Booth 4257!
The Container You Choose for Your Brew Determines Which Coding Technology You Should Choose
An excerpt from 2016 Comprehensive Guide to Date and Batch Coding in the Craft Brewing Industry
Different types of technology are needed for printing on your primary (bottle or can) package and on your secondary (outer box) package. Continuous ink jet (CIJ) and laser are the most common options for printing date codes, batch codes, other text, graphics, barcodes, QR codes and other codes onto primary beverage packages.
When selecting a coding system for your primary packaging, the first step is to consider what type of material you will be printing on. Keeping in mind that you can reasonably expect the printer to last five to seven years, what types of packages are you using now and do you plan to use in the years ahead? Bottles can be coded with either laser or CIJ systems. Cans are coded with CIJ technology. This means that a craft brewer who wants to be able to code on both cans and bottles will need a CIJ system.
The next consideration that should factor into your coding technology decision is production volume. Download our free guide to view cost comparisons based on the number of bottles and/or cans you fill per day.
2016 Comprehensive Guide to Date and Batch Coding in the Craft Brewing Industry
As a leading provider of marking and coding technology, Diagraph works with breweries of all sizes across the country to fulfill product traceability needs that can easily scale up for future capacity and complexity. Diagraph manufactures batch coding and date coding technologies that span the entire packaging line -- from primary product to secondary packaging all the way to pallet labeling.
What would you do with 3 months?
By Chris Pangallo, CIJ and Laser Product Manager
Linx Printing Technologies introduced their latest Continuous Inkjet Printer (CIJ) model 8900 in September of 2015. The new printer reflects the fundamental Linx design philosophies of Ease of Use and Reliability, supported by a hermetically sealed printhead with no moving parts, self-service Easi Change module and new features such as one-touch cartridge refills and a 10” capacitive touch screen with customizable menu. The 8900 introduces a new iteration of Linx Hermetically sealed printhead model MK11. The new design improves upon the already impressive model MK9 design for maximum reliability.
Ø The MK11 printhead makes use of Push-pull drop positioning in the deflector fields.
o More drop control means better print quality.
Ø The MK11 has a unique auto flush process at shut-down, and solvent flush at start-up.
o This means a cleaner operation – less downtime.
Ø The MK11 introduces a new “figure-8” 2 tube style conduit for maximum support and flexibility
o This means reliable performance, even in challenging environments.
These improvements have been tested and reveal with typical inks and in typical application environments, customers can expect 100 starts and stops without the need to clean the printhead. Testing actually found 3 months as typical, and in some cases can go up to 6 months.
What would you do with the time saved by only having to clean your printhead once every 3 months?
At Diagraph, we are dedicated in solving your coding and labeling challenges. Diagraph has been assisting customers for over 120 years improving production line efficiencies with simple, reliable, cost-effective coding and labeling solutions. Contact us to learn more about the Linx product line. Visit us at www.diagraph.com or contact us at 800.722.1125.
How do you Print on a Sachet or Stickpack?
By Steve Dods, Automated Labeling Products (ALP) & Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) Products Manager
Sachets are packets or sealed pouches that contain liquids, gels, or powders and typically sealed on four (4) sides. Stickpacks are tube-like packaging that is sealed on two ends with a continuous seam side. These convenient packaging methods are highly utilized in the food and beverage additive markets, but can be seen in pharmaceutical as well as cosmetic industries.
This packaging type requires a specialized system to form the packaging receptacle, fill the product into the packet, and seal the ends to secure the product for transport. These systems are known as FFS, Form, Fill, and Seal machines, and they come in two different varieties. Once is Vertical, or VFFS, and the other is Horizontal, or HFFS. Vertical uses gravity to aide in the filling process, where horizontal is generally high speed by using mechanical methods for filling.
Since sachets and stick packs can be sold individually, there can be the need to print information about expiration date and lot code onto the individual products. Since it is far less accurate to accomplish this task once they are filled, due to irregularities in shape and placement control, it is done "upstream". Upstream of the fill process is where the film or web is unwound from a large roll. This is the best location to mark and code the product - before it is individualized in the process. There are many ways to accomplish this type of date / lot / id coding, but there is one that stands out amongst the rest.
In marking the products in the web matrix, there are several "lanes" of product on the master web. That means higher fill rates by handling multiple products in each indexing move through the process. A typical number of adjacent products is 5 or 6, but some are as few as 4 or as high as 12. In rare instances, lanes numbers exceeding 12 have been realized. Due to these high number of prints required at each indexing interval, traditional methods of marking are usually ruled out.
Of the possible marking methods, there are a few that have been used in practice. One is to brute force out the marking process by using multiple ink jet print heads. This is somewhat difficult to manage, as there is a requirement for non-porous ink to mark the web, which tends to have issues with the short decap time and fast dry times that can clog or require higher maintenance. Most objections from OEM FFS manufacturers and end users is the mess and chemicals in close proximity to dispensing foods and powders.
Another method is to use TTO (Thermal Transfer Overprinting) to traverse across the web to mark an indelible print using a clean ribbon method. This works, but the throughput rates suffer due to the time it takes to sweep laterally across the web each time. On the same idea, there are traversing ink jet solutions as well. They again suffer from the points above, and additionally add the time component for the sweep across the web.
The best method that eliminates the weaknesses of the aforementioned methods is the multi-lane intermittent (MLi) TTO system. The MLi incorporates a plurality of print heads to match the number of lanes requiring print. It utilizes one ribbon, to avoid multiple consumables running out at various, unsynchronized times. It is able to print very quickly, since each head can print simultaneously, each covering an area up 100 mm (across the web) x 52 mm (in the direction of web movement). Systems like these may have a slightly higher upfront price, but more than make up for it in much higher uptime and ease of use. Maintenance is fair less, and it requires little skill to perform daily operation functions, since loading a ribbon is straight forward.
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, send emails to email@example.com or visit diagraph.com.
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