No one wants to risk their health or the health of their family by bringing home dairy products with indistinguishable expiration dates. Regardless if your dairy plant produces fluid milk, cheese, yogurt or ice cream, if your product does not have a legible expiration date on it, chances are your product will remain on grocer’s shelves but too many instances of poor quality codes will put the dairy processors relationship with the grocer at risk.
Non-contact coders such as the Linx 8900 Series continuous inkjet (CIJ) are an ideal choice for dairy packaging as it allows high speed printing of variable information on a variety of substrates such as PET bottles, foil sealed cups and resealable pouches. The printer is built for harsh industrial environments with refrigeration and washdown requirements. It has a completely sealed printhead and solid stainless steel construction.
Linx 8900 Series printers are right at home in dairies, but how do you ensure your code adhesion and readability? Linx offers a variety of functional coding inks. Here are our top 5 recommended inks designed to meet the performance needs of dairy products.
Not sure which ink type is right for your coding application? Contact Diagraph today to learn more about our Linx ink selection and to request print samples for your diary product coding application. Call 1.800.722.1125 or contact us through the website.
Products containing animal milk are on a constant time clock. Cows must be milked every day, meaning it is possible for dairy operations to be running 24/7 to get products with under a 20-day expiration period out the door and onto shelves. In these fast-paced manufacturing environments for fluid milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream products, there are several reasons that impact the method and features required for achieving legible marks and labels onto packaging.
With perishability of dairy products, there is an even greater urgency for products containing milk to make it to grocers’ shelves with the right product identification. Without proper codes, products won’t even be allowed to ship. Any delay could have health risks for consumers and potential financial impact on the manufacturer.
Look for non-contact coders with features focused on maintaining maximum uptime such as:
Cold, wet environments characterize dairy manufacturing facilities. Fluid milks and cheeses can perish quickly and require constant refrigeration from the production line to the delivery truck all the way to the grocery store. Mixing and filling stations call for washdown procedures to prevent contamination and create a damp environment for coding and involved equipment.
It is crucial that coding equipment upholds against these environmental factors with features found in leading inkjet coders like:
At Diagraph, we recommend the Linx 8900 Series printers for their reliable performance in dairy processing environments. To further improve your batch and date coding in the dairy industry, we can suggest additional accessories like fork style photocell sensors for the most accurate coding, positive air added in the printer cabinet to protect against contaminants entering system, and end coders. Contact us today to learn more about how these small character inkjet printers can improve your date and batch coding operation.
NEW DIAGRAPH IJ4000 INKJET SYSTEM COMBINES
INDUSTRY-LEADING BARCODE DECODE-ABILITY AND INDUSTRY-LEADING RELIABILITY
(March 1, 2016) – Diagraph (www.diagraph.com) announces the launch of the IJ4000 high-resolution large character impulse inkjet system for printing alphanumerics, barcodes and graphics onto porous substrates. The cost-competitive printer combines industry-leading barcode decode-ability, industry-leading system durability and industry-leading print throw distance with the lowest maintenance requirements on the market.
Industry-Leading Barcode Decode-ability & Print Throw Distance
Three unique features combine to allow the IJ4000 to provide best-in-the-market print consistency on challenging packaging lines where boxes are rarely perfectly uniform.
First, precision print placement is ensured by a unique roller retractor and a digital level sensor accelerometer. The roller retractor provides a consistent gap between the print surface and print engine. A green LED light on the digital level accelerometer indicates when the print engines are perfectly aligned and perpendicular with the packaging material to be printed- regardless of floor variations. This ensures high-quality print and optimal readability for bar codes.
Secondly, the print engines of the IJ4000 provide throw distance of ½ inch for alphanumerics and an industry-leading ¼ inch for barcodes. This is double the 1/8 inch throw distance currently provided in the market for readable barcodes. In addition to ensuring high-quality print, the increased throw distance also reduces the impact of corrugate dust, glue and contaminants resulting in reduced maintenance needs.
Finally the unique design of the print engine ensures print is up to 15% darker than the last generation offering.
Combined these features allow the IJ4000 to offer a 35% improvement on barcode decode-ability compared to competing systems available in the market.
Industry-Leading Flexibility & Ease of Use
The IJ4000 was carefully designed based on customer feedback for optimal ease of use. The system features a unique HMI (Human Machine Interface) wherein the print engine, encoder and photocell connections run directly and cleanly to the connection hub. This allows the HMI to be moved to a remote location for greater ease of use. The HMI can be as far away as 100 meters when connected via Ethernet and an unlimited distance when connected through a Network.
The system offers a great deal of flexibility with both on-floor and in-office editing capabilities. The intuitive interface provides the option of use with a personal PC, eliminating the need for a separate controller and reducing cost by as much as 15%.
The integrated 10.2 inch touch screen controller interface eliminates the need for a separate keyboard, thereby reducing the system footprint. The system print head is also smaller in all three dimensions and further flexibility is provided by a dovetail track on both side of the print engines for ease of mounting on either side of the conveyer.
While many printing technologies advertise that they are ‘Unicode-ready’ they often mean that language characters are used as locked images. This is not the same as true real-time, variable print Unicode capabilities. Diagraph’s IJ4000 printers were specially designed to provide real-time printing in 11 languages.
Lowest Maintenance Requirements in the Market
The IJ4000 was carefully designed to provide the lowest maintenance requirements of any similar system in the market today.
The printer features a unique single point ink supply that can feed as many as four different print engines. This greatly reduces downtime and simplifies the fluid refill process as it is not necessary to monitor and maintain individual ink supplies.
The system´s unique digital level accelerometer has a sensor which indicates if the print engine has tilted plus or minus 1.5 degrees both for ease of installation and to assure the print gap between print head and carton is consistent along the entire print image.
A new auto-channel purge allows all 256 printhead channels to be quickly checked by a simple push of a button on the print head right on the packaging line. Maintenance is further simplified by hard-mounted, easily accessible filters and a centralized connection point that simplifies and reduces cabling requirements.
Taken together, these features allow the IJ4000 to provide as much as 30% less downtime than alternative technologies.
Industry-Leading Print Engine Durability
Featuring unique-in-the-industry stainless steel construction, and patented repairable (rather than disposable) design, shock resistance capability and automatic maintenance modules, the Trident print engines in the IJ4000 provide industry-leading durability. Whereas traditional print engines might need to be replaced as often as every few months, Trident technology can last as long as 10 years or 300 billion firings. This allows the IJ4000 to provide industry-leading durability with projected lifespan being as much as 5 times longer than competitive technologies.
“The IJ4000 is the result of over 5 years of intensive research into user needs,” said Steve Liker, LCIJ Product Manager at Diagraph. “It was thoughtfully designed with a number of unique-in-the-market features to provide customers with significant new performance benefits at the same price point as our last generation technology. We are proud to offer significantly more value at the same competitive price.”
The new print engines are reverse compatible to older IJ3000 systems for existing customers and are available with two inch print height. Technology featuring market-leading four inch print height is anticipated to launch in 2016 and will be forward compatible with the IJ4000 system.
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, send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit diagraph.com.
Selecting ink for your inkjet technology – impulse jet, valve jet or thermal jet – requires an understanding of your application and some basic qualities of the inks available. We asked our inkjet experts for key information to help shine some light on understanding the ink options available in the market:
A: All inks are made up of essentially the same things; a solvent, colorant, resins and other additives. It’s the resins and additives that give inks certain properties that allow them to adhere to specific substrates better than others. Solvent is the carrier of the ink. Colorant is what gives the ink the color you see. The resin gives the ink the ability to stick to substrates. The additives are anything else added to the ink to give it a desired property (surface tension modifiers, dispersing aids, gloss reducers, etc.)
A: Simply put, the surface tension of the ink and surface energy of the substrate determine an ink’s adherence. An ink droplet is made up of many molecules of ink. These molecules of ink have to be attracted to each other to form this drop of ink. So, the surface tension is how much they are attracted to each other. If they are highly attracted to each other (water) then the molecules are close together and hold on tightly to each other. When the molecules are not very attracted to each other then they barely hold onto each other and spread out more. It has to do with the charges of the molecule, or lack thereof.
Water is polar, which means it has a negatively charged and a positively charged end. These negative and positive charges attract to each other like magnets do. For example, when the water is placed on a glass, it just beads up and runs off because the glass has no charge (non-polar). The water is not attracted to the glass. However, if we add soap to the water we alter the surface tension and the dynamic changes. Soap molecules have a charged side (polar) and a non-charged side (non-polar). When the soap dissolves in the water it allows the non-polar side to be attracted to other non-polar substances, like glass.
So, to make an ink better adhere to a substrate, additives are used to change the surface tension of the ink to more closely match the surface energy of the substrate.
A: VOC stands for volatile organic compound. With some exceptions, the solvents used in products such as coatings, inks and adhesives are generally classified as VOCs. Unless they are controlled, these solvents are emitted into the air after they perform their function. Thus, solvent emissions from products and industrial operations are one of several significant sources of VOC emissions. Emissions of VOCs, in and of themselves, do not necessarily give rise to health or environmental concerns. In many areas, however, they react with oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in the presence of heat and sunlight to form ground-level ozone – the primary component of “smog.” For that reason, they are regulated as “ozone precursors” under the federal Clean Air Act and similar state laws.
A: Dyes and pigments are both colorants. Dyes are soluble liquids and dissolve into the ink base. They do fade over time. Pigments do not dissolve as they are solids and do not fade. Since they are solid they may settle, or sink, to the bottom of a container if the ink has a low viscosity, or is thin and watery in texture. The weight of the pigments causes the inherent problems with pigmented ink. First, they can actually clog printheads if they’re too large. Secondly, if they are allowed to settle the ink will not have the same color.
It’s the same concept as pouring Italian dressing on your salad without shaking it. The dressing will have a different taste because the ingredients are not mixed.
A: One component of ink that helps it adhere to substrates is resin. The resins allow the ink to spread creating more surface area helping promote adhesion. Resins can be categorized as either brittle, semi-brittle or flexible. If an ink containing a brittle resin, like acrylic, is used to print on film it can ‘flake’ off the film because the resin is stiff and is not able to adhere and conform to the shape of the plastic. If an ink with a flexible resin was used, the resin would be pliable and therefore be able to bend or flex with the film.
Diagraph’s top-performing ink, ScanTrue II Plus, and all valve jet inks are produced in our Marion, Illinois manufacturing facility. All of our inks have been designed to perform at the highest level with Diagraph manufactured inkjet equipment. If you have any questions, or wish to better understand what kind of ink would be optimal for your inkjet application, reach out to our experts!
Ready to Eat Meals are terrifically convenient and, in a world where time is a premium, are part of a growing market. In addition to convenience and taste, Ready to Eat Meal producers look to differentiate themselves from competitors with clever use of packaging. As a result, meal packaging can be found in a variety of substrates; shrink wrap trays, pouches, chip board carton, and plastic cups to name a few.
Ready to Eat Meal producers need to put expiration dates on these various substrates. Although laws vary by state and only baby formula has a federal regulation on “Use By”, “Sell By” or “Best Before” date coding, consumers look for this information before making a purchase. Continuous Inkjet Printing (CIJ) is often the preferred method to achieve date coding. Continuous Inkjet offers high-speed, non-contact marking using solvent based inks to print variable information on a wide variety of substrates.
Efficiency is of utmost importance to food producers and packagers. It is critical for all machinery on a food packaging production line to operate with maximum uptime and reliability. To meet that expectation Linx Printing Technologies introduces their CIJ model 8900. The Linx 8900 was designed with features that keep your coding machine ready to run and running reliably. The 8900 is a CIJ printer capable of printing up to three lines of text, logos and barcodes, and was designed for maximum efficiency and minimal effort. Its stainless steel cabinet boasts an IP55 rating which makes it suitable for a wash-down environment.
Maintenance is a key component with CIJ technology. CIJ printers require cleaning and periodic changes of filters. Keeping a printer and printhead clean is the key to peak performance. The 8900 model has proven Linx components along with new features all designed to run clean and increase uptime.
Like all Linx CIJ printers, the 8900 features a hermetically sealed printhead with no adjustable parts. No adjustments results in more uptime and less risk of damage which could lead to unplanned downtime. The printhead automatically flushes at both start up and shut down which allows you to go up to 100 starts and stops (3 months) without manual cleaning, and delivers strong performance in harsh, dusty or wet environments.
Incorrect fluids refills will shut a coding printer and thus a production line down. Linx is known for their commitment to mess free and mistake proof fluids refills. They’ve taken this commitment to the next level with the introduction of a larger capacity one-touch cartridge fluid refill system. It could not be simpler. Open the front cabinet, insert a cartridge and shut the door. Solvent and Ink cartridges incorporate RFID technology which communicates with the printer to assure proper fluids are being installed. Fluids can be filled while printing.
Also contributing to maximum uptime is the ability for customers to service printers themselves. Filter changes can be predictably scheduled around production time with the use of Easi-Change® Service Modules. Changing out the filters is a simple 15 minute procedure.
The sealed printhead, auto-flushing procedure, cartridge fluid system and the ability to complete your own service maintenance all contribute to the 8900 printers’ ability to be ready to print when you are.
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 email@example.com for more information.
Analogue coding technology is still found throughout the meat processing industry, such as hot stamp or roller coders. As a relatively cheap printing solution, these could be used by meat processors to keep costs down on their fast production lines.
Of all the analogue coding technologies available, hot foil stamping is perhaps the most common in meat processing. Our best-of-industry Norwood hot stamp printers are still widely used today. With that being said, relying on analogue based technology can have its drawbacks, and that’s where digital coders come in.
The drawbacks of analogue coding technology
When it comes to analogue coding, the messages that are available for coding are restricted by the amount of information that can actually fit on the die wheel. Therefore, the coders are not as flexible as they could be when it comes to having to incorporate larger messages on the pack. Also, with hot stamp technology, there is a wait for the coder to ‘warm up’ – meaning that valuable coding time is lost through setup.
In an industry dealing with fresh produce where packers need to respond to changing legislation quickly and efficiently, having a technology that needs this amount of time to set up is not ideal in many meat processing lines. Also, errors in coding cannot easily be amended, as codes are manually changed on the die wheel which means stopping the printer, removing the die wheel and replacing individual characters which is a fiddly and time-consuming process. Worn code wheels can also potentially lead to perforation of the packaging, something that could potentially lead to scrappage.
Hot foil stamping is also a contact technology, something that could further constrain the speed of the production line, and even present packers with problems when it comes to maintaining the hygiene of their line.
Digital coding and marking technology in meat processing
SmithersPira has recently examined the benefits of digital coding for many industries including food manufacturing. Their analysis of other industries helps to highlight the advantages of digital coders within the meat processing sector.
For example, when looking at drug production lines, the requirement for frequent and error-free changeovers would appear to be a driver towards the implementation of digital technologies. This is no different in the meat processing industry, where errors in coding could lead to potentially costly downtime or scrappage.
The research also identifies how digital coders can help packers deliver consistent traceability. With late-stage customization for example, when codes need to be added or changed at the last moment, flexibility becomes a primary concern for packers – something that is not delivered as effectively with analogue coding technology. And with a reduction in errors as mentioned above comes more effective traceability.
Not only can all of this be delivered by digital coders, but the non-contact nature of the machinery can help to maintain hygiene and even deliver codes at faster speeds.
Therefore with fewer errors, flexibility, and faster, more consistent coding, digital technology represents a more cost effective solution for meat processors in the long term. And with uncontrollable variables such as adverse weather events, disease outbreaks and increased competition from seafood, meat processors need to deliver codes in an effective way that allows margins to be maintained.
To discover more about what digital coding technologies are suited for the meat industry, have a look at our meat processing industry white paper.
Want help analyzing the best use of analogue and digital coding technologies in your meat packing facility? We manufacture, sell and service both analogue and digital coding solutions. We work closely with customers like you to determine which coding solution is right for your manufacturing environment and application needs. Contact us today to get the conversation started.
Read a version of this article specific to European meat and poultry manufacturers.