When it comes to labels used in packaging, not all are made the same way. Specific environments, like hot and humid, wet or frozen, will require a compatible label material to stay adhered properly to packaging. It is crucial that labels are readable, scannable, and safe to use and dispose of. To meet compliance, labels must remain adhered for consumer and retail-use despite the environmental factors the labeled package has to endure.
Something to be aware of when considering using labeling for product identification in a hot or humid environment is that labels are sensitive to temperature, making facility environment temperature a determining factor in choosing what label material to use on a product.
Some common issues with labels as environmental temperatures rise:
As summer kicks in, and temperatures rise, adhesive related problems will affect the quality of a label -- making it difficult to peel from the labeling machine and to stick to the product. Adhesives, the pre-applied glue specially engineered to perform on pressure sensitive applications, get softer and edges get tackier resulting in labels that are difficult to remove off the original roll. Strong adhesive can make release of these labels from the roll a struggle. Dispensing issues caused by adhesive can disrupt product labeling and lead to damaged labels and jammed applicators.
A label liner is likely to expand or curl with high humidity, causing the adhesive to ooze. This curling liner makes label processing challenging in a printer or label applicator. Also, the ooze from the adhesive can cause printer jams and damage to the printheads.
Even the most pressure-sensitive label adhesives soften as temperatures rise. Hence, storing labels properly can make the difference between a label that survives these changes in weather versus the one that will peel or deteriorate.
Some ideas for storing label rolls properly and protecting them from the heat include:
Many environmental factors must be called into question when assessing the labeling process. Temperature is only one of many considerations to determine how to effectively apply labels to product. Our Diagraph specialists are well-versed in providing site evaluations aimed at determining the best fit application for your labeling operation. Whether the survey is conducted on-site or virtually by answering a series of determining questions, we are here to help you understand your labeling solution options and what it looks like in even the most extreme industrial environments. Reach out to us today to start your evaluation.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit diagraph.com.
Four Flexible Options to Enable Effective Large Character Ink Jet Case Coding Under Adverse Conditions
By Steve Liker, Product Manager – Large Character Ink Jet
Case coding would be so be simple if all factories were at ideal temperature, all flooring and transports were flat; there were no space limitations and all boxes were perfectly square. But that’s typically not the case. Diagraph offers four options to make their large character Impulse Ink Jet case coder flexible and capable of printing under adverse conditions.
Low temperature printhead controller, roller retraction bracketry, angled conveyor mount, and right angle mounts offer customers flexibility to satisfy their application needs.
1) Low Temperature Printhead Control for Cold Ambient Conditions
Printing onto dairy products, frozen vegetables and other heat sensitive products requires capability to control the printhead temperature and ink viscosity at low ambient temperatures. Diagraph offers a printhead module that has additional heaters and temperature control in environments as low as 32° F.
2) Roller Retraction Bracketry for Irregular Cartons
Boxes and trays are often not square and can shift on the conveyor. Diagraph have developed spring retractable brackets that position the printheads relative to the changing surface of the cartons. This enables regular and irregular cartons to roll smoothly past the printhead rather than sliding over guide rails. This eliminates production of corrugated dust that can clog printhead nozzles. It also controls the throw distance - a primary factor in the sharpness of ink jet print.
3) Angled Conveyor Mounts (ACM) for Angled Conveyors
For angled conveyors with slant from 0 – 90 degrees, Diagraph’s ACM printhead can meet the need. The printhead swivels and locks into place to print at any angle.
4) Right Angle Mount for Restricted Conveyor Space
This right angle printhead was designed by Diagraph for applications where little room is available at conveyor side for mounting. The print engine portion of the printhead is separated from the body and turned at 90 degree angle so that the conveyor-side space is minimized. And Roller Retraction Bracketry is compatible!
So if you are facing a carton coding application challenge, Diagraph offers flexible options for Large Character Coding.
What: U.S. regulatory agencies recently announced a new preference to standardize on the use of the quality-based date label of "Best If Used By" on packaged foods. This recommendation is voluntary and based on research-based industry best practices.
Why: Confusion caused by the use of various date label formats leads to unnecessary food waste. Consumers equate date label information with a warning about the timeline for the safe consumption of the food product rather than a statement of a recommended timeline for optimal food quality. This format recommendation is a part of the "Winning on Reducing Food Waste FY 2019-2020 Federal Interagency Strategy" launched by the federal government in April 2019.
Who: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are endorsing the "Best If Used By" industry standard set forth by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in 2017.
Industries of Interest: Food, Beverage
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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 email@example.com to discuss whether the new Linx 1063 Grease Penetrating Black ink may be a solution to your slick or oily manufacturing conditions.
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.