Nutraceuticals are a rapidly expanding market in the United States and the market is expected to continue its growth by more than 8% over the next six years*. Laser coders are an ideal solution for the nutraceuticals market as they provide robust traceability to meet every budget, line speed and substrate material need.
Nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources that are reported to provide health benefits in addition to the normal nutritional value found in foods. Some examples of nutraceuticals are natural whole foods, dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals, fortified dairy products, herbal products, milk and cereals. The United States has seen significant growth in products containing CBD and THC following legalization in specific states.
Typically, foods will require a best before and / or a use by date. Batch and traceability codes may also be needed. Direct marking is sometimes required on the surface of THC edible products to provide a warning symbol.
Some important benefits lasers provide are:
Contact Diagraph today to discover the benefits Linx Lasers can provide your company.
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!
By Chris Clarke, Linx Laser Sales Manager
A laser mark can be used as an important security feature to avoid the counterfeiting of your products.
Counterfeiting can be defined as illegally making something that imitates an authentic product. This could include consumer products such as handbags, watches and fashion clothing. It can also be consumables such as alcoholic spirits, cigarettes and pharmaceutical products.
Each year, thousands of counterfeit goods are seized. However, with the necessary tools becoming more accessible, the quality of counterfeit products have risen to a point where they are much harder to detect than ever before.
Counterfeiting is a global issue which continues to increase year over year. Some estimates state the international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods could reach close to $1 trillion by the end of the decade.
The impact of counterfeiting can affect the profitability of the legitimate company and its reputation. Fewer goods sold results in revenue declines. And the potential lower quality of the counterfeited goods can also negatively affect a company’s reputation.
Refilling genuine packaging with counterfeit product also has a large impact. While this has typically been seen in the beverage industry, more recent examples include the practice of refilling CBD oil bottles and tinctures.
Anti-counterfeiting measures provide a method which can reduce or eliminate the ability of a counterfeiter to copy a product.
Coding and marking can be the surest way to protect against counterfeiting today. The best coding and marking solutions provide excellent protection against counterfeiters and the robust, permanent and complex codes they produce are increasingly the best defense.
What are the benefits of using laser coding to avoid counterfeiting?
Of all the different coding technologies, laser coding is often most attractive to companies concerned about counterfeiting because a laser coder can print permanent, high-quality codes at all line speeds onto a wide range of substrates including glass, coated metal, labels and plastic.
Laser codes can’t be rubbed off, making them the ideal solution for traceability and anti-counterfeiting.
Whether you are a small operation or a large-scale manufacturer, consider a laser-based marking solution to protect your business. It will provide you with high-quality codes, save you money in the long term and increase your protection against the counterfeiters who seek to profit from your brand.
Read our case study to find out how the Linx CSL30 laser provided product marking and brand protection for a CBD manufacturer.
While the utmost care is taken to ensure that meat for human consumption is processed in hygienic environments, the law requires that meat packs are coded for traceability purposes; partly with the aim of enabling the consumer to have greater confidence in the food on their plate.
Packers need to ensure that the codes they deliver onto meat products can give customers and those further along the supply chain all the information they need to trace where it has come from effectively. With the meat and poultry industry ranking as the largest segment in U.S. agriculture, total industry production accounted for more than 92.9 billion pounds of meat and poultry product in 2012. The need to track meat products all the way through the supply chain is crucial to the health of the industry as a whole.
Coding and marking for meat packaging
Coding machines have the ability to deliver traceability information such as the source of the meat, or where it was processed, on products and their packaging, helping to ensure that consumers have peace of mind when they purchase meat (or other food).
Meat processors have various ways in which they can deliver traceability and peace of mind through coding. Whether these are print and apply barcode labels, accomplished using high-resolution continuous inkjet technology or other measures, packers need to have confidence that their coding and marking printers can deliver the right information on products that will stay put – whatever the substrate.
Human error – for example selecting the wrong message to be printed, or entering a code incorrectly - can also potentially cause production delays and product scrappage. However coding technology can help to alleviate this through advances such as remote control or monitoring of printers, or easy-to-use image-based operating software. This means packers have less to worry about, such as costly downtime in an industry that can little afford it.
Why do we need traceability codes?
Traceability requirements are partly designed to help consumers have greater confidence in where their food has come from and improve the accountability of manufacturers; as such legislation has set out a number of laws to deliver just this.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 is the most robust regulatory act passed in the United States in nearly a century. The food and beverage industry anticipates the release of well-defined FSMA rules by the end of 2015 and the oncoming enforcement of those rules by the FDA by the end of 2016. The timeline outlined above is mandated by a court order. The industry can reliably expect legally mandated inspections of food facilities to begin in 2016.
This modern emphasis on traceability is not just helpful information for consumers, who can tell quickly the origin of their food, but also ensures that any product recalls are limited to the specific items affected – minimizing disruption to a meat processing business. Knowing which affected products were included in a particular lot over a period of time will help prevent manufacturers from having to recall everything – leading to a more accurate and controlled recall process when issues arise and significant cost savings.
Traceability can also help to support the integrity of different types of meat manufactured and processed, for example halal, kosher or organic meat; all of which should be processed under strict guidelines.
If you want to learn more about the best coding and marking solutions for the meat processing industry, download our white paper CHOOSING THE BEST MEAT PROCESSING CODING SOLUTION.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Coding for Safety & Traceability in the Food Supply Chain: A Comparison of Continuous Inkjet & Laser Coding
What does your company do when products are marked with the wrong product identification codes? Scrap? Rework? Mismarked and mislabeled products can create big hits to the bottom line. When encountering marking mistakes with regularity, companies can find it difficult to keep profit margins under control. What’s worse is if mismarked or mislabeled products make it out to market, manufacturers can face penalties from retailers and the risk of product recalls.
There are several factors to consider when trying to reduce marking mistakes:
The first step to reducing marking mistakes is picking the right coding technology for both your application and your manufacturing environment. When choosing a technology, some factors to consider include:
Available coding technologies include inkjet coders, labelers,thermal transfer printers, and laser coders. Each of these technologies have their merits and should be considered carefully with the help of experts familiar with the advantages and disadvantages. Success will be realized when the best technology is chosen for your unique situation.
Choosing the right technology often comes down to identifying the best possible combination of cost-per-mark and mark adhesion quality. There are numerous inks, label stock types, and ribbon formulations that can help you achieve a durable, lasting code on your product.
If you are marking onto a particularly tricky surface or operating your equipment in a hotter or cooler than average environment, you will want to run code adhesion tests and even demo the full solution for a period of time to ensure that code adhesion is strong once a mark is applied to your product packaging. A quality supplier will be able to run print samples and set you up with trials of their equipment.
Although choosing the right equipment and matching it with the right ink, label or ribbon is important, an often-overlooked aspect of achieving code compliance is material handling. Heavy vibrations in your production line and skewed products that are not presenting well to the coding technology can impact the overall quality of your mark.
Reviewing your material handling practices and making recommendations for the best use of your equipment is vital to achieving high quality marks on your products.
You can take your coding and labeling operation a step closer to guaranteed compliance by adopting a product verification or validation step after the mark has been applied to your product. There are several levels of verification that ensure that a mark:
Verification and validation require the use of scanners or vision systems as well as connectivity to your coding equipment and product databases.
When incorporating a verification or validation step into your coding and labeling operation, you will need some form of reactive material handling after verification takes place if a printed mark is considered to be illegible. When manufacturers encounter poor code quality, a signal can be triggered to stop the production line altogether to correct what is causing the poor print or a reject and redirect action can take place to separate the questionable product from the rest of production. If too many poor quality codes are encountered, production can be stopped to allow for a remedy.
Having issues with achieving packaging compliance and encountering too many marking mistakes? At Diagraph, we can help you quantify the true cost hitting your bottom line and will work with you to develop a game plan to minimize errors and ensure proper code adhesion.
Call us today at 800.722.1125 to learn more about how Diagraph partners with manufacturers to achieve product identification and packaging compliance success.