By Eric Janes, Laser Product Manager
You went to the trouble to build a factory, develop a product, built the production line, worked out operations, purchased all the raw materials, toiled hours longer than you should have on the perfect package design, and then do what at the end of it? Smear some code on the corner that’s supposed to stand out to the customer? Good news – you don’t have to deal with smudged codes anymore.
To avoid smeared, smudged and illegible date and lot codes, turn to the high print quality made possible from today’s scribing lasers. Yes, there is a past where lasers were producing a “dot matrix” type of code too, but thanks to better controllers and development, we’re past all that history. Today’s lasers fire a single beam that is digitally controlled and “writes” across the surface being marked with smooth fonts, high quality graphics and bar codes when needed.
A lot of end user packaging is coated paper and, when coupled with scribing lasers, produces exceptional print quality. No, lasers won’t print in color – that’s a technology off in the future. We achieve the high contrast by ablating away the top layer of print exposing the lower bleached or kraft paper color.
Simple messages are a slam dunk in this type of application, but complex messages such as those with bar codes or graphics are not too difficult either. They do require some design, and a good software package to drive the laser. Most likely you will want to control separately the different elements of the message. This allows setting different mark delays and times to correctly image those elements on the package.
Using the Linx Laser Systems, Diagraph can help you produce great marks on your products. We have the latest in lasers and software to produce the best mark without overpowering, or overselling, the application.
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!
TO CELEBRATE 125th ANNIVERSARY, DIAGRAPH INTRODUCES NEW GLOBAL STRATEGY
DEDICATED TO MAKING MARKING, CODING & LABELING EASY
World´s Oldest Coding Company Stays Modern with Strategic Shift Across All Aspects of Its Business
Diagraph Marking & Coding (www.diagraph.com), an ITW Company, announces the rollout of a new global strategy tightly focused on making package marking, coding and labeling easy.
Diagraph´s new brand identity focuses every aspect of the company´s business on providing hassle-free marking, coding and labeling for customers. This is achieved through an unwavering commitment to three core brand values – reliability, partnership and simplicity.
Far from an isolated marketing exercise, the new brand values represent the culmination of years of careful listening to customer priorities and a comprehensive top to bottom overhaul of Diagraph´s entire business structure. Moving forward, all aspects of the company´s business (including new product development, customer service, billing, delivery and human resources) are being driven by a shared commitment to providing products that are easy to use and being a company that is easy to work with.
Top to Bottom Brand Reorganization
As part of this new strategy, sister companies within the ITW Marketing & Coding Group will be rolled into the Diagraph brand.
Trident, the inventor of the world´s only repairable and longest lasting piezoelectric print engine, and Norwood inventor of the world´s first hot stamp imprinter for the food industry will become part of Diagraph Marking & Coding. The Trident name, respected worldwide and synonymous with rugged industrial design will remain the product brand name for piezoelectric print engines. Norwood Marking Systems will be completely consolidated into Diagraph with all new thermal transfer technology being produced under the Diagraph name.
This strategic focus on making marking, coding, and labeling easy will be rolled out across Diagraph’s operations worldwide, including Diagraph Mexico, Diagraph Asia, and Diagraph’s European operations through Allen Coding. Additionally, the Diagraph Global Partner Network of certified distributors will benefit from forthcoming products, programs, and services– extending the benefits of this new strategy to all Diagraph technology users.
Strategy in Action
In the weeks and months ahead, customers will see the launch of a number of new products, services and logistical enhancements all designed to make product marking easy.
Printing systems have been designed for market-leading uptime. Interventions are minimal, tool-less where possible and simplified with the goal of minimal touches for routine items like message editing, consumable replenishment and filter changes. New product development is focused on machine level communications and connectivity, with an emphasis on simplifying diagnostics and increasing uptime through preventive and predictive maintenance.
A comprehensive service offering underscores Diagraph´s desire to partner with its customers in all aspects of their coding and labeling operations, allowing customers to remain focused on their business. Service programs have been designed to match the skill level of customer maintenance teams.Levels range from "DIY" to "never lift a finger". Pro-active need anticipation and one-call-resolutions are guiding goals behind all service programs.
Additionally, customers will notice Diagraph´s new modern logo, updated visual identity and newly updated website (www.diagraph.com).
Context: 125 Years of Thinking Ahead
Diagraph, the world´s oldest product marking company, is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2018. The company has stayed relevant for over 100 years by anticipating industry trends and strategically realigning the brand to meet evolving market needs.
This approach has allowed Diagraph to remain at the forefront of global product marking needs with an impressive array of breakthrough technologies including: the world´s first stencil cutting machine (1893), the world´s first circular stencil cutting machine – the Diagraph (1902), the world´s first roll coder – the DiCoder (1969), the world´s first integrated valve jet technology (1986), the world´s first high resolution piezoelectric barcode print engine – Trident technology (1990), the world´s first centralized ink delivery system design for high resolution inkjet (1996), the world´s first automated cleaning system for high resolution inkjet technology (2002) and the world´s first all-electric automated labeling system platform (2008).
Diagraph´s new global strategic commitment to making it easy for manufacturers to make the perfect mark on their product represents a new chapter in Diagraph´s forward-looking leadership.
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.
No longer is it the case that snacks are packaged specifically for children’s lunch boxes. Today, the snack market is heavily geared towards adults with 94% of adults snacking at least once a day and 50% snacking 2 to 3 times a day.* Snack producers are tasked with changing traditional packaging to address a different kind of consumer.
To stay on top of fluctuating snack market trends, food companies find they need to develop new packaging such as single-serve packs, convenient on-the-go solutions, and sustainable “green” packaging. Aside from creating a trendy and appealing packaging aesthetic, snack packaging frequently requires variable codes such as “Best By” or expiration dates. With consumers growing more and more health-conscious, some code requirements include allergen information, genetic modification information, and country of origin.
Many snack food companies make use of continuous ink jet (CIJ) printing technology to meet these coding requirements. CIJ is cost- effective and has a wide range of fluids to ensure coding adhesion and legibility on both porous and non-porous packaging like cardboard, plastics, metal, glass, or flexible packaging. At a minimum, your CIJ equipment must be able to produce legible and durable date, lot, and identification codes on a variety of substrates. However, there are other key features to look for when selecting a continuous ink jet printer to keep your snack packaging operations in uptime by minimizing maintenance and human errors including:
Given the wide variety of packages and product types at snack food manufacturers, the flexibility offered by CIJ is also considered an appealing benefit. Leading systems’ printheads can be used in any orientation with 360 degree printhead positioning and many can be moved from line to line to accommodate many shapes, sizes, and levels of packaging.
Diagraph offers the Linx 8900 Series CIJ printers to help our customers produce a long lasting, quality mark on a variety of packaging materials. The 8900 Series is designed with many smart, easy-to-use features to keep your production line up and running. Live chat with one of our equipment specialists to learn more. Or, read up on the latest innovations in snack food packaging in our latest whitepaper.
2018: Innovations in Snack Food Packaging
We all know that bigger is better and we all want more. It’s what we do, right? If 10 of something is good, then getting 20 of it is great, and 30 of it is fantastic! Well that is up until we have to pay for it anyway. When cost becomes the focus of our attention, it’s safe to say that less is more. Regardless of what we are buying, we need to look at what we need, and this tampers down all the enthusiasm for bigger is better. A Bugatti Veyron could get me to the office faster than almost any other car on the road, but with a growing family that spends its time in the Suburbs and semi-rural areas, a minivan with a bunch of cup holders ranks higher on the “needs” list.
With laser coding we should take needs into consideration in each application, and power may or may not factor into it. Yes, lasers can really power up if you want to go looking for power. While much of the technology has consolidated, choices in power ratings seem to keep increasing. In some respects it’s almost as if there is a nuclear arms race in laser power rating. Sure you have 10 watt lasers in your widget plant, but the guy on the other side of the business park just got 50 watt lasers on his bottling lines. You might be missing something, and need to upgrade, right?
Probably not, and here are some straight forward concepts to keep in mind with laser coding and power ratings. First, you are going to pay for power. No if and or buts about it, regardless of laser type, as the power rating goes up, so will your cost of equipment. Economically, it’s in your interest to get the lowest power laser possible.
Second, what power really gets you is speed on production lines. Often power is thought of as “burning harder” into materials and while there is truth to that, the reason we burn harder is most likely to keep up with production rates. Low power lasers can mark most product and packaging materials…if we give them enough time. We are talking seconds for some materials, whereas for many coding operations a typical message might code in the range of 100 milliseconds, or even less for high speed lines.
So the bottom line becomes, what material are we marking and how fast is it moving through production? When we dial in on these factors with testing and sample codes, we can narrow it down to the lowest power option. This will help make the project justification and keep your line operators from slicing open the new plastic bottles on your brand new conveyors.
If you are near the top of the chosen lasers output, there is a question left to ask and it might make the case for tweaking up the power. So, what does your crystal ball say? If your line speeds and production might increase, or your materials might change, a power upgrade might be sensible. Typically, lasers last a long time without much intervention. So while some coding technology can get cycled on a regular basis, you want to plan ahead with lasers.
At Diagraph Marking & Coding, we’ve got the people and experience to work with you, in your plant and with your crystal ball, to work out the best, but not necessarily the biggest, solution. We’ll focus on coding for cost, letting you manage your business.
2018 marks Diagraph’s 125th anniversary in business and we’re inviting the industry to celebrate this momentous occasion with us at PACK EXPO International in Chicago. Diagraph is exhibiting at booth N-5721 with our full line-up of product solutions including small character inkjet, high-resolution inkjet case coders, all-electric labelers and thermal transfer overprinters. Come visit us and discover our new initiatives designed to make product identification easy for our customers. The show begins in Chicago on Sunday, October 14 and runs through Wednesday, October 17.
Visitors to have their badges scanned in the Diagraph booth will be eligible to take advantage of our exclusive show specials that run through the duration of 2018. Don't miss out on our best promotions of the year!
Buy a Linx 8900 Series small character continuous inkjet printer at more than 30% off and receive a free photocell and trolley stand. Over $4,000 in savings!
Why the Linx 8900 Series small character inkjet?
Get an Diagraph IJ768E ACS high resolution inkjet printhead for the price of the Diagraph IJ384E 2” printhead and double your available print height to accommodate larger, more complex case coding messages. Plus, when you purchase one day of installation and training, you’ll receive an extra day of installation and training at no charge.
Why the IJ768E high-resolution inkjet printheads?
Buy any standard fullprint and apply labeler or tamp label applicator system and get all recommended accessories, installation and training for free.
Why the PA6000 print and apply labeler or LA4750 label applicator?
Buy one thermal transfer printer (excluding the MLi) and get a spare printhead and ribbon starter pack for free.
Why take advantage of this deal for your NGT Series or Allen XL5000 purchase?
These offers are exclusive to visitors to the Diagraph booth N-5721 in PACK EXPO Chicago that have their badges scanned! Whether you are in need of an upgrade to your coding and labeling operations or looking to begin automating, this is a great opportunity to level-up your operational efficiencies for a great value.