Selecting the Right Ribbon
The packaging of your product is extremely important, it is a first impression and we all know how important those are. There is a whole science when it comes to packaging, from the way that the consumers place the packaging in their minds to the appeal that the packaging has on their emotions. As manufacturers we want the packaging to look good, but sometimes that extra shine that the film supplier said would enhance your packaging throws a curveball when it comes to printing important information such as lot numbers, date codes or even pricing.
For example, at Diagraph we sometimes hear from customers that say “your ribbon was working fine until it just stopped working halfway through the roll. What happened with the last 300’ of ribbon?” The reason is usually simple. The ribbon formula has not changed. However, that new batch of film that you received from your film supplier may contain a bit more Silicone or Teflon to prevent the film from sticking on the roll or to make the appearance a tad bit shinier. These are instances when you want to inquire about the foil formula with your supplier.
The good news is that you have options. In fact, Diagraph offers many different formulations of Norwood ribbon to allow us to offer solutions for most films. The coating and chemical make-up of the film is what drives the ribbon formulation. We offer wax, wax/resin, and resin ribbons and within each of these 3 categories we offer a number of formulas and colors. If you have a new film or want to know what formulation will be the best option for your film, our Norwood Ribbon experts offer free film testing.
As if that wasn’t enough complexity for a simple 5 digit code, there is also the print head type that will determine which formula will work. Thermal transfer has 3 different print head technologies: true, flat and near. The most common of the 3 are near and flat and they are defined by the angle that the print head has relative to the actual substrate. Different formulas of ribbon are designed for the different print head technologies. A near edge ribbon cannot be expected to work on a flat edge printer and vice versa.
So next time that the film supplier calls and says “We just got this new coating in and it will make your packaging sparkle and shine” ask for a sample of that film to be sent over to Diagraph to see if that “sparkle and shine” is something that can keep your thermal code sticking. We can help you proactively address any issues to ensure that you have the right ribbon for your new foil.
At Diagraph, we are dedicated to solving your coding and labeling challenges. Diagraph has been assisting customers for over 120 years by improving production line efficiencies with simple, reliable and cost-effective coding and labeling solutions. Contact us to learn more about the Norwood ribbon line. Visit us at www.diagraph.com or contact us at 800.722.1125.
Thermal Transfer Printhead Technologies in Print and Apply Labeling
By Steve Dods, Automated Labeling Products (ALP) and Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) Products Manager
There are two common types of thermal transfer (TT) printheads in industrial print and apply labeling systems. One version is the Flat Head TT type, which has a relatively parallel contact between the heating elements of the printhead and the ribbon/label. The other is a Near-Edge TT type, which angles the head up to 45 degrees. There are advantages and disadvantages to these two types of technologies, which is why both existing in industrial printing.
OEM industrial print engines, such as SATO and Zebra
Labeling system manufacturer's proprietary printer (VideoJet) and TTO (Thermal Transfer Overprinters)
Typically 5 million lineal inches, with proper cleaning and care
Typically 2.5 million lineal inches, with proper cleaning and care
Price (4" wide)
Around $450 to $700
Around $1000 to $1300
Up to 16 inches per second
Up to 19.7 inches per second
Consumable Cost (600m Ribbon)
$15 to $20 per roll,
Wax, Wax Resin, or Resin
$23 to $30 per roll,
Wax Resin or Resin only
Head mount adjustments required
Less or no adjustment required
Near edge TT print heads are optimal for high-speed printing on surfaces that may have some variances, like film webs. They are mainly seen in these applications, where the alternative technology is ink jet or laser. Flat head technology is ideal for longer life, lower consumable cost, and lower overall replacement cost. As with most competing technologies, it comes down to the application requirements. For print and apply applications, the reliable and less expensive selection has been the venerable Flat Head TT print head.
For more information on print and apply applications click here. Or contact us at 800.722.1125.
All-inclusive service agreements have their perks:
But how do you know if an all-inclusive service agreement is right for your facility?
There are several factors to consider, including:
At Diagraph, we offer our Premier Service Program to deliver predictable on-going service and maintenance costs even when customers are faced with worst-case scenarios. All repair costs, including parts and labor, are covered by the program. The program package is purchased for a specified number of years at the time of purchasing the equipment. The cost of the program can be paid entirely upfront or can be broken out over a series of months when bundled into an equipment leasing package.
Interested in purchasing Diagraph coding and labeling equipment with Premier Service Program coverage? Speak with a Diagraph representative today by calling 1.800.722.1125 or contacting 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 an under 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 factors that impact the method and features required for achieving legible marks and labels onto packaging.
With perishability of dairy products, there is great 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 negative financial impact for 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 other equipment.
Coding equipment should include the following features to uphold against these environmental factors:
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 Diagraph today to learn more about how these small character inkjet printers can improve your date and batch coding operation.
Click here to learn what marking & coding solution is right for your dairy application.
Have you ever purchased an item from the store, and later at home wondered why they used a label that doesn't easily come off of your new item? Have you seen labels that are hardly attached to the side of an item at Home Depot and wonder how many of those labels never even made the trip to the destination store? Well, you are not alone, sadly, and the better question is how much is that adding cost in the supply chain or turning off customers? Now that sticker wisdom can be found in a simple table below:
Good initial tack
Not easily removed
Primary product marketing label
Label will be a heavier weight - may require additional labeler system set up specifics
Label rolls should be stored at room temperature - heating device needed on label roll in point of use area
Air-knives to clear as much water as possible recommended
Bottling / Jars
Very heavy adhesive that generally does not do well with paper label substrates
Fruit, vegetable, and nut case-level packaging
Manufacturers often require small variable information such as expiration dates and lot and batch codes to be printed on their products. Continuous inkjet printing (CIJ) continues to be the technology of choice for these applications. As there are several technologies capable of printing small characters, one may ask "why CIJ?”. Speed and throw distance are two essential reasons CIJ is the right technology for your application.
A coding system that does not keep up with your production line speeds will hinder your production output. Thermal Inkjet printing can print up to 250 fpm. Piezo high -esolution printing can print up to 200 fpm. Linx 8900 Series CIJ prints 3 lines of print at more than 450 fpm and can exceed 1400 fpm with a single line of print. Make sure your printer meets or exceeds your productivity demands.
A significant contributor to legible print quality is the distance between an inkjet printer and the product. Product shape, material handling and available real estate on a production line dictates the print head to product distance. Thermal inkjet requires a smooth surface with little vibration and print head placement within 8mm (0.3 inches) from the target product for best print. Piezo print heads have the same printing requirements with 10mm (0.4 inches) maximum distance. Since CIJ characters are formed in a dot matrix style, the overall print height expands the further away it is from the target allowing for 12mm (0.5 inches) to 50mm (2 inches) throw distance. Because CIJ has longer ink throw, it easily prints on smooth, curved and irregular surfaces from a greater distance.
Contact us to find out more about Linx 8900 Series continuous inkjet printers.