Simple enough…I just want to mark the outside of my box. Looking for marking and coding equipment for a production line and haven’t a clue where to start? Now, ask yourself, where do I start, and the search begins.
A big mistake most Original Equipment Manufactures (OEM) make is that they assume the customer/buyer looking to purchase equipment: know the industry, know the technical jargon and acronyms, and know what their options are. We can’t clarify every equipment dilemma; however we can simplify the process when it comes to large character marking and coding solutions.
Let’s start with the basics, what’s being printed, marked or coded and what’s it being printed on? Large Character Printing is defined by character heights typically falling between ¼” to 4”. There are basically two large character ink jet technologies; Integrated Valve (I.V.), also known as Drop on Demand (DOD) and Impulse Jet (I.J.), also known as Piezoelectric High Resolution or Trident technology. The industrial marking and coding industry uses the term “inkjet technology” as a description when one deposits ink directly on substrates.
Companies with production lines and a high volume of product moving through it will find their marking and coding solution in Integrated Valve (I.V.) series of print heads. Integrated Valve (I.V.) is a low resolution technology that precisely controls ink flow via powerful solenoids to a print head that perfectly forms ink drops, resulting in sharp, clean characters ranging from ½” to 2” in height. Marking at a print speed of over 650 feet per minute most manufacturing environments find that the I.V. system exceeds their minimum speed requirements.
Integrated Valve is ideal for printing text, auto codes (such as product counts, time and date stamps) product identification and simple graphics onto porous (absorbent) and non-porous products as they travel by conveyor past stationary print heads. Some companies place multiple print systems throughout their production facility, marking on the product itself and/or the package it is shipped in.
There are several major advantages with the Integrated Valve print head. Where print mobility is an issue the Integrated Valve print head offers 360 degree orientation, allowing for coding on the top, side and bottom of most substrates. Another advantage with the I.V. print head is the throw distance. Depending on the substrate (what its printing on) the distance away from what is being coded may be limited by size. With the Integrated Valve print head the throw distance is up to ½” accommodating even the bulkiest of product.
Integrated Valve print heads are designed for high-speed printing applications in harsh environments using porous and non-porous inks. Created for the hashes environment, look for an I.V. print head that has an anodized enclosure which is environmentally sealed and a strong stainless steel front plate.
Whereas Integrated Valve is perfect for printing, boxes, containers, and tray packs, it lacks the defined print quality necessary for bar codes and high resolution graphics. When looking for print speed and marking for identification purposes Integrated Valve (I.V.) is the ticket. For high resolution printing, Impulse Jet technology is the way to go.
So how does Integrated Valve work in laymen’s terms? Dots. Yes, a bunch of dots formed together perfectly to create a code that is marked onto your product.
Not all marking and coding applications are alike. High resolution bar codes and company graphics often demand a more precise print quality. Companies looking for an all encompassed print solution that delivers their marking and coding requirements will find Impulse Jet technology their best bet. The Impulse Jet print head delivers the capability of printing high resolution bar codes, product identification, nutritional statements, descriptions, lot codes, and company logos. Impulse Jet technology supplies a voltage pulse to ink via piezoelectric crystals. Combining the voltage pulse with pressure the ink then flows to the print engine and into minuet holes which in turn produces small ink drops that form a code and is marked onto the product. The ink drops appear continuous and smooth with almost no imperfections which make it perfect for graphics. The result is a high resolution image that prints onto a porous surface.
Impulse Jet print head options offer print height ranging from ¾” to 4” from a single print head and is often used in applications where more than one print head is utilized to create multiple messages on the same substrate. Don’t let the definition “large character” classification of the Impulse Jet print solution mislead you. Impulse Jet technology is capable of printing fine print nutritional fact statements and we know how small that print can be. As long as the graphic image does not exceed 4” the details of the image can be very defined.
Whereas the Impulse head provides high resolution print quality, it will not deliver the same print speed as its large character counter part, Integrated Valve. Impulse Jet print heads however will run at over 200 feet per minute and taking into consideration the quality of the print, that’s not too bad. The throw distance is another variance between the two technologies. Due to the definition in print quality the Impulse jet delivers, the head can be no further away then ¼” from the substrate being printed.
A direct cost savings is associated with the Impulse Jet print system. Cost savings can be found in the reduction of pre-printed inventory and shipping cartons. Imagine printing custom shipping cartons just in time, rather then taking up premium warehouse space.
Another key feature to look for when choosing an Impulse Jet print head is an Automatic Cleaning System (ACS). Because of the smaller size of the ink nozzles, keeping them free of dust and debris is important. ACS removes dirt and debris from the face plate offering the added benefit of low maintenance and again saving the company time and money. Look for an ACS feature that allows manual initiation by pushing the purge button or better yet one that can be programmed to run at specified times.
It is more the rule than not that a company will need to mark their products with various style, size and definition and therefore dual technology (using more than one type of print head) is necessary. Look for a manufacturer of marking and coding equipment that has designed an operating system that seamlessly integrates most print head technologies for your solution. This should be a common practice throughout the print industry however it proves to the contrary.
The easiest way to remember what print technology you need for printing onto a box is: when looking for print speed and marking for identification purposes Integrated Valve (I.V.) will be the right choice for you. For high resolution printing, Impulse Jet technology will give you superior graphic perfection. For more information on the print head technology visit www.diagraph.com or call 1-800-526-2531.
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We didn’t give much thought to the price of gasoline until it reached over $2 dollars a gallon, now we watch the price per gallon daily. The same theory holds true in regards to the power it takes to run equipment on our plant floor, until now. Take heed, power efficiency can save more than just a few pennies! Not all Label Applicators are created equal and the savings when operating a power efficient unit adds up.
True cost of ownership includes the replacement items, maintenance, downtime, and consumables that the project will use to perform the intended job. It also includes the power to run the system, which is usually thought of as “pennies to operate”. The real cost of power adds up quickly, and even though air is free, compressed air is not.
The cost of power as it relates to the national average cost of electricity is around $0.10 per Kilowatt Hour (2008, US Government, Energy Information Administration). The typical cost for generating compressed air is approximately $0.25 per cubic foot/minute and only represents the energy it takes to run a compressor, not the other factors such as maintenance and alike. Using this information, the annual cost to run the equipment can be calculated and compared.
Generally, label applicators are wipe-on units. Looking at various manufacturers, there is a difference in power consumption that is largely based on the technology used. A brushless DC motor is far more efficient than a comparable stepper motor-based unit. There is over $500 of savings to be had annually when comparing the annual cost of running a motor with a power requirement of 1.5A@115VAC versus 5A@115VAC or above.
Most printer applicator systems are “tamp” or “air-tamp” and require compressed air. The label dispenses from the printer off the label carrier and is positioned onto a vacuumed surface that holds the label in place until it is applied to the substrate. Making efficient use of the vacuum bore size of the cylinder, and using a higher quality of pneumatic components, some manufacturers are able to use less CFM than most others. An average cost savings of over $600 was confirmed when comparing printer applicators using 2.5 CFM verses 5 CFM.
Looking at the cost of ownership in terms of power reveals that pennies do add up, and the manufacturer using a brushless DC motor offers its customers continued savings throughout the life of the unit. For more information on power efficiency and Automated Labeling Products visit www.diagraph.com or call 1-800-722-1125.
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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.
Many marking and coding equipment sellers espouse the virtues of thermal transfer overprinters (TTO) over the capabilities of hot stamp coders. As a manufacturer of both thermal transfer and hot stamp technologies, we are here to tell you that there is room for both. The truth is that each technology excels for very different reasons.
Hot stamp printers consistently provide quality prints at very high speeds. These machines are nearly all mechanical, making service and maintenance easy and straightforward. It is very hard to break a hot stamp machine and even harder to run out of options when it comes to fixing it. Because hot stamp printers require manual adjustments in order to change print codes, they are more ideal for applications with only occasional changes to the print message. These machines tend to be low cost and more durable than TTO.
Don’t be fooled by sellers who try to tell you that hot stamps have drastically lower ribbon capacities. We have seen hot stamp ribbon capacities reported as low as 300’, yet our bestselling hot stamp – the Norwood K Series – accommodates rolls as large as 1500’. Unlike TTO technology, hot stamps perform well in both hard and flexible materials. Many of our hot stamp customers specifically choose hot stamp technology for the indelible, engraved mark it leaves behind on rigid and semi-rigid products and materials which serves as a second quality check. TTO isn’t compatible with rigid and semi-rigid substrates.
When it comes to printing graphics, linear and 2D barcodes and a variety of fonts onto flexible plastic, foil and paper labels, it is hard to beat the versatility of thermal transfer printers (TTO). These digitally driven print message machines can accommodate even the most complex of print messages. Our TTO technology features ribbon feed control capabilities and can accommodate both continuous and intermittent printing applications. TTO also provides more versatility in terms of the scalability of its print area. Our NGT TTO line up offers print areas as large as 8”x3.9” when used in intermittent mode or 8”x39” when operating in continuous mode.
Although TTO offers greater flexibility in terms of print areas and message creation, it does have its draw backs. Having fewer mechanical parts and more electronic components means that you will be replacing more parts over time rather than repairing them. Of course you have to weigh the bad aspects with the good. If you have a lot of short runs with frequent product and message changes, TTO is likely the best technology for you.
If you have any questions regarding hot stamp or TTO, 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!
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.
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.
Diagraph continues its long-standing history of innovation in the case coding industry with the introduction of the ResMark 5000 print system. The patented quick disconnect feature which allows for a quick and simple disconnection and replacement of the print head is among the ResMark system’s many features.
Removal and replacement of an inkjet print head may be required if the print head is damaged or improperly functioning, if it needs cleaning or if a new print image with a larger print height requires a larger print head. The quick disconnect feature on the ResMark 5000 system allows this to be done quickly and without mess.
The ResMark 5000 print system utilizes two components: the ink supply module and the print head module. The ink supply module’s quick disconnect coupling isolates the internal ink supply components and tubing and ensures ink will not leak out when not coupled with the print head. To install the print head, the ink supply module coupling is inserted into the print head with the print head horizontally oriented. Once the ink supply module is fully inserted, the print head module is rotated 90° to a fully upright position. This action not only fully seals the connection ensuring no ink leaks out between the two modules, it also opens the ink supply tubing allowing ink to flow from the ink supply module to the print head and back. This entire process of removal and replacement can be conducted while the system is still fully powered. No other print systems allow for quicker serviceability than the ResMark 5000.
For more information regarding the ResMark 5000 piezo inkjet system, refer to Diagraph’s website at the link below: