The process for marking the cans is the same as code dating, just with the added 2D bar code printed in a 16x16 matrix. The Linx 6800 can print this size code at line speeds reaching 200 ft per minute. Read the full article (PDF) here...
2020 will go down in history as a challenging time for food producers. While it is vital that food supplies to supermarkets are uninterrupted and rigorous hygiene is maintained, we should not forget the importance of the printed information that is provided to the consumer when it is on the shelf. There are heavy fines for batch and date codes that do not meet required legislation, and the printed codes must meet stringent traceability requirements should any recall be needed.
What to research
How do you go about ensuring you have the best possible coding equipment for the job in hand? As with any purchase, it always pays to do research and you may want to consider the following:
Why Linx is a good choice for the food industry
Linx’s continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers, with a minimum IP55 rating to withstand washdown, are an excellent choice for the food industry. They deliver quality coding with exceptional reliability, ease of use and efficient operations. Simple user interfaces with built-in mistake proofing help keep uptime to a maximum. Touch screens are solvent and alcohol resistant so they can be operated while wearing plastic or rubber gloves, and operators can use hand sanitizers to stay healthy and still operate the printer.
Linx CIJs are the optimum coders for the harsh environment of food production, and reduce stoppages through:
Linx’s extensive experience in the food industry translates into coders that are perfectly suited to challenging environments.
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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NEW DIAGRAPH IJ4000 INKJET SYSTEM COMBINES
INDUSTRY-LEADING BARCODE DECODE-ABILITY AND INDUSTRY-LEADING RELIABILITY
(March 1, 2016) – Diagraph (www.diagraph.com) announces the launch of the IJ4000 high-resolution large character impulse inkjet system for printing alphanumerics, barcodes and graphics onto porous substrates. The cost-competitive printer combines industry-leading barcode decode-ability, industry-leading system durability and industry-leading print throw distance with the lowest maintenance requirements on the market.
Industry-Leading Barcode Decode-ability & Print Throw Distance
Three unique features combine to allow the IJ4000 to provide best-in-the-market print consistency on challenging packaging lines where boxes are rarely perfectly uniform.
First, precision print placement is ensured by a unique roller retractor and a digital level sensor accelerometer. The roller retractor provides a consistent gap between the print surface and print engine. A green LED light on the digital level accelerometer indicates when the print engines are perfectly aligned and perpendicular with the packaging material to be printed- regardless of floor variations. This ensures high-quality print and optimal readability for bar codes.
Secondly, the print engines of the IJ4000 provide throw distance of ½ inch for alphanumerics and an industry-leading ¼ inch for barcodes. This is double the 1/8 inch throw distance currently provided in the market for readable barcodes. In addition to ensuring high-quality print, the increased throw distance also reduces the impact of corrugate dust, glue and contaminants resulting in reduced maintenance needs.
Finally the unique design of the print engine ensures print is up to 15% darker than the last generation offering.
Combined these features allow the IJ4000 to offer a 35% improvement on barcode decode-ability compared to competing systems available in the market.
Industry-Leading Flexibility & Ease of Use
The IJ4000 was carefully designed based on customer feedback for optimal ease of use. The system features a unique HMI (Human Machine Interface) wherein the print engine, encoder and photocell connections run directly and cleanly to the connection hub. This allows the HMI to be moved to a remote location for greater ease of use. The HMI can be as far away as 100 meters when connected via Ethernet and an unlimited distance when connected through a Network.
The system offers a great deal of flexibility with both on-floor and in-office editing capabilities. The intuitive interface provides the option of use with a personal PC, eliminating the need for a separate controller and reducing cost by as much as 15%.
The integrated 10.2 inch touch screen controller interface eliminates the need for a separate keyboard, thereby reducing the system footprint. The system print head is also smaller in all three dimensions and further flexibility is provided by a dovetail track on both side of the print engines for ease of mounting on either side of the conveyer.
While many printing technologies advertise that they are ‘Unicode-ready’ they often mean that language characters are used as locked images. This is not the same as true real-time, variable print Unicode capabilities. Diagraph’s IJ4000 printers were specially designed to provide real-time printing in 11 languages.
Lowest Maintenance Requirements in the Market
The IJ4000 was carefully designed to provide the lowest maintenance requirements of any similar system in the market today.
The printer features a unique single point ink supply that can feed as many as four different print engines. This greatly reduces downtime and simplifies the fluid refill process as it is not necessary to monitor and maintain individual ink supplies.
The system´s unique digital level accelerometer has a sensor which indicates if the print engine has tilted plus or minus 1.5 degrees both for ease of installation and to assure the print gap between print head and carton is consistent along the entire print image.
A new auto-channel purge allows all 256 printhead channels to be quickly checked by a simple push of a button on the print head right on the packaging line. Maintenance is further simplified by hard-mounted, easily accessible filters and a centralized connection point that simplifies and reduces cabling requirements.
Taken together, these features allow the IJ4000 to provide as much as 30% less downtime than alternative technologies.
Industry-Leading Print Engine Durability
Featuring unique-in-the-industry stainless steel construction, and patented repairable (rather than disposable) design, shock resistance capability and automatic maintenance modules, the Trident print engines in the IJ4000 provide industry-leading durability. Whereas traditional print engines might need to be replaced as often as every few months, Trident technology can last as long as 10 years or 300 billion firings. This allows the IJ4000 to provide industry-leading durability with projected lifespan being as much as 5 times longer than competitive technologies.
“The IJ4000 is the result of over 5 years of intensive research into user needs,” said Steve Liker, LCIJ Product Manager at Diagraph. “It was thoughtfully designed with a number of unique-in-the-market features to provide customers with significant new performance benefits at the same price point as our last generation technology. We are proud to offer significantly more value at the same competitive price.”
The new print engines are reverse compatible to older IJ3000 systems for existing customers and are available with two inch print height. Technology featuring market-leading four inch print height is anticipated to launch in 2016 and will be forward compatible with the IJ4000 system.
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, send emails to email@example.com or visit diagraph.com.
There is a great debate in the packaging technology industry around the core driver of automated labeling equipment. Which is a superior labeling power source — pneumatic air or electric? Pneumatic labeling systems are built around timing-based commands that drive label movements based on the reliability of the pneumatic air supply, while all-electric labeling systems are built around real time data-based commands that allow for total control of the labeling process.
The difference between the two approaches is night and day — like the difference between VHS and high-resolution digital streaming technology. The more that manufacturers understand the advantages of all-electric labeling, the more pneumatic systems will go the way of VHS tapes and rotary phones.
Every labeling system, regardless of core technology, can incorporate sensors for feedback. Recall the times you have seen a product strike a pneumatic labeler’s actuator arm while moving down the packaging line. This happens all too often with pneumatic labelers because the control of the label feed and actuator arm is not reacting to real-time feedback from sensors, it is following pre-programmed timing commands and relying on the programmed settings for the pneumatic air supply (regardless of the actual pressure in real-time).
Free from the timing control constraints found in pneumatic air powered machines, Diagraph’s all-electric labeling systems can interpret feedback from smart sensors in real-time to allow for total control of the label throughout transit. Combining strategically placed sensors with brushless DC servomotors allows Diagraph’s labeling systems to operate with extreme precision, guaranteeing one-to-one label-to-product matching time after time. The all-electric, servo-driven actuator maintains speed consistency, while “smart” sensors confirm that a label is present for application and even provide the ability to control impact on the product being labeled. The system doesn’t have to rely on inconsistent air pressure to manage this process.
Another advantage of the all-electric method over the pneumatic air method centers around the tamp pad. Pneumatic driven label applicators utilize venturi vacuum technology to control the transit of the label from the tamp pad to the product. Nearly the entire surface of a pneumatic machine’s tamp pad needs to be covered by the label to maintain proper suction. Unlike pneumatic machines, Diagraph’s all-electric label applicators utilize an electric fan to create vacuum, allowing Diagraph labelers to accommodate multiple label sizes utilizing a single tamp pad. This saves time during label size changeovers as well as money.
With more than 120 years in the marking and coding industry, Diagraph has a rich history of providing highly durable and reliable labeling and inkjet solutions. Diagraph was the first to offer all-electric labeling solutions to handle all modes of label application including tamp, swing and tamp-blow. The result is a robust lineup of automated labeling solutions that offer benefits only found in all-electric systems that don’t compromise on labels sizes or performance.
Continuous inkjet (CIJ) is the technology of choice for food packaging coding as the solvent based inks adhere to a variety of materials like cartons, plastics, films, foils, metal and glass. CIJ is ideal for food packaging in that it offers high speed, non-contact small character printing and enables food processors to incorporate inkjet codes into their functional safety and traceability processes.
Companies that produce food products are very aware of the financial and public health risks of a recall and therefore understand the necessity of being able to track products through the supply chain. For added food safety security, continuous inkjet printers can utilize specialty functional inks:
Thermochromic inks are developed for the canning industry and show a color change effect when processed through a retort or autoclave process. In addition to visual confirmation of successful canning it is a robust ink that penetrates thin coatings of oil and grease and resists removal by oils, waxes, fats and varnishes.
For secure coding of high-end products subject to counterfeiting or for products and packaging that require discrete codes for internal track and trace, identifying origin or verifying authenticity, there are inks that are nearly invisible to the naked eye but fluoresce under UV light. These fast drying, solvent based inks are water resistant once dry.
Traceability of food product is key to a company’s ability to react to a recall. In addition to providing coding technology that allows companies to trace product, Diagraph and Linx offer the following specialty functional coding inks that enhance food safety:
Linx Thermochromic 1281 or 1291
Our choice for fully functional, easy to use inkjet coders are the Linx 8900 Series line of printers. The Linx 8900 Series inkjet printers provide high quality batch, date, lot and expiration codes which are critical components for supply chain traceability. The Linx models are also durable workhorses in wash down environments and are easy-to-use featuring a robust, sealed printhead, one-touch fluid refills, a highly visible touch screen user interface and point-of-print viscosity control. The Linx 8900 Series line of printers support both thermochromic and UV fluorescent ink applications.
Continuous inkjet is just one option for adding essential date codes, lot codes and batch codes to your food and beverage products. Want to learn more about how your choice of coding solution contributes to food safety and traceability? Download our full whitepaper.
Coding for Safety & Traceability in the Food Supply Chain: A Comparison of Continuous Inkjet & Laser Coding
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss whether the new Linx 1063 Grease Penetrating Black ink may be a solution to your slick or oily manufacturing conditions.