Even with improvements in the inkjet world on printing consistency, resolution and barcode readability, newer solutions are not always on par with some classic methods of labeling. Below are four instances where implementing a printer and label system may be the best option for you — helping you save time and money.
High barcode grade is required
Some end-users require an “A” or “B” grade on all barcodes that enter their building or warehouse. If a barcode needs to be on a brown corrugated box and requires an “A” or “B” grade, then a label is the only solution for that prospect. Inkjet barcodes on brown or kraft cases will scan at a grade “C” level due to the contrast (dark to light) between the corrugated surface and the ink. The final grade for a barcode is only as high as its lowest variable. Therefore, it could have all grade “A” variables except for one, and it would receive a “C” grade. Additionally, a white label produces a high contrast barcode at a higher resolution, eliminating lower barcode grades.
Dense barcodes are required
A barcode that requires very narrow bars and spaces is difficult for an inkjet system to produce consistently. Since the inkjet system is printing directly on the carton, a mishandled product can lead to unreadable code. Thermal transfer printers, however, can produce 300 dpi barcodes and produce much denser bars than most inkjet systems. Because the labels are printed inside the printer and then applied to the case, product handling plays a smaller role in the ultimate readability of the code.
1. Glossy, decorative cases or clay-coated chipboard
Most high resolution, large-character inkjet systems do not use inks that will dry on these types of surfaces. Some do, but the capital is more, and the consumable difference between ink and labels is less. These substrates are best suited for a printer or applicator.
2. Specific code location
Needing a code on the top, bottom, front or back of a case is another instance of needing a printer or applicator and label. Some inkjet systems can print in a downward or upward orientation, but usually with significant limitations. Having to print on the front or back of a case as it moves down a conveyor, rules out an inkjet system as the process would require additional product handling. Printer and applicators have no problem applying labels to the front, side, front and side, side and back, back, top, or any other part of a box. The more complex the application, line speeds and label size, the more placement accuracy and other factors will need to be addressed to make sure it will be a successful fit.
When is Direct Print Technology Right for Your Application?
Sometimes, direct printing onto your product rather than printing to a label is the best solution for your needs. In some applications, direct printing can save your organization 10 times the costs associated with label printing. So, what technology should you be using to print your barcodes and text?
We carry a variety of direct print options from names like Foxjet, Squid Ink, FlexPackPRO, and Paragon Labeling and can help you find the solution that’s right for you.
Large Character Printers
Foxjet ProSeries enhanced printhead includes the ink system, priming system, and print-engine that is capable of printing industry-compliant barcodes, graphics, and alphanumeric characters on corrugated cases and other porous materials at up to 2” (50 mm) in height.
Low Operator Intervention:
- Quick-Lock ink bottle for fast replacement of ink supply. (The ink bottle can be changed while it is printing.)
- Automatic priming system that handles most maintenance tasks
Reliability to the Extreme – Less Downtime:
- Rugged stainless-steel nosepiece
- Automatic priming system maintains print quality throughout the life of the printhead
- The print engine was designed from the ground up for packaging applications and is backed by the longest warranty in the industry
Flexible – Easily Fits Your Application:
- With a 2” (50 mm) print height, it fits many packaging applications
- With 192 dpi vertical resolution, it can print industry-standard bar codes, text, and graphics
Marksman MATRIX is a flexible stand-alone industrial computer that is capable of operating up to four ProSeries 768 printheads for printing compliant barcodes, graphics, and alphanumeric characters on corrugated cases and other porous materials.
- 10-inch color touch screen features a clear, uncluttered, and easy-to-use interface
- Windows-based for easy user interface and easy message creation
- A pop-up keyboard appears for editing and message creation and offers larger keys to reduce keying errors by 25%
- On-screen 3D views of your package for enhanced message creation
- Standard steel enclosure provides maximum reliability in harsh environments
- Standard true type and Unicode fonts are pre-loaded, so users can begin creating messages immediately
CIJ – Continuous Inkjet Printers
Continuous inkjet printers are small character printers that are easy to maintain and use. Any printer from the FoxJet Linx Series is fast, requires no product substrate contact, and can print on many different surfaces.
- Built to run and ideal in high production environments. (As technology has evolved, they have become more necessary to applications where a printer is not required daily.)
- Most have a wide variety of ink colors and formulations (MEK, alcohol, acetone, etc.) that can be used to print on almost any surface.
- Can print very small characters at a very high rate of speed.
- Great throw distance (normally 1/8” to a 1/4”, this printer can work at almost an inch)
- Dries very quickly
Keep in mind:
- The initial cost can be higher than other solutions
- Requires the use of ink and solvent
Ideal for use: Printing on small individual products like bottles and when portability is important to your printing needs.
Learn more about Foxjet Marking, Coding and Labeling Systems and see various printing technologies in action.
TIJ – Thermal Inkjet Printer
The three thermal inkjet printers from FoxJet’s SoloSeries have a wide range of abilities; including up to 10 lines of alphanumeric text as well as logos and 1D and 2D symbols.
- Can print up to 600 x 600 dpi
- Since it is a cartridge-based system, it performs well in applications where the system will sit dormant for days at a time
- Inks can print on porous and non-porous surfaces
- Produces readable bar codes
Keep in mind:
- To print larger than 1/2”, printheads are “stitched” together. (They rarely line up perfectly, so large characters or graphics may be slightly skewed at the 1/2” intervals.)
- Requires the head(s) to be very close to the product substrate to be printed.
Ideal for use: Lower volume applications and applications where the system will be idle for lengthy periods of time.
DOD – Drop On Demand Printheads
The 9x and 18x drop-on-demand printheads from the Valve InkJet systems can print 1/2”-2” text. It also allows you to quickly develop messages with built-in printing codes.
- An inexpensive way to get a code on a product
- Simple technology makes it easy to maintain and service
- Inks that can print on porous and non-porous surfaces
- Good throw distance (1/4” to 1/2”)
Keep in mind:
- Prints dot matrix characters, which are less aesthetically appealing
- Low resolution – not capable of printing quality graphics or logos
Ideal for use: When you need to get a code on a box or product and aren’t concerned about aesthetics.
The SQ-10 CO2 laser coding system from Squid Ink is ideal for high-speed food and beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and other primary coding applications. It allows for permanently marking onto paper, cardboard, plastic, and more.
- Quick and easy installation for both stationary and moving products
- IP54 rating ensures maximum reliability and uptime in demanding applications
- No inks or solvents, so it is environmentally friendly and cost-effective
- Easy to use touchscreen software built into the controller
- Intuitive system includes a focus finder and code area preview window
Keep in mind: Scribing technology produces non-dot matrix, razor-sharp marks on a variety of substrates.
Ideal for use: When CIJ systems are not practical or when discrete coding ability for anti-counterfeiting and traceability is desired.
TTO- Thermal Transfer Overprinters
Thermal transfer overprinter products provide accurate printing with a wide range of fonts on many different materials. The FlexPackPro® 420 Series 107mm TTO Coders are rugged, reliable, and provides the industry’s lowest total cost of ownership.
- Rugged-built with 7000 series aircraft-grade treated aluminum alloy and stainless steel
- Clutchless ribbon drive and tension control design maximize uptime and performance
- Color LCD touchscreen controllers with WYSIWYG print preview
- 300dpi Kyocera® printheads and self-leveling mounts offer superior code quality on every run
- Superior Festo® pneumatics offer improved image quality and longer printhead life
Keep in mind: TTO options from FlexPackPro offer full-featured design software that comes standard with every model.
Ideal for use: In general applications when you wish to print variable barcodes, text, and graphics on flexible packaging film and labels.
LINC Systems carries a variety of industrial packaging products as well as marking, coding, and labeling supplies from top-rated brands. If you need help selecting the right printing technology or labeling systems for your needs, contact us today by calling 800-513-9918 or visit LINCsystems.com.
Ed Moss is the Vice President of Packaging Sales for LINC Systems.