Several factors are driving the increasing need for product coding and marking. These include regulatory requirements, traceability needs, and display of information.
Many manufacturers are using industrial inkjet printing (such as Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) or Drop on Demand (DoD)) to mark and code their products. The attributes of the printing surface significantly impact inkjet print quality.
Therefore, it is critical to evaluate how an ink interacts with substrates for coding and marking.
These printers offer a cost-effective solution with superior print quality. And, this type of printing technology is suitable for a wide range of applications. Some of the industries using industrial inkjet printers are:
The main determinants of print quality are:
So, here we have listed some of the important factors that you need to consider when selecting an industrial marking & coding printer:
Any print surface can be considered a substrate. The substrate plays an essential part in the inkjet printing process. Surface condition and porosity determine the printability characteristics of a substrate.
The attributes of the printing surface significantly impact inkjet print quality. Therefore, it is critical to evaluate how the ink interacts with substrates for coding and marking.
The type of material that information will be printed on determines the type of ink that will be used in the printer. Some ink types have better surface adhesion than others. And, the porosity of the print surface is a crucial component in effective ink bonding.
So, if you will be printing on a porous (absorbent) surface such as paper, cardboard, textiles, carpet, non-woven fabrics, wood, organic surfaces, etc., then the ink type will be different than if you are printing on a non-porous (non-absorbent) surface such as metal, glass, ceramics, stone, plastic, rubber, foils, etc. Therefore, you need to know what type of substrate the printer can print on.
Printing on a flat surface is a given for all printers. However, there is a threshold where the increasing curvature of the printing surface will result in diminished print quality or no print at all. So, if you need to print on a curved surface, you should make sure that the printer you are considering will print legible, clean marks on your products. Look for a printer with a larger throw distance. CIJ printers have higher throw distances and therefore a better choice for printing on surfaces with high curvature.
Selecting the correct ink type for your application will determine the quality, durability, and readability of your codes and marks. Factors affecting ink adherence and performance must be considered. These include the manufacturing environment (temperature, humidity, dust, etc.), time the ink has to dry, i.e., the time between printing and the subsequent production operation. So, these aspects of printer ink should be considered:
A higher DPI means higher resolution, and a higher resolution means more detail in the print output and therefore better print quality.
So, you need to decide:
Answering these questions will help you to determine the required print resolution and character size that your choice of printer needs to be capable of producing.
To prevent bottlenecks on your manufacturing line, you need to know the line speed of your manufacturing line. A common measure of printer line speed is meters per second. So, among the various measures of production line speed, make sure that you know your line speed in meters or feet per second.
An industrial coding and marking system can help you to reduce or eliminate the need to keep an inventory of pre-printed packaging, which has to be stored and managed for each unique product. And, since you can print on demand, package markings can be changed without having to scrap pre-printed packaging.
How many manufacturing lines require a printer? Will the printer be installed in a humid or dusty environment and be subject to vibration and temperature fluctuations? Can the print head withstand knocks occasionally delivered by products colliding into it? Can the printer be placed in a network of printers and be controlled through a network? A networked solution helps to diminish the amount of time that needs to be spent message set-up and maintenance.
What type of data needs to be coded or marked on your product packaging – do you need to print static data such as company information and product name or, will there be a dynamic variable data such as date, time, counter, shift code, serial numbers, Unique Device Identification (UDI). How easily and quickly can code information be changed?
Based on your production line, you may require the ability to print in any direction or with a titled print head. Therefore a printer with a remote print head would offer this functionality. Printing in a landscape or skyscraper print orientation could be done using a singular printer. Also, given that print heads need to be periodically cleaned, it is important to consider printer maintenance requirements and the process and the time required for print head cleaning.
Check if the printing system is plug and play, which requires minimal set-up and user training to get the system operational.
How easily can the printer be integrated into your existing production line. Check that the printer manufacturer is capable of providing custom mounting, and possess the knowledge and expertise to offer you an integrated solution and industrial automation, control system design & integration and turnkey automation.
Make sure that your selected coding and marking system offers an easy to use operating system that offers: