Factors to Consider When Selecting a Product Coding and Marking System
Several factors are driving the increasing need for product coding in the market. The main reasons are regulatory requirements, traceability needs and display of information (such as expiration dates for consumers). So manufacturers are looking for solutions to print essential information on the surfaces of their products. Inkjet printers are one of the best solutions to achieve these goals.
These printers offer a cost-effective solution with superior print quality, and their technology is suitable for a wide range of applications.
Industries such as automotive, beverage, building products, consumer packaged goods, electronics, glass products, pharmaceutical & medical, plastics and rubber goods are using industrial inkjet printers.
Some of the critical factors that you need to consider when you are selecting an industrial inkjet printer are
- Material and substrate type: The type of material that you want to print data on determines the kind of ink that you should use in the printer. So, printing on a porous (absorbent) surface such as paper, cardboard, textiles, carpet, non-woven fabrics, and wood would be different from printing on a non-porous (non-absorbent) surface such as metal, glass, ceramics, stone, plastic, rubber, foils.
- The shape of an object – printing on small diameter cable or pipe could require a different print head than printing on big boxes.
- Ink type: does your application require food safe ink?
- Ink drying time: if you have a fast-moving production line where product markings have to dry quickly before the next line operation, then you need a fast drying printer ink.
- Image size and quality – what quantity of information do you need to mark on your product?
- Are you coding on primary or secondary packing or both? Does the printed information need to be machine readable? What is the size of the area to be printed on? Answering these questions will help you to determine the required print resolution and character size that the printer is capable of producing.
- Line Speed – to prevent bottlenecks on your manufacturing line, you need to know the line speed of your manufacturing line. A standard 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.
- Inventory of pre-printed packaging – an industrial 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.
- Manufacturing environment – 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 setup and maintenance.
- Data to be printed – 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) etc.
- Print head technology – Based on your manufacturing line, you may require the print head of the printer to be tilted at different angles to mark the product in the required location.In this case, a print system with a remote print head could be a suitable choice. Also, given that print heads need to be periodically cleaned, it is essential to consider if the speed and process for print head cleaning.
- Ease of operation and set-up – check if the printing system is essentially plugged and play and requires a minimal amount of set-up and user training to get the system operational