Additional inkjet marking of the label in the automatic application process

14 Dec 2021 - Michał Wąs

The label placed on the product is a source of information. However, the data on the label may sometimes be incomplete. Some label components (e.g., serial number, order number, date) can only be generated during the production process or during packaging and storage. How to conduct additional labelling and complete data on the label that has already been applied to the product?

The solution is to equip the production line with an additional labelling system based on an inkjet printer. The printer uses ink to apply the missing data to the empty spaces on the label. It is necessary for the additional marking process to be conducted at the stage when the product is moving, and its positioning is constant. It is possible to label a non-moving product, but this entails the installation of an additional pneumatic system or servomechanism that provides movement to the print head.

Additional information can be printed with inkjet technology in the form of fixed and variable data, 1D/2D codes and graphic designs. Communication with master systems is ensured via Ethernet TCP/IP or serial interfaces. In the case of variable speed of the product to be labelled, it is necessary to install an optional encoder. The software delivered together with the device makes it possible to create printing designs and set some rules for the realisation of given tasks. For instance, the rules for the operation of fields in the numbering mode.

Inkjet marking is a faster method than traditional marking

The indisputable advantage of inkjet marking is the ability to operate at much faster speeds (up to 600m/minute) than traditional thermal transfer labelling. Depending on the surface of the label (paper/foil), suitable water-based or solvent-based inks are used, providing a permanent and legible print. Due to a wide range of colours available, it is possible to highlight the added information on the label in another colour. For specific requirements, the print can be applied with an invisible ink that is only visible when illuminated with a UV light.

An alternative to additional marking of the label applied to the product is ink marking of the label located on the ribbon installed in the automatic label applicator. Printing is conducted while moving the ribbon during successive cycles of applying labels to products. Such a solution is recommended for marking labels intended for application to cylindrical products. This is the case, for instance, of bottles and cans due to the difficulty of positioning them for additional printing in the right place on the label.

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Versatility and flexibility in proper product labelling

In special cases, the combination of automatic labelling systems cooperating with inkjet modules will provide versatility and flexibility in proper product labelling. Low operating costs will not be an economic burden, whereas the ease of use will provide comfort of daily use, relieving the production line operators.

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