All product manufacturers have the responsibility of meeting the increased demand for brand protection and product identification. That is one of the reasons they rely on coding technology from their factories throughout the supply chain.
There are several different types of coding technologies, each with its own benefits and challenges. Therefore, when choosing the best option for your industry, you need to consider several aspects like the print quality, industry environment, type of materials, and the speed of the applications involved.
The three big coding technologies include continuous inkjet (CIJ), hot melt technology, and thermal transfer overprinting (TTO).
Coding Technology Comparisons
Continuous Inkjet – CIJ
CIJ, short for continuous inkjet is one of the oldest of inkjet technologies still in use. This process sends a continuous stream of ink at a high velocity via a nozzle, which breaks down the ink into droplets. These droplets are selectively charged, then deflected onto a substrate to print dot matrix characters. Ink droplets left undeflected are recirculated and sent back to the ink tank to be recycled and use later.
Continuous inkjet printers are capable of printing code onto virtually any material, regardless of its size, shape, texture, or porosity. The high velocity at which the ink drops are sent allows for the long distance between the printhead and substrate, which makes it a non-contact printing option. It also allows for high-speed printing.
Solvent ink bases provide a fast-drying solution, making CIJ suitable for coding and marking on a moving production line. Continuous inkjet technology is also accurate, durable, and versatile across many industries.
Hot Melt Inkjet
Hot melt inkjet technology was designed to create an alternative to CIJ. With hot melt inkjet printing, a solid, wax-resin-based ink block melts internally and then the melted ink is expelled via nozzles through a piezoelectric action.
The hot melted ink becomes solid the instant it contacts the substrate. This process Is unlike water-based inks that depend on the evaporation of a solvent to dry used in CIJ. Because the melted ink solidifies quickly, the droplet is easily controlled, resulting in properly formed characters and codes. Hot melt inkjet will adhere to almost any substrate without weeping, like you find in some applications where CIJ and TTO are used.
Hot melt inks are solid at room temperature, which means you can pick them up without any special gear or requirements. There is no spilling because the ink is melted internally and is clean. It’s also considered to be environmentally friendly because it doesn’t require chemical solvents or water.
Thermal Transfer Overprinting (TTO)
Thermal transfer overprinting replaces older analog technology like hot stampers. It is designed to work exclusively on flexible substrates. The process involves a thermal printhead that transfers ink from a wax-resin mix or resin-only coated ribbon to the material.
There are small resistors designed to heat the print area accurately through a fast on and off action. It is never in contact with the substrate for any length of time that would cause damage to the packaging. TTO is suited to almost all flexible materials like foil, paper labels, and plastic. This printing technology is also able to print on delicate substrates like certain types of shrink wrap.
TTO technology has two modes to work with and depends on how the printhead is moved according to the ribbon and the substrate. This printing technology is suitable for both continuous and intermittent printing applications.
Thermal transfer overprinters are program controlled and customizable for data like time stamps and/or codes for each package. They offer high-resolution, clear printing. New TTO technology uses the minimum of ribbon, which makes it economical.
How to Choose Your Coding Technology
When choosing your ideal coding technology, it’s imperative to know the strengths of each technology and how compatible it will be with your other factory equipment on the line. It’s crucial to match your printer capabilities with your production line communications and that the printer can process the information and print at the speeds you need for your production lines.
If you are unfamiliar with how to choose the proper technologies for your coding processes, refer to experts in industrial inks and inkjet technologies. Manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers often have the knowledge and advice you’ll need.
We recommend Needham Ink – who sells various industrial inks including compatible domino ink.