Metal Pipe Marking & Coding

Metal pipes are commonly used in construction, manufacturing, electronics, etc. In these contexts, they often display codes to ensure traceability, display information, and prevent counterfeiting.

This guide shows what you need to know about metal pipe marking and coding.
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Commonly used in construction and automotive manufacturing, as well as the transport of oil, gas, and water, metal pipes have helped the world efficiently operate since the 1800s. Additionally, from running the cooling systems in our refrigerators to acting as safeguards on stairs and balconies, metal pipes are a truly ubiquitous part of modern life. In addition to their presence, metal pipes have another ubiquitous quality, the presence of manufacturer codes. 

Companies that produce metal pipes, regardless of whether they are involved in construction, aerospace, electronics, etc., code these materials to enable traceability, display important production data, and prevent counterfeiting. These codes generally take the form of numeric lot numbers or machine-scannable bar codes. 

To help you keep these markings clear and legible throughout product lifespan, InkJet, Inc. offers a range of printer and ink combinations perfect for metal pipe marking and coding. No matter what unique characteristics are exhibited by your production line, our team of experts can find a printing solution that’s perfect for you.  

Important Considerations for Metal Pipe Marking and Coding

Printing codes in a consistently legible manner—in often challenging environments—requires you to consider certain key factors. Chief amongst these considerations are that:

  • Metal part factory

    Metal is non-porous: Unlike other substrates like wood, cardboard, and paper, metal does not absorb the ink applied to its surface. Accordingly, solvent-based inks are needed for this application, as they dry quicker than water-based inks—producing a sharp image on non-porous substrates.

  • The environment matters: The continuous production lines that create metal pipes are often in harsh environments. Higher temperatures, humidity levels, dust, and tool vibrations can all affect the success of the printing process. Facilities where these environmental factors are present need to find printers and inks that can accommodate them.

  • You need to understand your production line needs: To uncover the printer and ink that is right for your operation, you need to understand your line’s required printing speed, print resolution, mobility needs, print size, and the sizes of the pipes to be marked. 

Understanding all of these properties will help determine which printer type and model is best suited for you.

How Products Are Traditionally Marked: Valve Jet vs. TIJ and CIJ  

Traditionally, valve jet DOD printers were the go-to option for metal pipe marking and related applications. Valve jet printers are well-constructed machines that are durable enough to withstand challenging work conditions. When equipped with the appropriate ink, they can create high-quality, lasting codes on metal and other industrial supplies. 

However, valve jet printers also have certain technological limitations:

  • Bundle of metal pipes with inkjet codes printed on them

    Code Limitations: Valve jet printers can’t print barcodes or QR codes.

  • Smaller Ink Portfolio: Compared to alternatives like thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers and continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers, valve jet printers are compatible with fewer ink types, thus limiting the variety of possible applications.

  • Demanding Setup: Valve jet printers mark substrates with a pressurized stream of ink. However, unlike CIJ machines, the pressure must come from an outside source. Facilities power valve jet printers via a dedicated air line and pressure regulator. This makes set up complicated as compared to more modern alternatives.

Due to these challenges, many companies have looked to better choices for their metal marking options. This is where TIJ and CIJ machines come in.

Recommended Printers for Metal Pipes, Fittings, and Lower-Volume Runs

Depending on your production needs, we recommend one of the following printer types. Both products offer accurate, reliable coding, even when put into some challenging industrial environments. 

Anser U2 Pro Thermal Inkjet Printer

Compact, lightweight, and versatile, the Anser U2 Pro is a thermal inkjet (TIJ) printer that is designed to work with solvent-based inks that are perfect for metal pipe marking and coding. The U2 Pro offers users:

  • Anser U2 Pro

    An intuitive UI with a 3.5-inch LCD Screen

  • 0.5” printing height

  • A max printing speed of 120 m/min (394 ft/min)

  • A max resolution of 600 x 300 DPI

  • Zero-maintenance operation

  • An operating range of 59°F – 95°F (15°C – 35°C)

This thermal inkjet printer is a better option for intermittent production lines. If your production line is continuously moving and more demanding, then the next product will be a better fit. 

DuraCode Continuous Inkjet Printer

For higher speed, continuously moving operations, DuraCode continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers offer a solution for printing on metal. Built with a stainless steel IP55 certified industrial structure, DuraCode printers provide increasingly reliable operation and these specifications:

DuraCode Continuous Inkjet Printer
  • Easy-to-use interfaces that are either touchscreen or keyboard-based

  • Printing fonts available in 5x5, 7x5, 9x6, 11x8, 16x11, 24x17, and 32x22

  • A max printing speed of 320 m/min (1050 ft/min)

  • A max printing distance of 1 – 3 inches (25.4 – 76.2 mm)

  • The ability to easily print on curved surfaces

  • Ability to use a variety of inks for both porous and non-porous applications

  • An operating range of 41°F – 113°F (5°C – 45°C)

If you are unsure of which printer will fit your needs, our expert team is happy to provide guidance on what will work best for your unique operation.

Find the Perfect Ink for Metal Pipe Marking and Coding

In addition to providing printers, the InkJet, Inc. team has been developing ink for over 30 years. When you choose InkJet, Inc., you choose a team that knows the ins-and-outs of each ink formulation and can ensure that you obtain the perfect ink for your production line. 

Our metal-compatible ink offerings include:

We Can Help End Your Printer and Ink Search

Finding the perfect printer and ink combination for your enterprise doesn’t have to be a challenge. Simply contact the expert team here at InkJet, Inc., tell us the details of your operation, and we can help you find the solution you’ve been looking for. 

For more information on metal pipe marking and coding, or any other questions related to printers and ink, contact InkJet, Inc. online or by phone at (800) 280-3245.

 

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