Printing on Flexible Packaging

InkJet, Inc. Divider

Across a number of industries, flexible packaging stands as one of the most valuable and frequently used substrates on the market today. An umbrella term used to describe a range of packaging forms constructed from plastic, paper, aluminum foil, coated paper, and/or film, flexible packaging is valued for its cost-effectiveness and ability to prolong shelf-life. As such, bags, pouches, packages, and cartons made from flexible packaging are commonly found throughout the food industry, beverage packaging, pharmaceutical development, and personal care/cosmetics among others. 

In each of these fields, companies use flexible packaging to house thousands of products per day. To achieve this level of output, businesses commonly utilize industrial production lines that move at hundreds of meters per minute. For peak performance and to avoid costly downtime, companies must use line hardware that is capable of reliable performance day-in and day-out. This is especially true when it comes to industrial printing. 

Whether a company is producing bagged snack food or pharmaceutical blister packs, they are required by both supply chain guidelines and federal regulations to place traceable codes and markings on their products. If these codes are absent, poorly placed, or filled with incorrect information, companies may need to perform costly recalls, pay penalties, risk bad publicity, and/or sour supply chain relationships. Fortunately, industrial printing on flexible packaging isn't difficult when you have the expert help of InkJet, Inc. 

Offering an array of quality printers and diverse ink options, here’s how InkJet, Inc. can help your company properly place traceable markings on a consistent basis.

 

flexible packaging

Essential Concerns When Printing on Flexible Packaging

Flexible packaging comes in many different forms and can be made from a variety of materials. Accordingly, there is no “one size fits all” flexible packaging printing solution. For example, if one is placing their products in a pouch primarily made of plastic, printing on the material would require a different printer/ink combination than it would take to print on blister packs covered in aluminum foil. If one doesn’t account for these differences, it can render codes illegible after they’ve been applied

With improper codes come a host of issues. Supply chains rely on traceable markings for inventory purposes, shipping information, and quality control. When these codes are unreadable and unscannable, it can cause mass confusion and recalls resulting in expensive consequences for the manufacturer. 

To avoid these costly issues, companies must find a printer/ink combination that can successfully mark their materials with:
 

 

This is where InkJet, Inc. can help.

Use the Right Printer for Your Operation

When it comes to printing on flexible packaging, companies can choose from a variety of equipment to complete their coding applications. The best hardware choice will largely depend on the individual needs of an operation. For flexible packaging applications, the most frequently used printer types include: 

For decades, thermal transfer overprinters were often considered the best choice for flexible packaging due to their high-speed capabilities and high-DPI codes—two qualities made possible by TTO’s heating mechanism. By applying heat to thermal ink ribbons, TTO machines are able to create sharp, highly legible codes on products moving at industrial speeds.  However, this same ribbon-heating process can make thermal transfer overprinters more difficult to operate as compared to other marking options. 

For example, when using a TTO machine, operators must account for:

  • Periodic ribbon replacements, along with the associated downtime and consumable cost.
  • Proper ribbon tension to ensure that codes come out correctly.
  • Substantial maintenance costs due to TTO machine complexity and environmental vulnerabilities.

To avoid these concerns, many companies have begun turning to other marking methods for their flexible packaging needs. Most notably, continuous inkjet and thermal inkjet printers offer simpler, more reliable alternatives.  

When using a continuous inkjet (CIJ) printer like the DuraCode Touchscreen, companies don’t have to worry about frequent ribbon replacements or hardware tension. Instead, CIJ printers utilize large bottles of ink and makeup so that they can run for an extended period in an uninterrupted fashion. By using a CIJ printer like the DuraCode to mark flexible packaging, companies benefit from:

  • Uninterrupted printing at speeds of 300 meters per minute and above.
  • Wide operating temperature range, stretching from 41-113° F (5-45° C).
  • Mid-operation fluid and filter changes that reduce maintenance-related downtime.
  • Protection against dust particles provided by an IP-rated steel structure. 

As another marking option, thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers offer companies intuitive use, simple setup, and maintenance-free operation. Generally weighing around five pounds, TIJ printers are powered by removable ink cartridges that also operate as printheads. Resulting from this configuration, TIJ printers are easy to move and have fewer maintenance concerns than many other printing options. Furthermore, cutting-edge TIJ printers like the Anser X1 offer levels of environmental resistance and printing speeds that rival many CIJ models. 

Through utilizing the Anser X1 TIJ printer to mark flexible packaging, companies benefit from:

  • High-speed printing, maxing out at 300 meters per minute.
  • Great code resolution, reaching 600 DPI.
  • Wide operating temperature range, stretching from 32-104° F (0-40° C).
  • Total dust ingress protection enabled by the IP66-graded housing.
  • Large-image coding possible of reaching a 2-inch print height when stitching printheads.
Anser X1 Thermal inkjet printer
InkJet Ink selection

Find the Best Ink for Your Materials

Regardless of whether you’re using a thermal transfer overprinter, a continuous inkjet printer, or a thermal inkjet printer, you won't be able to successfully mark your materials if you don’t use the right ink. Flexible packaging substrates range from porous to non-porous, and if you don’t use a formula that you know will work with your specific materials, you run the risk of producing flawed codes. Fortunately, InkJet, Inc. offers a diverse ink portfolio that is filled with unique formulas that are compatible with any number of flexible packaging materials. 

At InkJet, Inc, we have been developing formulas for over 30 years. From this experience, we have obtained the knowledge necessary to provide companies with the best formulas to fit their needs. Further, if you have specific substrate requirements that go beyond what standard formulas can deliver, we offer custom ink services to meet every specification.  These custom offerings can include:

  • High-temperature resistance
  • Alcohol resistance 
  • UV readability
  • Thermochromic properties (i.e., color changes after the retort cycle)
  • Different color varieties

Need Help Printing on Flexible Packaging? InkJet, Inc. Is Here to Support You

Flexible packaging is a great asset to a number of different industries. However, it can be difficult to find the right hardware and formula combination to successfully print on the material with precision and consistency. Fortunately, InkJet, Inc. has the printers, ink, and expertise necessary to provide you with the best equipment to fit your needs. Call us today to learn how we can help improve your operation. 

For more information related to printing on flexible packaging, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245.

 

InkJet, Inc. Divider
Contact Us

We use cookies on our website to support technical features that enhance your user experience.

We also use analytics & advertising services. To opt-out click for more information.