Quality Inkjet Printing on Aluminum Cans, Foil, Bottles & More

Successfully printing on aluminum cans, bottles, and foil requires the right hardware and ink combination. Here’s what you need.
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Aluminum is one of the most widely used materials in modern packaging. Strong and versatile, aluminum is utilized in many different industries, most prominently in food preparation and beverage packaging. Prized for its recyclability and ability to provide great barrier protection, aluminum is used in a variety of forms including cans, bottles, foil, and wrappers. 

As with other industrial packaging materials, aluminum cans, bottles, and wrappers are all often required to bear traceable codes when sent along supply chains and sold in stores. Generally taking the shape of barcodes, “best before” date stamps, and batch numbers, these markings help create internal and external traceability. This helps to keep companies compliant with distributor standards and federal regulations. If these markings are absent or unreadable, it can lead to large fines, recalls, and other consequences.

Fortunately, printing on aluminum cans, bottles, and foil isn’t difficult when you have the right equipment. Read more to learn how InkJet, Inc.’s hardware and ink formulas can keep your company code compliant.

 Coded Can

The Importance of Properly Applied Codes

Regardless of whether you are using aluminum to can paint, bottle beer, or wrap granola bars, traceable codes are a must. Aluminum’s great barrier protection provides products with long-lasting shelf lives.

This shelf-stability allows products to be stored for extended periods of time and shipped along great distances. In both of these cases, traceable codes enable companies to know exactly where the products are being stored, where they originated from, and where they are going. 

The most commonly applied codes include:

  • Barcodes

  • Lot codes

  • Data matrices

  • Best-by dates

  • Julian dates

  • Line numbers

  • Date numbers

Without these markings, products can easily become lost and companies could violate the policies set by distributors and regulatory bodies. Further complicating the matter is the fact that harsh environmental conditions and unreliable hardware can easily make codes illegible during production. 

To avoid potential traceability issues, those working with aluminum packaging need to utilize the right hardware for the job—this is where InkJet, Inc. can help.

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Continuous Inkjet Printer

Aluminum canning and bottling lines are known for moving at considerably high speeds, often above 1,000 feet per minute. Consequently, companies require printers that can mark fast-moving substrates without issue. After all, if a production line printer isn’t able to keep up with demand, it can lead to profit-draining downtime. Further, if a printer fails to print codes legibly, it can lead to recalls, supply chain issues, and major fines.

To avoid these problems, production line operators utilize continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers like the DuraCode Touchscreen and DuraCode Keyboard. Powerful and versatile, CIJ printers are perfect for industrial aluminum marking applications as they offer:

  • High-speed coding capabilities above 1,000 feet per minute

  • Curved surface compatibility enabling simple bottle and can marking

  • 24/7 uninterrupted coding for maximum uptime

  • Reliable operation aided by sturdy, IP-graded industrial structures

  • Mid-operation filter and fluid changes for minimal work time disruptions

With a DuraCode printer, companies can mark tens of thousands of aluminum substrates within an hour. Of course, no printer can successfully place a code without the proper ink. InkJet, Inc. can help here as well.

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The Best Inks for Printing on Aluminum Cans, Bottles, Foil, and More

Like all other metals, aluminum is a non-porous substrate, meaning that ink is unable to penetrate the material’s surface. Accordingly, water-based inks do not respond well to aluminum. Rather than drying cleanly, water-based inks end up running along the material’s surface, leaving illegible markings. 

Fortunately, InkJet, Inc. offers a range of solvent-based inks that are perfect for aluminum applications. Solvent-based inks have a much quicker drying time than water-based inks, allowing them to leave clean, sharp codes on metal substrates. In addition to standard formulas, InkJet, Inc. also offers inks with special characteristics including:

  • UV readability

  • High-temperature resistance

  • Humidity resistance

  • Alcohol resistance

  • Thermochromic features (color change after the retort cycle)  

 InkJet, Inc. ink
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cans on a production line

Optimize Your Operation with the Help of InkJet, Inc.

If you are printing on aluminum cans, bottles, foil, and more, it’s essential to have reliable equipment. With the challenging conditions of industrial packaging sites and the unique qualities of aluminum substrates, using the wrong hardware and ink combination can have disastrous results. 

Fortunately, we here at InkJet, Inc. have been developing industrial printing solutions for decades. We understand what it takes to maximize uptime in the face of challenges and minimize the risk of mistakes. Call us today to learn how we can help improve your operation. 

For more information related to printing on aluminum cans, bottles, or foil, contact InkJet, Inc. online or by phone at 1(800) 280-3245.

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