Aerospace Part Marking Ink & Machines

Direct part marking is common throughout the aerospace industry. Faced with rigid standards and regulations, aerospace part manufacturers mark components to ensure supply chain traceability. To create these codes, many companies turn towards inkjet printers.

Learn why here.
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Throughout the aerospace industry, direct part marking is an essential practice. Both internal policies and external standards posed by systems like Spec 2000 require aerospace manufacturers to place either 1D barcodes or 2D data matrices onto their parts and assemblies. These markings enable companies to track components throughout the manufacturing process and the larger supply chain. Consequently, parts can easily be located during service, while in transit, or if there ever needs to be a recall. 

To make these codes, aerospace companies employ a variety of methods including dot peening, laser marking, and electrochemical etching. Of the available marking options, inkjet printing is one of the most common. Versatile, effective, and available with a low initial investment, inkjet printing is used for a range of aerospace applications. At InkJet, Inc., we offer quality options in the aerospace part marking ink and machines arena. Here’s what to consider with aerospace part marking.

Data Codes

Meet Aerospace Standards with Inkjet Printing

For aerospace vehicles to operate successfully, all parts must seamlessly work together. Aerospace engineers ensure safety by subjecting parts to rigorous chemical, physical, and thermal testing. These tests help predict and reduce material/mechanical failure. Given the complexity of these parts, it’s important to know exactly where each component came from along the supply chain. 

The aerospace industry creates this traceability through various information standards and specifications. Systems like Spec 2000 and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) AS9132 establish numbering schemes and readability standards that ensure each component can be traced back to its origin. 

To comply with these systems, companies need to use reliable marking methods that can print readable codes. Systems like SAE AS9132 grade codes on certain parameters to qualify for lasting scannability. For example, SAE AS9132 grades 2D data matrices on the following 

  1. Quiet zone, the unmarked area that surrounds the symbol.

  2. Symbol contrast, the reflective difference between the light and dark parts of a code.

  3. Cell fill, the percentage of how an element is filling the ideal cell size.

  4. Dot center offset, a dot’s position relative to the cell position.

  5. Dot ovality, how much round elements are deviating from their circle.

  6. Angle of distortion, the amount of deviation that occurs between rows and columns of the code. 

If any of these elements don’t meet system standards, supply chain issues can ensue. Fortunately, products from InkJet, Inc. can help you stay in compliance.

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Find the Right Machine for Your Operation

For decades, inkjet printers have been used as go-to aerospace part marking machines. Using non-contact coding methods, inkjet printers are able to mark a wide range of materials, including both porous and non-porous substrates. The non-contact ink application enables inkjet printers to handle a variety of conventionally challenging surface types as well, including convex and concave areas.

Two types of inkjet printers are commonly used in the aerospace industry today: continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers and thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers. Both machines are capable of producing high-quality codes, but their mechanical properties make them ideal for different applications. 

Continuous inkjet printers, like the DuraCode Touchscreen and DuraCode Keyboard, offer:

  • High-Speed Printing: CIJ printers create pressurized streams of ink that can code parts moving at over 1,000 feet per minute.

  • Uninterrupted Operation: CIJ printers are capable of uninterrupted coding 24/7.

  • Environmental Resistance: CIJ printers like those in the DuraCode series are built from modular stainless steel with IP55 designation. This fortifies them against environmental issues like dust particles and a certain degree of humidity.

  • Simple Maintenance: CIJ printers are constructed with few moving parts making most problems minor and easy to solve.

Continuous inkjet printer

Thermal inkjet printers, like the Anser Pro-S and cutting-edge Anser X1, offer:

  • Thermal inkjet printer

    High Mobility: TIJ printers only weigh around five pounds making them highly portable and easy to move along assembly lines.

  • Zero-Maintenance Operation: TIJ printers use removable cartridges for their ink supplies. These cartridges also function as the machine’s printhead—every time that the cartridge is changed, it is akin to changing the printhead. This eliminates the need for printhead maintenance, allowing the machine to successfully work for years without maintenance.

  • Quality Codes at Intermittent Paces: TIJ printers create codes at a DPI resolution of 600 x 300 (600 x 600 for the Anser X1). Most TIJ models offer speeds at around 120 m/min, making them ideal for intermittent coding tasks. (Note: the X1 is capable of printing at around 300m/min allowing it to rival many CIJ printers.)

Contact InkJet, Inc. to discuss which of these options will work best for you.

 

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Inkjet Ink Formulas

Utilize the Ideal Ink Formula for Your Parts

Selecting the right printer isn’t the only important element to consider when marking parts—it’s also essential to use the right ink. Not all ink formulas are created equal as different surface textures vary in their ability to maintain code legibility. Fortunately, both CIJ and TIJ printers are compatible with a wide variety of inks allowing them to successfully mark diverse substrates.

The team here at InkJet, Inc. has been developing and supplying ink for over 30 years. We understand the chemistry behind the ink, and we utilize this expertise to help our clients find the best ink for their needs. We provide formulas for the following applications:

We can also custom-make ink with unique properties accounting for:

  • High surface temperature 

  • Alcohol resistance

  • Chemical presence

  • Oil or grease layering

 

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InkJet, Inc: Your Home for Aerospace Part Marking Ink and Machines

Continuous inkjet and thermal inkjet printers can make direct part marking more efficient and reliable. More cost-effective than other options such as dot peening and laser etching, inkjet printers are an accessible way to help your company stay compliant with rigid aerospace standards and regulations. Call the expert team here at InkJet, Inc. to discuss which printer option will work best for you.

For more information on inkjet printing’s aerospace applications, or to discuss specific aerospace part marking ink and machines, contact InkJet, Inc. online or by phone at 1(800) 280-3245.

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