Designing an Efficient Ink Marking System for Small Print

Product marking is an important part of any food packaging operation. Not only are batch numbers and barcodes required by distribution chains, many state and federal laws also require them.

To stay compliant, it’s essential to pick the right ink for code applications. Read more to learn how.

Throughout the manufacturing world, small character printing is a must. Whether due to industry standards or federal regulations, it is extremely common for companies across industries to mark their materials with barcodes, data matrices, batch numbers, and more. Industries like pharmaceutical companies, wire producers, and PCB manufacturers all place these codes on products/packaging to raise consumer awareness and enable supply chain traceability. 

Further, these companies must accommodate the relatively small size of their products. Objects like printed circuit boards and electronic wiring don’t offer much space for codes. To compensate for this, manufacturers need to utilize printers with small character capabilities. With a reliable printing system, companies can place important codes on their products, no matter the size.

Here’s how to develop a great ink marking system for small character applications:

Know Your Setup

Ink marking systems take on a variety of forms to meet the needs of different groups. Even when companies share the same industry, their internal operations can vary wildly. 

For example, certain enterprises perform all of their printing applications along a production line. These lines often employ high speeds and continuous operation requiring an industrial-strength marking system. Other companies may not have a conventional high-speed production line; instead, they may have a line that is used intermittently, or they could have no line at all. In these cases, smaller, less powerful printers are a more cost-effective option. 

To accommodate the diverse needs of modern industrial coding, ink marking system developers offer a range of solutions that utilize:

With these different hardware options, companies can either choose a printer that will best fit their current setup or obtain a new printer and adapt their operation accordingly. Attachments like small character nozzles also guarantee that the hardware can create text at the desired size.

Know Your Materials

For a marking system to succeed, the ink must be well-suited for the application. If an ink isn’t compatible with the intended substrate, the code won’t dry correctly. This may cause:

  • Marks that are highly susceptible to physical damage and environmental changes

  • Unscannable codes 

  • Illegible characters

  • Ink migration

When any of these problems occur, it can cause major issues along the supply chain, hinder traceability, and place products in violation of federal law and distribution requirements. 

To ensure code viability, it’s essential to speak with an expert about the materials in one’s operation. Porous substrates (e.g. paper, cardboard, untreated woods, etc.) allow ink to sink below the surface for even, highly legible results. Non-porous substrates (e.g. plastics, metals, glass, etc.) don’t allow for the same level of adhesion, which may lead to ink bleed and unreadable codes. 

Ink developers avoid ink adherence issues by offering:
 

  • Water-Based Inks for Porous Substrates: Water-based inks are cost-effective, conducive to high DPI results, and keep printheads sufficiently moist during inactivity.

  • Solvent-Based Inks for Non-Porous Substrates: Solvent-based inks dry quicker than water-based inks and are highly resistant to physical damages. These properties allow solvent-based formulas to create sharp, long-lasting images onto non-porous materials.

Know Your Production Environment

The final piece of the ink marking system puzzle is to note any significant concerns related to the workplace. Industrial facilities are often home to harsh environmental factors that could affect code quality if unaccounted for. Some of these issues include:

  • Excessive dryness

  • Excessive humidity

  • High temperatures

  • Low temperatures

  • Dust particles

  • Chemical presence

  • Water presence

If these elements interfere with printing hardware, it could lead to the possibility of unreadable codes, machine damage, and periods of expensive downtime. 

Fortunately, companies can avoid these problems by examining their day-to-day activities and taking note of their work environment. By recording general humidity, temperature, airborne particles, and fluid exposure, businesses are able to recognize what protections their machines need for daily operation.

With these notes in hand, companies can ensure that their printers offer the optimal:

  • Operating temperature range

  • Humidity resistance

  • Dust particle protection

  • Water protection

Small Print Ink Marking Systems Maximize Efficiency and Enable Traceability

Regardless of whether you are imprinting products moving at 1000 feet per minute or marking stationary stacks of material, there is a small print ink system that is right for you. At InkJet, Inc, we offer a range of CIJ and TIJ printers that are perfect for creating small text and graphics. Based on your operational needs, product line, and workplace environment, we can develop a custom ink marking system that meets all of your requirements. Call today to get started.

For more information on small print ink marking systems, contact InkJet, Inc. online or by phone at 1(800) 280-3245.

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