According to the latest statistics, the US suntan lotion market is currently worth over one billion dollars. Brands like Banana Boat and Neutrogena make millions of dollars every year off of various lotions, oils, and other tanning/sunscreen products. Available through grocery stores, sporting good outlets, online retailers, and even gas stations, suntan and sunscreen goods are seemingly ubiquitous, especially during the spring and summer months when people want to be outside as much as possible.
With these wide distribution networks comes the need for complete product traceability and compliance with regulating bodies at the state and federal level. As any suntan lotion/sunscreen manufacturer knows, product recalls aren’t uncommon. In 2021, for example, several Neutrogena, Coppertone, and Aveeno products were recalled due to the presence of benzene, a carcinogen that has been linked to blood cancer and other illnesses. Markings like lot codes, serial numbers, and date codes are essential to recall success and are required by most distributors nationwide.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to place traceable codes onto suntan lotion and sunscreen products. Many of these goods are housed in packaging made from plastics like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which can be resistant to certain marking technologies, such as laser coding systems. Further, the product ingredients themselves can make these materials less receptive to many ink formulas.
If you’re struggling with keeping your suntan lotion coding dates clear and legible, this guide will help improve your marking process.
Why It Can Be Difficult To Make Long-Lasting Suntan Lotion Coding Dates
Although many don’t realize it, labeling suntan lotion products with variable data can be a difficult task to complete correctly. Historically, suntan lotion manufacturers and co-packers have run into issues with keeping codes clean and legible throughout the product lifecycle.
The source of these problems is two-fold:
- Packaging Material: The most common material used to create suntan lotion bottles is HDPE. A rigid plastic, HDPE is resistant to markings made with laser systems and many ink formulas. These factors can greatly reduce contrast and weaken code adherence, increasing the likelihood of marking damage during distribution.
- Ingredients: The unique ingredients used to create suntan lotion can slightly alter the surface properties of HDPE. When this occurs, it can make applied codes less stable, increasing the possibility of readability problems.
Due to these factors, codes can become unreadable during distribution. The way bottles are packaged during transit often leads to surface-on-surface contact, and the resulting friction can make codes messy and illegible. This not only renders the product noncompliant with distributor traceability guidelines, but federal regulations as well.
As an over-the-counter (OTC) medical product, the FDA maintains that suntan lotion must not be misbranded. Labeling requirements set out in the FDA’s sunscreen OTC monograph and Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Part 330 compel suntan lotion manufacturers to follow careful labeling instructions, and if these instructions aren’t met, it can result in recalls, fines, and other costly penalties.
Thankfully, the right combination of printing hardware and specialty ink can prevent this issue from occurring.
How the Right Printer and Ink Combo Can Improve Your Marking Applications
Considering laser marking’s historic struggles with suntan lotion packaging, manufacturers and co-packers need to turn to other coding technology to complete their marking processes. In this situation, continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers are largely considered the best machine for the job.
Cost-effective, reliable, and capable of high-speed coding for up to 24 hours a day, CIJ printers are a staple of industrial product marking. CIJ models like the DuraCode Touchscreen offer printing speeds above 300 meters per minute, allowing production line operators to maintain high levels of efficiency. Along with fast printing speeds, CIJ printers like the DuraCode are particularly well-suited for suntan lotion coding applications due to their:
- Compatibility With Curved Surfaces: CIJ printing is a non-contact marking method that involves launching ink across a short distance. This allows CIJ printers to handle many curved surfaces, including bottlenecks and bottoms.
- Access to a Wide Variety of Ink Formulas: CIJ printers are compatible with both water-based and solvent-based inks. Consequently, they can code a wide variety of porous and non-porous substrates. Ink formulators, such as InkJet, Inc.’s in-house formulation team, take advantage of this quality by making application-specific printing fluids, including inks that are specifically designed for suntan lotion marking applications.
- Protection Against Common Environmental Hazards: Today’s top CIJ models are built to resist the often challenging environmental elements present in industrial worksites. DuraCode CIJs, for example, are protected against dust and water ingress thanks to their IP55-rated outer structures and are able to operate in a wide temperature range of 41-113° F / 5-45° C.
By using a CIJ-equipped production line to mark suntan lotion packaging, manufacturing and co-packing operations can ensure that their goods are code-compliant while still maintaining high levels of operational efficiency.
Ready To Improve Your Product Marking Process? Call InkJet, Inc. Today
When you’re printing on a product like suntan lotion, it’s imperative to have the right hardware and ink for the job. Materials like HDPE can easily make certain ink formulas unstable, and when these formulas go through the shipping process, codes can become illegible, rendering your products non-compliant with traceability standards.
At InkJet, Inc., we can help you avoid this scenario with the help of our specially crafted suntan lotion bottle-compatible ink formulas. Built to work with a variety of CIJ printers, our ink can ensure that your codes are built to last. Contact us today to learn more.
For more information on how to create long-lasting suntan lotion coding dates and traceable markings, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245.