Wires are a ubiquitous material in modern technology and are seemingly used in nearly every industry across the globe. This ubiquity is often taken for granted by consumers as they use these items without considering what materials they’re made of or how they were created. However, if you work in the industry, you know exactly what goes into this and that there are steps that cannot be taken for granted.
Aside from the labor of manufacturing is the frequently overlooked step of printing codes on these products. Depending on the specific uses and qualities of the wire in question, these codes can take a variety of forms to reflect industry standards and regulations. To help your company effectively create these codes, this article will explore the different considerations to have when wire coding and marking, as well as explain which printer and ink options are best for which contexts.
Factors That Determine Your Wire Coding and Marking Options
As is the case with any industrial encoding operation, a number of factors come into play when deciding which technology will best suit your product line. For wire coding and marking, some of the most prominent considerations include:
What Substrate Are You Printing On?
Today’s wire manufacturers have access to a wide variety of insulating materials for their products. These various materials provide specific qualities like moisture-resistance, flexibility, heat/fire resistance, and durability.
These coverings generally fall into two categories: thermoplastic material and thermoset material.
- Thermoplastic material will soften and even melt when exposed to high heat. A cost-effective category, this material is chosen for wires that won’t be exposed to extreme temperatures. Common examples include PVC (polyvinyl chloride), nylon, and PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride).
- Thermoset material is compounded and cured so that it resists the high temperatures that affect thermoplastics. Common thermoset examples include XLPE (cross-linked polyethylene), CPE (chlorinated polyethylene), and EPR (ethylene propylene rubber).
Each of these materials has its own unique properties, which means you need to find the right ink that can properly adhere to the surface and provide suitable contrast, ensuring a legible, smudge-free code. This can involve some complex chemistry and so it is best to consult an expert when making these decisions.
What Is the Surface Contour of the Cable?
While the above consideration will have an impact on which ink will be best, this factor will impact hardware choice. When dealing with smaller diameter wires, you need a machine that either (a) has a mechanism that can clearly print upon the curvature, or (b) can print in a smaller font to fit the wire’s size. In most cases, a continuous inkjet (CIJ) printer such as the DuraCode industrial printer can accomplish these actions. CIJ printers’ one-to-three inch printing distance can accommodate curved surfaces and their printed fonts can be clear yet compact.
For larger cables, it’s important that codes are printed clearly enough to be seen without having to rotate the wire itself. This requires a machine capable of printing in a large enough font to be perfectly legible at a distance. High-resolution case coding printers are often great for this scenario, as certain models have printheads that can deliver multi-inch character heights.
What Are the Conditions of Your Production Line?
The characteristics of your production line can be as influential towards your wire coding and marking options as the substrate you’re printing on. When looking at your setup, take note of the following characteristics:
- Production line speed: Do you need high-speed capability for your line? Wire printing operations generally move at hundreds of feet per minute, so it’s essential that you examine the specs of any potential hardwire choices to make sure they can comfortably accommodate your system.
- Environmental factors: Ink can be sensitive to factors such as high temperature, humidity, and dust. When choosing an ink to use, take note of these environmental factors, as skilled ink chemists can create custom solutions to fit your situation, regardless of the circumstances.
Find Expert Advice for Your Operation
With regard to wire coding and marking, it’s essential to make informed decisions about the hardware and ink you select. After all, if you select materials that don’t respond well to your substrates or production environment, it can mean extended downtime or product recalls, both resulting in lost revenue.
Fortunately, our expert team here at InkJet, Inc. has the expertise to aid you in finding the perfect combination of machinery and inks to seamlessly fit your operation. Furthermore, if you’re already using another brand’s printer, our fluids are guaranteed compatible with most major companies, including:
- Little David
To learn more about the wire coding and marking hardware and inks that will best serve your specific production line, or to inquire about our ink testing and validation services, contact InkJet, Inc. today by dialing (800) 280-3245.