Using Large Character Marking for Traceable Codes and Images

Have questions about large character marking? Read here to learn how to create large, high-DPI codes that are built to last.

When most people think about traceable product markings, they likely first imagine small character codes. This association makes sense. After all, small character codes like expiration dates, batch numbers, barcodes, and data matrices are located on nearly all mass distributed products, including pre-packaged food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and cleaning products.

Although it's hard to walk into a store and not see small character markings, large character codes are also an important part of fostering product traceability. For example, large-scale barcodes and logos are often placed on cardboard shipping cartons and other forms of secondary packaging to ensure that the packages can successfully make their way across the supply chain. 

With the help of these large character markings, companies can better meet distributor guidelines, maintain tracking of their goods, and help maximize distribution efficiency. Conversely, if these codes and images are not applied properly, it can lead to many supply chain issues, including delays, rerouted shipments, and lost inventory. 

For those new to the world of large character marking, here’s how you can successfully create vibrant images and long-lasting machine-readable codes.

What Exactly Is Large Character Marking?

Before exploring the different types of large character marking systems on the market today, it’s important to understand what exactly we mean when we use the term “large character marking”. 

Large character marking is an umbrella term that refers to creating codes, text, and images that are around an inch tall or larger. Large character marking devices are most commonly used to mark secondary packaging (and especially cardboard shipping cartons) with traceable information and brand-associated images/logos. 

By using a large character marking system to perform secondary packaging applications, companies can eliminate the need for adhesive labels—a move that helps to both lower material costs and enhance operational efficiency

Large character marking can be performed by a few different technologies, with the most common being:

  • High-resolution, large character case coders, which use piezoelectric printheads and inkjet systems to create DPI-rich images and codes on porous substrates. Depending on model and printhead specifics, case coders can create markings anywhere from 1” to 4” high.
  • Thermal inkjet printers, which use thermal dynamics to launch liquid ink onto porous and non-porous materials. Although not all TIJ printers are capable of large character marking, many models are built with 1” printheads to create larger codes and text. 

Additionally, many TIJ models are built with stitching capabilities, meaning that multiple printers can be used simultaneously to create one large image (i.e., four stitched 1” printheads can be used to create one 4” image).

  • Thermal transfer overprinters (TTO), which melt ink-covered wax ribbons to place high-DPI markings onto porous and non-porous surfaces. As with case coders, TTO code size capabilities are influenced by printer model and printhead specifics, with the largest TTO codes reaching above 4”.

How InkJet, Inc. Helps Companies Perform Large Character Marking 

At InkJet, Inc., we know that even one great piece of marking hardware can benefit a company in many ways. This is especially true in regards to large character marking systems, which not only can improve the look of one’s product packaging but lower variable costs and improve packaging turnaround as well. 

To help companies obtain the advantages of large character marking, InkJet, Inc. offers a variety of printing systems and printing consumables designed to fit different needs and environments. Some of our most popular offerings include:

The Precision Series 72mm High-Resolution Case Coder

Precision Series 72mm High-Resolution Case Coder

Designed for marking cardboard, paper, wood, and other porous materials, the Precision Series 72 is perfect for placing traceable codes and images on secondary packaging. Equipped with NiceLabel software, the Precision Series 72 is easy to integrate into both existing line setups and data networks. 

With these capabilities, users can remotely control the printer and automatically update variable data without having to learn complicated tools. 

Important specifications include:

Print Area

53.7 x 500mm  (2.1” x 19.69”)

Max Print Speed

60 m/min

Max DPI

180 DPI

Operating Temperature

5 °C – 38 °C (41 °F – 100.4 °F)

Operating Relative Humidity

10% – 90% (Non-condensing)

The Anser U2 SmartOne Thermal Inkjet Printer

Anser U2 SmartOne

Available in both handheld and production line models, the Anser U2 SmartOne is a TIJ printer built for porous material marking. Named after its nozzle size, the U2

SmartOne is capable of creating marks 1” tall with DPI resolutions as high as 600 x 300. 

With these dimensions, the SmartOne is able to print up to four lines of text at a time and ensure that barcodes/data matrices are machine-scannable. 

Important specifications include:

Max Print Height

25.4mm (1”)

Max Print Speed

76.2 m/min

Max DPI

600 x 300 DPI

Operating Temperature

5 °C – 40  °C (41 °F – 104 °F)

Operating Relative Humidity

Ink Dependent

The Anser X1 Thermal Inkjet Printer

Anser X1 Thermal Inkjet Printer

Fast, reliable, and compatible with both porous and non-porous substrates, the X1 is the latest printer model available from Anser. Offering coding speeds up to 300 m/min and dual-line control, the Anser X1 is designed to help companies achieve new levels of packaging efficiency. 

In addition to speed printing, the Anser X1 is also well-built for large character applications as this TIJ is able to print codes up to 2” tall when using stitched printheads. Factor in the X1’s high level of ingress protection (IP66), and it’s clear that this printer can meet the needs of modern industrial marking.

Important specifications include:

Max Print Height

50.8mm (2”)

Max Print Speed

300 m/min

Max DPI

600 x 600 DPI

Operating Temperature

0 °C – 40  °C (32 °F – 104 °F)

Operating Relative Humidity

0% – 90% (Non-condensing)

Assorted Printing Consumables for Case Coder, TIJ, and TTO Systems

 InkJet Inc. inks

Beyond offering large character marking hardware, we also carry ink cartridges, and ribbon for our own machines as well as those made by high-profile manufacturers like Videojet and Markem-Imaje, including hot melt ink wax. Many of our consumables are designed in-house and can be formulated with specialty properties, including high-temperature resistance, alcohol resistance, UV-readability, and more. 

Further, our ink development team is available to create custom formulas, ensuring that if we don’t already carry an ink that meets your needs, we can make one that does. 

Need Help With Large Character Marking Applications? Contact InkJet, Inc. Today

Large character marking can be completed in several ways with different printing technologies. If you’re wondering which approach will work best for your needs, the team here at InkJet, Inc. is happy to answer your questions. Whether you’re looking for a new large character TIJ or a more affordable aftermarket ink formula for your case coder, InkJet, Inc. is here to help. 

To learn more about large character marking or to inquire about our large character products, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245

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