How Thermal Inkjet Marking & Coding Reduces Risk for Brands
The dot-matrix alphanumerics commonly used by industrial printers for coding and marking lot codes and expiration dates on consumer products pose a considerable risk for consumers and brands. Many people struggle to read the characters because the CIJ printing systems used to produce dot-matrix codes cannot achieve the degree of legibility possible with newer TIJ technology and compatible inks.
Why Product Labeling Quality Matters
Worldwide, regulations specifically outline requirements for labeling of consumer products, including expiration dates and lot codes. These include guidance on the legibility of information.
Major Labeling Specifications
Contrast between ink and substrate
Font or typography used in the label or code
Layout of the information printed
Color of the printing ink(s) used
Unfortunately, these regulations have not kept up with our aging population’s needs, who may struggle with reduced vision. According to the United States Census Bureau. External Link. Opens in new window., baby boomers account for about 73 million consumers. By 2030, all of the generation born between 1946 to 1964 will be at least 65-years-old.
Of equal concern are the 246 million people worldwide who have impaired vision, according to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO). External Link. Opens in new window..
Misreading expiration dates, especially on sensitive products such as medications, could jeopardize consumers’ health and a brand’s reputation. In the event of a product recall, lot codes are equally critical to both the supply chain and consumers because they both must quickly discern whether products are subject to the recall.
Product Types on FDA List of Recalls, Market Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts
Animal and Veterinary
Food and Beverage
Radiation Emitting Products
he E.U, Canada, the U.S., and other countries have codified regulations for accessible workplaces, public places, and now websites and other digital platforms. Detailed legible marking and coding requirements are conspicuously absent.
Until recently, the only option for consumer brands and packaging companies has been dot-matrix marking and coding with continuous inkjet printers (CIJ). Other inkjet technologies have caught up with CIJ for marking and coding. Notably, thermal inkjet printing (TIJ) prints highly legible block letters and numbers.
Here’s a look at how new thermal inkjet technology helps industrial printing companies offer higher quality marking and coding to meet legibility requirements and expectations of brands.
How Thermal Inkjet Supports Legible Coding and Marking
The industry’s three primary players in thermal inkjet technology are Funai, HP, and Canon. When compared to CIJ, all three TIJ printing systems excel at printing labels and codes with higher quality.
Historically, the challenge for printing lot codes and expiration dates using TIJ technology has been that TIJ printheads could not match CIJ printers’ throw distance. This made it more difficult for TIJ systems to print high-quality codes and labels on food and pharmaceutical packaging with curved surfaces or recessed areas. Thus CIJ printers became the preferred method for coding and marking, despite their many disadvantages compared with TIJ printers.
Advantages of Thermal Inkjet Printing Systems
High-resolution 2d coding
Reliability and low maintenance
Long-lasting, durable inks
Lower operational and capital costs
Easy production line integration
Thermal also rivals CIJ coding and marking for line-speed performance.