There are myriad options on the market when it comes to coding and marking of items but the device needs to suit the specific purpose and the items being marked or coded. To make an informed decision you need to understand some of the science behind the technology.
One such technology, thermal inkjet (TIJ), was originally considered an alternative to dot matrix printing but now can produce a high quality, high resolution finished print. The ink is housed in a sealed cartridge, similar to a desk top PC inkjet printer cartridge, and no contact is made with the item being printed. The “thermal” in the thermal inkjet means the ink is released from the nozzle using a heating element. Once the ink is heated it forms a bubble that pushes the ink out of the opening and onto the item being printed.
One advantage of the TIJ is that the ink is securely contained in the cartridge and there is no chance of the cartridge leaking. Also, because the ink and print head are housed in the same cartridge the entire ink delivery system and print head are brand new every time the cartridge is changed. This negates the need for costly ongoing system maintenance except for an occasional simple cleaning of the print head. TIJ systems have no pumps and no moving parts.
TIJ units have been ideal for printing on porous, paper surfaces for many years because the first inks used water as the primary drying agent. Today a TIJ unit that uses alcohol or other solvent is suitable for printing on a wide range of materials that include PVC, PET, blister foils and varnished coated cartons. Recent advances in both solvent ink and print heads technology are rapidly expanding the range of compatible materials that can be printed.
The print heads used in a thermal inkjet printer have 150 nozzles and provide a print resolution of up to 900 dots per inch. Print resolution can be adjusted downward if the highest resolution is not necessary for every printing task.
If you’re operating your business on a budget and want to keep printing costs in line, a TIJ print can be adjusted to minimize ink usage. This can be easily done by adjusting the print resolution, font size and font style.
Why are TIJ printers commonly chosen? Here are four reasons:
- Convenience – it requires only a quick change of the ink cartridge to have a new ink supply and a new print head.
- Cleanliness – because the ink is contained in the sealed cartridge there is no risk of spills or leaks.
- The comparative cost to purchase a TIJ system is considerably less than many other types of inkjets of similar capability.
- TIJ printing provides excellent clarity of print with its superb print resolution, and its rapidly growing ability to be used on various surfaces due to new ink developments offers great flexibility.