Within the past year Griffin-Rutgers has noticed a dramatic rise in thermal inkjet coders over continuous inkjet (CIJ) within the food packaging industry for the variable information coding of its packaging.
This is a result of the fact that thermal inkjet technology has seen huge advances in the recent years. In the past, the knock on TIJ printing was its high consumable cost and inability to print on non-porous substrates. The increase in ink manufacturers has significantly lowered cartridge costs and the development of solvent based inks has opened the door to the world of non-porous substrates such as flexible films, plastics and coated cartons.
A thermal inkjet (TIJ) coder uses a cartridge containing an ink reservoir and a series of resistive elements which, to the layman, are essentially the print head. The ink is heated, a droplet formed and then ejected out through the nozzle faceplate up to 8mm (cartridge technology dependent). This process allows for the providing of excellent print quality.
Many of the reasons food manufacturers would today choose thermal inkjet over other printing methods are:
The food industry requires clean, well defined alpha/numeric and code structure images on its packaging. It doesn’t want its creative packaging designs to be marred by a poor-quality image. With the ability within TIJ printers to adjust the print resolution to match the image required, the substrate and the line speed well defined images are now the norm.
TIJ printers require no maintenance and are simple to operate. The only service necessary is when the cartridge that ran out of ink needs to be changed keeping downtime to a minimum. There are two head systems available that switch back and forth as one ink cartridge gets low thereby eliminating down time completely.
With the various shapes, sizes and designs of packaging, the industry distinguishes its products from its competitors by its unique package design and/or look. TIJ offers any font style in 1mm to 12.5mm height true-type fonts, all linear and 2D code structures, graphics and much more on a wide range of packaging materials, both porous and non-porous substrates.
In the last few years there have been tremendous strides made in the development of solvent based TIJ inks allowing them to dry on non-porous substrates very quickly with good adhesion and rub/scratch resistance. These characteristics allow for the print information to last throughout the products life cycle and beyond which is important to an industry that requires traceability.
TIJ systems are significantly less in cost, both in capital and operational costs, than a continuous inkjet (CIJ) system. The only change part in TIJ technology is the ink cartridge and when changed a new print head is provided. No service contracts or spare parts are required and immediate support can be provided via remote desktop access solutions. Replacement ink cartridges can be purchased as single units as opposed to CIJ where fluids are available by the case only. In an industry where profits are measured in cents of a dollar the TIJ cost of ownership stands out.
TIJ technology is that used in your desktop printer at home or office. There are no bottles of ink or solvent used in those environments just as there are none used in the packaging environment that employs TIJ technology. In contrast CIJ printers require an ink and solvent be mixed in the printing process – a messy proposition.
TIJ printers are simple to integrate into your existing packaging lines both as to mounting and signaling meaning little production downtime is required.
TIJ printers were originally developed around water-based inks for the mailing industry where high speeds are the norm and print clarity is a must on porous substrates. With the advances made in the development of solvent based inks the high speed printing in a high quality on non-porous materials is now an everyday occurrence. This allows food manufacturers to print their packaging quickly and efficiently.
To discuss your particular needs, contact Griffin-Rutgers. We will put our fifty years of coding and marking experience to work to provide the correct TIJ printing, coding and marking solution to meet the high-demand of your food packaging operation.