Inkjet Direct Part Marking System for Metal & Plastic | InkJet, Inc.

Direct part marking is an essential process for many of today’s top manufacturing operations. Especially useful in the fields of automotive production and aerospace engineering, direct part marking allows companies to develop full supply chain traceability through the use of machine-readable barcodes and data matrices.    

Depending on the specific standards, companies may need to mark their parts with: 

  • Barcodes
  • 2D data matrices
  • Lot codes
  • Serial numbers
  • Manufacturer titles
  • Model designations
  • Type certificate numbers
  • Production certificate numbers    

Finding the right direct part marking system for metal and plastic is critical to maintaining standards and compliance in demanding manufacturing environments. Here’s what a direct part marking system from InkJet, Inc. can do for you.

Direct Part Marking Systems for Metal & Plastic

For direct part marking to work, each code must be highly legible. Without consistent code readability, supply chain issues may arise, leading to possible company fines, recalls, and reputation damages. To avoid these problems, manufacturers must use reliable marking machines that meet the high-speed needs of modern production lines. That’s where inkjet printers come in.


First introduced to the part marking market in the 1970s, inkjet printers are now essential tools for industrial coding. For metal and plastic applications, in particular, both continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers and thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers are the go-to hardware options. Dependable and capable of producing high-quality markings, these machines are well-suited for direct metal and plastic marking, but they differ slightly in mechanical qualities.


This table lists our recommended direct part marking solutions and their general specifications. Additional information for each system can be found just below the table. Click the linked title in the table’s leftmost column to jump to a specific solution.

InkJet, Inc’s Metal & Plastic Direct Part Marking Solutions

Coding Technology

Operating Method

System Options

Maximum Resolution and Print Height

Minimum Print Height

Maximum Marking Speed

Cost Factors

Continuous Inkjet Printer

Propels pressurized ink droplets toward the substrate

DuraCode Touchscreen, Keyboard, and Pigment

70 DPI at 15 mm height

1.2 mm (0.05 in)

320 m/min.

Low to moderate unit cost, low consumable cost

Thermal Inkjet Printer

Uses heat to pressurize and eject ink droplets toward the substrate

Anser U2 Models

400 x 300 DPI (height varies by model)

2.0 mm (0.08 in)

76.2 m/min

Low unit cost, moderate consumable cost

Anser A1

600 x 600 DPI at 1” height (2” height with stitched print heights)

12.7mm (0.5 in)

300 m/min with HP cartridges, 150 m/min with IUT cartridges

Moderate unit cost, moderate consumable cost

Anser X1

600 x 600 DPI at 1” height (2” height with stitched print heights)

12.7mm (0.5 in)

300 m/min

Moderate unit cost, moderate consumable cost

Continuous Inkjet Printers: DuraCode Touchscreen, Keyboard, and Pigment

Continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers are non-contact production line printing systems that mark substrates moving at 300 m/min and above. Built with powerful ink circulation systems, CIJ printers can operate 24 hours a day easily without downtime. The speed, wide ink compatibility, and versatile printheads of CIJ printers enable users to mark thousands of products daily with long-lasting, highly legible code.

InkJet, Inc. carries three CIJ systems:

  1. DuraCode Keyboard
  2. DuraCode Touchscreen
  3. DuraCode Pigment Printer

All DuraCode systems can mark porous and non-porous substrates at speeds up to 320 m/min. Equipped with an IP55 outer structure and able to operate in temperatures ranging from 41-113°F, the DuraCode CIJ can withstand potentially hazardous environmental elements to deliver consistently excellent results. 

The DuraCode Keyboard and Touchscreen offer the same specifications and compatibility with ink formulas. The only difference between them is their input medium. The DuraCode Pigment has the same specifications as the DuraCode Keyboard and Touchscreen but uses pigmented ink instead of dye ink


See the chart below for a closer look at the DuraCode models’ most important specifications.


DuraCode Touchscreen, Keyboard, & Pigment CIJ Printers


40, 50, 60, 70 μm

Print Height

1.2-15 mm

Maximum Print Speed

Up to 1,050 ft./min (320 m/min)

Print Distance

1-3 in. (25.4-76.2 mm)

Input System

Touchscreen or Standard Keyboard / WYSIWYG

Print Font

5x5, 7x5, 9x6, 11x8, 16x11, 24x17, 32x22

Operating Environment

  • Temperature: 5-45° C (41-113°F)  
  • Humidity: 0%-90%, no condensing

User Defined Field

Bar Code, QR Code, Logos, Clock, Counter, Classes, etc.

IP Rating

IP55 Industrial Protection

Gross Weight with Complete Package

45 kg / 99 lbs

Standard Features

Font library - Multi-language support - Traverse printing - 90-degree vertical printing - Special counter Counter replacement - Clock replacement - Encoder port - USB port - Ink recovery pump - Solvent flush pump - Micro print

Optional Add-Ons

Serial port - Network LAN connection - Positive air pump

Thermal Inkjet Printers: Anser U2, X1, and A1 Models

Thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers are smaller, lighter, and more cost-effective than CIJ systems. While CIJ systems typically weigh around 100 lbs and can cost well over $10,000, most TIJ models weigh 5-10 lbs and cost as low as $1,499.00.    

Although thermal inkjet systems are compact and lightweight, they offer impressive coding specifications. For example, the Anser U2 Smart can create 400 x 300 DPI codes up to 0.5” tall (1” tall with the Anser U2 SmartOne). Higher-end TIJs like the Anser X1 can create 600 x 600 DPI codes up to 2” tall with stitched printheads.    

TIJ printers are often designed for slower speed lines and intermittent coding tasks, but some TIJ models offer high-speed capabilities as well. InkJet, Inc. carries numerous TIJ printers of varying specialties and price points. Our current options include:

The Anser U2 Smart and SmartOne Thermal Inkjet Printer

The Anser U2 Smart and SmartOne Thermal Inkjet Printer: Compact and cost-effective, the Anser U2 Pro-S is a great choice for operations that don’t require CIJ-level marking speeds. Like the Anser U2 Smart and SmartOne, the Anser U2 Pro-S has 76.2 m/min max speed and 400 x 300 DPI max resolution. However, the Anser U2 Pro-S is compatible with more materials, for the printer can mark porous, semi-porous, and non-porous substrates. 

The Anser A1 Thermal Inkjet Printer:

The Anser A1 Thermal Inkjet Printer: The first all-in-one TIJ that offers 2” printing and mid-message DPI adjustments, the Anser A1 is both powerful and affordable. Built with 2 cartridge slots, the A1 can create 2” tall markings with varying DPI elements (e.g., 300 DPI QR code with 150 DPI text). These qualities make the A1 an excellent case-coding printer. For product marking applications, the A1 maxes out at 300 m/min with certain cartridges. Users control the A1 through a large touchscreen interface.

The Anser X1 Thermal Inkjet Printer

The Anser X1 Thermal Inkjet Printer: Even though the Anser X1 is a thermal inkjet printer, you wouldn’t know that from its spec sheet. With printing speeds up to 300 m/min, the Anser X1 is one of the most powerful TIJs on the market today. Beyond industrial speed marking, the Anser X1 offers a 600 DPI max resolution, a 2” max print height (with stitched printheads), IP66 protection, and the ability to control two production lines simultaneously.

See the chart below for a closer look into how our TIJ options compare to one another:

InkJet, Inc’s Thermal Inkjet Printer Options


Anser U2 Pro-S

Anser A1

Anser X1

Max Printheads





3.5” Color LCD with LED backlight

5” Color LCD Capacitive Touchscreen 480 x 800 (portrait)

7” Color LCD Capacitive Touchscreen (800 x 480 px)

Input Device

Pocket-sized IR remote keypad



Print Height


1” with single printhead, 2” with stitched printheads

1” with single printhead, 2” with stitched printheads

Print Resolution

400 x 300 DPI

300 DPI

600 x 600 DPI

Print Speed

76.2 m/min

121 m/min

300 m/min

Print Distance

0.25” (6mm)

0.25” (6mm)

0.25” (6mm)

Operating Temp.

0°C ~ 40°C (32°F ~ 104°F)

5°C – 40°C (41°F – 104°F)

5°C – 40°C (41°F – 104°F)

IP Rating




Dimensions & Weight

(L/W/H) 4.5” x 3” x 2.4” 

0.49 kg (1.08 lb) – excluding cartridge and bracket

(L/W/H) 6.7” x 5.4” x 4.9”

1.8 kg (3.97 lb) w/o guide plate

(L/W/H) 11.5” x 5.6” x 2”
2.7 kg (6 lb)

Compatible Materials

Porous, semi-porous, and non-porous materials

Porous, semi-porous, and non-porous materials

Porous, semi-porous, and non-porous materials

Ink Options for Direct Part Marking on Metal & Plastic

Another reason inkjet printers make excellent direct part marking systems is that they are compatible with a diverse portfolio of ink formulas. All substrates have different material qualities that impact whether an ink formula can successfully adhere to the surface. Given how many different metals and plastics exist on the market today, it’s essential to have a firm understanding of which formulas will work best for a particular substrate. 

To help companies avoid potential marking failures, InkJet, Inc. offers a range of formula options that work with a variety of materials.  

For metal applications, we carry formulas that are compatible with: 

  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Copper
  • Tin
  • Iron 

For plastic applications, our formulas are compatible with: 

  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • High-Impact Polystyrene (HIPS)
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Various flexible plastics 

We carry a variety of formulas that meet industry-specific specifications, such as thermal inks approved by Boeing. We also offer custom ink services if our stock options and specialty formulas can’t match every client’s needs.

Need an Inkjet Direct Part Marking System for Metal & Plastic? InkJet, Inc. Can Help

For over 30 years, InkJet, Inc. has helped industrial operations find the equipment they need to optimize production—and we can help you, too. Our inkjet direct part marking systems utilize the latest technology and ink formulas to ensure your products are code-compliant and completely traceable. Whether you need a powerhouse CIJ or a highly mobile TIJ, our hardware offerings will help you achieve your part-marking goals.

For more information on inkjet direct part marking systems for metal & plastic, contact InkJet, Inc. online or by phone at 1(800) 280-3245.