Case Coding Printer

Industrial packaging is an umbrella term that references the materials used to protect products as they move from point A to point B. Although these packaging materials can be made from polyurethane, wood, and steel, corrugated cardboard boxes are the most commonly used shipping material, with over 100 billion cardboard boxes being produced annually in the U.S. alone.
 

Despite being great at protecting products, these materials aren’t always made with printability in mind. The porous nature of materials like corrugated cardboard absorbs ink, leading to reduced print quality. Some other materials’ darker colors can lower the ink and substrate's contrast levels, lessening barcodes' scannability. Organizations need to find the right reliable case coding solutions to make sure all outgoing products are properly labeled and all shipments reach their destinations without fail. Let this article serve as your case coding hardware guide.

Case Coding Printer Solutions 

Depending on the specific requirements of your operation, one of the following options will be right for you: 
 

  • Thermal inkjet (TIJ) printer
  • High-resolution case coding printer

 

Let’s dive deeper into the strengths of each of these solutions to help determine which is right for your operation. 

InkJet, Inc.’s Case Coding Solutions

Coding Technology

Operating Method

System Options

Maximum Resolution and Print Height

Maximum Marking Speed

Cost Factors

Thermal Inkjet Printer

Uses heat to pressurize and eject ink droplets towards the substrate

Anser U2 Models

400 x 300 DPI (height varies by model)

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)

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)

300 m/min

Moderate unit cost, moderate consumable cost

Hi-Res Case Coder

Propels oil-based ink droplets to create stark codes

Precision Series 18mm & 72mm

180 DPI at 18 mm height or 72 mm height

Low to moderate speed

Moderate unit cost, low consumable cost

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

Thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers are compact, cost-efficient machines with excellent coding specs. For example, InkJet’, Inc.’s 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 and A1 can create 600 x 600 DPI codes up to 2” tall with stitched printheads. These qualities enable TIJs to perform product marking and case coding functions.
 

TIJ printers also offer:
 

  • Simple Installation: TIJ printers are compact and lightweight, enabling easy and quick line integration.
  • Zero-Maintenance Operation: Unlike continuous inkjet printers, thermal inkjet printers do not require printhead cleanings, ink system maintenance, or professional servicing. Users can maintain proper TIJ operation for years by performing simple cleaning tasks and following basic usage guidelines. 
     

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

Picture of Anser SmartOne printing on corrugated cardboard

The Anser U2 Smart and SmartOne Thermal Inkjet Printer: The Anser U2 Smart is InkJet, Inc.’s most affordable printer option. Available for $1,499.00, the Anser U2 Smart is compatible with porous and semi-porous packaging such as cardboard boxes, paperboard cartons, and wood. The system’s max speed is 76.2 m/min, and the max resolution is 400 x 300 DPI. The stock U2 Smart has a max 0.5” print height, while the Anser U2 SmartOne has a max 1” print height. 

Picture of Anser Pro-S

The Anser U2 Pro-S Thermal Inkjet Printer: Compact and cost-effective, the Anser U2 Pro-S is an excellent 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. If you need an affordable multi-purpose printer, the Anser U2 is right for you. 

Picture of Anser A1 printing on corrugated cardboard

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. Users control the A1 through a large touchscreen interface.

Picture of Anser X1 printing on corrugated cardboard

The Anser X1 Thermal Inkjet PrinterEven 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

Specification

Anser U2 Smart &

SmartOne

Anser U2 Pro-S

Anser A1

Anser X1

Max Printheads

1

1

2

2

Display

3.5” Color LCD with LED backlight

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

Pocket-sized IR remote keypad

Touchscreen

Touchscreen

Print Height

0.5” with Smart 1” with SmartOne

0.5”

1” with single printhead, 2” with stitched printheads

1” with single printhead, 2” with stitched printheads

Print Resolution

400 x 300 DPI

400 x 300 DPI

300 DPI

600 x 600 DPI

Print Speed

76.2 m/min

76.2 m/min

121 m/min

300 m/min

Print Distance

0.25” (6mm)

0.25” (6mm)

0.25” (6mm)

0.25” (6mm)

Operating Temp.

0°C ~ 40°C (32°F ~ 104°F)

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

N/A

N/A

N/A

IP66

Dimensions & Weight

(L/W/H) 4.5″ x 3″ x 2.5″

 

0.49 kg (1.08 lb) – excluding cartridge and bracket

(L/W/H) 4.5” x 3” x 2.4” 

 

0.49kg (1.08 lb) – excluding cartridge and bracket

(L/W/H) 6.7” x 5.4” x 4.9”

 

1.8kg (3.97lb) w/o guide plate

 

(L/W/H) 11.5” x 5.6” x 2”


2.7 kg (6 lb)

 

 

Compatible Materials

Porous and semi-porous materials

Porous, semi-porous, and non-porous materials

Porous, semi-porous, and non-porous materials

Porous, semi-porous, and non-porous materials

High-Resolution Case Coders: Precision Series 18mm & 72mm

High-resolution case coders (hi-res) excel at printing on corrugated cardboard, and a variety of other industrial packaging materials, especially for secondary and tertiary

 

 packaging applications. 


High-resolution case coders like InkJet, Inc.’s Precision Series 18mm and Precision Series 72mm use powerful piezoelectric printheads to create large messages, intricate graphics, and stark images. Hi-res ink is oil-based and thicker than CIJ or TIJ ink, so hi-res codes are more durable and attractive, and for some corrugated materials they are better suited to achieve barcode scanability and contrast at the most economic ink price possible. As case coding solutions, Precision Series systems also enable users to replace physical shipping labels with printed ones by directly printing on the box. 
 

Direct printing holds numerous benefits over manual labeling, including:
 

  • Faster coding times
  • Fewer material costs
  • Lower risk of coding errors
  • Better code durability
  • Improved print quality
     

In addition to these factors, Precision Series case coders further benefit users with these unique features:
 

  • Internal Barcode Generation: Precision Series case coders can operate as completely standalone machines. Equipped with label design software and internal memory, Precision Series case coders allow users to create and store designs without an external computer.
  • Seamless System Integration: Precision Series case coders are compatible with NiceLabel and Windows systems, enabling easy integration with external networks.
  • Dual-Head Functionality: Precision Series printers can be equipped with two printheads, allowing operators to print on two box sides simultaneously, whether for repeat images or independent codes. Users can stack heads to increase image size as well.
     

See the chart below for a closer look into the Precision Series’ most important specifications:

Specification

Precision Series 18mm & 72mm Hi-Res Case Coder

Dimensions and Weight (Including Bracket)

  • (L/W/H) 322 x 183 x 480 mm / 12.7” x 7.2” x 18.9”
  • 3.35 kg / 7.38 lbs

Line Speed

Up to 200/min

Print Area

53.7 mm x 500 mm per print head

Print Speed

0 - 60 m/min

Print Head

180 DPI

Operating Environment

  • Temperature: 5-38°C / (41-100.4°F)  
  • Humidity: 10% – 90% (non-condensing)

Internal Memory

42 MB for fonts, images, and labels. The number of labels depends on the size.

Barcode Options

EAN8, EAN13, CODE 39, CODE128, ITF, and QR with adjustable height and module width. Multiple barcodes are possible in one label.

Automatic Shift Codes

Up to 25 shift codes, definable over a maximum of 7 days. Multiple shift codes are possible in one label.

Still Unsure Which Case Coding Solution You Need?

Weighing all the variables and choosing the right option is not an easy task. Between all the unique qualities of industrial packaging substrates and the possible steep consequences of misprinting codes on them, the search for a case coding printer can be a challenge. If you find yourself still questioning which machine will best perform these tasks for you, InkJet, Inc. has you covered. Just give us a call, fill us in on what materials you’re working with, and we will help you find the best machine to fit your operation. 
 

To learn more about case coding solutions, what jobs they each excel at, and which is ultimately right for you, contact InkJet, Inc. today by dialing (800) 280-3245.