Minimizing Coding and Marking Material Variables

In the industrial product coding industry, substrates are diverse and plentiful. Product packaging alone comes in different forms and can be made from a variety of materials. Food manufacturers, for example, package their products in many different ways, including:

Products also vary in material makeup. Building materials, for instance, are made from wood, metal, rigid plastic, glass, rubber, and more. 

Throughout these industries, products and their packaging are commonly required to exhibit traceable codes and other markings to provide customers with important information and comply with government regulations and distributor policies. To ensure that these markings are clean and legible, it’s essential to use a marking solution that is:

  1. Compatible with the product and/or the product packaging material
  2. Compatible with the surface shape
  3. Capable of withstanding any potentially disruptive environmental factors

Below, we explore how to minimize coding and marking material variables by using the right combination of hardware and ink.

Choosing Material-Compatible Marking Equipment

All materials have unique surface properties that influence the success of certain coding procedures. Glass, for instance, is a non-porous material that doesn’t allow ink to seep below the surface. Porous materials, such as cardboard and wood, readily absorb ink. To accommodate these properties, coding and marking companies design solutions with specific materials in mind. 

Today, product coding is primarily completed with three technologies:

If you are looking for wide material compatibility, it’s hard to beat the CIJ printer. Duracode series with CIJ models like the DuraCode Pigment, DuraCode Keyboard and DuraCode Touchscreen are compatible with multiple types of ink, allowing them to mark porous and non-porous materials alike. Moreover, their printheads and substantial ink throw distance enable them to mark curved surfaces and complete bottom-up coding applications (e.g., coding the bottom of cans and bottles). 

Comparatively, most TIJ printers cannot match the substrate versatility of CIJ printers. Many TIJ printers are only compatible with either:

  1. Water-based ink (ideal for porous materials such as paper, cardboard, wood, etc.), or
  2. Solvent-based ink (ideal for non-porous materials such as glass, plastic, metal, etc.).

While some TIJ printers like the Anser A1 and Anser X1 are compatible with both water-based and solvent-based formulas, many models are limited to either porous or non-porous printing. TIJ printers are also much less effective at coding curved substrates, without sacrificing coding readability due to their short throw distance. Accordingly, it’s very important to understand your substrate qualities before investing in a TIJ model. 

Similarly, laser material compatibility varies based on the system technology. Fiber, CO2, UV, and LDR systems all produce beams at different wavelengths. These wavelengths affect whether or not a laser will create a well-defined marking. 

See the chart below for a general overview of laser material compatibility:


Fiber Material Compatibility 

CO2 Material Compatibility 

UV Material Compatibility 

LDR Material Compatibility 





Rigid plastic

Flexible Materials



The Importance of Proper Ink Choice

As mentioned above, ink formulas are compatible with specific materials. Because substrates all have unique surface properties, no formula can possibly work for every application. 

In general, water-based inks work well for porous substrates, and solvent-based inks work well for non-porous substrates. Formulas are also designed with specific properties to better complete certain applications. For example, many bottling facilities experience excessive humidity that leaves condensation on their glass and plastic. Condensation-penetrating inks prevent coding errors that may arise due to water presence. 

To eliminate the risk of coding and marking material variables, InkJet, Inc. maintains a robust ink portfolio filled with diverse formulas. Specialty properties include but are not limited to:

  • Superior adhesion to certain materials
  • Condensation penetration
  • Oil penetration
  • Alcohol resistance
  • Heat resistance
  • Thermochromism 
  • Non-transferability
  • Hard pigmentation  
  • Soft pigmentation 
  • Alcohol resistance
  • UV readability

With the right combination of hardware and ink, you can ensure that your marking system is ideal for your materials.

Need Help Minimizing the Coding and Marking Material Variables in Your Facility? Contact InkJet, Inc. Today

System-substrate compatibility is essential to any successful printing application. Products and product packaging can be made from numerous materials, ranging from porous cardboard to non-porous glass and plastic. To ensure that codes, images, and other markings appear clean and legible, you need to use a marking solution that’s built for the task. 

Here at InkJet, Inc., we offer a wide variety of coding technologies, including industrial-speed CIJ printers, industry-leading TIJ printers, high-resolution case coders, and laser marking systems. With these machines, we can help you develop a coding system that fits your every need. Contact us today to get started. 

For more information on how to minimize coding and marking material variables, contact InkJet, Inc. online or call 1(800) 280-3245.