Top Expiration Date Printing Machine Options

Expiration dates can be found on numerous consumer products, including foods, CBD/cannabis, and pharmaceuticals, and are essential for several reasons. Expiration dates can help consumers determine when products are safe to use. From a retail perspective, expiration dates allow stores and online outlets to maintain fresh inventory and dispose of spoiled products before they reach consumers. 

Given the importance of expiration dates, many distribution networks require companies to prominently display the dates on product packaging. For example, most food producers and beverage packaging companies outfit their products with expiration dates to satisfy distributor policies. Other products, such as infant formulas and medicines, must carry expiration dates according to regulations made by the USDA and FDA.

Regardless of whether you are coding expiration dates to comply with distributor policies or federal regulations, non-compliance can have some steep consequences. Illegible or non-existent expiration dates can lead to:

  • Product recalls
  • Fines
  • Misplaced inventory
  • Legal issues (in extreme cases)

To avoid these problems, it’s important to use an expiration date printing machine that is ideal for operational requirements such as:

  • Material compatibility
  • Sufficient coding speeds
  • Reliable marking accuracy
  • Appropriate sizing for production line setups

Below, we profile today’s most popular coding technologies to help you uncover which type of expiration date printing machine is right for you.

Continuous Inkjet Printing

Continuous inkjet (CIJ) printing has been a staple of industrial coding since expiration date printing automation was first used by manufacturers. Capable of printing at speeds of over 1,000 ft/min, CIJ printers are found on production lines across the world because of their:

  • Flexibility in setup
  • Accuracy
  • Nonstop operation
  • Wide material compatibility
  • Environmental fortifications

Consider InkJet, Inc.’s DuraCode Keyboard as an example. Maxing out at a speed of 320 m/min, Duracode Keyboard is designed as the budget-friendly value CIJ capable of meeting diverse marking applications. As long as the user installs the appropriate ink formula, the DuraCode can place expiration dates on:

Moreover, the DuraCode’s printhead design enables to print at distances 1- to 3-inch away from materials, allowing users to mark curved surfaces with ease. With these capabilities, CIJ printers like the DuraCode can complete common production line printing applications with speed and precision. 

Thermal Inkjet Printing

Commonly abbreviated as TIJ printing, thermal inkjet printing may be an inkjet technology but is very different from continuous inkjet printing. 

CIJ printing derives its name from the “continuous” operation of its printers. When a CIJ printer is operating, a pressurized ink stream continuously cycles from the main tank to the nozzle and back to the tank again. This operating principle allows CIJ printers to print without interruption for 24 hours per day.

While CIJ printers are capable of continuous coding at moderate-duty and high-duty intermittent printing, TIJ printers are the better option in average- to moderate-duty print volumes. TIJ printers propel ink with the use of thermal energy. TIJ printers heat ink until a bubble is created in the cartridge. The bubble forces ink out of the printer’s nozzle and propels it toward the substrate. As the ink droplet expels from the nozzle, the bubble collapses, creating a vacuum effect that starts the process over again. As each cartridge is changed out, a new printhead is changed with it.

Using this principle, TIJ printers can maintain their crisp high DPI mark on a variety of porous and non-porous materials (specific material compatibility varies by model). Compared to CIJ printers, TIJ printers like the Anser U2 Pro-S and Anser U2 SmartOne offer manufacturers looking for expiration date printers:

  • Smaller unit sizes that take up no line floor space
  • 30-50% initial investment costs
  • Greater DPI resolution

However, most TIJ printers are unable to match the marking speeds of CIJ printers. Excluding high-speed TIJ printers like the Anser X1, most TIJ models mark substrates at around 70 m/min. TIJ cartridges also contain far less ink than CIJ cartridges, leading to higher fluid costs and more frequent cartridge swaps, though more frequent cartridge swaps lowers the overall maintenance of the printhead. It should be noted that in 60-85°F environments, thermal inkjet printers are more efficient than CIJ printers because there is very little cartridge evaporation.

 TIJ in 60-85 F degree environments are more efficient than CIJ usage, because there is very little cartridge evaporation.

Laser Marking

Although laser systems are not technically expiration date printing machines, they are machines that mark substrates and are capable of lasing expiration dates. They warrant inclusion in this article due to their widespread popularity in expiration date coding and marking applications. 

When it comes to marking speed and accuracy, it is hard to beat laser marking. High-volume production lines found in beverage and pharmaceutical packaging fields frequently utilize lasers for their reliable precision, long-lasting markings, and fast coding speeds. For example, InkJet, Inc.’s F8100F fiber laser marking machine offers:

  • Coding speeds of up to 2,000 characters/second (when using the high-speed scanner).
  • An air-cooled laser source for uninterrupted coding.
  • A small spot size for marking difficult materials and completing complex coding applications.
  • Multiple high-resolution print field lens options for high-contrast coding.

With these features, F8100F users can create thousands of expiration dates per day with consistently excellent results. Moreover, because laser systems have minimal maintenance needs and nearly non-existent disposable factors (e.g., ink, fluid, etc.), line operators can complete their applications with very few (or no) interruptions. 

Ready to Invest in an Expiration Date Printing Machine? InkJet, Inc. Can Help You Find the Best Model for Your Operation

To avoid fines and product recalls, proper expiration date coding is a must. Fortunately, the modern coding and marking field is filled with expiration date printing machines for every situation. Here at InkJet, Inc., we can help you find the perfect solution for your applications.

Whether you operate a local craft brewery or a large beverage packaging facility, InkJet, Inc. has a marking machine that can meet your coding needs. Contact us today to discuss your available options.

For more information about our expiration date printing machines, contact InkJet, Inc. online or call 1(800) 280-3245.