Protecting Coding and Marking Resources in Harsh Environments

Industrial product coding is a demanding process that often takes place in rough environments. Wire and cable extrusion facilities, for example, are frequently home to extreme heat and prevalent dust. Food and beverage packaging plants may also deal with high temperatures, debris, and airborne particulates well as very low temperatures (particularly when dealing with dairy products or frozen substances) and water exposure. 

In these facilities and others, harsh environmental factors threaten to lower code quality and damage unprotected hardware, potentially resulting in:

  • Misprinted products
  • Production delays
  • Extended periods of downtime
  • Rising repair costs

These issues can drain your profits and throw your production schedule off track. In certain situations, misprints can even lead to product recalls, fines, and potential legal trouble. 

To ensure quality results, protecting coding and marking resources is a necessity. Learn how to accommodate challenging environmental factors to create an efficient and reliable coding workflow—starting with how to pick a resilient printer. 

Choosing a Resilient Marking System

Product marking requirements change from one operation to the next. Product materials, product shapes, line configurations, speed requirements, and specific code applications are just some of the variables to consider when selecting a coding/marking system. In addition to these base factors, it’s important to look at the specifications of each potential printer or laser model to see how well they can resist potentially disruptive environmental factors. 

Today’s coding and marking market is filled with different technologies to meet these diverse needs. The top choices include:

Most CIJ printers and laser systems are built with environmental fortifications to prevent the ingress of dust and liquid. These fortifications are communicated via IP ratings. Every IP rating contains two digits:

  1. The first digit grades the machine’s ability to prevent the intrusion of dust and other solid particles. The rating system ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (full protection).
  2. The second digit grades the machine’s ability to prevent the intrusion of water and other liquids. The rating system ranges from 0 (no protection) to 9 (full protection from all angles, including during complete unit immersion).

For example, the DuraCode Pigment CIJ printer carries an IP55 rating, meaning that its enclosure:

  1. Prevents dust ingress to the point that particles won’t damage the hardware or affect code quality (dust can still possibly enter, however).
  2. Protects the unit against low-pressure water jets (6.3 mm) from all angles, preventing negative effects.

Thermal inkjet printers are typically built without ingress protections to keep costs down. However, higher-end TIJ models like the Anser X1 and newly released Anser A1 are the exception. The Anser X1 is built with IP66 housing, which provides:

  1. Complete protection against dust ingress.
  2. Complete protection against high-pressure water jets from all angles.

In addition to IP ratings, you should also pay attention to the operating relative humidity and temperature to gain an understanding of how well the machine will work in your facility.

Selecting the Best Ink for Your Applications

Unless you are using a laser marking system for product coding, you will need to find an ink formula that accommodates your production needs. In demanding facility environments, printed codes often need to be made with special inks to:

  1. Accommodate the substrate’s surface qualities.
  2. Resist any potentially disruptive elements in the facility.
  3. Remain legible throughout the product life cycle.

For example, wire and cable producers need inks that are fast-drying, heat-resistant, and pigmented so that they will appear highly legible once applied. In another example, food canning operations often prefer thermochromic inks over standard inks because they reveal that the canned product has been successfully sterilized. 

In all, the most popular specialty properties include:

  • High-temperature resistance 
  • Non-transferability
  • Hard pigmentation  
  • Soft pigmentation 
  • Alcohol resistance
  • Thermochromic properties
  • UV readability

By choosing the right ink for your application needs, you can ensure that applied codes will resist the harsh elements in your facility and remain legible until the product is purchased and used.

Protecting Coding and Marking Resources with Additional Measures

Ideally, the right combination of hardware and ink will be able to reliably operate in your facility, despite harsh conditions. However, there are times when additional measures are needed. 

High heat will thin out the ink and create improper ink dispersion. If possible, lower the temperature in your facility via air conditioning or better air circulation. If this is not possible, try to relocate the printer to a space that you can more reliably keep cool. 

Conversely, low temperatures will cause the ink to thicken, which can disrupt circulation. Here, too, the best solution is to change the facility temperature. In certain cases, you can strategically use heat wraps or blankets to keep the printer at a higher temperature.

If moisture and dust are disrupting the circulation system in your CIJ printer, adding positive air pressure may be able to prevent the contaminants from entering the unit. Specialty filtration systems can have a positive influence as well. 

Of course, protecting coding and marking resources isn’t always a straight forward process. If you are having issues with your system,  the team at InkJet, Inc. is available to help you find the resources you need to accommodate any challenging environmental factors. 

Need to Print in a Harsh Environment? InkJet, Inc.’s Resilient Coding Solutions Can Ensure Marking Success

Dust, water, extreme temperatures, and vibrations are just some of the challenging elements that can affect the performance of your marking equipment. Fortunately, InkJet, Inc. carries a variety of coding solutions designed to resist harsh environmental factors to deliver reliably excellent results. 

To meet the needs of different operations, InkJet, Inc. offers fortified CIJ printers, TIJ printers, and laser marking systems. No matter what materials you need to print on or what environmental factors are present in your facility, InkJet, Inc. has a solution that will work for you. Contact us today to learn more. 

For more information on protecting coding and marking resources, contact InkJet, Inc. online or call 1(800) 280-3245.