Alongside industries like pharmaceutical development and chemical manufacturing, automotive part production is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world. To create safe vehicles, automotive manufacturers need to know that all of their parts are of the highest quality and built to proper specifications. This requires front-to-back traceability for every single component.
To comply with strict product quality standards, part manufacturers must outfit their components with long-lasting, fully traceable product markings. Of course, this is often easier said than done.
Automotive component manufacturing plants are demanding environments. Between extreme temperatures, high-speed production lines, and rigid product specifications, companies must utilize marking solutions that can withstand these conditions and deliver excellent results. After all, traceability in the automotive industry relies on durable markings.
Depending on part specifics and facility conditions, automotive manufacturers can use a range of technologies to complete product coding, including:
- Continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers (for high-speed coding on a variety of materials)
- Thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers (for high-resolution coding at moderate speeds)
- CO2 laser marking systems (for high-speed coding on organic materials such as rubber)
- Fiber laser marking systems (for high-speed coding on metals and plastics)
When using these machines to mark products, follow the best practices below to ensure marking success.
1. Use Inks That Will Survive the Production Process
Dusty, wet, and hot conditions are common in automotive facilities, so it is important to use marking hardware that can survive these elements day-in and day-out. Moreover, if you are using a CIJ or TIJ printer to mark your products, you must use ink options that are formulated to resist harsh conditions as well.
Before investing in an ink formula, take note of any potentially harsh conditions that the codes will be exposed to in your facility. Frequent examples include:
- High temperatures
- Dust presence
- Brake fluid exposure
- Coolant exposure
Knowledgeable ink manufacturers will be able to match these conditions with specialty formulas to meet your coding needs.
2. Consider How Part Operation Will Affect Code Appearance
Code longevity is key to traceability in the automotive industry. Markings not only have to survive production and assembly but also have to remain legible throughout the vehicle’s lifespan. To achieve long-lasting readability, component manufacturers must account for potentially disruptive factors that occur during operation.
For example, parts such as coils and springs are regularly exposed to high heat and fluids. For codes to survive these elements, they must be created with specialty inks. Ink developers like InkJet, Inc. make this simple by offering a wide variety of printing consumables, including formulas with:
- High heat resistance
- Fluid resistance
- Dust resistance
With the right formula, product codes will be able to maintain high readability for years on end.
3. Keep Code Visibility in Mind
Automotive parts are not known for being bright and colorful. Generally speaking, most car parts are either gray, black, or a similarly dark color. For codes to appear legible—and in certain cases, machine-scannable—visual contrast is key. One of the best ways to achieve high contrast is with color.
While this obviously isn’t an option for laser marking, CIJ and TIJ printers are compatible with brightly colored inks that will deliver high levels of contrast. With high levels of contrast comes consistent readability, a necessity for QR codes and barcodes. For these scenarios, InkJet, Inc. carries a number of pigmented formulas that are available in:
InkJet, Inc. Can Help You Maintain Complete Traceability in the Automotive Industry
In a field like automotive manufacturing, traceability should always be a paramount concern.
Although product marking is only one part of the production process, traceable codes are essential to both vehicle assembly and consumer safety. To ensure proper traceability, it’s important that automotive part makers utilize well-developed marking solutions. Here at InkJet, Inc., we have been helping automotive companies find these solutions for over 30 years.
Offering a wide range of inkjet printers, laser systems, ink formulas, and more, InkJet, Inc. has everything that automotive manufacturers need to outfit their parts with long-lasting, highly-visible codes. Call InkJet, Inc. today to find the best marking solutions to fit your coding needs.
For more information on how to maintain traceability in the automotive industry, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245.