A Q & A With Matthews Marking

1) What are the most important aspects to consider when selecting a package marking/printing system?

A variety of factors need to be considered when deciding on a marking system for your packaging.  For starters, you’ll need to know if the marking system can meet your production requirements for the following:

  • Your line speeds
  • The distance to the packages from the conveyor or production line (i.e. throw distance)
  • The substrate of your packages (porous or non-porous)
  • What type of mark you need to make (alphanumeric text, barcode, 2D code, etc.)
  • Your environment (temperature, humidity, dusty, etc.)
  • Desired automation and connection with business data systems
  • Operator ease of use/ease of maintenance
  • Reliability / uptime

2) What are valve-based inkjet printers?

Valve-based inkjet printers (also known as valve-jet) are a proven marking technology for virtually any substrate used in almost any environment.  Unlike thermal inkjet and piezo inkjet printing, valve-jet printers use a series of valve-controlled jets to pressurize ink and then fire individual drops on your substrate. This enables valve-jet printers to have a greater throw distance to the substrate. Additionally, these systems are incredibly robust and can withstand harsh, challenging environments that challenge other types of inkjet printing/marking.

3) How does the technology differ in drop-on-demand valve inkjet printers versus other options?

Drop-on-demand valve inkjet printers are ideal for simple, bold alphanumeric characters where speed and reliability are paramount. Two other popular technologies used for printing/marking are thermal inkjet (TIJ) and piezoelectric inkjet.  TIJ uses heat to pressurize ink in a cartridge which causes a bubble to form.  The pressure from the bubble causes the ink to fire from the cartridge (printhead) and onto your substrate.

Piezoelectric inkjet printers use electrical charges and vibrations to send droplets of ink onto a substrate.  The electrical charge excites a crystal or ceramic element in the printhead which oscillates ink into droplets before they’re fired through a nozzle.

TIJ and piezoelectric marking systems are good if your packages will run close to the printhead on the conveyor, that is a short throw distance. Both typically deliver higher resolution relative to valve-jet marking, which is important if you’re printing barcodes or similar. However, valve-jet printing is ideal if your packages aren’t in the ideal throw range of either and you’re not concerned with high resolution barcodes and the like. If you need a highly reliable, robust marking system that delivers a lower cost per mark than other technologies, then valve-jet is a perfect solution.

4) Which packaging applications are best suited for valve inkjet printing systems?

Valve-jet printing is ideal for a wide variety of packaging applications. It typically excels in challenging environments (i.e. corrugated dust) where a TIJ or piezoelectric inkjet solution would struggle to print. If the throw distance needed to mark your packages is greater than 5-6 mm or you need to mark alphanumeric characters, a valve inkjet solution is perfectly suited for making your mark. Additionally, if your packages are of different heights/widths, valve-jet can withstand the movement of mechanical arms or mounting apparatus’, thereby not limiting you to static mounting.

They offer a range of advantages, including fast and reliable operation, low maintenance requirements, and minimal waste production. These print systems can be used to mark a variety of substrates, from cardboard boxes to plastic wrappers. Valve inkjet printers are highly useful for simple, bold alphanumeric marks. They can also be used to create promotional or informational messages on packages and cartons.

5)  Why use drop-on-demand valve inkjet printers for alphanumeric marking?

Drop-on-demand valve inkjet printing is the ideal choice for alphanumeric marking because it offers several distinct advantages. With this method, multiple jets of ink are precisely directed onto the substrate surface without contact with the printhead. This feature provides superior accuracy when printing numbers, text, or simple logos. Additionally, the ink is applied in a consistent, controllable manner and can be used to produce marks with minimal bleed. Furthermore, drop-on-demand valve printing eliminates many of the maintenance concerns associated with other marking systems due to its simple operation and low resource requirements. All these features combine to make it an ideal choice for alphanumeric marking.

6) What are the signs indicating it’s time to replace an existing printing system?

Red flags that indicate it’s time to replace your existing printing system include:

  • Spending more time dealing with issues and less time printing
  • Spending more money than usual on repairs or replacement parts
  • Package marks and codes are no longer recognizable
  • Inability to meet customer orders due to a lack of printing capacity or speed
  • Package marks and codes are not compliant with industry regulations
  • Your package printing system is no longer being supported by its manufacturer.

Overall, if you’re experiencing any of the issues above or feel like your existing package printing system is no longer meeting your needs, it may be time to consider investing in a new one. By replacing an outdated system with a modern solution, you can improve both the quality and efficiency of your package printing operations.

7) What pain points can valve-based inkjet printers address?

Valve-based inkjet printers can address a variety of pain points related to carton and package marking. For one, these printers are designed for marking on substrates that are difficult for other types of inkjet printers, especially when operating in challenging environments. They typically offer faster speeds comparatively, allowing you to successfully mark your packages on a fast-moving production line. These printers are also highly reliable, you’re sure to get consistent results every time your package is marked. Finally, valve-based inkjet printers are cost-effective and require minimal maintenance, making them an ideal choice for improving the bottom-line efficiency of your production operation.

8) Aside from printing and the resulting mark, what other factors should be considered when deciding on a system (solution?)

Here are additional factors to consider when thinking about the system you’d like to deploy:

  • Is the solution scalable?
  • What type of training will be needed for operators, managers, and others?
  • Will your production line need to be extensively modified?
  • Do you need both simple alphanumeric marks on one set of packages and traceability data on another set of packages?
  • Do you need to connect to your ERP or a backend database?
  • Will you need to control third-party equipment, including other marking technologies?
  • Do you have overarching OEE goals you’re trying to reach?

9) What should businesses consider when selecting a supplier for a printing system?

When selecting a supplier for an industrial printing system, businesses should consider several factors to ensure they make the best choice. First, they should consider the quality of printers offered and determine whether they can meet their needs in terms of reliability, speed and accuracy. Second, it is important to check if the supplier has experience with similar projects or industry requirements; this will help to ensure that the printer is suitable for the job. Additionally, businesses should consider after-sales support and maintenance; reliable customer service can be invaluable when dealing with potential technical issues or questions.

Matthews Marking Systems offers a variety of reliable printing systems that can provide the speed, accuracy and reliability for your production demands. Our expertise also includes creating specialty inks and custom engineered systems. We have significant experience solving the most challenging marking and coding problems across product types, applications and industries. Contact us for a free consultation.

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