Legacy equipment may not be able to rise to the various new challenges. However, the positive attributes of the technology mean that many manufacturers like to operate with Continuous Ink Jet [CIJ], overlooking substandard coding due to legacy loyalty.
However, coding quality is becoming increasingly critical, as a bad or poor code means that the code may fail to meet the requirements of the supply chain.
‘For UK businesses, misleading information on packaging or labelling can constitute a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.’ – London Chamber of Commerce & Industry
The quality of a printed code relies on several factors; accurate placement, precision jetting, readability and contrast, good adhesion, and durability in the face of environmental stresses and physical handling.
There are numerous reasons why a CIJ code could be deemed ineffective, including issues relating to the coding system itself and the production environment. Equally, with the introduction of new packaging materials, a wrong ink selection for the substrate could result in a poor quality code.
High production speeds can visibly impact the code, resulting in examples where the data is not printed within the designated code area, or the code appears ‘stretched’ across the label or surface. Print quality can also be an issue. In some cases, a code’s resolution might not be high enough, which means that more ink drops are required to achieve the desired definition.
If an inappropriate or poor quality ink is selected, then issues of poor adhesion can lead to codes becoming smudged or chipped, making the code illegible. Code contrast can also prove to be a challenge on certain surfaces, such as amber glass or transparent bottles containing dark liquids. While contrasting colours such as white or yellow are available, their reputation for poor reliability means manufacturers will avoid these inks where possible.
Market research from Domino confirmed that code quality was the most important challenge, both now and in the future. When asked to rate the significance of coding-related issues compared to other production issues, more than half of respondents said that a coding issue would be of the highest importance.
For a further in-depth look at how CIJ is changing to meet the needs of manufacturers and producers globally, be sure to check out our white paper Rewriting the Rules: How Continuous Ink Jet is changing to meet the future needs of manufacturing and our new Ax-Series website to find out exactly how Domino are rewriting the rules on coding and marking.
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