6 reasons why thermal ink jet printing is perfect for food packaging

  • By Dave Featherston
  • July 14, 2015
  • Food
  • Convenience food
  • Seafood, Meat, Poultry
  • Confectionery
  • Snacks
  • Pouches
  • Bags
  • Carton
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What are the best printing technologies to use for Food?

In food packaging, there are several competing demands for copackers and companies vying for your attention. First and foremost, is obviously meeting the production demands of your customers, but just as important is meeting the safety regulations for the USDA so there aren't costly recalls. 

Thermal inject printers are perfect for the rigorous demands. Before we explain why, let’s take a quick look at the other technologies. Laser printing offers indelible codes at high production speed. It can handle a variety of applications too. Unfortunately - and we will be the first to admit it - TIJ doesn’t necessarily work with all substrates, meaning it won’t offer the flexibility required when working with food packaging.

An alternative is continuous inkjet printing, the default option for many manufacturers. It certainly meets the minimum requirements. But as food brands chase increasing levels of clarity and detail, the industry will soon begin bumping against the upper limits of what this technology can achieve. As for wax jet operations, they are unsuitable for food packaging printing thanks to lengthy start-up times and low print quality.

So what makes thermal Inkjet printing so good?

1. High Resolution, High Quality Codes

In order to properly inform your customer base, the code has to be legible. That's why printing clarity has become such a major factor for food manufacturers all over the world.

Thermal Inkjet (TIJ) printing offers extremely high resolution - up to 600 dpi. In addition to high resolution for things like words and logos for the customers themselves, at that resolution, TIJ prints are much more readable and current than old, dot matrix style prints of old. At 600 dpi, TIJ gives you, as a manufacturer, the ability to create much more intricate MRCs, giving you the ability to pack in more information in a single code.

2. High production speed

You are well aware that there is always a quota hanging over your head as a producer. In order to hit those production standards, you feel the need - the need for speed. Maintaining efficiency on the production line requires printers that provide quality at high speed. With thermal inkjet technology - especially IIoT-capable TIJ technology, that’s exactly what you will get.

3. Maximum Flexibility

Think about all the different types of food packaging you see in the supermarket. Today? With the advent of all the demand for several flavors and versions of your own product base and special editions, think of all of the diversity that has set in within your own production line.

That production diversity is set to grow further as different manufacturers seek to individualize their brands from one another and ensure that their brand is more attractive to consumers. TIJ works with this goal by working on a wide variety of substrates. In addition, the hundreds of nozzles within each print head mean that TIJ is capable of applying alphanumeric text (true-type fonts), graphics, logos, QR codes, 2D data matrix codes and more, ensuring that the codes and fonts all adhere to your specific brand standards.

4. Fully-certified for Environmental Standards

Printing specialists have pioneered water and ethanol-based inks that are fully certified for use in food environments - fast-drying and ready for a variety of substrates and applications.

5. No smudging, no scratches

Traceability is critical in the food industry. The integrity of coding and labelling cannot be compromised. TIJ bonds the inks mentioned above to the package substrate for permanent, scratch-resistant print capable of withstanding the rigors of transport and handling.

6. Easy to integrate

Disruption to the production line means disruption to your output. TIJ systems are easy to use, easy to integrate with legacy technology and get up to speed fast. The key to success when it comes to printing on food packaging is to keep things efficient and safe. 

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