What is direct part marking (DPM) and where is it used?
Have the average consumer open their hood today - barring the occasional high-end sports car, it's a sea of black ABS plastic with a few metal components in there. With items like weather stripping, bolts, nuts, washers, etc. it's frankly hard to tell it all apart - even for experienced eyes.
The need for marking parts is not alone in this pain point. This is found across many industries including aerospace, construction materials, electronic components, and extrusion applications.
To combat this issue, homogenous-looking parts are directly marked during the production process for various reasons.
Here are just a few:
- Differentiating and identifying similar-looking parts
- Supporting the assembly process
- Indicating a quality check or other process has been successfully passed
- Enabling traceability of the part back to the production line
What marking technologies are used?
As we've established most parts made from metals and plastics aren't really built to win any beauty competitions - and as a result, they look the same - drab, dull black plastics and rubbers.
In order for the codes, including symbols, logos, data matrix codes and text to do their respective jobs, they are coded directly onto the surface of a part with technologies that ensures the marking is easily visible readable, and durable - so they remain on the part for as long as necessary in the high-heat, high-dust conditions of motors, construction sites and more.
What codes can stand up to that? Continuous Inkjet.
CIJ codes are capable of a well-contrasting code on these materials. CIJ printers also offer a flexible solution when the distance from the printer to the component is variable.
Can TIJ & Fiber Laser be used for Direct Part Marking?
In addition to Continuous Inkjet, there are other coding and marking technologies that have risen to the challenge for part marking including lasers and other inkjet technologies.
Fiber Laser like CIJ, is capable of excellent contrast between the part substrate and the code. However, as durable as CIJ codes are, they can wear off over time. If codes absolutely need to be permanent, or small machine readable codes in higher resolution are required, lasers are the preferred option for manufacturers.
Why not Thermal Inkjet?
With the recent developments in inks, thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers are a great solution for DPM too. Domino’s Gx-Series TIJ printers provide great code quality and clarity, excellent ease of use. The cartridges are plug and play, giving the flexibility to quickly switch from one ink to another dependent on the production. This flexibility is unique to TIJ and is key for production facilities which manufacture a range of products on the same production line.
What’s important direct part marking and how does CIJ meet the requirement?
Color: CIJ printers provide a spectrum of different inks to achieve maximum contrast on virtually any color substrate. From black and white, to grey, yellow, red, green, orange, and blue. Additionally, we have a clear UV ink that is used for brand protection and anti-counterfeiting applications
Size: codes need to be small to fit on small components. To print a very small, yet well legible code the printer needs to be able to print in a high resolution. CIJ is great at providing high resolution, alpha-numeric text and various machine-readable codes (e.g. UPC, data matrix and QR codes). CIJ printers even have the ability to print logos.
Adhesion: CIJ printers are extremely versatile allowing coding on a multitude of substrate materials. Anything from aluminum & steel, to plastics & glass, to Polyethylene and egg shells (Yes, egg shells), CIJ can print on virtually any material.
If you are looking for advice on DPM (direct part marking), please do get in touch.