Along with pharmaceutical development and motor vehicle production, chemical manufacturing is one of the most highly-regulated industries in the United States. Chemical producers must follow numerous safety protocols and environmental policies that dictate how chemical production can be performed as well as several federal legislations that dictate what information is required on product packaging.
Depending on the chemical, these coding requirements may include:
To fulfill these requirements, chemical packaging groups often use a combination of adhesive labeling and direct product marking. However, given the challenging workplace conditions often found in chemical packaging plants, finding the right machines to perform these applications isn’t always an easy task.
Below, we describe some of the challenges to consider when choosing the best coding and marking solutions for chemical labeling and packaging as well as some of the best machines available for overcoming these obstacles.
In addition to having to follow the numerous regulations and supply chain policies that dictate labeling requirements, those in the chemical production field also frequently have to accommodate harsh environmental conditions that can negatively affect code appearance.
The most common environmental issues include:
Chemical packaging companies also have to consider the environments in which the final product will be stored. For example, chemical labels may have to endure substantial physical movement, extended UV light exposure, and/or chemical presence. Without the right precautions, these elements can render labels unreadable and thus violate policies from the EPA, OSHA, and other important groups.
Fortunately, the industrial printing industry offers a number of coding and marking solutions for chemical labeling and packaging that can meet these challenges and maximize line efficiency.
Many coding and marking manufacturers produce printers and systems that are specifically made to mark products produced in challenging environments. Here, we detail three of the most efficient solutions for chemical labeling and packaging.
Print-and-apply labeling machines (PALM) are the go-to option for industrial label placement. PALM systems create labels and auto-apply them to packages moving along a production line, enabling line operators to print text-heavy, image-covered labels and place them onto products regardless of substrate makeup.
Given how much writing space adhesive labels provide, operators can use PALM systems to meet most labeling requirements, including:
Further, today’s top PALM systems are capable of applying labels at hundreds of feet per minute, ensuring high productivity. However, even with a great PALM system, operators still need to place variable data information on the products. For these applications, companies require either a continuous inkjet printer or a laser marking system.
Commonly abbreviated as CIJ, continuous inkjet printers are industrial speed marking machines that specialize in applying text lines and 2D barcodes at hundreds of meters per minute. These capabilities make CIJ printers perfect for applying traceable markings on an industrial scale. Additionally, CIJ printers are compatible with a wide variety of ink formulas, allowing them to print on some of the most common forms of chemical packaging, including:
CIJ printers are also widely used in the chemical industry due to their ability to resist environmental issues. Today’s premium CIJ models are built with IP-rated outer structures and other precautions that protect them against:
Laser marking systems provide many of the same benefits as CIJ printers. They are capable of marking products at high speeds, can resist harsh environmental issues, and are capable of etching materials ranging from plastic and glass to metal and beyond. Additionally, unlike CIJ printers that require periodic fluid purchases, laser marking systems have few ongoing costs—mostly just replacement filters and time-based preventative maintenance.
However, laser marking systems do come with substantially higher upfront investment costs than CIJ printers. Accordingly, it’s important to consult with an expert before deciding which option is best to meet your operational needs.
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