To maximize profits and improve product quality, companies are constantly looking for ways to improve operational efficiency. For many businesses, this involves continuously improving how to handle product coding and marking. Industries ranging from pharmaceutical packaging and food processing to consumer goods manufacturing are all required to mark their products with important consumer information and traceable codes to satisfy supply chain requirements and governmental policies. The faster and more reliably one can apply these codes, the more products can be finalized within a day. With this rise in productivity comes a rise in profitability.
Of course, this leads many businesses to wonder how they can improve ink efficiency and effectiveness. From searching for the latest hardware innovations to exploring different ink brands, those who use industrial printers want to make the most of their printers to increase overall production efficiency.
Below we detail the top ways to improve ink efficiency to enhance your business operations.
One of the most obvious ways to more efficiently utilize ink is to minimize waste as much as possible. As with other industrial-scale applications, production line coding and marking can be quite wasteful if the right precautions are not taken. From hardware issues and workflow oversights to non-conforming product waste, companies that do not take proactive steps against wasteful practices only end up hurting themselves by essentially throwing ink away regularly.
Common sources of wasted ink include:
While all of these issues can put a strain on ink usage, fortunately, they have fairly simple solutions. Although the fixes will slightly differ based on hardware specifics and line configurations, the following approaches help to improve ink efficiency.
With these steps, companies can greatly reduce their overall waste for better ink usage.
Improving ink efficiency isn’t just about eliminating waste—it’s also about making the greatest use of uptime to mark the most substrates. Many printers (e.g. most TIJ printers and high-resolution case coders) have speed limitations that prevent them from completing uninterrupted marking applications. However, machines like continuous inkjet printers are capable of coding both porous and non-porous substrates at over 1,000 feet per minute 24/7.
By upgrading to a printer with uninterrupted marking capabilities and high-speed options, companies can maximize coding efficiency for optimal production output.
Today’s industrial coding market is filled with diverse ink formulas each designed for specific applications. When looking for the right formula to fit your needs, several considerations naturally arise. For example, production line operators must narrow their search by seeking out formulas that are compatible with both their hardware and substrates. Beyond strict compatibility, however, one of the most important elements to consider is dry time.
In many production line setups, coding occurs right before essential processes such as:
While each of these actions is important to ensure certain products are ready for the market, they can be detrimental to code quality if the applied ink is still drying. Thankfully, today’s top ink manufacturers offer application specific quick-drying formulas that ensure inks are dry before these actions take place.
Generally speaking, the fastest-drying inks available will be solvent-based. Solvents aid in dissolving resins, dyes, and pigments within formulas, allowing for optimal dry-time and precise drop formation. As operators seek to increase output through higher line speeds and product preparation processes, quick dry times become exponentially more important as they ensure that codes remain legible by the end of the manufacturing process.
For those who need a fast-drying solvent-based ink, MEK and acetone-based formulas offer the most variety regarding substrate compatibility. Even within these two categories, however, there is a high amount of formula diversity, so it is important to speak with an expert to uncover which ink will work best for your operation.
It is also important to note that using ink formulas with ideal dry times is only one goal for improving adhesion and ink efficiency and effectiveness in a formula.
Depending on operational specifics, manufacturers can use a lot of ink to complete a day’s worth of production. Over time, this can significantly add to a company’s overall expenses. Fortunately, by taking a few simple steps to optimize workflows, hardware, and printing consumables, you can make the most of your ink to lower costs and boost productivity.
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