Why Tagless Printing?

Engineered Printing Solutions has worked with numerous apparel manufacturers (including non-profits) of T-shirts, underwear, and lingerie in developing tagless operations to identify brands, sizes, and care labels. The elimination of sewn-in tags, a more comfortable ‘feel’, additional branding and short run capabilities by way of custom automation are all reasons tagless printing is growing and here to stay.

  • Lower cost than other types of decorating with price per printed label averaging $.002
  • Can print one color on top of another, no post-curing time required
  • Eliminates purchase of labels from outside source
  • No sewn tags to irritate or rub against skin
  • Inks have passed major manufacturers’ wash test requirements
  • Tagless often advertised as premium feature
  • Easy customization and design changes
  • No waste by having to pre-stock labels with possible leftovers.

How Do I Choose The Right Industrial Inkjet Printer?

How Do I Choose The Right Industrial Inkjet Printer?

That’s the million dollar question! (Don’t worry. It won’t cost that much.) We’ve already outlined how you might benefit from the addition of an inkjet printer, and how to justify the cost of another piece of equipment, in a previous post. Now you have to match your workload and job requirements to the right machine configuration.

What’s the best inkjet machine solution?

That depends. Here are a few criteria used to get that answer:

Image quality – higher resolution means higher priced heads (or more passes).

  • Throughput – there are “multi-pass” versus “single-pass” options (more on that later).
  • Part size – limitations on height / width = machine size.
  • Image size = part size = machine size.
  • Substrate used – Regardless of the print technology, some substrates (PP & PE come to mind) still require pre-treatment for best image adhesion.
  • Number of colors required – dark substrates will need White base-coat layer, plus CMYK


What’s the best inkjet technology for me?

Do you need high volume / throughput with minimal part handling? Consider an automated conveyor, single-pass inkjet printer. You’ll typically get:

XD070 Single Pass Inkjet Printer

  • Up to 14″ per second of print speed
  • A print width that will be a minimum of 2.75″ and can be wider on a custom configuration.
  • Print resolutions up to 720 dpi in a single pass.

This is a great configuration for in-line applications, especially when pre-treatment is required. In many applications, you might require tooling of some sort to make sure parts are spaced and aligned consistently. Some units will incorporate a series of sensors to detect the part, and software that tells the heads when the part is in position for printing. We’ll help you with those.

Do you need higher resolution (up to 1200 dpi) but less speed? Perhaps a flatbed printer is your best option. These units offer:

  • An advantage for smaller / identical parts that can be placed in machined trays or nests.
  • A vacuum platen so you can print flat “stock.”
  • A series of print heads (arrays) on a rack that moves across the bed, printing and curing as it goes, giving you the capability of printing in a single direction, or printing in both directions, depending on your needs. It’s not as fast, but print resolution may be a higher priority.

With either of the above technologies, you will have the capability of adjusting print speeds, ink density / droplet size, head heights, and color hues. Speaking of colors, if you are printing process color on a dark substrate, you will need to print a white base layer first, but both technologies can accommodate that. In addition, it’s possible to print a clear-coat to protect the image or provide a more glossy appearance, but you’ll probably have to sacrifice one of the white arrays.

Do you only print in one color? Obviously, it’s possible to print monochrome or spot colors with inkjet, but keep in mind that it’s not practical to change or flush colors in the same array. With most high end industrial inkjets, ink is fed from bulk tanks, not cartridges (helps to keep the consumable costs down).

Therefore, if you are thinking of printing with one color only, monochrome machines are available, but you need to be very sure that you will only require that one color. Custom machines have been built with white and black arrays, so the customer can print either (and even mix both to get a gray hue).

Does your customer ask to make changes on press or repeat exact specs? Inkjet will usually provide the capability to manipulate the images at the machine, with the assistance of on-board graphic art software such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. Some machines are capable of storing jobs (or job “queues”) so operators can simply select from a drop-down box. Custom machines are network-capable, so jobs can be entered remotely, and many in-line / automated units can be accessed remotely for both job entry and diagnostic capabilities.

Now you know a lot more about industrial inkjet printers than the average pad printer. Don’t forget: at EPSVT we build your industrial inkjet printer the same way we build your pad printer — from the ground up to your specifications. That makes it clean, efficient and engineered for accuracy and cost effectiveness.

Call our toll-free number 800-272-7764 or visit our contact us page. We’ll start you down a two-lane inkjet/pad printer highway to greater success.

Anti-Counterfeit Packaging – A Primer

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]While there are many types of security features used in product packaging, the ‘big three’ categories are usually defined as Overt, Covert and Forensic.

Overt – This type of security contains a visible feature, enabling packaging to be validated quickly and easily through visual inspection.  They are best used where the general public is a part of your policing in the field. These features are usually more readily available and therefore less secure, and include holograms, color shift inks, security fibers, floating images/ patterns, etc.

Covert – This type of security feature is typically placed in such a way as to be invisible to the naked eye.  The feature is revealed with certain tools or calibrated readers that cause special inks or graphics to react. Special effect inks, with Ultraviolet (UV) and Infrared (IR) phosphors dispersed, are popular methods used in currency and secure documents, but also include watermarks, time and temperature-sensitive inks, chemically reactive inks, etc.

Forensic – Forensic refers to scientific method of collecting and analyzing information.  These types of security features generally require a sample to be taken to a laboratory for a full analysis. Although highly secure, there are often thought to be very expensive to integrate (though this is not the case with the DNA Matrix™ security mark). Other examples include chemical or ionic taggants, nano particles, etc.

Packaging is the technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, sale and end-use. In the case of pharmaceuticals, packaging conveys valuable information and now, pedigree of the product. High prices make the pharma market most vulnerable to counterfeiting and product piracy, because the product manufacturing is a high-volume, and high-profit business.  Pharmaceutical companies typically invest heavily in R&D to develop new products, but the production of counterfeit drugs need not require large infrastructure or facilities.

The most commonly counterfeited drug in the world is a ‘lifestyle drug’ called Viagra, but in developing countries, the most counterfeited medicines are those used to treat life-threatening conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.  As one would expect, trade in these medicines is more prevalent in countries with weak drug regulation, fragmented supply chains and controls, scarcity or erratic supplies and unaffordable prices.

In the US, the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) and the subsequent Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCQA) have added Track and Trace functionality to the pharmaceutical packaging process, in the form of 2D matrix barcodes, to ensure that unique product identifiers are placed on each and every drug package.  This form of security packaging provides advantages to manufacturers that are already placing batch/ date codes on their products, in that they can embed security features, such as the DNA Matrix™, into the same codes, at the same time and at very little cost.

With increasing sophistication, counterfeiters continue to advance and profit at the cost of public safety and company revenues. But, by implementing new packaging security measures, affordable and reliable brand protection is now closer than you think. 

Mike Hayes is the Managing Director of DNA Technologies.  He has been helping customers to combat counterfeiting in print applications for over 10 years.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Want to learn more about packaging security and anti-counterfeiting measures? Drop us a line![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Getting Started With Secure Pharmaceutical Packaging

You know there’s a threat to your brand, and you know you need to take action.  Crucial revenues are being lost each day, and your corporate reputation is at risk.  If you are in the pharmaceutical or medical device space, you know that Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) compliance is on the near term horizon.

While you may feel comfortable ensuring the authenticity of product in your own manufacturing facility, the real threat is in the distribution channel where many break points exist for counterfeiters to introduce fake product.

But, how do you get started with adding security features to your product packaging?  One of the key considerations is to find the right partner.

One of the best partners may already be in your camp – your trusted printer.  They already know your products and your daily challenges – such as brand colors, industry regulations, dry time, line speed, etc.

A lot of time has already been spent in presenting your packaging to the market.  There’s all the quality control measures to present the best looking graphics.  And the time spent on necessary approvals.  In many cases, securing your brand can be as simple as adding security taggants to your existing printing ink and processes.  This is where a partner that formulates their own ink can be beneficial.  Your stock ink can become security ink overnight, using the expertise of in house chemists and ink makers.

You printing partner can also advise on how to add more complex covert security features, like invisible barcodes, that allow only authorized personnel, using specially calibrated barcode readers, to detect and verify the codes.  With the data contained in the (invisible) barcode, track and trace functionality is enabled to follow any package from manufacture, right through to the end consumer.  All the while, protecting your consumer and your distribution channels from the appearance of counterfeit or illegitimate product.

In many cases, the ‘real estate’ on product packaging may be limited for adding security marks or codes.   Again, your printing partner can help here.  For example, the DNA Matrix™ security mark can be embedded into any ink and provide forensic level protection and proof of identity for your products.  It can be added to primary and secondary packaging, embedded in a logo, word mark or brand device, or applied as part of a serialization, numbering or barcoding process (overtly or covertly).

The counterfeit threat is real, but help is always close at hand.  Talk to your printer to see how simply anti-counterfeiting devices can be added to your current printing processes.  For more information, please contact Tim Scully sales@epsvt.com.

 

Mike Hayes is the Managing Director of DNA Technologies.  He has been helping customers to combat counterfeiting in print applications for over 10 years.

Secure Inkjet Printing Process to Combat Product Counterfeiting, Pirating, and Diversion

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Background
Inkjet printing is a growing force in the commercial printing world today. Higher quality reproduction, short run flexibility and customization are making inkjet technology attractive to all forms of business, including industrial printing and packaging providers.

With the integration of advanced security features, inkjet has a new market in which to compete – anti-counterfeiting and brand protection. Many industries that employ variable data printing (pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, food, industrial manufacturers, packagers and labeling) are now able to integrate advanced security features into existing processes.

Opportunity
As the market for variable data printing expands, there is an opportunity to gain ‘first mover advantage’ with a unique and robust product authentication solution, by combining the secure covert features of PhotoSecureSmartDye® and DNA Matrix™taggants with variable data printing to produce secure customized codes, serial numbers, barcodes, or integrated graphics.

DNA Technologies provides licenses and taggants tested in inks and in on substrates for the support and integration into a system for product authentication, including 2D Matrix barcode/security mark integration.

Market Facts
Counterfeiting and Brand Identity theft is accelerating with digital copying and printing, and with the outsourced remote manufacturing of highly desirable brand name products. Global products depend on trust and recognition, as the trade name and logo become just as important as the quality of the goods. There are larger incentives to cheat, and easy access to sophisticated technologies is encouraging criminals to produce increasingly successful fakes.

Consider these facts:

  • PIRA International estimates that product counterfeiting represents 5 – 8% of world trade
  • The World Health Organization estimates that 5 – 7% of the world’s medicines are fake
  • Losses to US businesses from the counterfeiting of trademarked consumer products is estimated at $200 billion a year (Dept of Commerce)

Most industries are at risk. The new breed of forgers are attracted by technological advances that make them more difficult to catch than the old. Generally, the counterfeiters have no previous criminal record, and the equipment they use is inexpensive and totally legitimate. HP estimates that they have over 200 million inkjet printers installed worldwide. How do you determine a legitimate print job from a fake with that kind of access to technology?

Think about something as ubiquitous as a barcode label. How difficult is it to reproduce?

The advancement of technology and its use by counterfeiters has allowed better copies to be made of both the actual product and the packaging. Modern computers, scanners and color printers have not only made it easier to mimic packaging and documentation, but have also reduced the skill level required to produce passable copies. Technology has also meant that better copies can be made, that are harder to detect and which are easier to slip into the ordinary trade channels used by legitimate commerce. Sometimes counterfeits are mixed with genuine goods, making it difficult to detect the fakes.

Solving Brand Owners’ Problems
Companies that find themselves competing with counterfeiters suffer a direct loss in sales. Some markets are even dominated by counterfeiters, creating barriers of entry for the producers of the genuine product. Trade names and product quality reputations are damaged. Products are diverted to the wrong market and sold at uncontrolled or sometimes illegal prices.

But there is a growing change in attitude towards supply chain integrity – counterfeiting is no longer an accepted cost of doing business. Companies aren’t out to just limit gray market diversion or counterfeiting, they’re out to recover revenues.

Consumers, who are deceived into believing that they bought a genuine article when it was in fact a fake, blame the manufacturer of the genuine product when it fails, creating a loss of goodwill.

By integrating product authentication features into existing inkjet technology, and developing electronic bar code readers sensitive to forensic covert taggants, we provide your customers with protection against counterfeiting and product diversion – a level of security that will allow Brand Owners to recover revenues and market share, track distribution on an ongoing basis to control product piracy, preserve the integrity of their products in the marketplace and increase consumer confidence in their brands.

Key Features

  • High security – extraction and matching of DNA sequence code provides irrefutable proof/ positive identification
  • Simple, yet complex product authentication solution – easy to use, but with inherent complexity to prevent duplication
  • Wide variety of applications – can be applied to virtually any tangible surface
  • Multi level encryption provides moving target for counterfeiters
  • Cost-effective solution – low cost per mark, with no major re-tooling or process re-design

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Want to learn more about barcoding and batch-printing?  Let’s start a conversation![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Save on Pad Printing Ink!

Our customers have told us many times how frustrated they are with the amount of pad printing ink they have to throw out at the end of the day. Well we heard you and designed a handy little device to help utilize those small volumes of the ink mixed in the cups. Plus when the ink volume is less than 25 grams, the print quality can deteriorate – not with the new Ink Saver-Ring!

The Ink Saver-Ring fits into a sealed ink cup where it agitates the ink as the cup slides across the cliché. This is a great tool for pad printers who use bi-component inks that must be throw out at the end of the day. Plus this ring will also help prevent the ink pigments from settling in the cups. Over time, less ink waste will add up to a significant cost savings!

Available for all sealed ink cup sizes, call us for pricing and click Ceramic Ring Cups for details.

Pad Print Thinners and Hardeners

Pad printing’s smooth transfer of an image from the inked cliché to the subtrates is facilitated by additives used in the ink’s mix. Pad Print thinners and hardeners are additives critical in handling ink adjustments for better adhesion and extending image life.

Thinners

Transferring pad printing inks requires that a percentage of thinner be mixed into the ink. Thinners are volatiles; that is, they evaporate quickly (“flash off”) to dry out the ink mixture so it becomes “tacky.”

This “tackiness” is what enables the silicone pad to pick up an image/ink and transfer it to the part.

Ink manufacturers provide special, chemically-formulated thinners to work with their inks. They usually provide thinners in different.” The “speeds” refers to how fast the thinner evaporates. Typically, you’ll find fast, medium and slow (sometimes referred to as “retarder”) options.

As you may know, there are different ink “series” that adhere best to specific substrates. Manufacturers will provide charts that cross-reference different substrates and which inks work best with them. Each of these inks may utilize one (or many) different thinners, depending on the application. Here is a link to the Ink & Materials Table from the website.

Another important function of a pad printing thinner is it also cross-links the ink/pigment to the surface of the part while the thinner is evaporating, also aiding adhesion. Some substrates are more porous than others, which makes it easier for ink to bond, so the cross-linking happens quickly. Other substrates require more time, so you’ll use a “slower” thinner. In any case, once the ink transfer (print cycle) is complete, the thinner continues to evaporate and perform its cross-link duties simultaneously, eventually leading up to a “cured” image.

Images pad printed with solvent-based inks are usually “dry to the touch” in a matter of seconds, which means you can handle the parts relatively quickly. However, most pad print inks don’t achieve a full cure until at least 24 hours, sometimes longer.

Hardeners

Where do hardeners fit into this, you may ask? They have very little effect on ink adhesion, but have a huge influence on image durability.

Again, ink manufacturers provide hardeners that are formulated specifically to their inks. Some hardeners work with more than one ink series. This formulation also includes different ink-to-hardener ratios. Some are 4:1 (ink-to-hardener), some are 10:1 and others as much as 20:1. Technical data sheets on inks will detail all of that for you.

Hardeners are always added for inks used on metal, glass and ceramics, as well as parts (regardless of substrate) that may face exposure to abrasives, chemicals, sterilization procedures, etc.

The good thing about hardeners is they enhance image durability. The bad thing about hardeners is that they decrease the “pot life” in an ink cup (normally 8–10 hours max). The important thing is your customer gets a quality, long-lasting image.

Join the conversation! Our dedicated ink experts can get your ink problems solved and your printer up and running in no time! Call to connect with the right person to help.

Stuck with Pre-treating for Adhesion?

Pad printing’s a great way to transfer images to 3-dimensional parts. Its versatility handling shapes and substrates composition surpass almost every other automated marking method. However, getting that ink to ADHERE to all these parts can present a challenge, especially parts molded from Polyethylene (PE) or Polypropylene (PP).

These two substrates exhibit a low surface energy (usually measured and described as the “Dyne level”). There are other substrates like those possibly containing Teflon that are also problematic. But PE and PP are so widely used in different industries, we’ll stick (no pun intended) with them for the purposes of this discussion.

Most ink manufacturers provide inks that are “suitable” for PE and/or PP. In many cases you’d just treat it like any other pad printing job with no issues. However, depending on the customer’s expectations of image durability, this may not prove a viable option. It is, however, the first place to look.

Pre-treating for adhesion choices

There are four choices when faced with adhesion issues:

  • Special ink
  • Chemical wipe
  • Flame treatment
  • Corona discharge

Pre-wiping parts by hand with a chemical that allows the ink to bond is a “second-tier” option, best suited to prototypes and short runs. Many firms hesitate to introduce another chemical into their work flow, and you’ll be exposing operators while increasing run time as well.

For longer runs and constant production speeds, you really have to look at the final two options – flame or corona – usually in a print cell, or actually integrated either into the machine configuration or in-line.

Flame treatment is more cost-effective, easily integrated and in some cases, actually provides a better surface pre-treatment. However, some firms choose not to have an “open flame” in their workplace, regardless of the fact that most flamers are heavily guarded and the actual flame is no more than 1” to 2” in length.

Electrical discharge units (some call it corona while others refer to a plasma-jet) are just that: an electrical charge across or through the substrate that raises the energy level to a point where ink will cross-link and adhere. These are more costly to purchase, but better suited to some substrates.

Please note that there’s no “magic bullet” when it comes to pre-treatment technologies. Some work better with substrate “A” versus substrate “B.” To complicate matters even further, there are a large number of different blends of plastics, especially PE and PP, while other plastics may include recycled (“re-grind”) material; flame-retardant additives; colors, etc., all of which can affect adhesion characteristics.

To conclude: your choice is based on throughput speeds and budget, plus environmental issues.

Your ink or machine supplier will be able to assist you with testing and choices, as you need to find out what works best, will meet your production rates, and is most cost-effective.

One final note: If you are importing molded parts, be aware that the “blend” of materials may change without notice; what works this month may not work in the future. New batches may require new research. If you can, check with your parts manufacturer and bring that information back to your ink supplier.

Join the conversation! We have technical ink experts available to answer your questions and work through any problems you may encounter. Confused? Call, click or Live Chat to connect with the right person to help. We make the complicated seem easy!