How To Choose The Right Printer For Your Product? -Thermal Transfer Overprinting, Inkjet, Laser.
The market generally has 3 types of printers, thermal transfer overprinting, inkjet, and laser.
The thermal transfer overprinting machine has the lowest cost, its consumables are carbon ribbons which are not expensive and can be bought all over the world. They can print large-area content such as LOGO, form, characters, QR codes, barcodes, etc., with high resolution, and basically no maintenance, But the long-lasting effect of its printed content is average, only suitable for contact type printing on a flat surface of the composite film.
The inkjet printer is suitable for a variety of materials, composite film, carton, metal, plastic, and non-contact inkjet code, with high-speed assembly lines that can spray two-dimensional code bar code but need to be in a nozzle height of generally 12mm, if it is with intermittent machine, printing two-dimensional code bar code recognition rate is not high, can only spray characters.No matter which way to print the two-dimensional code, it is recommended to increase the white background color, the higher the contrast, the higher the recognition rate. The consumables are Ink and thinner or ink cartridges cost a lot. Generally, there is a chip password. Only ink or ink cartridges of its brand can be used. The nozzle needs to be cleaned in time, and the daily maintenance cost is high.
Laser machines are basically suitable for all types of product surfaces, including metal, plastic, and ceramics. There is no damage to the product surface. The cost of purchasing the machine is high in the early stage, but it only needs to be powered on, with no consumables, no pollution, long service life, and basically no maintenance. The logo is carved by laser, permanent and effective, suitable for products with high anti-counterfeiting and anti-tampering or traceability., such as high-end consumer goods, electronic equipment, etc.
These 3 types have obvious differences in applicable materials, printing speed, resolution, durability, and application fields. Choosing the right coding method depends on specific needs, including coding surface material, coding quality production efficiency, etc.
Thermal Transfer Overprinting TTO
- Principle: Thermal transfer overprinting uses a thermal ribbon and a thermal transfer machine to transfer the ink to the surface of the object by heating. This method is suitable for coding needs that require high resolution and durability, such as packaging, barcodes, etc. Only the words of the thermal transfer printer are not printed independently and can be printed on a whole line.
- Applicable materials: Flexible products with glossy surfaces, plastic films, plastic bags, and glossy labels. Hard products are not acceptable such as cartons and cases. And needs to be printed on a flat surface, so it is suitable for printing before packaging.
- Printing distance: contact
- Print content: Form (without background color), QR code, barcode, LOGO, text. Only one color can be printed.
- Number of lines: unlimited, large printing area, different models for different printing areas
- Font type: Solid characters, it is more suitable for QR code barcode printing than inkjet printers, with higher definition.
- Consumables: carbon ribbon, low cost, environmentally friendly, odorless, no cleaning, no maintenance, materials can be bought all over the world. Compared with steel character coding, there is no need to manually replace the characters, and compared with inkjet printers, there is no need to clean the nozzle and add thinner.
- Drying time: instant dry
- Adhesion rate: The adhesion rate of the coding machine is lower than that of the inkjet printer, it is recommended to use high-quality ribbon.
- Failure rate and maintenance: basically no failure and no maintenance, no need to clean the inkjet printer every day, don’t worry about nozzle blockage and other problems
- Cost: machine cost and consumable costs are lower than an inkjet printer
- Speed: 30~40M/min can be continuous or intermittent, according to customer conditions
- Application fields: instant food, candy, bread, cold fresh food (frozen dumplings), frozen food, fresh vegetables, wet wipes, solid powder (milk powder), and any other flexible packaging industry.
The labeling machine is a device used to attach labels or markings to product packaging or surfaces. It is widely used in various industries, including food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, household items, electronics, etc.
The main types are flat labeling machines, round bottle labeling, double-sided labeling,single-sided labeling, automatic labeling, semi-auto labeling, and high-speed labeling.
- Principle: Labeling is a way of attaching pre-printed labels to the surface of objects. Labels can contain text, patterns, barcodes, and other information, and are suitable for various product packaging, logistics, and other fields.
- Applicable materials: Same as thermal transfer printing, it is suitable for contact flat printing and pasting. The difference is that labeling can also be used for hard products in cartons. Because the movement distance of the labeling head is larger than that of thermal transfer printing, it is generally suitable for labeling after packaging, and the space is relatively sufficient.
- Printing content: same as thermal transfer overprinting,
- Number of lines: same as thermal transfer overprinting
- Font: same as thermal transfer overprinting
- Consumables: same as thermal transfer overprinting
- Drying time: fast
- Adhesion rate: There is a white bottom label paper, so its effect is better
- Failure Rate and Maintenance: Same as Thermal Transfer
- Cost: Add the cost of labeling machine and label consumables compared with thermal transfer overprinting
- Speed: slow
Inkjet Printing is a coding method that uses inkjet technology to spray characters or patterns onto the surface of an object. It is high-speed and non-contact and is suitable for the coding needs of various materials.
Inkjet is generally divided into small character inkjet (CIJ), thermal inkjet (TIJ), piezoelectric inkjet (PIJ), and solenoid valve inkjet (large character). Among them, small characters and piezoelectric type can only print dot-matrix characters, which are collectively referred to as small characters; thermal inkjet and solenoid valve technology can print both dot-matrix characters and solid characters, they are collectively referred to as high-resolution inkjet printers.
Different from traditional small character inkjet printers, thermal inkjet printers are easy to operate, easy to install, and have powerful printing and editing functions, they can print real-time data, barcodes, QR codes, databases, etc. The use of thermal inkjet printers is more environmentally friendly, do not need to use diluents, cleaning fluids, and no ink supply systems to prevent ink pollution. The impact on the environment is zero, and the ink cartridges are easy to install and replace, and easy to operate and maintain. High-resolution inkjet printers are widely used in food, medicine, daily chemical, label printing, card making, packaging printing, electronics, hardware, and other industries. Because of its high resolution, it is suitable for one object one code, anti-counterfeiting traceability, and other applications, the recognition rate can reach 100%. However, thermal inkjet is more suitable for printing on absorbent surfaces such as cartons. It needs a flat surface and takes a few seconds to dry. Small characters can be suitable for a wide range of materials with non-flat surfaces, and they can be dried immediately.
Small character inkjet printer (CIJ)
- Principle: The small character inkjet printer is also known as the continuous inkjet printer, the CIJ printer. Its working principle is that under the action of pressure, the ink enters the spray chamber, and the vibration of the piezoelectric crystal causes the ink to form a fixed interval point after being sprayed from the nozzle with a very small aperture (generally 60 microns). Through CPU processing and phase tracking, some ink dots passing through the charging electrode are charged with different electric cores. After several thousand volts under the high-voltage magnetic field, different offsets occur, flying out of the nozzle and falling on the surface of the moving product to form a dot matrix, thereby forming characters, numbers, or graphics.
- Applicable materials: suitable for most product surfaces, and non-flat surfaces.
- Printing spacing: Keep 5-6cm apart
- Printing content: The actual effective printing height of a single nozzle is about 7 ~13 mm, and the length is unlimited.
- Number of lines: A single nozzle can usually only print 3 lines at most;
Generally suitable for small area production date batch number printing. It is also possible to print forms (without background color), QR code barcode, LOGO text, and several different color nozzles to achieve large-area color printing by combining multiple nozzles. Note that the QR code must be within the printing range of the same nozzle, otherwise, the scanning result will be affected.
- Font type: Dot matrix type hollow font, If type a QR code, the clarity is relatively inferior to thermal transfer printing.
- Consumables: Ink is easy to clog, recycling is easy to waste consumables, and the concentration is unstable, but the ink adhesion rate is higher than that of the ribbon. Need to add thinner, volatile. The machine generally has a chip encryption process and must use the specific ink of the inkjet printer manufacturer. Other inks cannot be used or can be easily wiped by hand. Therefore, it is necessary to confirm whether there is a service point for this brand in the local area before purchasing. Ink is a special dangerous product. Transportation is more difficult.
- Drying time: instant dry
- Attachment rate: High
- Failure rate and maintenance: The inkjet printer is cleaned every day, worrying about problems such as nozzle blockage
- Cost: Machine cost and consumable costs are higher than thermal transfer printing
- Speed: 200M/min continuous
Thermal inkjet printer (TIJ)
- Principle: Using a thin-film resistor, the ink less than 5 picoliters is instantly heated to above 300°C in the ink ejection area to form countless tiny bubbles, which gather into large ones at an extremely fast speed (less than 10 microseconds). The bubbles expand and force the ink droplets to be ejected from the nozzle and onto the printing product, The process is repeated and various characters or patterns can be printed.
- Applicable materials: Suitable for the surface of most adsorbent material products, such as cartons, which require a flat surface
- Printing spacing: Keep 3~ 10mm apart for printing.
- Printing content: 12mm, the height of single jet printing can reach 20mm, and the length is unlimited. One host can seamlessly splice more than 5 nozzles. However, if the quality of the machine is not good, it is easy to cause nozzle clogging.
- Number of lines: There is no limit on the number of lines, as long as the content height does not exceed the printing height.
Can be a multi-nozzle combination printing form (without background color) two-dimensional code bar code, LOGO text, and several different color nozzle combinations to achieve large area color printing. Note that the QR code must be within the printing range of the same nozzle, otherwise, the scanning result will be affected.
- Font: dot matrix or solid characters are acceptable
- Consumables: Just replace the ink cartridge. The system adopts the integrated design of an ink cartridge and nozzle. When the machine is running, it can be sprayed immediately after use, and the ink concentration is always consistent. The machine generally has chip encryption processing and must use the specific ink cartridge of the inkjet printer manufacturer. Other ink cartridges cannot be used or can be easily wiped by hand. Therefore, it is necessary to confirm whether there is a local service point for this brand before purchasing. Ink cartridges are special dangerous products. Transportation is more difficult.
- Drying time: takes a few seconds
- Attachment rate: High
- Failure rate and maintenance: Ink cartridge maintenance is relatively worry-free, only the nozzle needs to be cleaned regularly, while the small character inkjet printer needs to be started and run regularly.
- Cost: Machine cost and consumable costs are higher than thermal transfer printing.
- Speed: 0~100M/min continuous
- Application fields: food, medicine, daily chemical, label printing, card making, packaging printing, medical, electronics, hardware, and other industries. Since it is higher resolution than that of small characters, It is suitable for applications in fields such as one code for one object, anti-counterfeiting, and traceability, and the recognition rate can reach 100%.
The laser printer uses a laser beam to permanently engrave characters or patterns on the surface of an object. It has high precision, high speed, and good anti-counterfeiting effect, and is suitable for the coding needs of various materials.
Laser marking generally includes 3 types, fiber laser, CO2 laser, and UV laser.
Fiber laser machines are suitable for metal and plastic products; CO2 laser machines are suitable for wood products, acrylic, and other non-metallic materials; UV laser are more comprehensive, and can engrave metals and non-metals. The UV laser printer has a short wavelength, more precise focus, and can maintain excellent positioning accuracy so that the printing effect is more refined and suitable for such as circuit boards, anti-counterfeiting trademarks, and the like.
CO2 laser and fiber laser form engraving marks by heating the surface of the product. UV laser uses cold light to change the molecular structure of the surface. There is no thermal damage to the product and thermal deformation symptoms. It can also spray codes on relatively thin plastic materials. Ultraviolet laser has the unique advantage of creating non-damaging marks, and does not produce harmful gases, non-toxic and pollution-free, suitable for the printing needs of the inside of food bottle caps, can directly contact the food in the bottle. The UV laser printer has flexible installation, simple and easy operation, a modular structure for convenient maintenance and maintenance, and a wide range of applications.
The composite film is suitable for 3 kinds of lasers, transparent materials can only be printed with C02 lasers. Fiber lasers are better for colored aluminum films. The versatility of the UV machine is relatively better, and different colors and materials can be used. Different color products have different absorption effects on laser, so even if the same material, white may be able to be printed by fiber laser, green or yellow is not clear. Finally, it is recommended to send samples to us for testing to determine the appropriate model.
CO2 Laser Printer
- Principle: The carbon dioxide laser fills CO2 and other auxiliary gases into the discharge tube. When a high voltage is applied to the electrode, a glow discharge will be generated which will cause the gas molecules to release laser light, after the released laser energy is amplified, laser processing can be carried out, and the laser beam vaporizes the surface of an object to achieve the purpose of engraving.
- Applicable materials: non-metallic materials and some metal products. CO2 lasers have 10 times the wavelength of standard wavelength systems. They excel at marking paper, resin, wood, rubber, and clear materials such as glass and PET. However, it is not possible to mark on metal with a CO2 laser because the laser light is not absorbed by the object.
- Print content: standard 10*10cm
- Consumables: Just power on, no harmful gas, economical and environmentally
- Failure rate and maintenance: basically no maintenance. Small size, simple installation, basically no special requirements for working environment temperature and space.
- Speed: The more complex of print text, the slower it will be.
Fiber Laser Printer
- Principle: The inner layer is exposed through the evaporation of the surface material, or the physical changes of the surface material are “engraved” by the light energy, or part of the material is burned by the light energy, and the pattern and text to be etched are displayed. , barcodes, and other graphics.
- Applicable materials: Fiber lasers have a wavelength of 1090nm and are therefore infrared (IR) lasers. Fiber lasers can mark a wide variety of materials and are particularly suitable for marking metal items, but cannot mark transparent objects because the infrared light passes directly through the object.
- Principle: Ultraviolet laser adopts cold processing working method. The ultraviolet laser can directly break the chemical bonds of materials so that molecules can be separated from objects. The heat-affected area of processing is small, and ultra-fine and special materials can be marked.
- Applicable materials: food, pharmaceutical packaging materials, glass, ceramics, plastics
Ultraviolet laser cost is higher than the other two, so high-end chip high-precision products need to use ultraviolet laser printers. UV lasers are not suitable for marking copper materials. UV lasers have the unique advantage of creating non-destructive marks. It is suitable for internal coding of food products without pollution.
Steel Character Coding
Steel character coding: This method uses a set of steel characters to emboss the characters on the surface of the object through mechanical force. It is suitable for long-lasting and anti-counterfeiting coding requirements, such as the coding of hard materials such as metal and plastic.
Marsh Coding is a digital printer, which can print numbers, letters, patterns, and other information onto objects by inkjet. It has the characteristics of high-speed printing, diverse fonts, and pattern options, and is suitable for coding needs on various surfaces.
The Marsh Coding machine can completely replace the old-fashioned copper character coding machine. The advantage is that there is no need to replace the characters, no need to heat the print head, the equipment can be used immediately when power is on, and no need for personnel to debug the coding machine before starting work. And the coding effect is better
Marshcoding 241D is a thermal transfer coding machine that does not need to replace the copper characters. The mobile phone APP controls and edits information and the date is automatically updated every day through Bluetooth transmission. It is used in conjunction with vertical packaging machines and labeling machines. Coding on packaging materials (such as food packaging bag materials) or self-adhesive labels.