Over the past 20 years there’s been a proliferation of new packaging shapes, sizes and materials showing up on retailer shelves. Packaging engineers and marketing folks have forged partnerships to deliver fresh, innovative designs to manufacturers, and Consumer Goods customers are voting their approval by purchasing the new products at record levels. The trickle down to packaging suppliers has been felt large and wide.
Simply walk down a supermarket aisle and you will notice bags & boxes, cans & cartons, and a wide array of flexible packaging that could not have been imagined a generation ago. Marketing messages jump off the products and beckon the consumer to grab the item and deposit them into the shopping cart. The most common materials include foils, plastic film, hard plastics, tin, glass, chipboard, and of course corrugate. Bioplastics are on the rise as manufacturers look for ways to make their product packaging renewable which brings favor with consumers.
As the mix of packaging materials evolve, so too have the coding technologies that imprint the products with necessary lot & batch codes, expiration dates and barcodes. Analog print methods like rubber stamps and mechanical rollers are ill equipped to keep pace with the industry’s new direction. Laser marking is a workable solution for some applications, but the cost, upkeep and venting requirements are enough to scare off mainstream customers. Consequently, the most viable coding alternatives are clearly inkjet systems.
When you consider the various substrates used for packaging, nearly all the materials are non-porous in nature. This means the inks are not able to permeate – or absorb – into the material. HP and its licensed ink fillers developed inks that will sit on top of the material and still pass the smear and wear test.
HP 2580 is the first solvent-based ink to be accepted by mainstream packaging operations. In combination with AT Information , it’s now possible for HP inkjet systems like the Markoprint® X2Jet to print onto non-porous surfaces including foil, films, hard plastic, glossy boxes, metals, and more.