by Olivia Cahoon
Marking and coding inkjet devices are designed for high-volume production and variable data output. These machines offer fast speeds with the ability to print using quickly drying inks for products like packaging.
The application of best before dates is a popular use for marking and coding devices. Required according to specific industry regulations, these markings appear on a variety of packaged food and pharmaceutical items. A marking and coding inkjet device can help packaging manufacturer’s expedite their best before date production line while also allowing previously batched items to be available for individual sale.
Individualized Tea Bags
Based in Gloucester, UK, Infusion GB is a leading tea packaging manufacturer that provides packaging services to well-known brands such as Lipton, Pukka Herbs, Tetley, and Twinings.
Several years ago, the packaging manufacturer experienced demand from customers to direct print of best before dates and batch information onto individual enveloped tea bags. This allows individual sale or repackaging for the gift market. To serve this need, Infusion GB searched for a printing technology to meet its requirements.
“Best before dates on enveloped tea bags was an application that we wished to offer to our customers. We believe that the ability to print best before dates onto these envelopes is a real point of difference for Infusion GB,” shares Peter Barry, technical director, Infusion GB.
The coding and marking solution needed to match the 250 bags per minute production speed of the company’s IMA Group C27 tea packing machines. It was determined that conventional inks would not be suitable for this application due to the short amount of time between printing onto the enveloped tea bags and packaging them into cartons, which created a smudge risk. After approaching the manufacturer of its IMA machines, Infusion GB was directed to Domino UK.
The tea packaging manufacturer also reached out to several other companies while searching for coding and marking providers at this time. Infusion GB ultimately settled on Domino because it felt the company’s G220i printers were the best fit.
Featuring Domino i-Tech technology, the G220i printer is a maintenance-free solution that supports up to four printheads. Multiple lines of accurate true font code can be produced in high-speed production environments, enabling two different messages to be coded up to 25.4 millimeters (mm) high. All four printheads can also stack together to print one code up to 50.8 mm high.
The G220i device uses Domino’s fast-drying BK651 inks. Now coded tea envelopes can be packed quickly without smudging—the ideal solution for Infusion GB.
According to Barry, the other marking and coding inkjet manufacturers struggled to get the printheads integrated into the IMA machine. There were also other problems in matching the line speeds as well as getting the ink to dry quickly enough. “When we change anything on the production line and restart the IMA machine it takes some time to reach full speed again, so the coding and marking solution that we chose had to synchronize with these warm-up speeds.”
Installing the G220i printers into Infusion GB’s production lines was an exploratory process. Domino’s specialist engineers visited the tea packaging manufacturer’s facilities to examine the IMA machines and develop a solution for the integration of the G-Series printers. Due to the complex nature of the IMA machine, space was a limited. Domino decided the best solution was to use its unique, low-profile compact printhead—ensuring the G-Series printers did not disrupt or change the web path and that it printed as close to the envelope’s bottom as possible.
Infusion GB was grateful for Domino’s help in designing and implementing the marking and coding solutions. “Domino definitely had the edge in terms of the capability of its engineers who adapted one of its printers and creates a new market for Infusion GB. We weren’t very clear on what we needed at the beginning of the process, but Domino’s team was willing to take the time to listen to our needs and tailor a solution.”
After The Investment
The ability to mark individualized envelopes is not only trending in the tea market but also in the hospitality industry.
According to Barry, while the coffee sachets used in hotels are often individually printed, best before dates on enveloped tea bags was an application not yet available to customers. “By investing in the G-Series printers, Infusion GB expands its clientele as well as its services.”
After the installation of the Domino G220i thermal inkjet printers, Infusion GB believes that demand for individually printed enveloped tea bags is set to increase. To meet this anticipated demand, the tea manufacturer plans to print the envelopes and aims to have best before dates printed on all of the envelopes it produces. “With Domino’s help we found a solution that the tea market struggled with for some time,” states Barry.
With its Domino G220i thermal inkjet printers, Infusion GB prints directly onto enveloped tea bags. This in-house process allows the tea packaging manufacturer to offers its clients a new application that fits perfectly into its existing IMA machines—meeting speed and fast drying ink requirements. IPM
Jul2020, Industrial Print Magazine