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Importance of Ink Selection for Coding Applications
Time: 2017-03-29
The pharmaceutical industry requires the highest quality coding where legibility and contrast are of the utmost importance. Manufacturers tend to focus on integrating their coding and marking systems into the production line as they assume it will have the most impact.
Poor code readability has the potential to affect brand image and sales growth as consumers are unlikely to purchase a product if the code is illegible or the print quality poor. There is a trend where manufacturers choose highly distinctive inks from their corporate palette so that the color of the code can be associated with the brand, reinforcing its recognition and increasing product differentiation. 
Code survival is another key factor given the growing attention paid to product traceability. Specifically designed to survive a wide range of conditions, inks help manufacturers identify and track the product through its entire lifecycle and limit their liability in the event of a product recall. Furthermore, if manufacturers don’t select the right ink, the quality will be impacted, and this might affect the legibility of vital product information with potentially devastating consequences. 
The diversity of product materials and production processes explains the wide range of inks available on the market. Manufacturers are also required to put an increasing amount of information on their products for tracking purposes. In the pharmaceutical industry, prescription drugs continue to increase, resulting in a higher need for traceability. For instance, the introduction of serialization which will require the marking of unique non-predictive serial numbers on each pharmaceutical packaging makes it essential to select the right ink that will adhere to a specific substrate. Given the ever increasing range of evolving packaging materials used in the industry, from glass and capsules to plastic sachets.
With so many application-unique fluids and specialist inks to choose from, it is no surprise that manufacturers need advice. By working with coding specialists and ink chemists, they can find the right solution for their application. Because the specially formulated inks will be the perfect match for the packaging, and the print of the highest quality, productivity will increase as the need for rework will be greatly reduced. 
Understanding the fixed constraints of manufacturers is essential to select an ink that can survive the manufacturing process environment. One of these limitations is related to the material being coded as it strongly influences ink performance. Products typically work well with most ink types, but new high-performance plastics can present complex challenges for code adhesion.
The production environment plays a significant role in how inks adhere and factors such as moisture, temperature and humidity can all impact initial ink code adhesion and durability while drying times must be accommodated. Ink specialists can quickly narrow the selection from over 100+ possibilities to as few as one or two potential inks best suited to the application and test the final inks in manufacturing environments.
How can inks help manufacturers innovate? Ink specialists are constantly researching new ink formulations that help meet manufacturers’ challenges such as faster line speeds, more code content in less space, more diverse packaging types and more sustainability. By working with their customers they can help them meet their recycling targets and sustainability goals by developing more environmentally friendly, greener material, phasing out chemicals such as Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) which may present a risk for health and find alternative solvents.
Challenges in the ink world are mainly issues related to safety and human health. As line speeds increase, more products are processed in less time, resulting in more product contacts. Inks applied in high speed environment need to dry very quickly and therefore contain the most aggressive solvents.
Source: www.videojet.com