In day to day life the use of marking and coding plays a vital, if quiet, role that serves many purposes. This is a valuable and essential process that combines purposes that incorporate identification, traceability and authenticity, aiding logistics and preventing passing-off or counterfeiting.
In common with other technologies growing in demand throughout the printing industry, the segment for marking and coding is one where digital alternatives are growing in relevance and importance as the dynamic for change in manufacturing processes and logistics lends itself to greater versatility, on-demand and just-in-time production, and mass customisation.
Marking and coding of any item gives it an identification and does not represent content which is associated with the graphic arts and/or product information. For sure it does not carry the glamour of a full-colour graphic print but the efficacy of the processes involved to produce legibility and durability is crucial. It provides a strong example of functional print that comes under the industrial umbrella incorporated into the manufacturing process.
Having ascertained the important role that marking and coding print plays in the manufacture, movement and storage of consumer and industrial goods, the legibility and accessibility for easy viewing by human eye or by automatic reader is obvious. Digits and references must follow the correct format, and generating print onto a diverse range of surfaces and shapes must adhere to a necessary strict set of principles to ensure that longevity and purpose are not compromised.
Throughout the past three decades there has been an influx of new technologies that has brought computerization within reach of manufacturing industries. This has brought improved reliability in quality, the required durability, and the mass customization that is so vital in present day environments where just-in-time and on-demand principles are carried across to manufacturing and functional printing methodologies.
In the White Paper ‘Coding and marking - It goes with a swing’, commissioned by Agfa Graphics, Sophie Matthews-Paul describes the evolution of coding and marking, all technologies involved and integration conditions explained. The White Paper can be downloaded here (http://www.agfagraphics.com/global/en/articles/papers/coding-marking/download.html)
Black is black is black
Agfa's ink technology is of high value for coding and marking applications. Agfa develops inks specifically targeted to this market, featuring high density neutral black color, high text sharpness, excellent adhesion and high-speed (LED) curing combined with a best-in-class jetting performance, reliability and image quality.
Compared to standard UV-curable inkjet inks, the black color stays neutral even with lower ink amounts, which results in a very high image contrast on white substrates. Codes will be very visible on cardboard boxes with a strong batch-to-batch performance in day-to-day printing.
Beyond the black
Agfa also developed low migration UV-curable inkjet inks. They allow to extend marking for food packaging into printing of nutritional tables, ingredient lists etc. while offering late-stage customization. Agfa’s LM inks are designed for low migration or set-off of ink compounds in packaging materials thanks to a very high degree of polymerization of the liquid ink while curing with UV LEDs.
A White Paper on Low Migration inks can be downloaded here (http://www.agfagraphics.com/global/en/articles/papers/low-migration-uv-curable-inkjet-inks-for-food-packaging/download.html)